Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Singer/songwriter Ben Rector has a song called Old Friends, and the first time I heard it, I thought of my small town and the many school friends I still keep in touch with. We’ve grown a little grayer (me? a LOT grayer), maybe added a few pounds here or there, lost our parents and former teachers, but the bond we created 40+ years ago, hasn’t been broken by time or distance. And to be honest, social media has been the catalyst in keeping us up-to-date on each others’ lives.

My tidbit of wisdom today: Stay in touch with old friends.

Friends – true friends – will stay with you in the rough times, offering a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and many times, helping hands to get things done. You see – old friends know where you came from, what your roots are, or as Ben says, still dial your house phone. They don’t give up on you, on your friendship, just because we’re a little older. In anything, we hug a little tighter, celebrating our joys and mourning our losses together.

Don’t give up on staying in touch, no matter how busy life gets. Carve out time to get a coffee, make a phone call, send an email, meet in Galena for a Saturday shopping trip (YES!)…make more memories and spread more joy.

“Can you take me back when we were just kids
Who weren’t scared of getting older?
‘Cause no one knows you like they know you
And no one probably ever will
You can grow up, make new ones
But the truth is
That we grow up, then wish we could go back then
There’s nothing like old friends
‘Cause you can’t make old friends” (Ben Rector, “Old Friends”)


You can’t make old friends. Classmates from Durand High School Class of 1978


Friends through ups and downs. More ups, though!


Girlfriends – many from kindergarten. Love each one!


My special almost-daughter, if I were old enough.

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I know I am a blessed woman. I’m so grateful for the many friends I’ve made throughout my life…the many places I’ve visited…the many opportunities I’ve had to travel, work, play, serve and enjoy life. I have thousands of pictures in my head of places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and memories I’ve made.

My view of my world includes:

  • That breathlessness in my chest when I walked up the steps to see the grassy field and ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field for the first time. I stood in quiet wonder as people swarmed in and out, beer and cotton candy vendors selling their wares. Definitely a forever picture.
  • The magnificence of El Capitan and Half Dome,Half_Dome_distance the gurgling waters of streams rolling through the forests, the blackened trunks of burnt pine trees, and the awe-inspiring heights of sequoia trees – all this kept me snapping almost 400 iPhone photos on my week’s vacation visiting my first national parks.
  • Looking out my plane window to see the Grand Canyon spread out in all its glory below me. What a great view I had from 15,000 feet! Couldn’t get a stamp for my new national park passbook, but I should did get a pretty good picture!Phoenix_race
  • The view of the finish line as I ran the last hundred yards of my half-marathon relay with my brother in Phoenix, holding hands over our heads as the emotion of the moment overwhelmed me.


  • My first glimpse of my nervous bridegroom waiting for me at the end of the church aisle.
  • Crying as I hold my first-born son in my arms after a very traumatic labor and delivery, his brown eyes staring up at me.
  • My throat closed with emotion as I hold my second-born son, after his non-emergency C-section turned into a few anxious moments….once again, looking into sleepy deep brown eyes.
  • Looking out over my classmates during our high school graduation in that little gym in Durand many years ago, excited to think that my life was about to change forever but having no idea how much.
  • The indescribable views from the top of the Arch in St. Louis, the pinnacle of the Washington Monument, the basket of a hot air balloon, the viewing platform at the summit of Pikes Peak and tramway ride up to the crest line of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico.Sean_strech
  • Some of my favorite moments are just normal, everyday sights…like looking out my kitchen window while I did the dishes, watching my kids play in our backyard. Or the misty view of David’s back as he heads off on one of his many trips to places around the world. Or recognizing Sean’s signature stretch before he steps into the batter’s box.Grandpa_boys_lawnmower Or looking through our bookcase for a naptime story. Or watching my dad take his grandkids for rides on the John Deere lawnmower.

But my favorite view and the one for which I’m most grateful is my view forward…into the continuing journey I have ahead of me. It isn’t always clear but I know it will be full of fun and adventure. I don’t regret any of my past experiences but I desire to be intentional in looking ahead…always onward!

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I have a cold. It isn’t horrible but my nose is either running or stopped up. It takes quite a strong aroma to break that barrier. Like Vicks Vapo-Rub – remember that stuff? Every time I smell it, I’m taken back to my childhood…when my mom would spread that goopy gel over my chest and on the bottoms of my feet. I don’t know if it helped, but the aroma was pervasive and brings back all those feelings of love and comfort from my mom’s nurturing care.

That’s the great thing about our sense of smell – the trigger of good memories whenever certain aromas hit our nose. I love the smell of freshly-roasted coffee beans and freshly-brewed coffee (taste too!). There’s nothing like the smell of warm cinnamon rolls, baking bread, peppermint ice cream, fresh cut wood, pungent orange peels, fresh cut grass, newly-turned earth, incoming spring rains, strawberry shampoo, freshly-bathed babies, and a first time you crack open a new book. This list is only a few of my favorite smells. Each one brings up a bucketful of great memories and good feelings.

For instance, every time I smell pine I’m reminded of a family vacation we took when I was 16. There were five of us, headed to Arkansas, in a pick up truck with a topper and no air conditioning. We had put an old mattress in the back so we could take turns sleeping, sitting or driving. My mom and I were driving through the night with the windows open, along the highway lined with majestic fir trees. The bracing aroma of pine filled the truck cab. I don’t remember our conversation but the smell of pine still gives me poignant memories of a happy time in my childhood.

