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Posts Tagged ‘family’

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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Has anyone seen Fiddler on the Roof? It is a musical set in imperial Russia in 1905. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters. Throughout the production, Tevye attempts to hold true to his Jewish traditions but outside forces creep in and change happens. It’s a longer movie, but so worth it. Tevye’s hold to tradition above all else eventually withers away as he and his family are forced to leave their village by the Tsar’s edict…Change happens…to all of us.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a few customs to hold onto…Traditions within the family can cause a cohesiveness that is hard to duplicate. Traditions can create memories which will last throughout lifetimes. The McGarvey’s have a few traditions of our own…

IMG_3835My husband is a sports lover. Fortunately, he married a sports-loving woman because we really enjoy watching and/or participating in lots of sports. And of course, we raised our two sons to be sports nuts as well. And we were very, very successful. I guess we aren’t as extreme as some families, but we taught our kids how to play all those sports at a young age. Boys_golf_partnersAs homeschoolers, we could take an afternoon and go play 18 holes of golf or start up a quick kickball game in the backyard. And sports watching is a sport in our house. The girls that love my guys have had to get used to this…and I love them for it.

This so happens to be our favorite time of year – when all the stars align, and all our sports are happening at the same time. We are a March Madness family – we’ve filled out brackets for 20 years (David wins most often). We’ve seen the process morph from copying it out of the Monday morning newspaper to multiple online bracket groups. It is also the start of baseball (two Cub fans, two Cardinal fans) and The Masters (golf, for those not sports-minded) is only a few weeks away.Cubs_fans

Our traditions center around activities we enjoy and have enjoyed together. When the kids were younger, we spent our short vacations in the Wisconsin Dells, specifically the Wilderness Resort. We have a loyalty to that location that will keep us from enjoying any other Dells resort. It’s Wilderness or nothing. It’s our tradition.

About six years ago I started listening to the music of a certain band, NEEDTOBREATHE. I bought five tickets to see the band in Chicago (side note: we also took in a Cub game on that trip – we love our sports). The boys and I (with their two girlfriends) attended the concert and we were hooked. It was so much fun – not just the concert, but the whole day spent with family, in a new location, doing fun things, being flexible, enjoying each other. We still tell stories of that first concert in Chicago. We attended two more concerts that year (St. Louis and Iowa City). We’ve tried to attend at least one NTB concert each year, not just because we enjoy their music, but because we enjoy each other. We make the whole trip an experience filled with memories with people we love. Even Don’s gone a couple of times. It’s our tradition.Concert_goers

So, I have 4 small suggestions for beginning any tradition in your family:

  • Make it something all of you enjoy…or at least a large majority. Because we all love baseball, we can handle attending either Cubs or Cardinals games (though two of us will always be less ecstatic than the other two) but since only one of us is a Hawkeye fan, we don’t choose to go to any Iowa sport together.
  • Don’t adhere to too many absolutes. We fill out our brackets each year, but we don’t maintain the method must stay the same. Paper or online – doesn’t matter. We go to our annual NTB concert, but we don’t have to eat the same food every time or only see them in one city. In fact, we like seeing them in lots of different locations. Flexibility within the tradition gives you more great memories.
  • You are never too old to start a tradition. Our concert going idea started when my kids were already grown, and I was in my fifties. I’m looking forward to starting new traditions in the future.
  • Keep it simple. Allow life to happen, and as it does, natural traditions will begin on their own. Forcing traditions onto your family may backfire and cause more stress than joy.

I hope you enjoy a few simple traditions –  Making memories with family is the most important thing.

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Don & Kris – night before wedding, 9/25/1987

 

 

Cheesy, sappy blog post warning. If you can’t handle mushy stuff, just pass on reading any further. My 30-day gratitude chart asks me to write about the family member I’m most grateful for. Easy peasy. I love all my family, but when it comes to choosing one I’m most thankful to have in my life, I must write about my husband, my best friend.

We met a little over 30 years ago, when he began as a new staff pastor at my home church. We had mutual friends who wanted to welcome Don into the community, so my roommate invited him and this other pastoral couple over for spaghetti. He made me nervous. He had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit. He was so smart and I was attracted to him immediately. But I was kind of shy (I know, I know – most of you don’t believe me) and he was sooo much older and wiser than any other guy I had dated. Embarrassing detail: I spilled red wax on his yellow sweater when I blew out the candles. Mortifying. As he left the building, following dinner, he threw a snowball back into the doorway…got me right in the face. Yup – it was love.

