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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

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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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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It’s the Friday before Christmas and I’m swamped with a to-do list longer than any naughty-or-nice list Santa’s looking at today. Which means – how do I blog AND get my other stuff done. Came up with this: Friday’s Five. I’m offering five quick “what I’ve learned in my six decades of life” tidbits of wisdom. Take it or leave it.

  • Try new things.

We all get stuck in routines. Routines are absolutely necessary but occasionally, get out of your personal rut and try something new. A new route to work, a new restaurant, a new item at your old restaurant, a new coffee shop, a museum you’ve never visited, give blood for the first time, ring the bell for Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, walk a new path, take a vacation to a different destination. These are all new things I’ve tried in the last five years. A couple of those new things have become new routines (I give blood every 8 weeks, and ring that little bell every Christmas) and I’m always looking for something else to try to push my comfort boundaries.

  • Don’t eat meat with an expired date.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Maybe I should have said, “check the expiration date of any meat product before consuming.” No explanation necessary. Live and learn. At least I lived, though I felt like death warmed over for a while.

  • Visit national, state, and county parks as much as possible.

img_3853My brother and sister-in-law took me to my first national park in September of 2016. And my second. And my third. All in the space of three days. That whirlwind tour was life-changing. God is out there, people. Check out His creation in the wide open spaces. Or the deep dark forests. Or the windswept prairie. Or the little path through the woods. I will never be the same. I will never view God the same. I’ve thanked Alan and Victoria multiple times, but I can never express adequately what that trip meant to me.

  • Watch someone else’s kids play sports, perform in a play, or sing/play in a concert.

We all love our own kids best. It’s natural. But there is something so wonderful about cheering for other people’s kids. They light up. Their parents light up. Everyone needs a cheerleader – be one for someone else’s children. And it will change YOU.  Love for others grows your heart.

  • Go without occasionally.

If you have enough money to purchase whatever you want, don’t. Live with less. Say “no” to that voice- the one that says, “you must have this.” Give yourself a day or two – find out if that thing you so desire on Friday is still necessary on Monday. Show your kids that living with less can be freeing, gratifying, enjoyable. Stuff clutters. And I’m still working on this one.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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I hope you were able to celebrate the true meaning of Easter today. We love the Easter bunny (especially the chocolate kind), egg hunts, jelly beans, family dinners and baskets filled with goodies…but Easter isn’t really about those things.

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Pastor Don McGarvey, Troy Mills Christian Church

Easter is about our risen Savior Jesus Christ who was crucified, buried, and raised to new life. My husband preached a great sermon this morning (yes – I’m biased) on the Odds of Easter.

He related the story of Dylan McWilliams who, in three separate incidents in three separate years, survived a rattlesnake bite, a bear attack and a shark attack. Some math geek somewhere figured the odds of all three incidents happening to one man is 893.35 quadrillion to one. In case you don’t know, a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeroes….it looks like 1,000,000,000,000,000.

By comparison, The odds of being struck by lightning is 1 in 5,000; the odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S. is estimated at 1 in 37,500; attacked by a shark, 1 in 11.5 million and attacked by a bear, 1 in 2.1 million. Some say Dylan was a very unlucky guy. If I believed in luck (I don’t), I’d say Dylan was a very LUCKY guy.  He told a British reporter that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But compare Dylan’s adventure to the odds of Easter. The Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning Jesus…his crucifixion (Isaiah 53:6, 10), his scourging (Isaiah 50:6), the piercing of his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16); the piercing of his side (Zechariah 12:10), the disfigurement of his appearance (Isaiah 52:14); that none of his bones were broken (Exodus 12:46), his burial place (Isaiah 53:9) and his resurrection (Psalm 30:3). The odds that all eight of these prophecies would be fulfilled by one man in the course of three days are 1 in 10 to the 17th power…100,000,000,000,000,000. Unlucky? No – supernatural.

There are 48 prophecies concerning Jesus’ life in the Old Testament – and the odds of all 48 prophecies being fulfilled by one man, Jesus, are 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Too many zeroes for me to type out. A 1 followed by 157 zeroes!

e52ac01a-3514-4f75-b4b6-e5aca107a96bJesus, Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, betrayed by his Judas, unjustly tried in a bogus court, scourged and crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb, but raised to life on Easter Sunday morning. He wasn’t a good man. He was God in flesh, sent to take our sins upon himself so that we would not have to bear them. It wasn’t luck or lack of luck. It was love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

 

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Jesus

Betrayed ruthlessly

Arrested unjustly

Abandoned callously

Tried illegally

Beaten brutally

Crucified unfairly

Buried anonymously

Arose victoriously

Jesus

Son of God

Light of the world

Lord of Lords

King of Kings

Messiah

Savior

Redeemer

Lover of my Soul

Jesus

Compassion continual

Truth unerring

Humility personified

Grace without limit

Mercy repeatedly

Power eminent

Peace unending

Joy overflowing

Love unconditional

Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name
so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
 everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NCV)

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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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img_1315For the last three plus years I have surrounded myself with kids. I’ve always enjoyed children, especially my own, but sometimes a few could really get on my nerves. Honest confession: I like kids who behave. But as I’ve grown older, I think I have more grace than when my own children were younger.

Quite a few years ago, when I helped out in a kids’ ministry to 4th-6th graders, I’d get exasperated with the kiddos who enjoyed causing turmoil. I think they felt it was their calling in life. “Let’s get Kris to lose her temper.”  And each Wednesday night, I left irritated. Now I know the Bible says to love everyone, but these little ones got on my very last nerve every week. So much for showing the love to Jesus to the world, right?

img_2090Then came a seven year hiatus, when I basically had no ministry responsibilities. I spent a lot of alone time with Jesus. Through a series of events, I felt a mindset shift in many areas. I made intentional choices to get healthy, ready my Bible, lose weight, reconnect with friends and family, take up running, explore new adventures. Somewhere in the course of that time, I fell in love with kids again…even those that used to irritate me. Of course, I don’t have involvement with those same kids from way back, but I still encounter children whose sole purpose in life is to disrupt whatever environment they are in. They’re really good at it too. But God has given me a supernatural love for them. No way could this be on my own. And on top of that, I love all the other ones too. The ones who are wild and crazy, the one whose smile lights a room, and the ones who are shy and reserved.

img_1567Every child needs to know they are valued and loved, no matter their behavior. The world they live in is turbulent and scary so I want to be a safe place for each one. A place they can go for encouragement, a hug, a prayer, maybe even a little face-to-face “what ARE you doing?” if necessary. I want them to see Jesus in all that I say and do. Occasionally I get in someone’s face to confront behavior that is unacceptable (cheating, lying, bullying are non-negotiables), but mostly I want them to really know they are loved…by me and most importantly, by God. I still make mistakes…many times. But I’m relying on the grace and mercy of God. He loves those kids more than I do!

I am blessed to be a part of the kids’ ministry at our church. We have preschool through high school as part of our Wednesday night program. This week is our last JAM (Jesus and Me) of the school year and though I’m tired, I’m sad too. Once the program is finished, I may not see some of these kids again until September, or maybe not at all.  We have such a small window of time and opportunity…make it a count. These kids are worth it!

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