About the Guest
Does faith encourage art, or does art encourage faith? Barbara Rainey recalls the moment in her mothering when she realized that her children must be her priority and her art, specifically her water coloring, must be set aside for a season. But as her children grew and left the nest, Barbara tells how she once again picked up her brush and starting honing her skills through art classes. Her renewed interest had her wondering how she might use her artistic bent for a creative use, and "Ever Thine Home" products and resources were born.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey recalls the moment in her mothering when she realized that her children must be her priority.
Bob: We’ve all heard how important it is to stop and smell the roses. Barbara Rainey thinks it’s important for families to stop and celebrate the work of God in our lives.
Barbara: I think in the busyness of modern-day life—with lessons, and practices, and school, and everything else—I think it’s so easy to overlook those moments that we, as moms and dads, need to celebrate. When our kids make a really good decision, sometimes, we just pat them on the head and say, “Way to go;” and then we’re off—when it really should be celebrated, significantly, so that—that good decision that our son or our daughter made—that’s reinforced in a way that he goes: “Oh! I want to do that again.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today forMonday, October 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. When was the last time there was some celebrating around your house? We’re going to talk today about how you can engineer a little celebrating in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think we ought to tell our listeners what your wife has been up to.
Dennis: I agree with you. Let’s introduce her. Barbara joins us on FamilyLife Today. She’s been on the broadcast far too few times [Laughter]—our listeners keep telling us that. I keep telling her that; and yet, she is human—she’s not bionic.
Bob: She can only do so much.
Dennis: She can only do so much. She is—I really wish her listeners could go back in her studio and see where she creates a lot of the things she’s creating for families.
Bob: Are you talking about her—by the way, Barbara, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: Are you talking about her studio at home—her studio—because there’s this workroom, down here at the end of the hall—are you talking about that?
Dennis: Yes; yes.
Bob: You talking about her office?
Dennis: Yes—it’s in all three—[Laughter] because it’s all over all three. She’s at work!
Barbara: Well, the one that the listeners need to see is the one at home because “my studio” sounds so lofty and so wonderful—
Dennis: And the studio—
Barbara: It’s really my laundry room! [Laughter] So, all the moms, listening, will go: “Oh! That makes me feel so much better!—because my—where I work, at home, is in the laundry room.
Bob: This is where you’ve been working on—and it’s hard to know, exactly, how to describe what it is you’ve been working on—artistic discipleship tools for families.
Barbara: Wow! That’s a unique description!
Bob: How’s that? That’s not bad! Because really it is the combination of beautiful art, a heart for discipleship, and a desire to see families engaged around the Scriptures—that you bring all of that together in the resources you’ve been putting together—
Barbara: That’s correct. That’s really well done, Bob. Thank you. [Laughter]
Dennis: —as well as making memorable moments together.
Dennis: It really is about, you know, holidays, birthdays, and all the times when families really excel; but, with just a little preparation, you can turn them into truly memorable moments.
Bob: Well, and of course, this is a big holiday week because, on Thursday, families, all around the world, will be gathering together to celebrate the posting of the 95 Theses on the door at Wittenberg, Germany.
That took place in 1517—October, the thirty-first. Of course, that’s what everybody is paying attention to on October 31; right?
Barbara: I know. It’s all over the stores. [Laughter]
Dennis: Of course—Reformation Day.
Barbara: Yes, exactly!
Bob: Do you have a resource yet for Reformation Day?
Barbara: No, but I would love to get a resource for Reformation Day. [Laughter] I seriously would.
Dennis: Yes, something to take the place of Halloween—no doubt about it.
Bob: You do have some resources that have Thanksgiving in mind. Before we talk about those—you had the opportunity, earlier this year, to get together with a group of moms and speak to them. Tell us about the event where you were speaking.
Barbara: It was last spring. I was in Pine Cove, Texas—it’s actually a camp near Tyler, Texas. My good friend, Tracey Eyster, who runs the MomLife Today® blog—that’s a part of FamilyLife—she put on a retreat for moms. It’s called MomLife Bootcamp™. It’s run at the camp. All these moms showed up—about 200/300 moms came for a weekend away—without kids, and without having to cook, and without responsibility.
