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Posts Tagged ‘family’

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.

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Birthday cake to share with my Troy Mills JAM friends. And I wore the right color sweater!

Today’s the day. I made it. Born on this day in 1960, today I turn 60. Quite a milestone, actually, and one I do not take lightly. Thank you for reaching out to me through social media, texts, cards, in-person visits, and phone calls. I am blessed to have an amazing family and many wonderful friends, near and far. I’ve heard “Happy Birthday” from places like Istanbul, Brazil, and South Africa, as well as states coast to coast. I’ve received beautiful cards with heartfelt sentiments, flowers, coffee, cake, and time spent with family and friends. Those are my birthday presents.

But my goal today is to have birthday presence. To listen, to observe, to acknowledge those in my circle of influence; to be present wherever I am. Life is short. I don’t have time to mess around anymore. I’ve got to be about the important work God has given me to do…and I can’t do it if I’m not present. I can’t stayed mired in regrets, disappointment, and unforgiveness based in the past. My eyes are fixed forward.

I may not be in Istanbul with my sister, but I want to be present with her, listening to her stories, encouraging her in her adventures. I want to give her my presence (even when I can’t be physically present). I want to learn and grow through the expertise and stories of my co-workers, I want to be encouraged by the acts of kindness I witness on my daily walks, or in the grocery store line, or through a Facebook post. I want to share stories of triumph and victory, as well as mistakes and failures.

It sounds a bit arrogant but I want to give my presence to my youth group, the next generation of leaders, teachers, scientists, writers, pastors, artists, mothers, fathers. I don’t mean I’m the greatest person ever – but I know these students need someone outside of their family dedicated to loving them, listening to them….

I want to be a better aunt, sister, mom, wife…and I think if I commit to being present wherever I am, that’ll be a good start. May mean putting the phone and remote down, turning off the music, closing the book, turning my eyes and ears away from distractions and then, connecting.

Focus – my word for 2020 – is taking on deeper meaning, just two weeks into the year. Here’s to greater days yet to come and even more birthday presence.save-image

 

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Now that 2019 is in my rear view mirror, I’ve set my focus forward. Each New Year’s Day I set goals for my year, begin a new Bible reading guide, plan ways to improve or change behavior or attitudes. Today is no different, and yet it is. As I approach my 60th birthday, I’m not as interested in improvement and change as I am with celebrating what’s already a part of my life. Yes – I still desire to grow and learn each day, but I also know God has done some amazing things in my life, given me wonderful relationships to nurture, gifts to be grateful for. I’m going to FOCUS this year – focus on what is right in front of me and do what is necessary to live in grace and walk in love.

My 2020 devotional by Bob Goff

Still have a daily Bible reading guide (two, actually) and habits to maintain (daily movement, healthy lifestyle choices), so this year is going to be my best one yet as I FOCUS on God, His plan for me, and the people He has put into my life.

Happy New Year!

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At the end of every year, I reflect on my most favorite moments. I always think in moments, not days, because it’s those snapshots that stick with me. I can’t recall whole days, but moments are embedded in my mind’s eye. These are only a few that warm me on cold mornings. Family. Beauty. Connection. Moments.

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The groom with his new brother-in-law

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Brothers

Ellie and Sean

The kiss

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Our auntie-niece coffee shop selfie right before we ran to catch the ferry

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Siblings – precious friends

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Liberty Bay on my last morning

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Overlooking Red Wing, MN – vacation with Don

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Precious mother-in-law Mary with her great-grandson Chase

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My best friends

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Annual NEEDTOBREATHE concert with kids (and moms)

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Sweet girls

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Meeting my favorite author Jennifer Dukes Lee…and my awkward hug.

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My very bestest friend

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My heart.

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Eating ice cream with Grandpa

All dads are major influences in the lives of their children, even the bad or absent ones. I was blessed with a wonderfully kind and gentle father, who loved me unconditionally and believed in my potential way more than I did. In honor of my dad, today’s blog is devoted to five tidbits of wisdom he handed down to his children.

  • Take care of the land.

My grandfather was a farmer, and my dad farmed with him until I was nine years old. We lived on a small acre plot of land adjacent to the main family farm, where my paternal grandparents lived. My dad loved farming, but when my grandpa passed away, my parents couldn’t afford to buy the farm, so Dad sold most of the farm equipment and started driving a semi-truck hauling grain and farm animals. But my dad always loved the land.

img_4309He spent hours in our wooded acres, cleaning up downed trees, and using the wood to heat our home. He loved those trees. My nephew recently found a video recording my dad made while walking through his beloved woods. To hear his voice again, poetically extolling the beauty and majesty of the massive oaks and elms…we were amazed at his eloquence. My dad was a quiet man, but his heart was huge. Listening to that recording revealed his passion for conservation.

