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Posts Tagged ‘God’

I enjoy sharing my favorites with you. I know it’s just my opinion and you may not share it, but it’s been fun to think about what I like and then narrow it down to just five things. So to conclude a rainy, sloppy, cold-then-hot-then-cold-then-wet-then-tornado month, here are my final five for May.

(1)  Casey’s pizza

For those of you reading this from anywhere other than Middle America, you have no idea what Casey’s pizza is. I’m sorry for your loss. Casey’s General Store is a chain of convenience stores in just about every small town throughout the Midwest. They have decent coffee, really good donuts (if you get there before they’re picked over), normal convenience store items like small cans of oil, overpriced 2-liters of pop, whole shelves full of beef jerky, beer (and more beer), bottled water and…pizza. Really good, greasy pizza. Download their app so you can order it at the end of your tutoring session and have it ready for pickup at your most convenient location. As I ordered my large pepperoni pizza the other night, I had four Casey’s locations within 1 mile of me…life can be so good sometimes.

(2)  Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Grilled Chicken

img_2780-1Don and I enjoy trying new recipes. Made this pasta dish over the weekend. Definitely a keeper!! Didn’t take any pictures of the finished dish but trust me, it looked and smelled amazing. And tasted so so good. Lemon zest and lemon juice in the alfredo-style sauce made it feel lighter than other pasta dishes…so I had two helpings. Don’t judge.

Another culinary entry – this makes 3 out of 5 favorites are food related. I know – I’m suffering.

(3)  Gianni’s Italian Beef

My downfall is that Gianni’s is within close walking distance from my work so though we’ve only been there twice, we’ll definitely be going back…over and over again. Take the time to read the back story on the restaurant’s owner and how the name Gianni’s was selected…and tissues.

If the story doesn’t grab you, the Italian beef will. Or the Italian sausage. Or the seasonal Italian ice. I plan to try the salad and the beef hot dog at some future visit, but that Italian beef is tough to pass up. Small menu but big flavor. Love the atmosphere too.

(4)  Joy Williams 

My go-to resource for new music is my adult children. All four of them love music so I have a never ending list of artists to try out. David and Tristen love Joy and now I do too.

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Joy Williams – Front Porch

Give a listen to her latest album “Front Porch” – such a sweet, soulful, slightly country sound. An interesting side note: I am also a huge Ben Rector fan. Ben’s song “Boxes” off his “Magic” album talks about CDs given to him by wanna-be musicians as he tours around the country. It’s a really good song (as are all of his) and includes these lyrics:

“On through this Rolodex of railroad tracks and fresh-cut hair
I see Joy who won some Grammys and is now a millionaire”

That’s Joy Williams – isn’t that cool? Well, I think so anyway.

(5)  Ephesians 4:1-3

I read my Bible every morning. Sometimes things jump out at me…sometimes not. But I trust that my obedience in reading God’s Word will feed my spirit, even when I may not “feel” like it. Recently read this passage from The Message version…

“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”

Isn’t this awesome? Run on the road God has called you to travel. Run!! Quit sitting around waiting for God to tell you what to do. Move forward until He tells you to stop. This journey He has for each of us is not a sprint – it is a marathon. And our training isn’t done via YouTube…it’s done out there in the real world. So put on your running shoes and run!

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The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter can be spent in a frenzy of activity, scrambling to buy jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, baking hams and pies, scrubbing bathrooms, and laying perfect dinner tables.

Or maybe this day was spent in reflection, contemplating the hours the disciples mourned their rabbi, their Messiah, hiding in fear for their lives after watching an innocent Jesus crucified by the Roman soldiers.

Holy Saturday. Black Saturday. Joyous Saturday. The day of despair, hopeless, fearful, wondering “now what?” It is easy for us to skip over the importance of this day. We know the story. We know what’s ahead. Sunday’s coming. Easter will bring new life, our resurrected Savior.

But the disciples didn’t know. They heard what Jesus told of this time but how do you really prepare yourself for this day? Do you hope? Do you hide? Do you leave? Do you stay?

Did they trust? Did they believe the One who poured Himself out, teaching, praying, healing?

Maybe your life is currently sitting on a Black Saturday. Your dream seems dead. You’re fearful, hopeless, despairing. You grieve and hide, questioning “now what?”

Do you trust? Do you believe the One who poured Himself out for you? Stand firm and know – Your Easter is on the horizon.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”

‭‭John‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl sitting in my grandpa’s white pick up truck, listening to Lou Boudreau call the games on WGN radio, or watching the games with my dad every Sunday afternoon on WTVO. My dad took me to my first game at Wrigley Field when I was about 12 and I was hooked. Though I followed the Cubs through some of the worst baseball seasons ever, I never wavered. The Cubs were, and are, my team.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series. I loved watching the huge parade that wove through the city after the series win, where literally millions of people cheered for the new champs. They climbed lampposts, hung from balconies, stood for hours, as the team was driven in open air buses down Lake Shore Drive. It was a glorious sight as fans, old and new, cheered their team.