Tracey lined up a group of women who spoke to the women. Then, in their free time, they had time to do the zip-line, and ride horses, and do all kinds of fun stuff that they can’t do in their normal life.
Bob: Well, I listened to the messages from the MomLife Bootcamp. I heard your messages. In one of your messages, you told a story about where the desire to do what you’re doing kind of first came from. I don’t know that I’d ever heard the story. So, I asked our engineer, Keith—I said, “Would you get this?”
Can we just listen to it together? Then, you can, maybe, tell a little bit more about it. Is this okay if we play this?
Barbara: Sure, of course.
Bob: This is from the MomLife Bootcamp. This is Barbara—just sharing about—well, this would go back to the 1970s. Listen to this.
Barbara: When I was a young mom, and I just had two kids—Ashley was two and her little brother, Benjamin, was six months—I was still trying to keep this part of my life—that I had a lot of interest in—which was watercolor painting. I was still trying to keep that alive.
I’d taken some classes before we got married. I took some classes after we got married. I loved kind of dabbling in it, here and there.
A friend of mine asked me to do a painting—friend of ours asked me to do a painting for him—for his new office. I thought: “Well, that’s pretty cool. I’ve never been asked to do a commission before.” I was really excited about that. I got out all my stuff on the kitchen table. I remember starting to work on this project, and the kids—I’d started during naptime—the kids got up from their nap, and I wasn’t finished. I was going: “Leave me alone. I have to do this. I have to finish this;” and they bugged me. So, I put it away and got it out the next day.
They got up from nap before I was finished. You know: “Mommy! Mommy, we need this! We need that.” I remember getting really irritated with them and thinking: “My gosh! Leave me alone for just a few minutes so I can finish. Don’t you know this is important? I’m going to get paid.” I just thought: “I have to finish this! This is really critical that I do this.” I realized, in that moment, I didn’t like who I was with my kids because I was trying to do something else.
The Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me. He reminded me—not so much of a specific verse—as it was a principle of Scripture that I knew to be true—and that is—God had given me my children to raise. I had two jobs. I knew, from Scripture, that my first job was to be a wife; and my second job was to be a mom.
I finished that assignment for him, and I finished the painting. This is, literally, what I did—I took all my stuff—packed it in the box—put it in a cardboard box—put the lid down on the cardboard box—wrote “Art Supplies” on the outside—and put it up on the shelf in a closet. When I put it up on the shelf, I said: “Lord, this is Yours. If You don’t want me to use it, that’s Your business.”
I know enough about God to know that He knows what He’s doing. So, that’s part of the reason why the fact that I’m getting to do Ever Thine Home™ now is so rewarding and so fulfilling—
because I put all that on the shelf. I gave it all up for God and would have been perfectly happy if He hadn’t given it back to me; but He did, and it makes it all the sweeter.
Now, the importance of this story is not so much what I did—although, I hope it will help encourage some of you to think through your priorities—think about what’s important in your life today—but because I want you to understand that the Holy Spirit spoke that to me. What we do so often, as women, is we hear a story like that; and we go: “Oh! Maybe, that’s what I should do.”
We don’t go inside and say, “Holy Spirit, who lives in me, what do You want me to do?” Do you want to know what the will of God is for your life? The only way you’re going to know the will of God for your life is by listening to the Spirit of God—not looking at other people—not doing what other friends are doing—but listening to the Spirit of God.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Barbara Rainey share a story from a recent event for moms. Do you remember that time, Dennis, when she boxed up those art supplies?
Dennis: I do. As a husband, I understood that it was a sacrificial statement, by her, to do that but not as much as I do, now, looking back. I wish I had praised her more for making that decision, at that time, and given her some more affirmation, and praise, and appreciation for that because most of us—as men, husbands, fathers—I don’t think we can say enough to appreciate our wives for the role they fulfill in being a wife and a mom.
