Today’s interview is with a speaker, author, encourager, and family friend. I suppose I first met Claudia Barba when I was a child, but was able to re-meet her a couple years ago when she and her husband Dave served at my church for several months. As the mother of 3 grown children, Claudia knows what it’s like to seek God through the busy years of little ones. When I contacted her about participating in this series, her primary concern was that she didn’t want to cause guilt for young moms since she’s in a vastly different stage of life as an empty nester. I told her that knowing she was even concerned about that potential made her the exact person I wanted to interview!
I was richly encouraged through this interview with Claudia – I trust you will be as well!
“As soon as I’m awake, I talk to the Lord, give thanks for sleep, safety and life, hand Him control of the day, and ask Him to fill me with His Spirit. Often a scrap of scripture will pop into my mind or the words of a song will start floating through my head, and I know the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. I love those early moments, and they make me want to get up and hear more.
I pour coffee and sit down in my prayer closet (recliner). Then I stick my nose in the Word and leave it there. I normally plow through Bible books, though I have occasionally done topical studies. As I read, I mark and underline in my Bible and make notes in the margins. If a passage is especially needed, or I am studying to memorize or teach it, I copy its verses into my journal, search out the original meanings of the words (I use Power Bible for this) and amplify the passage, paraphrasing it for myself. I’m always writing as I read.
I look at notes in a study Bible or commentaries (also in Power Bible) for applications or explanations and add favorites to my journal. As I finish, I usually write a sentence prayer based on what I’ve learned. I learn best by writing things down, and when I use this method, the scripture opens itself up to me, and it becomes mine.
As I have time, I also read books on spiritual topics—usually whatever my husband is just finishing and passes along to me. I read Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening and Bagster’s Daily Light, and Valley of Vision is always handy. I have and use a MacArthur Study Bible, a Life Application Bible, a Pilgrim Study Bible, and a Jeremiah Study Bible. Power Bible is my computer resource, and I use it constantly. It’s simple enough for me and doesn’t overwhelm me with two much information.”
“The desire comes when I get started, and I get started because it’s a habit to do nothing else first.
If I start out feeling anxious or cold at heart, I sing to the Lord one of the worship hymns in my prayer notebook (silently, for my husband’s sake). That calms me down and warms me up.”
“My driest times of Bible study are during heavy trials. Strange, because it’s also the time when Scripture means the most to me. But when I hurt, I find it hard to focus and absorb what I am reading. Too distracted, I guess. So I interrupt whatever study routine I’m in at the time to wallow in the Psalms or meditate on chapters that I have hidden in my heart.
During trials it’s also hard for me to pray except for the specific problem at hand, and that easily turns into worrying instead, so instead of trying to get new insights from the Word, or praying widely for all the needs in the world, I quiet my heart by quoting God’s promises to Him. My sister calls that “showing God His handwriting.””
“Long ago Beneth Jones recommended that I memorize scripture by chapters like she does, and this has changed my life by changing my thinking. I began with Psalm 103 and have kept up the habit for a couple of decades. Those chapters have added up to books and those books have become precious to me. (I have thanked her over and over.)
I copy/paste each chapter into a Word file, separating it into paragraphs and working on a paragraph at a time, which makes more sense to me than fretting about verse numbers. I keep the chapters in a notebook that’s divided into 30 sections, one for each day of the month, so I’m always reviewing. Of course I forget and have to re-learn, but the encouraging thing is that the ones I recall best are the ones I memorized the longest time ago. It’s a lifetime project. I hope that when I’m senile and forget my own name, I’ll still remember those words.
Mediation comes most naturally when I’m driving or too sick to read or simply trying to fall asleep. In the night, especially if I wake up troubled about something, I start reviewing a chapter, and peace comes back. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep like this . . .“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in … and faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and . . . . “ zzzzzzzzzz
When I am working on new chapters, they become the focus of my Bible study. I want to really understand what I am learning.”
“I write a lot while I study. I use Pilot Precise V5 black pens (because I love way the ink flows) and pretty, quality Bible-size journals that my husband knows I love and gives me as gifts.”
“I did pretty much the same things but downsized. I still read and wrote down what I learned. My time wasn’t early morning, though. It was during nap time, if they cooperated. If not, I would leave my Bible open on the kitchen counter and grab verses as I could, to chew on and think about while I handled their needs. (That idea came from Ruth Bell Graham, who had 5 children and a husband who traveled for weeks at a time.)
I remember how I cherished church services. It was sometimes the only time I could sit down all day long. I learned to leave the children in nurseries without guilt so I could feed my soul. And I also learned to be gentle with myself when I came a long way from reaching my goals for studying the Bible. My husband used to remind me to think of life like a washing machine with different cycles—I wouldn’t always be stuck on agitate. Later there would be time for soak. He was right. It’s something to look forward to. Reject false guilt and do what you can.”
Claudia Barba is the author of three Bible study books for women: Refresh Your Heart, When Christ Was Here, and The Role of a Lifetime, as well as The Monday Morning Club, an encouraging book for women in ministry.
Claudia speaks to women’s meetings and retreats all over the USA and continues to write for women who want to know God through knowing His Word. You can find more of Claudia’s writings here.
Thank you, Claudia, for sharing your heart and time with us!
Find all the Dwelling Richly interviews right here!