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.

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.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Planning and Writing Targets

I just published (last week) the second of what I think will be a long series of short devotional e-books based on hymns and carols. This one is based on the hymn, Beautiful Savior. It took longer than I expected to write because I discovered that I needed to meditate and ponder before I could actually write. It's interesting to have set aside time intentionally to write my dissertation and to attempt to create a body of self-published work for the Kindle. I have my dissertation outlined and a goal to write a chapter every two weeks - that gets a working draft written by the end of August. The planning and citation stages of writing the dissertation chapters leaves creative room to write other things - at least that's the idea. Now to see if I hit the target more times than I miss.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Birthday Musings - Seventh Decade

Seven, shabbat in Hebrew, time for rest. Something I know very little about through personal experience. How does one rest without becoming restless? I am determined to find out. The beginning of this seventh decade of my life finds me relocated and set aside to help establish a Christian retreat center, Eden Haus Retreat, that is devoted to worship and prayer. This is a perfect resting place for me and a quiet haven for me to finish my PhD dissertation. I plan to finish many other writing projects while I am resting here, as well. So far today I have unloaded a trailer of wood for the wood stove we use to heat the retreat house, made pancakes and bacon, talked to the cat, booked a retreat for a weekend in April, not succeeded in downloading a much needed printer driver, watched six geese take off from the pond, seen multiple red cardinals and purple finches at the bird feeder, and drunk three cups of coffee. That is in addition to letting the music from the chapel waft over my thirsty soul like some fragrant incense.... I promised an essay connecting hermeneutic theory to my research project within two weeks to my PhD supervisor yesterday and over the weekend, I plan to continue working on the next meditation on hymns and carols - "Beautiful Savior" and to give some thought to a book project that intrigues me about the mystical aspects of my walk with God that I am calling "Fresh Wonder" - but it is supposed to be warmer and sunny tomorrow so this may be postponed a day or two.... Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Birthday Musings - Sixth Decade

My youngest son went off to college and I moved to Ste. Genevieve, the first town in Missouri, where for the next more than six years I served as the executive director of the Bolduc House Museum, an 18th century French colonial historic site. My role was to "make this place sustainable for the next 50 years." So I turned over the tables and looked under the rugs and wrote exhibits and led a transformation from a traditional historic house museum to New France, the OTHER Colonial America with double the campus - paid in full, enough money in the bank to transition a former bank building to the gate and contextual museum, with gains in the mailing list, and the donor list, and a majority of grants requested funded. A job well done.

At the same time I started a PhD in Museum Studies through the University of Leicester in England (think Richard III). This has been a desire since my early twenties and I am thrilled to be most of the way through it now even though I do not have a clear goal for where it leads.

Three years into this process the years of juggling multiple balls at the same time took its toll and for the first time resilience failed and I began to experience a degree of burn out that was unprecedented.

Prayer being my default mode of living, I appealed to the Most High for His will and way through the narrow place and found myself repositioned beside still waters at a Christian Retreat Center in rural Missouri that you can find on FaceBook - Eden Haus Retreat.

At the end of the sixth decade that I have walked this earth, I resigned my position at the museum, moved to Eden Haus (a place of new beginnings) to help make this place thrive for its intended vision for His glory - it is the headquarters and retreat center of Glorious Praise World Outreach. There I have the unusual combination of autonomy and community, a place to finish my doctoral dissertation and to write the books that are in my heart and that I also hope will become a passive income for my later years but God has always been the One who gives my daily bread and my daily income and He who has ever been faithful to me will not change.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Birthday Musings - Fifth Decade

During the fifth decade everything changed. I acknowledged that there was a mismatch between my situation and my potential. Thanks to a very involved friend who promised and then kept the promise to "walk with me through the pain" that I did not even know I was experiencing, I made it through a very narrow path in what felt like a jungle, passing the yellow eyes burning hungrily at me in the dark and through some invisible but impermeable barrier to a resting place, a beach if you will. A place to wait and allow a retooling of my emotions and mind-sets, a place to raise the children, now as a single mother, with a new definition of what is normal, and to find surprising doors in places where there should have been no doors. I taught music (not one music class on any transcript after ninth grade!) in the St. Louis Public Schools. Have you read my novel, Pastor's Ex-Wife? That story includes lots of anecdotes taken from this experience.  I obtained a master's degree in teaching and realized that my old goal of earning a PhD was still very alive in my want-to. I started writing grants and doing strategic planning consultation for smaller, newer, transitioning and often faith-based nonprofit organizations. I compiled John F. Barker's collection of H-O Scale model trains that illustrates the history of rail in St. Louis from 1900 to 1990 and then I negotiated its acceptance as part of the collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library. I wrote the book, St. Louis Gateway Rail - the 1970's based on John's photographs of trains on the tracks in St. Louis from which he customized his models. It was published and is for sale by Arcadia. I continued a daily, hourly pursuit of the Most High by pushing into deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ, working in prayer mostly. I started a chapter of Aglow International in south St. Louis City and we conducted a weekly Bible study and prayer outreach from the Living Waters Laundromat off of Spring St. west of Grand and Itaska. I wrote a guidebook for praying tourists who visited St. Louis. The kids graduated and started leaving home with confidence and success in their future.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Birthday Musings - 4th Decade