A short few years later and people are writing them off. The team has had a rocky start to the 2019 season, and people are jumping off the bandwagon right and left. “What have you done for me lately?”

Do you know something similar happened to Jesus? One Sunday crowds of people stripped trees bare of palm branches so they could wave them as Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, riding on the back of a donkey. They shouted and cheered: “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The palm branches were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, the palms were waved as the people cheered in celebration when an important person like a king rode through the streets.

But just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led out to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers He heard on Sunday turned to jeers on Friday. No longer shouting “Hosanna,” the people were now screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The people were offered the choice of whether to free a murderer named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to set Barabbas free and crucify Jesus. His once-faithful followers had now forsaken Him.

We have that same choice everyday. We can choose to follow Jesus and make Him our King and Lord or we can turn away from Him like the people who denied Him or shouted “Crucify Him!”

I want to be faithful to Jesus. As much as I cheer for my team, I want to be even more faithful to my Savior Jesus, who willingly went to the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin. This decision is so much more important than a game.

Jesus – today we choose to make you King and Lord of our lives. Help us to be strong and to follow you when all others forsake you. We shout “Hosanna! You are our King!”

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We all need help. No matter how self-sufficient we are, everyone needs a hand now and then. Well, probably more than now and then, but some of us are stubborn and wait until a crisis hits before we cry out.

“Help!”

The lyrics to the Beatles hit record from 1965 rolls through head occasionally (yes – I’m that old) “Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help! I know I need someone! Help!

In the everyday mundane routines of life, who do you go to for help? Are you overwhelmed with a non-stop schedule?  Frustrated by choices others have made? Worried about a health issue? Wondering if you’re doing this parenting thing right? Ever need a kind or encouraging word on a bad day? Having difficulty navigating your grief? Ever just need a big hug? YES – all of this has been me and though I try so hard to be the helper, not the “helpee,” I can’t do it alone. I am constantly in need of someone who can help me!

Psalm 121 tells me about God, who is my Someone all the time. When I’m desperate for help, He is always there. When I’m grief-stricken and cannot see through my tears, He sees me. When I’m worried about finances, He provides. He’s my Healer when I’m sick. When I can’t see a way out of the trouble, He provides a path for my feet. He lights up the way, and I follow Him out of trouble and into the light. He never sleeps, and I can never catch Him off guard. He shields me from danger, no matter what time of day or night.

Do you need help today? Are you feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, or feeling helpless and hopeless? Do you just need to be noticed? God sees you. He is your Guardian, your Helper.

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I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. 

 

Psalm 121 (NLT)

 

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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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I have the privilege of conducting the kids’ sermon each Sunday at our church. We have some amazing kids who seem to enjoy coming up front for “their” time. Since I try to keep the message about 5 to 8 minutes long, it’s important for it to be simple, easy to understand and applicable to the kids’ lives. And the first Sunday of each month, I have the kids (and adults) memorize a Bible verse.

Today we memorized Philippians 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Rejoice scripture

Short and simple, right? The verse itself is short, but the message is deep. The writer of the book of Philippians was the Apostle Paul, and he was composing this letter to the church in Philippi while sitting in prison. He had been unjustly imprisoned, accused by his enemies, and falsely charged. But even so, he was telling other believers to “Rejoice!”

I told the kids the definition of “rejoice” is to feel or show great joy or delight. How could Paul rejoice while sitting in prison, with good reason to feel despondent? Because Paul knew he wasn’t rejoicing in his outward circumstances, he was rejoicing…finding great joy and delight…in God. He knew that no matter what happened to him physically, Jesus was always with him.

My study Bible note on this verse says “It’s easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.” But we need to remember where to place our hope and trust…in the God who will never leave you or forsake you, who is your rock and refuge, a very present help in times of trouble. Rejoice in that!

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sunshine-heartThe sun is shining in Cedar Rapids! After a long, cold, snowy, cold winter, I’m anticipating the arrival of spring a little more enthusiastically today.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow! (sing along with me!)

The sunshine encourages me. I work in an office with a lot of windows and that beautiful sun shines in and lifts my spirits. But the opposite is true as well. On those dark, cloudy, gray days, I have to work very hard to stay upbeat and positive. As you can tell, I allow my circumstances to control my mood. And that is not healthy living.

Romans_15_13Every day I’m thankful for the Word of God that is filled with encouragement…verses that lift me up, show me where my confidence should be, promises God will always fulfill. When I read my Bible, I get a large dose of sunshine (even on a cloudy day). Other believers also boost my spirits. I have a very dear friend who regularly puts positive, uplifting, encouraging posts on Facebook. When I see them, I smile. I can’t help it. Encouragement is contagious.

So if you need a little boost – read the promises of God. The YouVersion app is a wonderful tool to put the Word literally at your fingertips. If you are sufficiently “boosted,” won’t you spread a little cheer to someone else today? It’ll feed your own soul too!

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