Painted by Mary Wallace
Barbara is now at home with Jesus. She lost the battle with cancer February 25, 2009. The memorial service was a tremendous blessing to those who love and remember her unselfish acts of kindness.
Mrs. Barbara Lay is an outstanding example of calm serenity in the midst of fighting the battle of cancer. My husband and I have been guests in the Lay home several times where she served us fabulous meals and each time we left with a couple of loaves of her homemade bread. She is truly an example for everyone. I would like to thank her husband, Keith, for helping me with the details of Barbara's radiant life.
This month's spotlight is not highlighting a Christian lady that leads a large church ministry, nor one that conducts national speaking engagements, nor even the wife of a prominent man in full-time ministry. The lady we highlight this month is just an ordinary wife and mother that is using her ministry as wife, mother and church member as she honors her Lord and Savior and is a blessing to others.
Barbara was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1952. She graduated from college with a degree in elementary education. Barbara has been married for 35 years, having met her husband in college. God blessed her with four children (three daughters and one son) and they presently have seven grandchildren. All three daughters graduated from Bob Jones University, all married sons of pastors and all are faithfully serving the Lord in their local churches. Her son is a United States Marine presently on duty in Afghanistan.
Barbara began her career as a teacher in public school. Both she and her husband got saved during their first year and half of marriage. Barbara left the elementary classroom upon having her first child, for she preferred to be a full-time mother at home. She’s acutely aware of the financial burden that comes from a one income family -- managing food budgets, clipping coupons, seeking clothing sales, sewing clothes, visiting yard sales, etc.
Throughout the years, the family has been faithful to a local Baptist church. Barbara has used her gifts and talents as a ladies’ Sunday school teacher, choir member, nursery worker, children’s church pianist, soulwinning visitation, Gospel tract distribution and anywhere there was a need that she could be used of God. But her primary ministry has always been to her family and to be an encouragement to others. Over the years Barbara has prepared and served thousands of guests at her table in addition to hundreds of missionaries, evangelists and guests for overnight stays. Barbara definitely exhibits the gift of Christian hospitality in her life.
One area where Barbara has shown courage and the grace of God has been her battle with cancer. In 2001, she was diagnosed with stage three, level three breast cancer. God used a video a Christian lady gave her of Dr. Lorraine Day on how to heal your own body from cancer. God then used another Christian lady’s recommendation of the Hallelujah Diet to assist in the dietary plan. After much prayer, Barbara had peace with her decision to go with a natural way of healing. Although she proceeded with the recommended surgery, she opted out of aggressive treatments of both radiation and chemotherapy which was recommend by her physician. Since her surgeon did not agree with her decision to forego the treatments, the Lord directed her to a Christian doctor that agreed to monitor her on a plan to treat the cancer through diet restrictions, juicing and exercise. Barbara was determined to fight cancer by strengthening her immune system. By God’s grace and Barbara’s determination she has maintained a diet of no meat, sugar or dairy products. Thank God for allowing Barbara a productive life these last seven years. Her faith in God has been a testimony to countless ladies that cross her path. At each mealtime she prepares her dietary food while preparing another regular meal for her husband or others. Even though her specialized meal preparation consumes so much of her time each day, she continues to minister to guests in her home with meals, taking meals to others, and baking homemade bread to give to others.
Barbara is a testimony and example to women that God can use every wife and mother to influence others to Christ and bring Glory to God. God doesn’t choose every woman to be a pastor’s wife, lead some large ministry or be in the limelight. God does desire a woman to be a Christian light in her home, church and community. And even when cancer or another type of disease comes to an individual, she has proven one can continue to serve the Lord and have an optimistic attitude during the dreaded ordeal. Barbara’s critical crisis of cancer became the Omnipotent One’s opportunity to reveal Himself of how He desires to bring comfort and direction in life during the dilemma of a disaster. Everyone realizes a mythical superwoman would make what Barbara does daily look common place, but for just an ordinary woman to have her outlook of faith and output of faithfulness makes it look like God -- for it is He who continues to give her grace coupled together with strength.
The following are the reflections of Barbara’s eldest daughter who is married to a full time minister of music at a Baptist church in Iowa. ~Keith Lay~
"As I begin to ponder over the Christian character traits of my mother, I realize once again how blessed I am to have the privilege of being raised by such a wonderful mother and godly example!
The first attribute that comes to mind is a servant’s heart. No matter how physically exhausted, my mother is always willing to go that extra mile for others. Through the years growing up, I recall my parents hosting numerous evangelists, pastors and missionaries in our home. Mother was always busy preparing their room, washing their laundry and cooking delicious meals for them. She was so quick to meet their needs or desires while they were in our home. I believe that is why we, as her daughters, have such a strong work ethic. Our mother is always that example before us to look for avenues to serve others, rather than focusing on ourselves. Rather than meeting her own needs, she is constantly meeting the needs of those around her. To this day, you can catch her in the kitchen baking homemade bread for others, making a meal to take to someone in mourning or running to the hospital to visit the sick.
The second attribute I admire is her humble demeanor. Never do I remember my mother trying to take the spotlight or relish in others’ compliments. I’ve never once heard or seen my mother try to get her deserved recognition or flaunt her good deeds. She chose rather than climbing the social ladder, to quietly minister as mother and teacher to her children. She, following our Lord’s example, chooses to serve in quietness of spirit, rather than in the midst of much applause.
The third attribute I see is her compassion. Time and time again, I have seen my mother’s compassion as she reached out to the hurting church member or neighbor. Whether through prayer, a listening ear or a warm meal, she was eager to find a way to show God’s love to that one in need. I believe Jude 22 summarizes her life’s deeds, 'And of some having compassion, making a difference.'
The last attribute would be her faith and trust in the Lord during trials. When mom experienced breast cancer, she was continually reminding us daughters that the Lord was in control of her health. Numerous times I recall her telling me that she 'was at peace with whatever the Lord chose to do.' That trusting spirit was such an example to those around her! Her continual positive attitude was so refreshing to be near. She was not one to complain about her pain or sickness, but rather focused on the needs of others. Since using a health diet rather than chemotherapy or radiation, her diligence and persistence in remaining on this health diet is amazing!
All of these Christ-like character traits I not only admire, but greatly desire to imitate in my own life. Truly the Bible verse in Proverbs 31:28 is descriptive of my mother, 'Her children arise up, and call her blessed.' Not only is she a dear mother, but also a godly example!"
Below is a photo of Barbara with her husband, Keith Lay.