Archive for the ‘Relections on Life’ Category

See the little serious flower girl? Somehow the last 28 years have passed in a blink on an eye because she’s getting married tomorrow. 

My niece Kim – a flower girl at my wedding and sweetest cousin to my boys – heads down the aisle to marry her Prince Charming Travis. She is lovely and smart, cute and sparkly, brave and loyal.

Five years ago she was in Japan during the horrible earthquake & tsunami, only a few short miles from the horrific devastation. For many hours we didn’t know if she was safe or even where she was. Completing her year as a kindergarten teacher in a Japanese school, she stayed after the earthquake to help restore some normalcy in the lives of her kids. She even went back a year later to once again aid in rebuilding a country she had fallen in love with. She’s one of my heroes. 

The middle child sometimes becomes overlooked by the antics of older & younger siblings, but Kim was always the picture of grace. I’m sure she had her moments but I lived 250 miles away so I never saw it.  She spent a week each summer with her childless Aunt Kris & Uncle Don, but I’m sure she enjoyed it more when I had babies to play with. 

Don is so honored to be included in her ceremony. He used to take her to the donut shop when he lived close and before he married me. In fact, she wasn’t so sure about her “Unca Don” picking a different “best girl” when I showed up. Took me the better part of my first weekend to win her over…pretty pathetic to see a grown woman jealous of a 3-year-old.  
Tonight I’m writing this blog as they rehearse tomorrow’s ceremony. The maneuvering of the bridal party, the squirming little ring & sign-bearers, the music, and giggles, and nervousness…all in preparation for the beginning of her new life as Mrs. Travis Barnhart. I love her and I’m so excited to see my flower girl become the bride – a little girl all grown up. 

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If you’ve been keeping up with my social media postings, ask yourself “why?” Really, people. Get out there and live your own life!

#RoadTripWeekend just concluded! We got into our beds around 3 o’clock this morning, exhausted from driving through thunderstorms all the way from Madison, Wisconsin. There may have been a few miles with no rain, but very few. And my amazing husband did all the driving on the way home. Thankfully we found a BP gas station open at 1:30 a.m. in Dubuque. Not sure our bladders would have made it otherwise.

Today I’m reflecting on the ups and downs, the good and bad points from the whole experience. Interestingly enough, I did have a few disappointments. For one, my food consumption was not only unhealthy but also didn’t taste all that great either. Seriously – if I’m going to partake in mega amounts of calories, fat and sugar, it should be worth it, right?

maple bacon

So here is the best food of the weekend: Definitely CJ’s Bagels and Topped Doughnuts in Ankeny. I only had one bite of Sean’s bagel breakfast sandwich but it was sooo good. The maple bacon doughnut and sugar-coated twist were wonderful. Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Delicious. We will be visiting this place again real soon.

vesuvius pizza

Another great find was Vesuvius Wood-fired Pizza in Ames. It may have been the company (my youngest son), the fact that I adore pizza, or the toppings (Buffalo chicken and bleu cheese) but this small place was big on flavor, and wasn’t very expensive. Perfect meal right before a movie.

Honorable mention goes to the breakfast casserole, fresh fruit and protein balls I had for brunch on Sunday morning. I won’t embarrass the cooks but for newlyweds, they did a great job! Yes – I had seconds on everything. I don’t have the recipe (yet) for the protein balls but I know they contained peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, chocolate chips, chia seeds, flax and probably some other good stuff. May have been the only somewhat healthy thing I ate all weekend.

Tied for worst of the weekend: both BBQ restaurants. This is very sad. I love BBQ. I took special people out for BBQ both times and both times they disappointed. Granted, I took people who had recently experienced BBQ in Kansas City and Memphis, so the bar was set pretty high, but it wasn’t even close. I won’t say that I would never go back but there are a lot of great places I’ll try out first.

I’ll try to blog more tomorrow on some other aspects of this amazing weekend. Expectations met and a few disappointments too. But tonight is all about sleep. Serious sleep.

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I was recently asked to be the speaker at an upcoming homeschooling moms’ getaway. Truly humbled and honored, I’ve been attempting to come up with a bio the organizers could use for their brochure. Something short and pithy – humorous but elaborate. Something that would make someone want to come hear me. I got nothing.

