Five Questions: Kelleylynn Barberg

Welcome to MyOrthodoxFamily.com! Tell us who you are.

…I’m a work in progress. In everyday life, I’m simply a wife and mother celebrating 25 years of marriage while raising 5 of the coolest children– two of them living the grown-up life, the third is a high school senior, our fourth is a sophomore; our youngest, an independent 10 year old that we homeschool.

I carry a few titles: Domestic Goddess (those are my husband’s words), Stain-master (those are my children’s words), along with Khouria/Matushka/Presvytera (depending which jurisdiction you are from). Throw in Freelance Photographer, where I get to make others smile and capture their personalities (I really love my paid gig) @photographybykelleylynn@gmail.com or on Instagram @photography.by.kelleylynn

Currently, I am on the North American Board (NAB) navigating Public Relations for the Antiochian Archdiocese Sisterhood. To be among some of the most faithful working women in the Archdiocese is both humbling and rewarding.

What do you most enjoy sharing? What do you feel most called to share?

You’ll find me sharing life within our home; that includes our very loved calico cat, Nejmeh (“Star” in Arabic and gifted to us from an Abbess), our time spent within church, and especially our travels mainly via Instagram @kelleylynnmarie . You’ll also find me behind the scenes carrying out my Public Relations efforts for the Antiochian Archdiocese Women on Instagram @AntiochianXSisterhood and Facebook @Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America where I’m “called” mostly to encourage hope and Godly love while providing morsels of our Faith sharing the writings of the Saints, Church Fathers, and Holy scripture.  I will not participate in gossip or share conspiracy theories; will often remove unnecessary posts from my personal accounts. As a somewhat organized person (think Marie Kondo), I prefer my social media platforms to be the same way: no junk or clutter.

The world of social media is complex. What do you see as difficult and as redemptive about sharing your journey in this way?

The difficult part of social media is the time I can personally spend using it, justifying “It’s for my private photography business and/or for the church or the Antiochian Sisterhood.” At the end of the day, it’s still time away from my family and/or authentic face-to-face connections. It’s time robbed from experiencing stillness. Of course, this was especially challenging this year as we were all urged to be “socially distant.” While necessary (for such a time) it is not sustainable; eventually –in the long run–socially destructive. My concerns with our social media use (how ironic to be Public Relations with NAB Antiochian Sisterhood) are a work in progress; my ‘opinions’ are subject to change. My spiritual Father encourages me to use the following filters: 1) Does it need to be said? 2) Does it need to be said now? 3) Does it need to be said by me?

However, I do feel there can be a healthy participation with social media, if managed just like our own sleep, eating, and physical health. During the fasts, take a break. During the feasts, share the Faith. It’s a rhythm one must find for themselves that is healthy for their body, mind, and soul. For instance, try not to check it first thing in the morning, etc. With all this, I am reminded what Mother Christophora from the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA says about speaking (and that includes our social media voice) is to be “Encouragers–that’s it, nothing else, be uplifting.”

What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory?

When I participated in my first Divine Liturgy in 1994, my distinct memory was all the colors clouded by a smoking censor with the sound of bells looming in my ears. All the standing hurt my legs while unfamiliar faces of the Saints I was yet to meet stared right back at me. I fixed my gaze on Christ (pantocrator) and asked for His understanding, to calm me; that’s when I heard the words solemnly sung “Lay all your earthly care aside.” I was completely overwhelmed; terrified. I knew I’d be back. Today, I am still completely overwhelmed; terrified. There are layers to our True Faith, and there are layers to peel away my sinful nature. During our first months as Catechumens I will never forget hearing “The Parable of the Onion”; The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, “… I know it by heart, for I am that wicked woman myself…. “

What do you hope will be the mark you leave on the world as you pass through it?

My race is not yet won…but in the fullness of time, I only can prayerfully hope to leave my children and their children (and anyone I come in contact with) a glimpse of His Light guided by His grace, His love, asking forgiveness and fostering gratitude that is rooted in the One True Faith. As one of my favorite authors writes: “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Again, I am a work in progress…pray for me, a sinner.

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