The cool thing that I think about this story is—now, looking back on it—is how God honored Barbara’s obedience, at that point, to fulfill her two God-given primary responsibilities—that of being a wife—and that had an enormous sacrifice to it—and also being a mom—and the sacrifices of that.
Looking back on it, now, I think God was pleased with her sacrifice. He’s now birthing something that is going to help a lot of homes—a lot of marriages, and families, and extended families—I think, for generations to come because what she’s creating is going to last. It’s going to be passed on.
Bob: Barbara, did you ever find yourself, after you had put those art supplies up on the shelf, wishing you could get them back down again—resenting your kids because they were getting in the way of what you wanted to do?
Barbara: Yes, because the work of being a mom is so often—not so often—I would say it’s really all of the time—it’s pretty thankless. I mean, kids don’t get up in the morning and say, “Gosh, Mom! Thanks for doing my laundry.” They don’t say, “Thanks for fixing my food.” They don’t say, “Thank you,” for anything; in fact, if anything, they complain about the food that you fix.
I think that, “Yes, I did want to get that stuff back down,” because there’s a sense of fulfillment in being able to, for me—or anybody who has an ability to do something—there’s a sense of fulfillment in accomplishing it because you can have a starting point, and an ending point, and it’s done. You can say, “Finished.”
Parenting is such a—there’s no completion point, really, until they’re grown and gone. So, it’s thankless, and it’s frustrating, and it’s difficult. So, “Yes,” I wanted to get it off the shelf; but I never did.
Bob: Did you find yourself kind of wishing you hadn’t had so many kids so you could get back to doing art?
Barbara: No, that wasn’t ever a problem because I really did trust that, when God wanted to give it back to me, He would give it back to me. I was—I really was content trusting Him with that. I really was honestly content that if He didn’t give it back, He knew what He was doing. It was okay.
Bob: Did you find yourself thinking—when your youngest was in her senior year of high school and getting ready for college—were you thinking, “You know, when she leaves, I can get the art supplies back out.”
Barbara: I actually started before that. [Laughter]
I had a friend who introduced me to another friend who taught art lessons. I actually started taking some art lessons when our youngest was a sophomore in high school because, by then, I just had two kids at home.
Bob: You had a little more spare time.
Barbara: I had quite a bit more free time. So, I started taking watercolor classes when she was a sophomore in high school.
Dennis: She started dreaming and started talking about, “What if?” and articulating some of the things she’d like to do for families. I really kind of watched this re-birth occur in her as margins reappeared into her life—which moms, who are listening to us today, need to hear. Husbands need to remind their wives, occasionally, that there will be another season, outside of raising children, where there will be more time for some of these matters. But she kicked it back into gear. Not long after Laura left home to go away to college, she really began to pursue her interest in earnest.
Bob: Here’s what’s been interesting to me. You didn’t just dive back into painting; although, you’ve done some of that. You started exploring lots of different ways for artistic expression. It really blossomed from what had just been paints and watercolors to a whole different approach—all of it built around the idea that you want to use art in a way that can communicate eternal truth.
Barbara: Exactly; because—while I loved art and while I have loved being creative all my life—and by the way, just because I put my paints in a box and put them on a shelf didn’t mean I stopped being creative when I was raising our kids. I just was creative in other ways—I enjoyed helping kids with the science fair projects. I enjoyed painting rooms. I mean, I was always dabbling in something creative.
Dennis: Yes, and I want to bear witness to the truth of that—about painting rooms. I learned how to paint—to just paint rooms, at the direction of Barbara. [Laughter] It was her desire to make our home beautiful and attractive. For the most part, I did that without begrudging.
Barbara: For the most part.
Dennis: For the most part—and helped. I let her do the trim, and I did the roller.
Bob: When did you start to see the opportunities for art expanding beyond just a canvas and paint? Do you remember?
