Dear Lennon,

I love you, dear one, more than I thought possible. As my first grandchild, you will always hold a special piece of my heart. 💜I’m trying very hard to make good choices now so I can be present in your life as you grow up.

On this day, your original due date, I thought I’d make you a few promises.

I promise to:

*always love you no matter if I agree with you.

*support & encourage your mom & dad as they raise you to love God and others.

*tell you about Jesus & the unconditional love God has for you, His precious beautiful child.

*pray for you everyday.

*hug & kiss you, but not intentionally embarrass you.

*make mistakes and ask forgiveness.

*tell stories, read books, sing songs and dance with abandon.

*adventure & discover new things with you.

*live my life with gratitude & joy, knowing I am an example in what I say & do.

*teach you the tools you’ll need to grow strong and brave and smart.

*encourage you with words & actions.

*listen to you, laugh with you, and always hold your hand as you hold my heart.

All my love,

Grandma (or whatever cute name you end up calling me) 🥰

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NIV
‬‬

Baby Bump and Bubble Wrap

Maybe you haven’t heard but I’m going to be a grandma, for the first time, in late August. We found out on Christmas Eve and let’s just say…it’s been consuming our thoughts ever since. Not only do I have to come up with a grandma name (more in another blog) but we’ve even been rethinking our home renovations in consideration of little feet navigating our house.

Expectant mother
Baby McGarvey in mid-March

I’ve noticed that as my beautiful daughter-in-law’s baby bump grows each day, I get a little more emotional. She’s so happy and just glowing from this pregnancy. It is a dream come true and Don and I recognize the big changes coming, not just for them, but also for us.

I’ve noticed that I’ve become more protective, more prayerful. I feel more in need of assurance that God is watching and caring and growing this little life, who is already so loved. I want to just surround Tristen in bubble wrap to protect her from sadness and pain, from the hurts that come with being a mom.

I wish she wouldn’t have childbirth pain (and I’m sure she’s with me on that one), but any mom will tell you that the reward far outweighs the initial suffering. I pray for Tristen’s health and the health of her baby. I pray her little one will sleep well and nurse easily, but odds are there will be bumps (pun intended) along the way. My prayers change each day, but I know God loves that little one even more than I do and that’s almost unfathomable to me.

I’ve figured out that the magic protective bubble wrap is really my prayers, and those of Tristen, David, Don and everyone who loves this couple. God has it all under control and He always has. There is no change coming that God isn’t already preparing us for. These nine months in the womb are as much for us as for that growing child.

I guess I’m not quite ready to be a grandma…but I will be by the time that little loved one shows up!

Our New Adventure

It was officially announced yesterday, though I’ve known for almost two months. I learned a lot about myself in that time. First, I suck at keeping secrets. Especially secrets that are so huge, so amazing, so exciting that my lips just tremble with anticipation as I contemplate spewing out the details. More accurately, I suck at the thought of keeping such a long-sought-after answer to prayer. But I did it. For the most part.

The second thing I learned about myself is I haven’t been adequately prepared for this new adventure. I haven’t spent any time considering the important decisions that need to be made. But, though I’m behind on the timeline, I’m a fast learner and I can google with the best of them.

So, you ask, what is this big announcement? What has caused me to self-reflect about secret keeping and adventure preparing?

If you follow me or members of my family on Facebook or Instagram, you already know the details and the last few paragraphs have been exercises in “get to the point already!” I’m sure you’re thinking this even if you don’t follow me on social media.

I’m going to be a grandma.

Baby announcement
Official Facebook announcement of new baby.

My oldest son and daughter-in-law have been trying to get pregnant for a few years. It has been a frustrating and often sorrow-filled journey for them through infertility treatments, surgery, and some “well, let’s try this and see what happens” procedures. In the end, it could have been an overlooked symptom of a somewhat common problem. Those details are for my sweet DIL to share if she wants. But ultimately, we believe God’s faithfulness prevailed and the little McGarvey is due in late August.

(side note: for this blog, and any in the future, my daughter-in-law will be referred to as T and my son as D. They didn’t sign up to be talked about here so I’ll give them some anonymity until I get their permission.)

Of course, we are all ecstatic! This will be the first grandbaby on my side of the family. We are looking forward to pregnancy normalcies like food cravings and abdomen expansions. Actually, I’m looking forward to T experiencing these things—not me. I’m done with all that. Well, not the food cravings. Pizza and chocolate still call out my name periodically.

I have many, many examples of wonderful grandparents who I’ve experienced or observed through the years. And I’m looking forward to researching this grandparenting adventure, as I did when I determined to be a non-stereotypical mother-in-law.

So, as my (our) adventure begins (with Don in tow, of course), I’ll be blogging about the path God has us on. Hitch a ride if you’d like. I’m planning to extract all the wonder and joy available in this, my rookie grandma season.

Tune in next time for my first big decision—what will be my grandma name?

