GNO: Cathy Barnes’ Favorite Things


I am a wife, mother, and a daughter of the King. God has blessed me with a rich and varied life. I have been a dancer, police officer and art teacher, and have participated in everything from beauty pageants to search warrants.

I have been married to my hero, Jeff, for 26 years. We’ve raised two wonderful adults, Allie (27) and Charlie (24), and are enjoying the incredible bond that comes from weathering years of experiences together…. good times, and bad—joys and sorrow. I am blessed to be working with children every day teaching them about art, and the Ultimate Artist—God. I love drawing, painting, reading, …and picking up a gun for some target practice now and then.


My Favorite Childhood Memory: When I was growing up, music was a huge part of my family’s life.  When my parents were home, the stereo was always on, and the music of their favorite albums filled the house.

My dad worked the 3-11pm shift, and often my mom and I would go shopping during the evening while he was at work.  Part of the trip would often include buying a new LP by one of their favorite artists.  Mom would then call dad at work, letting him know she had a surprise, and the preparations would begin.  She’d grill him a steak, make a salad, and send me off to bed.  By 11:30, the new music would lull me to sleep and continue into the wee hours of the morning as they listened to the LP over and over.

Other times I’d come home from school and find something delicious bubbling on the stove while mom and dad danced cheek to cheek in the kitchen.  Those were great days. The kind of days you look back on and wish you had appreciated more.  Those days had a soundtrack.

Today, some random TV show played in the background while I worked on the computer, and the strains of “Moon River” by Andy Williams came on.  I froze; then closed my eyes and let myself really hear it.  As I listened, I saw my mom, young and bright- smiling at my dad.  He, strong and handsome, took her hand and pulled her into a clutch.  It was more than an image.  I was transported back in time and could practically feel their presence.  When I opened my eyes, tears were running down my cheeks.

This, among so many wonderful memories of my childhood, is one that stands out.  It is a memory of love, security, and contentment.


My Favorite Place To Travel: I have loved the West as far back as I can remember.  My dad you see had this passion for it and was obsessed with living there.  He would pour over books about lost mines and buried treasure, pioneer living, and was constantly searching the newspapers for acreage. He pictured life up in the mountains (preferably in a log cabin), as a place where he would hunt, fish and watch the sunset from a rocker on the front porch.  When I was a kid, most every family vacation involved mountains, horses, panning for gold, and poking around old ghost towns. His love of the land rubbed off on me as I noted his passion and learned to look at and appreciate the scenery through his eyes.11742672_10154039496713102_8316603380374788972_n.jpg

It’s no wonder then, that when faced with a decision about where to go for a trip, I am drawn to the Wild West.  I love the mountains, the climate, and flora & fauna of the West, and of course the memories that were built while exploring with my dad on all those family trips.


My Favorite Parenting Decision: My children, at 27 and 24, are all grown up.  Their years under our roof were shaped by countless decisions both big and small, and I find it hard to zero in on one favorite.  In fact, when I look back, I usually question the decisions we made.  We tried to maintain the balance between iron fist and flexibility, and since both kids have grown into adults their dad and I are proud of, I guess we did ok.  I decided that for this question I would ask my daughter Allie what her favorite parenting decision of ours was.  Here is what she said:

“I don’t think you could really single out any one decision as “the best,” she said.  “But I think one of the best decisions you made was sending Charlie and me to private schools and making sure that we both got a good education.  You always valued learning and stressed reading and having intellectual discussions at home with us. I think that gave us a good foundation of life-long learning.  I know it took a lot of sacrifices, particularly financial ones, but it has made a big impact on both of us and has shaped who we are.”

A week later, I asked my son Charlie what he thought.  Without knowing or discussing it with his sister, he said nearly the exact same thing.

I never regret the years I put my own life on the back burner for my children, spending many hours talking with them, reading to them, discussing history or topics of interest and visiting museums. I always placed high value on their studies, and expected their best effort at school.   It was gratifying to hear what they thought.


My Favorite Childhood Friend: When I was born, my brother was 13 and my sister was 21.  My sister married when I was two, and by the time I was six, my brother left leaving me to grow up as an only child. Fortunately for me, there was a family with five children living next door.  They were my favorite childhood friends.

I practically lived next door.  Every day after school we played in baseball in their backyard, rode bikes around the neighborhood or just hung out on the swing set practicing what I see now as dangerous tricks.  During the summers we explored the pond behind our house, played in the sandbox setting up elaborate scenarios with army men, and built forts out of boxes and blankets. We were outside by 9am each day and were finally called in for the night at 9pm- sweaty, filthy messes with jars full of lightening bugs.  My quiet, orderly home was no match for the bustling, hilariously imperfect world next door.  My mom didn’t even try to fight the strong pull it had on me.

Nothing rattled their mom, and she matter-of-factly included kids who happened to be in the yard at the time to join the lunch table at their home.  She’d pile us in the station wagon, heads hanging out all of the windows, to go to the pool or library, and never lost it when things broke, kids bled, or the baby got covered with Ready Whip (long story).  We grew up together- sometimes becoming dates for dances for one another when no other dates were forthcoming- and stayed together until gradually, one by one we left the bubble of childhood for adulthood.

My childhood was filled with companionship, laughs, and countless adventures with these “brothers and sisters” of mine, and I love them dearly to this day.


My Favorite Shoes: These shoes.  Not mine.

These are the shoes that represent the man I’m married to and the love he has for his country and his family.  When I look at them I see them walking onto the plane that took him to the Middle East three times.  I see them in the heat and sand, in the strange and scary places he went.  These shoes speak of his character, his courage and his willingness to sacrifice. No matter how old I get, I will look at them and remember the super-hero man I married and how grateful I am that God gave him to me.

Your friend,

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record photo credit / swingset photo credit / soldier’s boots photo credit


One thought on “GNO: Cathy Barnes’ Favorite Things

  1. lynndmorrissey October 9, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    Cathy! What a joy to read about your favorite things, and you are certainly one of my favorite ladies–a class act all the way!! I will never forget the first time I learned that you served as a police officer. This seemed totally incongruent to me, considering your work as a teacher of young children. But I can see the predominating values you emulate in both positions–you are a woman of courage, strength, and character. You no doubt had to exhibit that in the police force, but also you serve as a wonderful role model for your students. My how our daughter Sheridan looks up to you–then, when she had you as a grade-school art teacher, and now, as her personal mentor as she studies to become an art teacher, herself. We, as a family, are indebted to you! I also loved reading about your own family (parents, included), and it is really fun to see Charlie. He was such a little boy when last I saw him. He’s grown up to be a fine (and handsome!) young man. Give him my best. And all the best to you as you keep cultivating your wonderful life!


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