This was the decade of pregnancy and diapers. Audrey was born, hated when anyone laughed, and had a personal mission to scale the mantel in the fraction of a minute my back would be turned. Next came Lottie - with nearly continuous ear infections and an imperial nature that refused to be separated from her bottle after Colin was born. He didn't walk until just weeks before Alice was born 18 months his junior. The whole time I was pregnant with her I struggled before the Lord: "I know I have room in my heart for another child but I don't think I have room in my hands....." She was born with allergies, a jaw that would not stay in place, and struggled to grow. I hemorrhaged and had a difficult time recovering from that birth. She could not nurse and three months later as I spent multiple mornings throwing up I said to the Lord - "I sure hope I have the flu" knowing it was Roger and I perceived Him - the Lord- replying in a verse: "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in my eyes." I could believe the first part of the verse but the second - that was the challenge of the pregnancy - it was NOT "marvelous" in my eyes. But, all along, since that first failed pregnancy in late 1976 until I conceived Roger, I knew that we did not have everyone yet. It was the only answer to the many people, friends who had invitation to criticize me and strangers who took it upon themselves to judge without any invitation, who assumed that we were being careless, thoughtless, and unfair to the children we already had to get another and another and I would not trade any of them for anything! And how do you do it? Well, they are not all three years old at the same time. There is grace and it takes work and total commitment..... And we moved to St. Louis to a large house on a large lot in Dogtown and I homeschooled, barefoot and pregnant, producing a massive garden with so many Oriental poppies followed by iris and peonies interspersed with vegetables and berries and I was miserable in a marriage that had failed at its inception but continued and the garden was a place of peace and prayer and the first verse the babies learned was "God says, 'No, No. Stay OUT of the garden!". God saw that Leah was unloved so He opened her womb. But I didn't recognize emotional pain any better than I could tell when I was in true labor and you would have thought I would have had that down pat.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Birthday Musings - Third Decade

Perhaps everyone has to learn to navigate disappointment, dashed dreams, and ruined hopes. This was the decade of discontent tempered by a deepening consecration and awareness of the One who does not disappoint. The decade opened with me finishing my junior year at Washington University in St. Louis where I majored in sociology - was doing a major independent study on changes in the role of the individual in Japan following World War II as it manifested in changes in the Japanese educational system. I was also taking Japanese, French, and Spanish. And then I got engaged and married in August. One miscarriage later I was pregnant with Esther and bed-ridden for the last six weeks until she was born at home attended by a neighbor not by design but because the doctor did not believe I was in true labor and did not arrive as planned. We lived in Hillsboro, attended and found a spiritual community at a small unaccredited Bible school and my degree was postponed for four years until after we returned to Missouri after spending time not achieving our goal in southern California. By the end of the decade, three miscarriages later, Nancy was born in Danville, Illinois, which is where I had my first significant job serving a nonprofit organization as the children's program coordinator for a battered woman's shelter. In that role I also traveled the state as the chairman of the children's committee of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence to conduct the first survey of children's program standards in state funded women's shelters. This job is where I learned that very dark Mary Kay foundation turns white arms brown but does not easily wash away - a key experience that I used with the main character in my novel,  Pastor's Ex-Wife - available for too little money right now on Amazon Kindle. The job ended when premature labor threatened to end this pregnancy and once again I was put to bed. Nancy was born during the 1984 Summer Olympics in the Danville hospital- thankfully our friends took Esther and forced their father to stop watching whatever competition was on at the moment.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Birthday Musings - Second Decade

I remember being overjoyed when I turned two numbers old - ten years old. I loved thinking that it would take more than my likely life time to make another digit. It was a complicated decade starting in 1966 - we moved out of the high rises and into a row house with a postage stamp front yard adorned with a large forsythia to which we added a Japanese split maple tree. After sixth grade I left the little Lutheran school I had attended since kindergarten for a girls' preparatory school in Brooklyn and learned to navigate the daily commute via two subway trains and about a half mile walk on either end. The academics were advanced but the social life dwindled because of the distance I lived away but I fell in love with theater, started directing plays, spent two summers in Vermont where my uncle ran a summer stock theater and where I got to be the gopher, substitute stage manager and general grunt. Girl Scouting was an important part of my life and for a brief time I was on the junior editorial board of the American Girl Magazine but that never made my resume. Maybe it should have. I found myself running from the Hound of Heaven until I was 17 and an exchange student in England, engaged-not any more to an American who was about to enter seminary. Fully aware that to become a Christian in the full born-again, no turning back sense of that word, would cost me everything (and it did but it also made everything good about who I am today possible) I stumbled snotty and exhausted into His kingdom a few months before entering college in St. Louis where I gained more understanding of God and His ways thanks to classmates, a former nun, now deceased named Barbara Ann Chase, and a few amazing mentors - Bob Canfield, Kathy Woodard, Diane and Jack Binnington. Urbana '73 was pivotal - I met Elizabeth Elliott and there connected my destiny with the nations of the earth. Following that - and my passion for languages, I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Summer Institute of  Linguistics in 1975 thinking that I would join Wycliff as a Bible Translator. But that goal post moved when I got married in 1976 - six months prior to the end of my second decade.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Birthday Musings - First Decade