  • Everyone needs some alone time.

This could easily be part 2 of the previous point. My dad was an introvert who loved people. And yes, that’s a thing. Dad enjoyed being around friends and family, but he needed to get outside or get alone for a while to re-charge. Dad drove tractors (alone), semis (alone), and lawnmowers (alone) so he could have his solitude. He told me often about having conversations with God, listening to the radio, observing nature, just soaking up the quiet without any competition for his attention. He could talk with anyone about many things, but he was most content when he could get outside, in his woods, alone.

  • Don’t cruise along in the left lane.

We just finished 12 hours of driving in the last two days. So many drivers have never learned this bit of wisdom that my dad drilled into me when I was learning to drive. People – the left lane is for passing.

  • Show up and work hard

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Though it looks as though Sean is miserable, this was a favorite activity: riding on the John Deere lawnmower with Grandpa.

My dad worked hard his whole life. He didn’t make much money, but when he left our house, he gave 100% to whatever needed to be done: field preparation, driving trucks, hauling grain or hogs or cattle, splitting and hauling wood, mowing lawn, planting and harvesting, etc. When he was an employee, his boss knew Bill would show up, no matter the weather or his health. My dad was more reliable than the U.S. Mail. And his kids learned that work ethic who have now passed it down to their kids.

  • Finish well

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my dad during the last few months of his life. He had been diagnosed with leukemia and I would travel to his house to sit with him to give my mom a little break from care giving. I loved listening to my dad tell stories about his young adult life. About how he first met my mom. How he thought she was the most amazing and beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He was a shy, quiet young man, but my mom flirted and joked with him and he was a goner. At least, that’s what he said. He also told stories of mistakes, regrets, errors in judgment. He was so sad about those things. My dad was not perfect. He made mistakes in his life and lived with some measure of guilt. If he were here, he would tell you the same thing. But the greatest decision he ever made was to ask Jesus to forgive him, to cleanse him and clear him of that shame and condemnation. From then on, my dad was a different man. Before his God-encounter, Dad had high expectations (for himself and his family) that were seldom met, but after he met Jesus, spent time allowing God to transform him, my dad became less judgmental, and more grace-filled. He experienced being set free from guilt. And those last few months of his life were marked with a love more profound that I had ever seen before. His love for my mom was deeper and richer. He took time to meet with the men he wanted as his pallbearers so they would know how much he loved and appreciated them during his life. He talked with me for hours about heaven, what he wanted us to do for my mom when he was gone, how much he loved me and my siblings…and how much he loved His Savior, Jesus. Those were precious times with my dad, priceless conversations I can still hear in my head. He taught me one final lesson – finish well.

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My mom and dad soon after their engagement. Mom was 17, Dad was 21.

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you are able to celebrate this wonderful holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus.

You may be surrounded by family or alone today. You may be suffering with sickness or watching someone you love going through the ravages of a disease. You may be sitting in the midst of a wrapping paper mountain or didn’t have enough money for even one gift.

Jesus is your answer. Rich or poor, Jesus came for all of us. Those surrounded by loving family & those homeless and destitute of love. Those suffering & those watching someone we love suffering. Those grieving. Those anxious & depressed. Those who have all money can buy, yet ache with loneliness and despair. Jesus loves you.

Allow Jesus to heal your heart today. Allow His perfect peace to flood your soul. He may not change every circumstance, but He’ll be with you in the midst of it. Call out to Him – He is there to meet you. He wants you at His birthday party!

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Short post today. It’s Christmas Eve, after all, and I have a lot to do. Cleaning, cooking, baking, candlelight service, checking my list again (just like Santa)…but most importantly, preparing for Christmas Day.

I hate when I allow my schedule to dictate my joy level. So I’m intentionally choosing rest (I took a 15 minute nap on the couch last night about 7:30), and peace and the love of Jesus. Tonight we’ll have the slow-cooker filled with soup and keep the light on for anyone who stops by…for a few minutes or longer. Because I want to make sure there’s always room in my inn.

As a pastor’s family, we didn’t have a lot of annual traditions. Things always depended on weather and where Christmas fell during the week. We spent A LOT of Christmas Days on the road between our two extended families in northern and southern Illinois. Do you know that most places are closed on Christmas Day? (sarcasm) Ate a few cold truck stop sandwiches through the years. Drove through heavy snowstorms and over black ice a time or two – all because we wanted to see our families over the holidays.

