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Archive for June, 2016

I love that memories feature on Facebook. If you have a consistent social media presence, you know what I mean. It pops up in your notifications once a day, reminding you of what you posted on that date as far back as you’ve been on Facebook. I enjoy seeing what I’ve written throughout the years. It gives me perspective on what I was going through that day, or the events and activities I was a part of. Yesterday was a significant anniversary in the McGarvey family. It was seven years ago that we made a pretty big announcement.

The next step…

It’s now official.
What our family has known for certain for the last six months is now public knowledge.
The McGarveys are making a step of faith and joining with God in a new adventure.
God has somewhere else for us to be.
He’s preparing another church, another town, another home for us.
It’s all uncertainty and sadness and apprehension…yet, also excitement and joy and anticipation.
The Lord is for us – we are not afraid.
The Lord is for us – He has somewhere that He’d really like us to minister.
The Lord is for us – His plans are perfect for each of us.
So we wait, and listen, and pray.
We’d love for you to join us on this journey.
Maybe you can’t move with us – but through Facebook and other technology, we can keep you up-to-date on all that’s happening, or not.
We’d love to have you praying with us.
We’d like direction, guidance, wisdom, discernment for our decisions.
But then again, who wouldn’t?
Can’t wait to see what God has in store!

 

Golly! Look at my kids! So young… By the way – I still have that sweater and Don still wears that suit.

Hindsight – we were so excited, so sure we would be moving away, positive it wouldn’t be long before we’d be set up in a new church, confident in God’s provision and timing (but secretly hoping it would be very, very soon). My boys were still in high school so I was filled with mixed emotions. How could I tear them away from their friends or the only church they had ever known? How would David handle his senior year of high school in a different city? What if they hated it? We had many, many more questions than answers. And that turned out to be our new normal.

We started boxing up belongings – to get a head start on what we knew would be happening. We researched open churches across the country. Updated and sent out our resume. Regrettably, I even took Sean out of basketball for a year, because we were confident we would be moving away from Cedar Rapids and headed to our new church. Somewhere. Remember this sentence – God’s ways are not our ways – it’ll save you grief if you just believe it and live it and not argue about it.

We were right. The Lord was (and is) for us. He did have places for us to minister. We worked beside and made friends with wonderful people in many churches and ministries, yet never had a “place” we knew was for us.We learned some hard lessons, cried buckets, saw God’s provision every. single. day. We learned about faith, and trust, and pride. We received answers to prayers for direction, guidance, wisdom and discernment…but never for the one we really wanted. Where do you want us, Lord? Well, not until last August. When God’s sweet Spirit said…here. Here in Troy Mills. Until last summer, when a little church 25 minutes north of Cedar Rapids emailed and asked if “maybe you’d be interested in being our pastor.” For seven years, God was working on the people of that little church and really, really working on us. Preparing us for them, and them for us.

We absolutely love our little church. It is filled with wonderful, generous, kindhearted people who, for some reason, really like us. They work hard to reach out and serve their community. They are our friends and we treasure each and every time we are together. God has been so good to us. And I still have stuff boxed up. God put us exactly where we needed to be. And He’ll do the same for you. But it may not be easy. Actually, it definitely won’t be easy. But it’s worth it. It is so worth it.

 

 

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It’s the day after Fathers Day. My Facebook newsfeed was overwhelmed with tributes to dads literally around the globe. I love Fathers Day. I love celebrating the lives of influential men. Because I had a wonderful dad, I want others to experience the unconditional love of a heavenly Father. I am blessed to have so many examples of exceptional dads and it’s never too late to honor them.

First, though the title says five dads, in actuality, I am grouping a few. And the order isn’t really relevant either. These guys are amazing and would make any list of top dads.

I am so thankful for this guy. He has raised (along with his wonderful wife) four beautiful children, including my “new” daughter-in-law.

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Ric Lumbard & daughter Tristen

My son is blessed and so, I am blessed as well. I know this girl was raised to love God and to love others. Her dad modelled what it means to be a godly husband and father. She was raised knowing about commitment, faithfulness and prayer – all essentials for a successful marriage. Thanks, Ric, for being a great dad!

 

 

 

 

Three of the greatest blessings of my life are my brothers-in-law, two of whom are fathers. Even though two are Cardinal fans, and the other one roots for the Packers, they are all wonderful guys, who have raised great kids and love their family well.

I love my brothers. At my son’s recent wedding they all showed up and absolutely made my day. They love me, love their wives & kids, love their nieces & nephews, and enjoy being together. We have more fun together now than we ever had as kids!

My boys didn’t have grandparents who lived close by so they were blessed with many men who stepped in as surrogate grandparents. One of them was Ron Dunmire. He treated my boys as though they were his own grandkids, loving them, taking them out to play golf, or eat, or even on vacation. We miss this guy so much. He was an exceptional friend and heaven is richer on this Fathers Day.

 

My daddy loved his girls. He’s been gone for 13 years but I miss him very much. There are days I think, “boy, Dad would have loved this,” or “Dad, I wish you could see your grandkids now.” He wasn’t perfect but I never doubted his love. I credit my dad for my work ethic, loyalty to my employer, and most especially, my sense of direction.

