There are so many amazing people in our community; going through hard stuff, navigating life, and making a difference along the way. We want to introduce them to you, one by one, so you can be encouraged, inspired and above all, know that you aren’t alone.
Meet Linda and Jen Barrick. Today’s featured Wednesday Warriors. Read along to hear more of their powerful story and how God has been “reframing” it along the way.
What life challenges have you/are you overcoming?
In 2006, Our family was hit head-on by a drunk driver going over 80 mph, leaving us all with significant injuries but my daughter Jen with the lifelong challenge of living with a severe traumatic brain injury. Her vision and short-term memory are limited and she suffers daily from headaches and exhaustion. Everyday normal tasks are often overwhelming for her. Then, in 2014, both Jen and my husband Andy were diagnosed with cancer near the places where they had sustained most of their injuries and had repeated x-rays. Just as we were starting to use our pain for a purpose, this reopened the wounds and questions about God’s goodness and ultimately led us to another layer of forgiveness toward the young man who was drinking and driving and hit our family.
When my daughter Jen found out she had cancer, in her child-like faith she exclaimed, “God is expanding my ministry! Not everyone can relate to a brain injury, but everyone can relate to cancer! I’m going to use my cancer to tell more people about Jesus!” She also decided to write the drunk driver a letter and tell him she has forgiven him and that she prays for him every day.
What is something that most people don’t know about you, but you want them to know?
My husband Andy and I started dating when I was 14 and still in braces!
How has God helped you “Reframe” your perspective along the way?
After the accident, Jen spent 3 months in rehab relearning how to walk, talk, and eat. My whole goal was to get her back to “normal.” I tried to ” fix her” and help her get back to all the normal high school activities, but no amount of effort on my part could help her get back to her old life. She’d never cheer again, drive, or play soccer. Relationships were difficult for her to maintain on her own. One day Jen said to me, “Mom, why do you want me to be normal? I never wanted to blend in. I was begging God to make me different and give me boldness. My dream is to shine with a hint of God’s glory!”
God convicted my heart and showed me to quit mourning the things that would never be the same again in our family and instead to celebrate the new things! He was pouring out His Spirit on Jen in such a powerful, beautiful way. Even though her mind and body was broken, the Holy Spirit was perfect and whole inside of her. Jen could quote every verse she had ever hidden in her heart and she could sing every praise song. She would pray and talk to God for hours and just praise Him.
Through our pain, God birthed a ministry called Hope Out Loud that helps hurting and broken people and families all over the world. We travel and speak as a family in schools, churches and community events. In our weakness, God is strong. Jen isn’t normal, she’s extraordinary! God is using her story to shout to others that God is real. In her brokenness, she has contagious JOY and unexplainable peace! We have seen thousands of people accept Jesus as their personal Savior because Jen is an instrument that God can speak through. She can’t plan ahead what she is going to say because of her short-term memory loss, but the Holy Spirit gives her the words in the moment. When we use our pain to tell others about Jesus, that is when God turns our scars into “BEAUTY MARKS”!
What is your super-power?
I’ll brag on Jen. Jen’s superpower is positivity. Her brain injury changed her personality and turned my shy, introspective daughter into a bold witness who says everything she thinks out loud. But she cannot say anything negative! If she does, she apologizes right away.
On days when I am struggling or doubting God’s goodness, Jen will tell me, “Mom, you need a brain injury 🙂 Your problem is that your brain gets in the way and you think too much. You just need to let go and trust God.”
My new favorite quote of Jen’s: “It’s like I don’t know how to worry. I only know how to trust God.” I guess in that sense her brain injury is her super-power! God reframed her personality, her purpose, and her passion!
What good has come out of your trial?
God opened our eyes to hurting, broken people and gave us a platform we would have never had without our accident. We have seen over 11,000 people give their hearts to Jesus because of our ministry Hope Out Loud. Part of Jen’s new personality is that she says everything out loud. So, to survive the pain and struggle of her injuries, she would pray and quote Scripture out loud constantly! She say things like, “God, thank you for healing me and raising me up” while she was still sitting in a wheelchair. Sure enough, God started answering her prayers. It became a way of life for us to praise God in advance, quote Scripture out loud and post it all over our house, and to pray constantly over every little detail.
How has your faith changed along the way?
Before the accident, I taught Bible studies and led prayer groups in my home for over a decade. I had a deep walk with God, but I had not personally led anyone to Jesus since I was 5 years old and I told my girlfriend on the swing set in the backyard how to pray and invite Jesus into her heart.
After the accident, Jen couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. Everywhere we went, all over town, she asked people, “Do you know Jesus?” Her injury pushed us into a family ministry where we tell everyone we meet about Jesus because you can’t go anywhere with Jen without her telling people about Him!
Jen says, “When we get to heaven, God is going to ask, ‘Who did you bring with you? What did you do with the story I gave you? Was it all about you or all about Me?'”
How has God used your story?
God has helped us write several books and Bible studies that are impacting people all over the world. You can find them in our online store at Hopeoutloud,com
- Miracle for Jen
- Beauty Marks: Healing for Your Wounded Heart (with 6-week-study in the back and DVDs)
- Unbreakable Devotional for Men
- Total Bliss Bible Study on Philippians with videos
The most exciting NEW RELEASE is Priceless: Who I Am When I Feel. I recorded Jen on my iPhone and we wrote a devotional called Priceless to relate to what every teenage girl is thinking and feeling with the truth of what Jesus believes about them. Jen has helped hundreds of girls find confidence in Jesus and truth in God’s Word during the time when they are accused of being “emotional rollercoasters.” She believes our emotions create a space for God to express His love and goodness to us.
What is a highlight of your story?
While Jen was still in the hospital emerging from the coma, she did not recognize me or her family. But she woke up in the middle of the night praying for hours, quoting Scripture, and singing every praise song she had ever committed to memory. It was like she was literally sitting in the throne room of God at His feet, and He was supernaturally giving her the ability to communicate with Him.
At this same time, she would get wheeled to speech therapy and couldn’t lift her head or tell you the names of simple objects, but if you started quoting Scripture, Jen would finish every word! One time when she was particularly upset and in pain, we started singing “Silent Night.” Jen finished the song and shouted “Amen” at the end with a giggle and seemed to be staring at something up to the right. Something in the glow of her face made me ask, “Jen, do you see Jesus?” She said, “Yes! Don’t you see Him? He is standing right here beside me!”
That moment in time changed me forever. Jen was completely blind at this time from her brain injury. She could not look at me and know that I was her mom. And yet, Jesus made Himself so real to her. Jen says, “I love to view Jesus as my escort. He is walking beside me, holding my hand.”
If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, He is your escort too. You are never alone!
Where can people find you?