So this is what I’ve learned (you know I’d get to it, right?) – be flexible. Don’t set your schedule in stone tablets, never to change no matter the circumstances. Don’t expect your adult children to always adhere to your annual traditions. Remember the most important thing isn’t the actual day you celebrate – it’s the reason you celebrate. The family you hold dear are no less precious on December 26th. or January 5th. or March 29th. Allow your family to celebrate the best way they can and maybe that means getting together later or earlier or next weekend. Or celebrating more than once. (yay!!)

Since my boys are now married, we’ve learned to adjust to what works best for all of them. Don and I are so thankful our own schedules allow us to accommodate what works best for everyone. We’ve “taken turns” on holiday get-togethers. We’ve opened gifts a few days early so our kids can be out of town on Christmas Day. We all communicate our expectations so when we do gather together, there is less stress and more joy. I’m blessed with amazing extended families, in-laws, and now “joined by marriage” families. We are thankful for the love they show year round, not just at Christmas time.

May your family find that happy balance of tradition and flexibility that brings light and life to all your celebrations.

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Picture courtesy of incourage.me – blog post December 24, 2020

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The next chapter in the ongoing saga of “Kris turning 60” – aren’t you glad there is an end to all of this? Me too.

Music. Make it a part of your life.

Music is a unifier. When you can’t understand the speaking language of your child, try listening to the musical language they are speaking (or at least listening to). Try to find common ground in the bass and treble clef, even if it wouldn’t be your personal choice. See a concert together. Watch one together on YouTube. Discover a new artist you both enjoy. Talk about the latest song or the upcoming concert tour. Play music in your house, in your car, on your phone. Instead of closing doors when the music goes on, open them up. Ask questions. Watch how your kids respond to you enjoying “their music.” Dance together in the kitchen…or better yet, embarrass them by dancing with their friends in the kitchen!

If your kids express an interest, help them learn an instrument. Piano and guitar lessons can be pretty affordable. It doesn’t have to be a band instrument, even a little ukulele with some YouTube instructional videos would be fun. Both Don and I played instruments when we were younger (wayyy younger), though neither one of us do so now. We have a variety of instruments in our basement, due mostly to our children, but there is one really nice acoustic guitar that I own and I swear, someday I’m going to re-learn how to play it.

Music is a huge part of the McGarvey family. My oldest son has traveled the world playing music before thousands but it all started in our unfinished basement with pencils on empty popcorn tins as a toddler. Later he wanted a drum set so I negotiated. Two years of piano lessons first, then drums. Now he plays drums, keyboards, and acoustic, electric, and base guitar. He’s played every genre, every type of venue, though I’m sure he has a bucket list of venues he’d like to perform in.

Encourage musical interest, no matter the form.

My youngest is a music fiend but in a totally different way. He loves listening to music, attending concerts, discovering new artists, creating playlists, supporting his brother’s bands, embracing different genres. If I have a question about an artist, he’s the one I trust to know if I’d like that music or not. I think he’d make a great agent for an artist (shh – don’t tell him I said so).

img_4258Listen to all types of music.

We played music in our house all the time. Depending on the ages of our kids, we went from Donut Man to Mary Rice Hopkins; from DC Talk to Switchfoot; from Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong to Trombone Shorty; from Ben Rector to Colony House to show tunes; from I Am They to Lauren Daigle to Bethel Music. We have Bluetooth speakers in almost every room, ipods since the boys could take care of them, and hundreds of pairs of earbuds in multiple locations.

Establish a music tradition in your family. Follow a favorite artist.

In the last six years, I’ve established a tradition of taking my kids to at least one live concert a year, specifically the indie rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. We’ve traveled around the Midwest to see our favorite group…actually they’re MY favorite group, but the kids come with me anyway. We’ve discovered some new artists who we really enjoy – so much that we’ve gone to their concerts too. And the kids take me to their favorite live concerts too! This tradition, bound up in our common love of music, has made for some sweet memories, great travel stories, and good tunes!

I don’t know what our family would have turned out like without music…and I’m glad I don’t have to find out. This is one bit of wisdom I’m glad I discovered very early in life.

 

 

 

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My Lent blog posting adventure (marathon) is complete, but I’ve kinda, sorta gotten into a routine writing again so I don’t want to stop completely. Really enjoyed writing the Five Favorites post last week, so you’re going to get another list of five of my current favorite things.