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Finally, my favorite dad is the father of my kids.

Don has modeled what it means to be a godly man everyday for his boys. He never apologized for loving God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. He has always been an example of how to love your wife, how to lead your home, how to live for Christ. He is his own worst critic and yet he teaches and lives out the Word of God every day. My kids could not have had a better earthly father…one who consistently points to and relies on his Heavenly Father.My only regret? He’s a Cardinals fan. But it does add a certain spice to our marriage…

Thanks Dads – for all you do, for all you are, and for all you mean to your families!
P.S. – Did anyone actually count? I posted about six dads. Too funny to change it now 🙂

 

 

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“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

It’s time. Time to change things up again. Time to get back to some basics. Time to confront old habits and create new ones. Time to encourage others to be all God wants them to be. Time to “play detective” on myself and be the best “me” I can be.

Today marks Day 1 of my 90-day journey to renewing my spirit, soul and body. I’ve used a book by Donna Partow called “Becoming the Woman I Want to Be” at least twice before, and I’m picking it up again. The last time was almost 4 years ago so I’m sure there are a few things I’ll need to review and remember this time around.

There won’t be any surprises within the content of the book – Partow focuses on helping the reader concentrate on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, and journaling, as well as developing healthier eating and exercise habits. Since the last time I completed this journey, I’ve lost 30 pounds so I can testify to the success of the eating/exercise disciplines, at least in my own life. We are all unique so I cannot guarantee anyone else’s success but it never hurts to eat more veggies or take a walk every day.

I’m hopeful for a few unexpected turns in the road. Even though the book’s content is known, the way the Spirit of God will lead me this time will be new and different. He is a creative God and I’m looking forward to hearing His voice with fresh ears and listening to His instruction with a clean and receptive heart. This 90-day adventure includes 18 passages of Scripture to memorize – which has never been my strong suit – but I’m committed to giving it my best shot. The Bible says if I study and read God’s Word, it will always be valuable in my life. It is never a waste of time and energy to meditate on Scripture. Looking forward to seeing insights I’ve never noticed before. The Scripture at the top of the blog is my first one to memorize…I’m working on it. Thankfully no tests – yet.

Partow includes a daily affirmation to read out loud…a way to transform my mind with positive statements of Biblical truth. I’m very sure these encouragements will bless me every day. And I’ll probably share a few on social media. Apologies in advance.

I’m going to continue through my own personal Bible reading guide. I’d fallen behind but instead of cramming to “catch up” to where I should be, I’m just continuing where I left off. There is no condemnation from God and no list to check-off that anyone sees but me. Letting go of my “Bible Reading Guide OCD” and embracing freedom today!

Today’s affirmation spoke to me (and I hope to you as well) – “I forget those things that are behind me, including all of my personal shortcomings in the area of spiritual disciplines, diet and exercise. I am pressing toward what lies ahead: a bright future filled with health in my spirit, soul, and body.”

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa – my current home town. I’ve lived here for almost 27 years and worked downtown for the last eight.

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Overhead view of Cedar River at flood stage, June, 2008

In 2008, our downtown was devastated by “the great flood” and it has taken a tremendous amount of vision, finances and hard work to rebuild. But I’m very proud of this little city and all it has accomplished in the last 8 years.

There are new buildings, new businesses and a new mindset – rebranding themselves into a destination spot, not just a place to live and work. I’ve enjoyed watching the changes, as I walk around over my lunch hour. NewBo, Czech Village, Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood and the downtown area itself have all been transformed. The city’s latest project is Overalls All Over – celebrating native son and celebrated artist Grant Wood’s 125th birthday. He lived in Cedar Rapids almost his whole life and created beautiful paintings in a style later known as Regionalism, where an artist paints what he/she lives with, in or around.

Probably Grant Wood’s most famous painting was “American Gothic,” created in 1930.Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project A cultural icon, it is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood drew a picture of a small farm cottage near Eldon, Iowa, and placed in front of it the likenesses of his sister and a Cedar Rapids dentist (no, not a farmer). Trivia note: They never really stood in front of that house or even together.

The Overalls All Over project includes 25 life-sized statues of the American Gothic likeness and they are displayed all over Cedar Rapids (as well as one in front of the famous home in Eldon, Iowa).

Since I walk all over Cedar Rapids every weekday, I took a few snapshots of the various statues. Some are fun and quirky, others impressive and creative. I’m looking forward to finding a few more in the weeks ahead as the project continues until September.

 

 

 

 

On the Coe College campus, depicting local TV station, KCRG TV9

One of my favorites (so far) – in front of Czech & Slovak Museum, currently housing an Andy Warhol display

In front of Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust on 1st Avenue, NE

The CR Museum of Art has a permanent Grant Wood display

Couldn’t help myself. Had to get a picture with the “Go” statue. Go-go boots on her and “Do Not Pass Go” guy from Monopoly. This one is in front of the NewBo City Market.

