Blessings in Abundance: Florida in Review

WE’RE CRUISING ACROSS TEXAS as this post formulates underneath my fingers. It’s unanimous: This is the most unique scenery we have ever traveled through on our tours. The flat, parched earth, black shrub trees, and coarse grass is a total contrast to the swampy, forested fields of Minnesota. Some of us like it, others do not.

This Texas adventure will probably end up in a post later, but now, I’m thinking about Florida. Nearly a month has passed since we said farewell to the sunshine state, but our experiences and the lessons they taught carry on with us today. Each trip has a share of stress and trial, but our 26 days to Florida and back were unlike any other.

For one thing, tours normally do not start with a funeral.

Four days before our departure, we stood around our grandfather’s casket, utterly broken with pain and grief. It was January 28, Ben’s birthday—the last “shared” with our beloved grandpa who tried to celebrate each of his grandkids’ birthdays with them.

It was a sorrow different from any we had encountered before. Jayme often says, “I know people think, ‘Oh, they just lost a grandpa, a dad’—but he wasn’t just a grandpa.” Grandpa Pete was more: our closest friend, our biggest fan, and the one person we spent the most time with over the past seven years. He was a—oh dear, I’m crying now: I can’t stand writing about Grandpa in past tense. Off come my silly computer glasses to wipe these teary eyes.

Anyway…

We said goodbye (truly, only a “see you later,” for we know he is with his precious Savior) to Grandpa a few short days before we left for Florida. The heaviness that blanketed our home as we packed was like trying to survive a terrible dream. We were surrounded by memories of Grandpa: the chair he last sat in (with his little white hairs still stuck in the material), the games he loved to play, his New Year cookies that he taught us to make, and especially, while we practiced, the songs Grandpa loved dearly.

We felt so empty, and couldn’t envision ministering when we had nothing to give. The thought of cancelling the whole tour crossed our minds, entered even our conversations.

For, on top of our deep grief, an awful virus began its cruel rounds in our family. The evening we left on our tour, Ben and Leesha were curled up on the motorhome couch, tired bodies racked with fevers. Caleb could barely talk, much less sing. It was unimaginable to think we had to sing the next day.

Never before had we been at such a low.

Since the month we set aside for practice and rejuvenation was spent loving on Grandpa in his final days, our music and voices felt at their weakest. New songs were left at home: last year’s program had to suffice. (That was, if we had healthy voices to carry it.)

When we arrived at our first date, Bar None Cowboy Church in Newton, Iowa, we were dejected and irritable. Though we knew we were among great friends, we felt like failures even before the sound equipment was loaded in.

But God had a different plan.

Every mile of our journey to Florida carried this single theme: God had a different plan. Our plans had been shattered since the beginning of 2017, so we clung to God’s sovereignty. We didn’t understand His plans, but literally went step by step relying on Him for guidance, for we did not where we were going. We couldn’t have, and in some ways, wouldn’t have arranged the details of our month like God did. But God had outlined a plan for His glory and His good.

That night at Bar None was exactly what we needed. It had seemed like the most logical date to cancel if we’d cancel anything, but God purposed that evening to uplift us for the journey ahead.

Each song, though shaky with our weary voices, was met with cheer by our friends. Mom shared the story of our final season with Grandpa and sang “Look for Me” while we stood behind her with tears streaming down our faces. Afterwards, many of our friends shared hugs and sympathy, encouraging us to go on and fulfill our ministry. Pastor Dave took time to pray with us; his message that evening—on that familiar, but so pertinent theme of trusting the Lord—set the focus for the trip ahead.

And so we went forth, bolstered by the family of God to continue on.

Our next stop was in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (No, we didn’t find any signs of the great massacre there!) Because Ben, Leesha, and Caleb’s voices were at their most compromised point, our program was a challenge to orchestrate. But we were able to rearrange the songs and pulled together as a team to get through the concert.

The familiar smell of burning brakes greeted us when arrived at the church. We chose to spend the night in the parking lot until we knew it was safe to proceed. After poking around the rig the next day (with a chance to play basketball!) and listening to the advice of some church members, we continued down the road.

Many long hours were spent watching the United States fly by. And playing the house game. (Ask us about it sometime!)