(1)  Spring Flowers! You have to be honest – this winter in Iowa was brutal. Cold. Snow. Cold. Snow. The cycle that never ended. But within the last week or so, we’ve had some absolutely lovely weather and so spring has sprung in the gardens, trees and bushes around Cedar Rapids. I love to take nature photographs with my little iPhone so if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a few flower shots. Such a reminder of fresh beginnings. Something we all need occasionally.

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(2)  “Lay It All Down.” Saw a friend post about a song she has on “repeat” this week. I love it when friends share music because I don’t always know when good stuff comes out, especially with artists I’m not familiar with. img_2563It was a definite perk of having music-loving sons living at home. So when I began listening to Will Reagan’s “Lay It All Down,” I also put it on repeat. All day. Each day. I have Spotify so I listen to Will’s music on my long walks, but you can also enjoy this on his YouTube video. Please listen. You’ll be singing along in no time.

(3) Iowa Coffee Roasters. My Lenten caffeine fast is over!!! My wonderful husband took me out for good coffee on my first day back but I am blessed to have a wonderful friend who roasts coffee. A personal coffee roaster! How cool is that? Well, he roasts for lots of people (and my office, and many other offices, too) but I hope you’ll check out Lee’s website and retail space in Marion, Iowa.

(4) My Uncle Dan. img_2561Today is his 80th birthday. I was so glad I was able to attend his party last weekend. My nephew Matt took some wonderful pictures of Uncle Dan out at the farm he was raised on (and lived at until the mid-90s). Matt posted the photos on his Instagram account and I was in awe (and a little teary) when I read some of the comments. Dan, a life long bachelor, is a retired middle-school English teacher who has touched so many lives through his teaching, volunteering and church work. He enjoys attending local school sports and music events and is a well known and loved member of the community. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

(5) Monthly Bible reading plans. Since the first of the year I’ve been using Rachel Wojo’s Bible reading plans to focus on one characteristic of God each month. In May, she is using God’s magnificent power. She provides a journal to download, plus a daily reading that only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. I’ve been using a plain notebook for my journal, and as I read the Scriptures each morning, I also write them out in my own words. It has been a powerful exercise for me – to get those life-giving passages deep into my spirit for the rest of the day. Rachel has many plans to choose from – you don’t have to do them in any particular order…confident trust, pure joy, perfect, names of God, and more…I have enjoyed every one.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand, it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

 

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I love being a boy mom. My husband’s family is full, full, full of boys and we continued the trend with two of our own. But, I’ll be honest, there were days I wondered what it would be like to have a daughter. I imagined tea parties, dress up dates, chick-flicks and drama queens. I never missed the drama queen part, but I know, from being one, that daughters have a special relationship with their moms. I can dream about sweet and happy times because I never had a daughter. And I have friends with daughters – so I’ve heard horror stories, along with the good times. But God heard what I never even expressed and now I have two daughters…daughters of my heart.

Don and I prayed for these girls way before we ever knew them. We prayed for our sons’ future wives…that they would know and love God, desire to serve and follow Him; that they would be prepared by their own parents to be the wives my sons would need. I asked God to give me daughters I would love with my whole heart, and who would love me in return. I learned a lot about mother- and daughter-in-law relationships in my own marriage and I hoped to be the type of “other” mother my girls would want to spend time with…and that I could encourage and love them as I would want to be.

God is so good!

Kids_NTB_concert_2017Three years ago my first born married his sweetheart…someone we had known almost her whole life. Though they started dating after David’s high school graduation, he and Tristen had been friends for many years. They are a lovely couple and we are so blessed to have Tristen in our family. She loves and supports my son wholeheartedly, and embraces life’s challenges with a bravery I find inspiring. I love her so.

This June, my youngest son Sean will marry his girlfriend. They started dating while in high school and have worked hard to make their relationship a priority. Ellie is a beautiful young woman who seems to enjoy hanging out with our crazy family, even as we argue such earth-shattering topics as “is a hot dog a sandwich?” She’s the quietest one among us, but gives amazing hugs and listens well. I love her so.

Now I’ll have two daughters. Girls I didn’t raise but have loved for so many years. Those two girls took me for my first pedicure and introduced me to sushi, so careful to help me pick out something I would like. They love ethnic food – just like me, and they’ve helped my boys get outside their food comfort zone. They laugh with us, cry with us, eat my food and even though neither one are particularly sports fans, they endure hours of McGarvey family sports watching. They have been a part of family road trips since my concert obsession began, and the three of us have already had one girls’ day out to Galena. Much more fun to come.Girls_Galena_2017

I’m so grateful that God heard the silent cry of my heart for daughters…and He selected the perfect ones for me (and my sons’ too, of course).

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