Near Mercy Medical Center on 4th Avenue SE

Outside the Gazette Building across from Greene Square and CR Museum of Art on 5th Street SE

The man is a selfie of Grant Wood, standing outside his studio on 2nd Ave SE

Outside the new Iowa Brewing Company restaurant on 3rd St SE

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The guardians of the Cedar Rapids Public Library

 

Take a fun few hours and visit our little city. Restaurants are great. Easy walking or biking trails can take you everywhere. And, we have overalls all over.

 

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My definition of “Hard Things”:

  • It must cause you to make a decision you may never have made before.
  • It must move you outside a comfort zone, a rut or a routine.
  • It must cause your heart to flutter or better yet, race.
  • It must make you learn something new about yourself.

Some examples of “Hard Things”:

  • Getting a new job in a different field (or city or country) because it’s your passion and you’ve put it off long enough.
  • Taking a trip by yourself to a place you’ve never been but always wanted to go (may involve going through customs or a foreign language).
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle and all the food choices, or workout commitments, which that entails.
  • Changing your “look” because, seriously, high school was like, 30 years ago.
  • Engaging someone new in a conversation about them (not you) and by conversation, I mean, they talk and you listen.
  • Volunteering somewhere you are not comfortable (cleaning pens at the animal shelter, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, serving meals to the homeless, teaching children Bible stories, changing dirty diapers in the church nursery, etc.).
  • Stretching your physical abilities until you have new physical abilities.

Please feel free to add more examples in the comments section.

One “hard thing” I try to do periodically (and sorry, it never gets easier) – I play detective on myself. I ask myself questions like: Why do I choose “easy” when accomplishing something “hard” gives me such a rush? Why haven’t I learned a new skill or taken up a new hobby lately? Why do I sit back and allow others to experience inspiring adventures? Why do I get defensive when someone suggests a new perspective?

Therefore, my summer will be filled with “hard things” – saying “no” to sweet treats and beautiful carbs…hiking up and down hills until I’m sweaty and out of breath (and then doing it again)…carving out time to sit and listen to others (without giving advice or inserting my own story)…writing this blog (even when I don’t feel like it).

For some of you, my “hard things” may seem smooth and simple. And your “hard things” may appear effortless for me. I don’t have any problem speaking in front of groups of people, but others find it heartstoppingly difficult. I love learning stuff about technology – others would just as soon throw their computer against the wall.

The important thing is to make the decision and then follow through. And let’s encourage each other. If you’re attempting to accomplish something difficult, let’s hear about it. Either put it in the comments section of this blog, or on my Facebook post. Use the hashtag #DoHardThings and together we can all cheer you on.

BTW – there is a pretty good book entitled “Do Hard Things” written by a couple of homeschool kids a few years ago about teenagers rebelling against low expectations. I liked it. You may also.

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This is going to be a great summer! I’ve set some lofty goals, anticipating some pretty awesome results and all while enjoying my husband, my family and my friends. But it won’t be easy…because what’s the fun in that?

First, I’m joining with a long time girlfriend as we, once again, take control of ourselves and lose some extra poundage. We’ll be each other’s best cheerleader, motivator, inspiration and coach – all rolled into one dynamic package…actually two dynamic packages, I guess.It’s so easy to get off the path of healthy choices and slip down the slope into JunkFood Jungle. “But it tastes so good!” Yes, it does, but that momentary pleasure usually gives way a short time later to guilt, shame and condemnation – the Three Ugly Stepsisters. No thank you!

Bible_blogpostWe’re going to go through Donna Partow‘s “Becoming the Woman I Want to Be,” the book I used three years ago to get started on my 30-pound weight loss. Great time to crack it open again and get back on track… This isn’t solely about physical changes, but discovering a plan to renew myself spiritually and emotionally as well. Of course, today was the day my office served Panera for lunch and dropped a 25-box of chocolate cookies in the lunchroom. Great way to get started – No! No! No! I’m so weak – but so far, so good.

Another goal is getting back into the Word, regularly. I don’t know why this is a struggle for me, but I’m being vulnerable here…I love God’s Word but I can be easily distracted by louder, yet less important, things. So this summer – the Bible is the first thing I’ll read – even if it’s not until my lunch break.

I’m scheduled to backpack the Sierras with my older brother in early September so another goal is to get in hiking shape…which, I suspicion, is quite different from sidewalks-through-downtown-Cedar-Rapids walking. I’ve borrowed a couple of library books, researched hiking boots and proper backpacks, priced flights to Sacramento and prayed for wisdom on how to record this whole amazing journey without electronic gadgets.

Lastly, I’m going to attempt to blog throughout the summer – at least on Mondays and maybe more. You’ve been warned. You may want to set your own goal of getting off social media for a short time, or cutting back on unhealthy food choices, or spending more time playing (as opposed to working), or doing something you’ve put off because you never found the time to “git-r done.” Now’s the time – time to kickstart your summer.

This is going to be fun!

P.S. The following is one of many verses I meditate on as I train my spirit, soul and body to say “no” to temptation:

“Let your eyes look straight ahead,
Fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
And take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
Keep your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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