Do you have similar smells that trigger memories? Sure, sometimes smells remind us of sad times too, but as the movie “Inside Out” illustrates, sadness isn’t bad…it’s an emotion we need to feel and embrace as much as joy or anger.

It’s kind of cool that we, as children of God, are to Him the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing…the fragrance of life to one group, the smell of death to the other. Through us, He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. So we are the trigger of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. Hope you smell good!

Take a deep breath! Learn to use all your senses to unleash feel good moments. Even better – start making aromatic memories for the future. If you need it, they still sell Vicks Vapo-Rub.

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I don’t remember a time that I didn’t like writing. In first grade I loved writing my whole name across the top of my paper: Kristine Gail McCullough. I loved that my name was long so I had to use all the space across from left to right to fit it all in. And I had the best letters! More capital letters than anyone else in my class. Then my teacher told me I didn’t need to write the whole thing. It was taking too long and my hand was cramping by the end of the day. I think I was grasping those big fat pencils too tightly.

So I shortened my name to “Kris” (but I still have an awesome amount of capital letters thanks to marrying my own Mr. McGarvey). But my love of writing continues.My 40-day Lenten addition today is putting words on paper, everyday, in some form. I have a lovely old-style composition book (see picture above – don’t you just love a brand new notebook!) and the desire to write, whatever comes into my head.

Today I wrote some Scripture and took off on the theme of fearing the Lord. But tomorrow may be a recipe, or a prayer, or a story, or a memory. The important thing for me is the discipline of putting thoughts on lined paper. It’s a lost art, really. We think spewing stuff in that “What’s On Your Mind?” box at the top of our Facebook newsfeed is sufficient. Most of the time I write something there in response to someone else’s spewing and if I’m wise, I delete it before posting. The beauty of my little comp book is the privacy I have to say whatever I want, because only my eyes will ever see it. Oh yes – God will see it too. But I’m not afraid to be angry, or defiant, or sad…God isn’t afraid of my thoughts. Be honest – He knows us better than we know ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, He has a few words for me to write down as well.

So get yourself a brand, spanking new notebook and start writing…right now!


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Sometimes grief comes like a hurricane – a huge tsunami of emotion that engulfs and destroys everything. It swirls and chokes and blows and destroys – leaving only shells in its wake.

Sometimes grief is as a still small voice, a whisper of a memory, a glimpse of remembrance. Maybe it only takes the aroma of a familiar casserole, a drive through an old neighborhood, a picture of a birthday party, a holiday or anniversary, a common name.

Often grief is agonizing but as time passes it can transform into a familiar presence. Years away, it creeps back only occasionally, sometimes bringing guilt, but more often leaving a beautiful taste of what was, but will never be again. A taste to savor, not with regret, but with smiles and a shadow of happiness once again.

I had one of those moments this week as I took an extra long walk over my lunch hour. I wandered farther than usual and found myself on a sidewalk outside Cargill, a grain plant here in Cedar Rapids. Seems a funny place to experience that touch of grief, doesn’t it? But for me, Cargill’s semi-truck parking lot holds quite a few happy memories. Memories of taking donuts to my dad as he sat in line waiting for hours to dump his truckload of grain. You see, my dad was a truck driver and he’s been gone for 12 years now. He lived in northern Illinois and for many years, drove two to three times a week (sometimes even twice a day) to Cedar Rapids, the grain truck capital of Iowa. Sometimes he went to Quaker Oats, sometimes Cargill on the river, but more often, the Cargill plant right off  Interstate 380. He was often in line by 2 or 3 a.m. so he could get his load dumped and be back in Illinois in time to load up once again for another trip to Cedar Rapids, or the Illinois River, or any number of farms in the area. He was a well-known and well-loved driver. He worked hard to be the best he could be at his job, backing his semi-trailer into the tightest of spaces and always making sure the farmers got the best service available. He had an amazing memory, knowing hundreds of farmers, plant workers, waitresses and fellow drivers by name. Way before anyone had heard of Map Quest or Google Maps or even GPS, my dad could tell you the best route to get from Point A to Point B…and it usually didn’t involve any interstate driving.

Sometimes my dad had to sit in that line of semi-trucks for hours waiting, waiting, waiting. He couldn’t go anywhere, just in case he needed to move forward, so he’d give me a call to let me know he was in town and we’d head down to see him. The boys and I would crawl up into his truck and dive into that Donutland dozen. I always brought coffee with plenty of sugar packets for Dad and small bottles of milk for two small boys who adored their grandpa. Sometimes the wait for him was long enough that he could actually leave the truck and we’d drive quickly to the downtown McDonalds for a literal fast-food break. Once in a while Cargill would shut down before his grain was off-loaded so he’d get to stay over night at our house. I’ll never forget the proud looks on those little boys’ faces when their grandpa drove up and parked his semi-truck cab in front of our place. He was always up and gone long before sunrise but I knew I’d get another call telling me he made it back fine, “thanks for letting me stay and for supper” and “I’ll see you again soon.”

You never know when the memories change from painful grieving to sweet remembrances, but they do. And you’ll never know where you’ll be when it happens. Could even be on a warm spring day, standing on a cracked sidewalk across from a smelly grain plant surrounded by diesel fumes and truck drivers.

With Grandpa 1


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