The birthday I remember anticipating with the most delight was 1966 when I turned two numbers old. One decade lived and now I am entering a seventh. Hence I reflect back starting with the first- including Eisenhower as president, JFK's assassination, air raid drills at my New York City elementary school, and a generally pleasant childhood with my younger sisters spent in high rise apartment buildings, black-topped play grounds, Saturday trips with my father to the butcher's and the liquor store where we got licorice and lollipops while the men visited, and frequent trips to my grand-father's dairy farm in Vermont where women and girls were not allowed in the barn but where I was allowed to help dig a sewage trench with the men. The summer before I entered kindergarten we vacationed on the beach in Maine and I was allowed to go alone only as far as the life-guard chair. After a few weeks we drove to San Francisco and I remember pulling a hair out of the ranger's horse's tail in Colorado, seeing sand dunes in a big desert, visiting a jail in a ghost town and watching my father give an Indian boy who was about my size a quarter after he did a dance. I also remember liquid yellow dramamine that tasted like what it looked like but did seem to mitigate the constant motion sickness that would not be willed away.

Perhaps the most important adults in my life in this earliest decade were my maternal grandmother who kept me many weekends at her flat in Brooklyn, and my Uncle Ted who romped with me and gave me books for birthdays and asked me to be the ring bearer at his wedding. I loved school, generally found it too easy and boring, except for third grade which I hated and apparently misbehaved routinely during class.

I wanted to be an author then or a doctor and escaped most of my free time into books - no matter the genre. I gobbled up the Nancy Drews, Cherry Ames, and Hardy Boys but hated the Borrowers and the Bobbsy Twins. For several weeks during fourth grade, I hurried home from school to get to my radio in time to hear the next section read aloud of the newly published Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I memorized a lot of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson but was terrified to finish reading Kidnapped - nearly as frightened as I was to watch The Wizard of Oz.  In fact, I did not like watching movies because the images wouldn't fade out of my mind and came back to haunt me at night. The only book that I could not comprehend when I first picked it up was Gibbons' Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. I found it on an uncle's bookshelf when it was too hot to be outside and the grown-ups obviously did not want us around whatever they were doing.

I am told that, when taken by my grandmother to Sunday School for the first time, I did not know the words to the song, "Jesus loves me," so I sang "Old MacDonald" really loudly. I seem to remember being in a dress with a puffy skirt and the scratchy netting under-skirt and sitting on a back-less bench in the first row at a church basement with lots of children I did not know next to me and in rows behind me.

If I had to wear anything with elastic at the ankles or wrists I was miserable and bit or cut the cloth to make it bearable. At the little Italian restaurant on 63rd Drive where we often ate, I remember loving the calamari. My father always took me- just me- to one day of the US Open Tennis Tournament in September and I would wear my new school clothes for the occasion and try to match his responses to the players' moves. I remember running my gloved fingers over chains and banisters around the city, watching them turn black and then sucking the soot off of them while my mother scolded me to get my hands out of my mouth.I am glad that we girls no longer have to wear white gloves and dresses to go out in public, by the way.

What is this post all about and how does it connect with who I am today as a writer and person of faith? Soon I will be entering my seventh decade which is causing me to reflect back on the first six.... Perhaps it is a selfish indulgence but it seems important to me. You can follow the next few posts if it interests you.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Dorothy Sayers on Writing and the Trinity

My eighth grade English teacher introduced me to Shakespeare, E.E. Cummings, and essays by writers on writing. I still read them all. Currently I am enjoying a piece of non-fiction - a theological analogy by the murder mystery writer, Dorothy L. Sayers, on how the structure of a creative (author's) mind is a reflection of the Christian Trinity. She discusses the book as at one and the same time an Idea, an Energy, and a Power. The "Book as Thought" is analogous to God the Father; the "Book as Written" compares to God the Son, and the "Book as Read" is for God the Holy Spirit. Throughout the piece she uses her own experience as the author of the Peter Whimsy books to illustrate her claims. They make sense to me as an author as well. I think that this book should be the basis for the meditations of a Christian writers' retreat. I think I will try to make that happen.