Then I decided to try some free writing – not worrying about length or breadth or scope or humor or grammar and punctuation. It’s way too long for their purposes but hey – that’s what blogging is for, right? To give anybody an opportunity to write, knowing it probably won’t be read anyway.

Kris McGarvey – Who Am I?

I’m a former homeschooling mom and currently helping my husband as the president of WFM Missions Base in Robins.

I love trying new restaurants, reading stuff, experimenting with new tastes & recipes, learning how to run, walking for great coffee, setting new goals and then pushing past my self-imposed limitations, endeavoring to avoid saying “I can’t” until I’ve at least tried, travelling outside my comfortability (and making up words that my spell-checker doesn’t appreciate…like comfortability).

I’m loving the journey, embracing my own adventures, not particularly a lover of danger but thrilled with discovering the hidden treasures of life like small consignment stores, coffee shops and people’s stories.

I’m an amateur writer but a professional list-maker. I love shoes and the color purple (not the book, never read it). I say I’m silver-haired (because grey-haired sounds too old). I’m a novice runner but an elite chocolate and coffee consumer. I love lots of genres of music (and I really like the word “genre”) – hymns, worship, jazz, folk, singer-songwriter stuff and catchy pop tunes like “Happy.” I’ve never seen the movie “Frozen” and don’t know any of the lyrics to “Let It Go” and I’m okay with that. I enjoy a good guitar or piano solo but I’m learning the nuances of a really great drummer. I love the band NEEDTOBREATHE and don’t mind it when people call me a “groupie.” My kids don’t because I take them to concerts with me. They are not dumb.

I’ve embraced social media for the platform it gives me to stay connected to family and friends around the world and to encourage those who need someone on their side, someone who can say with confidence – “Trust Him – this too shall pass.”

I’m a sports junkie. If it gets played with a ball, I probably like it. Even curling and it’s played with a rock. I watch golf tournaments on TV with my family like others do the Super Bowl (snacks and everything). Though my 3 guys and I split up our loyalties to cheer for different teams (Hawks, Illini, Cubs, Cardinals, Rams, Falcons, Bears, Lakers, Nets, Bulls) – we do agree on one thing – we think Zach Johnson is awesome. I do live to see the Cubs in the World Series, so I may be immortal, not sure.

I love superheroes…they really exist and I’m pretty sure I’m married to one. I try to be a good sidekick to my phenomenally intelligent husband and I appreciate that he keeps me around to take care of those mundane things like computers, phones, taxes, and cleaning the bathroom (though I’m not very good with that last one).

I’m privileged to have birthed two sons – both of which are so much like their parents that they scare me, and yet so different from each other. They each amaze me with their maturity, wisdom, sense of humor and discernment, despite their upbringing. They are gifted with creativity, although it usually plays out in different areas. They both love fiercely and I’m proud to be on the receiving end of it.

I’m not perfect and I’m not trying to be. I’ve decided that life is too much fun and there’s just so much to do, that I can’t allow others’ expectations to rob me of my joy in discovery.

Most of all, I’m a lover of Jesus. He gives me life and breath and joy and unconditional love and grace and mercy. He picks me up when circumstances pull me under. He laughs with me and listens to me and holds me. He dries my tears and grins at my attempts at humor. He whispers to me in the night and shows me great and mighty things. He says he’ll be with me through anything, so I know I can be brave and try, because I won’t be alone. He tells me to “dream big” and then takes me outside my comfortability and shows me the stars in an endless sky. Most of the time He just blows me away.

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Two well-known evangelists died within the last two weeks.

Both evangelized the world with their beliefs. One was known for loving and sacrificing everything to tell all about the love of Jesus. The other was known for spewing hate and rhetoric about the judgment and wrath of his god. Steve Hill taught us to love all people, regardless of background or lifestyle. Fred Phelps taught us to hate everyone who doesn’t look or act like him.

It’s sad that the hater is going to get more press than the lover but the squeaky wheel always gets the attention. Rev. Phelps and his family comprise the Westboro Baptist Church. They are well known for picketing funerals of war veterans, and a variety of other venues – anywhere they can scream and spew and spit (on camera, of course). They hold up nasty signs and shake their fists at the world. I’m not going to get into details because the internet is full of articles in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years.