We made it to Florida on a Tuesday evening—just in time for the scare of the year. We settled the rig at a campground in Perry and were just about ready to eat walking tacos when our phones started beeping—loudly. Alerts flashed on our screens, and we couldn’t believe our eyes: Immediate Threat Extreme Tornado Warning. A TORNADO—in FEBRUARY?! Clouds had piled up in the west, so we thought a normal storm would pass over during the night…but a tornado?! The Nautilus started rocking—not from wind gusts, but from everyone running around and grabbing belongings.

We tracked the storm and were horrified to see it bearing down on Perry. Since the Nautilus isn’t exactly a stable place to wait out a tornado, we trooped to the campground’s shower houses, some lugging bags of personal belongings. For the next 45 minutes, we holed up in the humid men’s room, asking for prayer from family and friends and chatting with the other campers. The storm pounded the shower house with high winds and torrential rain, but eventually, the storm lessened and people drifted back to their motorhomes. We made our way around the ankle-deep puddles (well, some decided to go straight through them, but I won’t name names) to find the Nautilus intact—hallelujah! Later we learned the tornado touched land seven miles south of us—which, though completely too close for comfort, was perfectly fine with us.

Thus ended our Florida tornado experience. 🙂

We left Perry on Thursday, ready to sing again!

This is the boys’ superhero poses. I’ll spare you their other poses. 🙂

We three girls wanted a photo together. Simple task, right? You would think we could get a snapshot without any disturbances…

But no: Someone had to parade by swinging Spanish moss on a stick! (No worries, we sisters did find this humorous. 🙂 )

Best friends forever. 🙂

We were so excited to return to First Baptist Church in Oxford, Florida! Such sweet, sweet people! It was joy to catch up with these friends! By this time, though, Sam had lost his voice. He, and everyone who had compromised voices, did an amazing job enduring each concert.

These three loved looking at old pictures. 🙂

Concert four was at First Baptist Church in Zephyrhills, Florida! It was our first time there, and what a great evening we had! Dad had picked up the virus and he couldn’t speak above a whisper. He courageously managed to still emcee the concert, though!

Jayme provided another hilarious memory from the night: the man she chose to talk to before the concert turned out to be legendary Dr. Jerry Goff. She noticed he spoke with knowledge about Southern Gospel music, but since she didn’t recognize him, she asked, “I take it you are a Southern Gospel fan?” He replied with a slight smile, “Well, sort of.” We laughed so hard after the concert when she said that she asked Jerry Goff if he was a Southern Gospel fan!

A typical before-concert scenario. 🙂

It is always a privilege to be with the congregation of Faith Baptist in Sarasota! Pastor Dave’s sermons are so edifying, and we love these special people! We pulled in the night before to set up our equipment and enjoyed time to run through a couple songs.

After Sunday morning at Faith Baptist, we caught a Blackwood Brothers Quartet concert that night. What a blessing. There are almost no words to describe how much these four men ministered to our hearts. All the stresses and griefs of the past month were released as we cried through their songs and listened to their testimonies. It had been ages since we were so blessed at someone else’s concert. One of the last CDs we listened to with our grandpa was a Blackwood Brothers’ project, so the evening was doubly special to our family.

A quick shot with Billy Blackwood and Michael Helwig.

To our surprise, Duane Nicholson of the Couriers and his wife Jean Ann were also in the audience! We met Duane and Neil Enloe a couple years ago in Pennsylvania, so it was fun to reconnect with him! Also, it was a honor to meet the sweet Mae Rambo as well.

We could have listened to their stories all night!

After our eventful day, we pulled into a Walmart in Arcadia, ready to eat pizza rolls (our favorite splurge) and hit the sack. Dad parked the Nautilus, looked across way and said, “Guys, there’s a bus across from us that says The Inspirations on it.”

We couldn’t believe it.

Minnesota is a wasteland for Southern Gospel; a few groups trek to the northland only once a year. And they are usually just passing through anyway. You never see group busses parked at Walmarts in Minnesota.

We stared at that bus like we had never seen a bus before.

