Jen Barbour has lived her life close to creation and the Creator. A 2003 graduate, she and her husband Justin (also an alum) cultivated a love for the outdoors during their time at Montreat.
“Montreat was an incredible place for Justin and I,” Jen says. “[It is] the place where our memories together started. We enjoyed many adventures both in and out of the classroom while we were there.”
In 2005 the couple landed in Charleston, SC, with their sailboat. Living on a boat was the ultimate way to experience nature, according to Jen.
“Living aboard, we had become more in tune to the natural world around us,” she says. “Our senses were heightened.”
Her love for creation extended into her work – she began as a seasonal naturalist for the Kiawah Island Nature Program. Working in the program was just another way for Jen to connect to nature.
“As I immersed myself in learning more, I began to develop an even deeper awe and enjoyment of simply being in nature,” she says. “I found such great delight in facilitating trips where others could have their own experiences exploring the salt march and overall beauty of a barrier island.”
In two years Jen was managing the Nature Program, which did bring its challenges. But God found a way to slow life down a bit, Jen says. After the birth of her son, Dylan, she stepped down from management.
But she still remained involved with the program. Two months after her second son, Wesley, was born, she began running motorboat eco-tours. Life was hectic, according to Jen, but changes were on the way.
Summer 2011 brought some adjustments for Jen and her family. Her father-in-law passed away in July, and the family felt God was calling for a move. In October of that year the Barbours relocated to the Raleigh, N.C. area. Jen now works part-time with the local YMCA, but she mainly focuses on her family.
“I have made it a point to make a job of being a wife, mother, and family member to the Barbour family here,” she says. “I’ve re-evaluated what it means to be productive in a given day.”
Jen may not be quite as close to creation as she was living on a sailboat, but the Creator and his love are ever-present. And her and Justin’s love for adventure is just as strong as it was in college.
“We desire much in life,” Jen says. “To live intentionally, to be relational, to go on adventures with our boys, to grow, cook, and eat good food, and to live on a boat again. More than anything in this life, we desire God.”