My last blog post was about the effect Steve Hill’s “yes” to God had upon my family and the world. What about Fred Phelps? Did he truly believe he was saying “yes” to a mandate from God? Probably. But that is not the God I know and love, the God who loves me and everyone else in the world. Rev. Phelps gave the words Christian, Baptist and church a really bad name. The media will make much of his legacy of hate but now he’s gone and we’re still here. We can choose to truly be God’s hands, and feet, and voice of love.  My God sent His only Son because He loves all of us. That’s a message too long stomped upon by the Fred Phelps’ of this world. It’s time I stepped up – time I was brave in the face of adversity and showed the authentic love of Christ…even to those who don’t look like me, act like me, or even like me. We’ve got a lot of lies about God to overcome – not by words, or signs, or social media – but by demonstrating the sacrificial love of Jesus. Steve Hill gave us an amazing example. Here’s to another “yes, God.”

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SteveHill-50percentLast Sunday morning heaven welcomed one of the most dedicated and faithful servants I have known. Evangelist Steve Hill battled cancer for the last few years but throughout the struggle, he and his lovely wife Jeri stayed strong in their faith, continuing to serve God through their ministry, in the U.S. and around the world. There are plenty of websites and blogs you can read to give you more details about Steve’s battle and his life.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about “what if?” What if Steve Hill had not said “yes” to the direction God had for him? How would my life have been different?

Steve’s “Yes, Lord” changed the way I live, love and serve. Think for a minute. My Facebook timeline would look a whole lot different since most of my FB friends have also been impacted by this one man’s ministry. I probably wouldn’t even have some of you as friends or acquaintances. My family was totally changed because of the Brownsville Revival in the late 1990s. Many of you know of my husband’s dramatic encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit in the altars of Brownsville Assembly of God. All of the pastoral staff from our church had travelled to witness the revival firsthand. All came back changed, renewed, revived, transformed and anointed.

The power of the Holy Spirit was poured out in our own church with many people travelling from great distances to witness this outpouring of power and repentance. My whole family, including my 2-yr-old and 4-year-old sons, experienced services which lasted late into the night, witnessed people laid out across our sanctuary, learned new worship choruses which expressed heartfelt yearning to touch the heart of God. “Enemy’s Camp” and “We Will Ride” are now worship classics, straight from the keyboard of Lindell Cooley into sanctuary platforms everywhere. Prayer teams prayed over people for hours as desperate men and women, pastors and wives, ministry leaders and laypeople, believers and non-believers urgently sought a touch from God.

This little outpouring continued for years. We had training for pastors on Friday afternoons followed by Friday Night Alive services. The chairs of our sanctuary were littered with Bibles, handouts and even shoes as people saved seats from Sunday morning to Sunday night. This transformation of the body of Christ went far beyond Pensacola and Cedar Rapids. There are few people who haven’t heard of the Brownsville Revival or its evangelist, pastor, worship leader, or youth leader. These men, and subsequently those they touched, have impacted the Body of Christ around the world.

Personally? My children grew up believing revival is “normal.” As 20-somethings, they know a church service without the power of the Holy Spirit is just a gathering, not an empowering. Those worship choruses are still beloved in our household – they bring back great memories but also spur us not to settle for cute phrases or catchy tunes. Nothing but touching the heart of God will do. I have friends around the world because I took groups of women to Brownsville for women’s conferences. Women like Dotty Schmitt, Brenda Kilpatrick and Varle Rollins are priceless mentors to me because Steve Hill said “yes, Lord.” I’m no longer satisfied with the way church used to run, the way I used to live, the concept of God I used to have. This little blog couldn’t possibly touch the many ways life as I knew it changed in the spring of 1996.

All of this because Steve Hill said “yes” to God on Father’s Day 1995 in Pensacola, Florida. Now – take a look at your own legacy. Have you said “yes” to God’s plans for you? Maybe you don’t think it really matters in the whole scheme of the universe. I’m glad Steve Hill thought differently.

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