Barbara: I think it really sort of happened, simultaneously, because, in the early ‘90s, I started doing some pretty serious Bible Study. It was not long after that that I started doing art again. So, it sort of—they both sort of happened at the same time. I began to think through, as my kids left home and as I had more free time, about all the things that—and I think moms do this—probably, dads do some, too—but I remember thinking about the things that I wished I could have done: “I wish that I could have made Christmas more meaningful,” “I wish I could have taught them more of what I was learning in the Bible,” or whatever it was.
It wasn’t that I was all wrapped up in regrets as much as it was there were things that I knew that I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to teach my kids more about Christ; but I was so busy, as a mom. I was so overwhelmed. I was so tired all the time, and I couldn’t find anything available. I didn’t have the time and energy to create something like what I wanted to be able to teach my kids, and to engage with my kids, and to interact with them, and to create that atmosphere for our family.
As I began to think about what I wanted to do in my empty-nest years, it just started to make sense that if I could help create some things that would help parents who were raising kids, since we’re not doing it anymore. So, for my kids—for our kids and their families—if I could help create some things that would help them do what I always longed to do—that that would be a great use of my time and my energies. So, the way the art fits into that—I just have a real passion for us, as believers, to create—not just beautiful—but things that really have good value, as we create resources.
I think, in the Christian community, we’ve kind of slacked off on that. We don’t build grand cathedrals anymore. We build really efficient, functional buildings. I think we lose some of the grandeur and the wonder of God when we settle for—just for things being utilitarian. I think, when we take the beauty out, we lose some of who He is. So, I wanted to be able to put that back into it.
Bob: So, explain for our listeners—because you brought one of the things you’ve been working on, recently, into the studio with us.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: I’ve seen this before. I saw this back at Easter, but you’ve made some changes to what it was you’re working on. Explain what it is and what you call it.
Barbara: This is called the Gathered Round. The reason it’s called that is because it’s a round card-holder. Picture something that you can stick greeting cards in, or you could stick post cards in, or you can stick photographs in it.
You could call it a wreath because it’s shaped like a wreath. In the center is a chalk-board. It’s meant to be something that a family would purchase. You put it on your kitchen counter, you put it on your kitchen table, or you set it on an entry-way table. It has a stand so it can stand alone on all of those places; but the stand is also removable. You could hang it on your front door, without the stand. What it’s meant to be is—it’s meant to be a place where the family celebrates life.
A lot of families have message boards. We have white-boards with our calendars—we’re always talking about our to-do list, who’s going where when—but this is meant to be the focus of, “How do we celebrate the truly important moments of life?”
I think, in the busyness of modern-day life—with lessons, and practices, and school, and everything else—I think it’s so easy to overlook those moments that we, as moms and dads, need to celebrate.
When our kids make a really good decision, sometimes we just pat them on the head and say, “Way to go;” and then we’re off—when it really should be celebrated, significantly, so that—that good decision that our son or our daughter made—that’s reinforced in a way that he goes: “Oh! I want to do that again.”
Bob: It looks like it’s about 2½ feet tall. Is that about right; do you think?
Barbara: Eighteen/twenty-four inches.
Bob: It’s, as you said, it’s a wreath on a stand, with a chalk-board in the middle.
Bob: And you can put greeting cards, or notes, or, kind of whatever you want to in the wreath part of it. On the chalk-board—if it’s somebody’s birthday, you can write “Happy Birthday”.
Barbara: Yes. You can say: “Great! You got your braces off!” You can say, “Congratulations on passing your drivers’ test.” You can say, “Welcome”. You’ve got friends coming over for dinner—“Welcome to the Walkers”. Or if you’ve got a friend—someone new moved to town and you’re having the new neighbor over for coffee—you can write, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” and stick a bunch of recipes on it that you’re going to give her for a gift.
There are all kinds of things that can be done with it. It’s intended to be very versatile, very practical. I mean, kids can go up and write notes on it, too. It’s not just for moms and dads.