Easy Way to Satisfy Your Chocolate Fix

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1cup butter, softened (or margarine, I guess, but yuck)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 2/3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats (I used some of both)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa (sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (this is optional – you could use white chocolate chips, or dried cranberries or cherries – yum!)

Directions:

Hear the oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar, butter, milk, and egg in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon. (I used my KitchenAid mixer for this part, but later, when adding dry ingredients, the dough will be too think and you’ll need to finish mixing with a spoon).

Stir in remaining ingredients, except nuts. Add nuts last.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool 1-2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Chocolate oatmeal cookie & my favorite tea

I made 33 cookies with this recipe but of course, it all depends on how large you make them. I shared with my kids because this quarantine thing is making me miss them like crazy. Handing them a package of cookies and not getting a hug was hard but seeing them smile was good enough. For now.

Stay home. Stay safe. Be kind to grocery store employees.

Today’s Comfort Food

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (bulk or with casings removed)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 oz. fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and hot pepper flakes; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and sauté until paste turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes with juice, stock, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Add pasta, increase heat to medium-high and boil until tender to the bite, about 8 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in basil and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and black pepper.

4. Divide ricotta cheese mixture evenly among heated bowls. Sprinkle with mozzarella and top with soup. Serves 6.


My comments: this recipe comes from a former co-worker who made it every year for our company Soup Day. Absolutely delicious. But, for me, this recipe serves only as a guide. For instance, when I made this soup today, I only had one pound of medium spice pork sausage, rotini pasta, and no fresh basil or ricotta cheese. Still delicious. Don’t let the specifics of a recipe keep you from some experimentation. Within reason, of course. Substituting different non- Italian spices will change the whole complexion of the intended lasagna flavor. But have fun – cooking shouldn’t be a drudgery.

Crazy Times

Unless you’ve lived on a deserted island for the last six months, your life has been impacted by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus currently sweeping over our world. This is no place to put statistics—mostly because they change every moment—but by now, you probably know of someone who has tested positive for the virus. Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, politicians, missionaries, doctors —no one is immune. It gives no distinction for race or gender, age or ethnicity, economic status or occupation. We are at war with a silent, but deadly enemy, and right now, it’s winning.

Our schools are closed, our favorite restaurants unable to host diners, our churches attempting online services. We are learning new terminology every day. Pandemic. Self-isolation. Self-quarantine. Social distancing. Community spread. Shelter in place. PPE. The more fragile members of our society are most susceptible so we’ve given them special times to shop when they would be less exposed. Online shopping is flourishing as we choose to stay at home to minimize the risk. The world is nothing like we’ve ever seen it before.

So, what do I do?

I pray. I follow the guidelines set in place by my local, state, and national officials. I keep the TV off most of the time. I post encouragement on social media sites. I check in with my kids, my extended family, and my friends at work and church.

And sometimes I’m afraid. But not for long.

Fear is a liar. Fear spreads faster than any virus, and infects anyone who entertains it. If fed, fear will lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. And I will not invite those three ugly emotions into my house.

In the darkness of the night, after my usual bathroom trip, I sometimes lie awake while sleep alludes me. It’s then that I am most vulnerable to fear. It’s then that I must rely on the power of the Word of God I’ve spent my whole life studying. One night last week I was gripped by worry – about my kids (who work in the grocery industry), about my co-worker (who was in Scotland on vacation), about our church friends who are older and sometimes don’t listen when told to stay home. So I started praying, asking God to overcome the fear with His Word. I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Or Psalm 27:1- The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

I posted about it that night

What will tonight look like? I don’t know. What will tomorrow look like? Unknown.

I may not know the future, but I know Who holds my future. I’ll trust in the One who doesn’t need to worry about social distancing. My heavenly Father holds me close – and He’ll hold you too. Trust in Him. Follow all the guidelines. Be a kind person. Wash your hands. But ultimately, our destiny lies with God. And I’m good with that.

 

 

Way – Truth – Life

John 14 verse 6 gives us three more names for Jesus.

Read this verse emphasizing the word THE. It is singular – there is no other way, no other truth, no other life, apart from Jesus. For those of us who believe all the red words in the Bible, you can spin it no other direction. How can we access God? Jesus. What is truth? Jesus. What does this life mean? Jesus.

Our Mediator

Another name used to describe Jesus – our Mediator. It’s a legal term mentioned in Hebrews 12:24 – Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant.

A mediator is a go-between, the person who interposes between parties in order to bring reconciliation. One way to reconcile is to restore a friendship. What a wonderful perspective of Jesus and what He did for us. He is the One who bridges the gap between heaven and earth, between a Holy God and those of us who are unclean with sin. Instead of temporary animal sacrifices, Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice – Himself – once and for all. He has reconciled the broken relationship and restored us back to God.

Hebrews 12:24

Son of God

One of Jesus’ more well known names was first revealed in Mark chapter 3 when “Son of God!” was shouted by unclean spirits as He cast them out of people. My takeaway? Even the demons recognize the power & authority of Jesus, why do we even question?

As we prepare our hearts in this Lenten season, contemplate the power available to you through the mighty name of Jesus.