Don_Kris_goofing_offWe dated three months, got engaged in May, and married in September. Sounds like a perfect romance, right? Not so much. Though we loved each other very much, we came up against a few people who objected to our relationship. The tough time we endured caused us to draw closer to God and to one another. We had a few very wise and trusted people who offered us safe friendships and our wedding on September 26, 1987, was a beautiful autumn afternoon, filled with friends and family.

Since that time, our life together has been filled with amazing adventures, trials and happiness beyond description. As happens in all relationships, we’ve gone through ups and downs, but we’ve always determined to communicate and love each other, no matter what. We’ve taught together, laughed together and cried together. Family_picnic_McCulloughWe have parented two wonderful boys who’ve made us so proud. Don is a dad who loves fiercely; his boys and I are everything to him – and we never doubted it.

Throughout the years, Don has been faithful in his pursuit of God; faithful in relationships with his accountability partners, his friends and with me. For the last year, we’ve been “empty-nesting” and I think doing a very fine job. We enjoy each other so much and there isn’t anyone I would rather spend my time with. He encourages me and my crazy plans. He allows me to be myself…and prods me to be all he knows I can be. He prays for me and with me. He spoils me.

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Don & Kris–straddling the Nebraska/Iowa state line over the Missouri River

Every weeknight he has dinner ready for me when I get home from work. Yes, he is a great cook too. He is a man of God who desperately desires for the Holy Spirit to use him to grow the Kingdom of God. He is his own worst critic, so I take my job of encourager very seriously. 

I asked him this morning, if he knew then what he knows now, would he still marry me? Of course, he said yes. But honestly, neither one of us had any idea that we could love each other more now than we did then. Trials and struggles can tear couples apart or push them together – we’ve always chosen to push through together. Don, I thank God every day for putting you into my life! Here’s to 30 more years.

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David & Tristen’s wedding – May 14, 2016

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Don and I do not live close to either side of our family. Except for our own children, the closest family member is two hours away. In years past, for a variety of reasons, I did not spend much time with any of my family. I can make excuses. I was busy raising my kids, busy in ministry, busy with schooling and work and activities. But in the last two years, I’ve come to realize that anyone will make time for what is important…what consumes your time, consumes your heart.

So I determined that for 2016, my word is family.

Now that we are almost one-quarter of the way through the year (yikes!), I want to evaluate my progress in meeting my goal of more family time. In January we travelled to Dubuque to see my nephew’s basketball game. In February Don and I went to Ames to take our son to breakfast and to meet some members of my soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s family. Today I just returned from a quick visit to see my sister, brother-in-law, aunt, brother, nephew and niece.

I love my amazing family…those I can visit often and those much further away. No matter how far apart my visits, I’m always welcomed with open arms. My sister and I can talk constantly, laugh uncontrollably, and reminisce tearfully…all night long.

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I’m determined to be more than an aunt in name only to my brother’s kids. I want to watch my nephew play baseball and my niece perform gymnastic feats. I want to be a presence in the lives of my aunts and uncles. I enjoy listening to stories from my 8-year-old niece and my 88-year-old aunt. Both are delightful. In two weeks, I’ll watch another beloved niece get married. I’ll enjoy the antics of my little great-nephews, and hug my lovely mother-in-law. Two months from now, at my own son’s wedding, we’ll have the privilege of hosting many McGarvey and McCullough family members. What an opportunity for joyful expressions of love and acceptance!

I’m still very busy ~ I’m still involved in ministry, parenting, and work, but my determination, my priority is now to make intentional time for family. Time passes so quickly ~ let’s live so we have wonderful memories, not regrets.

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old friends

I spent today with some of my favorite people – some family, some soon-to-be family, and some might-as-well-be family.

I hope you have people like that in your life. Friends you may see only sporadically but can pick up right where you left off, no matter how long you’ve been apart. Friends who speak your same silly language…who “get you”…who love you in spite of your flaws and foibles. Friends who think like you, which, in my case, can be a very scary thing.

I have a friend who is a sister-of-my-heart. We spent all afternoon together and now I feel so refreshed. She radiates the love of Jesus, full of fun and creativity (she was my Flat Stanley co-conspirator today). We laughed and laughed and laughed – all day.

She speaks her mind, but listens with such a tender heart. She cherishes my kids and truly cares for their welfare, just as I do toward her beautiful daughter. Our husbands are best buds and enjoy just sitting together drinking coffee (or, sometimes frappes).

I’m planning to grow old with her because if I have to endure gray hair, chin hair and the effects of gravity on my aging body, I want to do it with someone who’ll see the humor and help us get through it together.

Her friendship means so much to me and I’m already planning exciting adventures with her very soon. What do you think – maybe some tubing on the Wapsi River this summer?

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