Bob: It’s kind of hard to describe, but folks can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s a link there that they can see what this looks like and see how it would look in a room. It’s designed to draw families together; isn’t it?—
Dennis: —and to celebrate individuals. I mean, I know one of the things we would have used this for was—one of our sons turned away from pornography, in his teenage years, and made a choice—and we found out about it.
Dennis: Well, this would be a great place to say: “Way to go, Ben!” “Way to go, Samuel!” Maybe, not advertise what exactly happened to everybody but to just celebrate a great choice because those are the things we sometimes walk by, in our busy schedules and life. We don’t take the time to pay attention to them.
Barbara: I think it’s easy for moms and dads to do the birthdays and do the holidays because they’re on the calendar. We know it is coming. We know we’ve got a week / we’ve got two weeks—however long. So, we make ourselves gear up for those events.
But when something really cool happens at school, or the—those kinds of milestones in family life—the character-building moments—the things that are really important—it’s just too easy to whiz by those. If you’ve got a way to celebrate that, I think it helps cement, in your child’s heart, what’s important.
Bob: Well, you look at Old Testament history. The nation was called to celebrate milestones, regularly—
Bob: —whether it was feasts or festivals, or stones of remembrance, or story-telling. This is just a way that a family can live out that same concept in their own homes.
Barbara: Exactly. That’s a great illustration because that’s what it’s all about.
Dennis: And there’s other holidays coming up—one, immediately—Thanksgiving. There are other resources that Barbara has created, that fit in with Gathered Round, that can be used as a part celebrating what you want to be grateful for and thankful for.
Bob: Yes. I think a lot of what you’ve been working on, Barbara, really needs to be seen. We can talk about it, here on FamilyLife Today; but until listeners go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for the Ever Thine Home resources—and can really see what it is we’re talking about—they can’t get the full picture of what it is you’ve been working on.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link we have there for Barbara’s resources. The link says, “Ever Thine Home”. Click on that, and you can see what the Gathered Round metal wreath looks like. Find out more about the Untie Your Story resource, that you developed, and something else for Thanksgiving, called Written and Remembered. All of it is online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You’ll get a full explanation of what’s available and how to use it. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the Ever Thine Home link.
Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We have a team of folks who’d be happy to answer any questions you have about any of these resources. They can make arrangements to have the ones you want sent to you. Call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Someone on our team can help you with any questions you have about the resources Barbara has been developing.
And of course, it was a couple years ago that—Barbara, you wrote a book about Thanksgiving—called Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. Our team has put together an audio version of that book that tells the story of the very first Thanksgiving, in a dramatized fashion, that’s great for families to listen to as the Thanksgiving holidays approach.
In fact, let me just play a little clip from Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember so you can hear a little bit of what the audio-book sounds like.
William Bradford was one of those who decided to embark on the adventure. During the exile in Holland, he had met and married a young woman named Dorothy May. The couple later had a son named John, who was particularly precious to his mother.
Because of the anticipated hardships awaiting the Separatists in America, as well as the rigors of the ocean voyage, some decided to leave family members behind in Holland. They hoped that in the near future all could be reunited in the new land. This was true of the Bradfords, who sadly chose to leave five-year-old John in the care of others: [Dorothy crying] “Dorothy May, we must trust in the Sovereign to give us hope and rest—to the best for he and thee.” “But the boy is precious to my soul, William. Can the beckoning of a new land cause us to forego our steadfast duty to our own son?” [Crying]
“God’s will be done. God’s will be done.”
Bob: The audio book is great for families to listen to at Thanksgiving time. This week, we’re making the audio book available to those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. We are listener-supported. Your donations are what make this daily radio program possible, and we are grateful for your financial support.
Let me encourage you—go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation, and we’ll send you the audio book for Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make a donation over the phone, and ask for the audio book about Thanksgiving when you get in touch with us. We’ll send that on to you.
You can also request the audio book and send your donation to us by mail. Our address is FamilyLife Today, P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223. And let me just say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your financial support. We do appreciate your partnership in this ministry.
And we hope you can be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to talk about how to get rid of small talk—how to have some more meaningful conversations at the dinner table this year during the holidays or anytime. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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