“We should go and meet them.” Ben broke the silence. His suggestion was immediately struck down. Sure, we all wanted to meet The Inspirations, but we knew what it’s like to hear a knock on the door in a Walmart parking lot (not fun). Someone suggested that they might be in Walmart picking up groceries. Guards were stationed by the front door to watch the Walmart entrance to see if any “inspirational” people would walk out. But Mom noticed activity out the windshield. “There are guys coming from a hotel…I bet that’s them!” We crowded in the cab and peered out. Sure enough, there were enough men walking across the parking lot to make a quartet—and they were heading for the bus.

Steeling our nerves with a now-or-never attitude, we beelined shuffled out of the Nautilus. By the time we got close, most of the guys had boarded the bus. Ben led the way to the last member outside, who turned out to be their bus driver Harold (aka Wheels). We chatted with him for a little bit, and then Wheels asked, “Do you want to meet the guys?” We looked at each other and said “Yes!” “Well, I’ll see if I can get them out,” he said. He hurried to the bus, threw open the door and called out, “Hey y’all!” Then the door closed.

The bus door reopened and out came The Inspirations.

What followed were several hours of fun conversations, swapping songs, and eating oranges out in that parking lot. Our smiles felt near to bursting as we listened to The Inspirations’ awesome quartet harmonies in a mini-concert! It was such an uplifting time together. No pun intended, we were incredibly inspired after meeting them; the fellowship we shared was probably the number one highlight our trip.

Since Caleb sings “The Wonder of Wonders”—a song they originally introduced—The Inspirations asked to hear it and recorded this video:

After our “inspirational” night in Arcadia, we located a quiet campground in Sebring to stay for the next three days. After settling the Nautilus, we learned the campground was actually an adult community—and some residents were not happy with the presence of young folks.

But, the next day, we discovered the overall community was incredibly friendly; they gladly taught us how to play “Holey Board” (a version of bean bag toss, but played with large metal washers) and we enjoyed conversing with our fellow campers. We invited folks to an outdoor practice session and many came and we even braved a brief rain storm together! It was a sad parting on Thursday as we waved goodbye to new friends who gathered to see us off

Look! Bamboo! (At least we were pretty sure this was bamboo…)

A “fierce” shuffleboard competition.

Our sixth concert was at Amazing Grace Lutheran in Oxford, and it was the first concert where we finally regained our voices! Because of the crazy stoplight system on Highway 27, we were extremely late and raced to set up our equipment in time. (Never again will we travel Florida’s Highway 27!) The evening was very special and the people so kind and encouraging. The congregation did an impressive job of organizing the concert and handling the parking situation.

We were supposed to sing on Friday night, but the church canceled because another concert was happening 20 miles away. We didn’t have anything else to do, so we trekked over to the concert that displaced ours—since it did happen to be The Kingdom Heirs (one of Caleb’s favorite groups) and The Guardians! It was night of fantastic quartet music and our hands felt swollen from clapping so much.

The last concert was held at Peace Lutheran Church in Okeechobee, and we loved being with this kind congregation and their visitors. Three of Mom’s classmates happened to be in the area and attended the service, so Mom had a mini class reunion afterwards!
We hauled our equipment in the night before and appreciated the time to practice—and have a little fun!
Listening to Dad’s suggestions for an arrangement.

Sam, our dependable drummer!

“How Great Thou Art” was a new addition to our program this year. Grandpa had asked us to sing it for his funeral, so we created a basic arrangement that we have come to love dearly. What a beautiful hymn of worship!

That Sunday evening we made one final stop: Lake Gibson Church of the Nazarene in Lakeland. When at home, we love to make popcorn and watch their live-streamed concerts. Last year we saw the Mark Trammell Quartet there and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Since we heard that Pastor Kirby was retiring, we decided to drop by one more time to say goodbye—and be blessed by The Perrys as well.

What we didn’t intend to do was open the program that night!

Pastor Kirby asked us to sing an a cappella song, to which at first we said “No, we came to be blessed!” But he, Marlin Nichols (the church’s piano player), and others in the congregation persisted. So, before the program, we followed Pastor Kirby up on the stage, sang “Come Unto Me” (despite being unable to hear ourselves well because of the sound situation!), and then got off. It was an amazingly fun experience.

It was so neat to visit with Libbi and Tracy Stuffle—what genuine people with such hearts for the Lord! We were very blessed by The Perrys’ ministry!

We had to get a picture with Pastor Kirby and his sweet wife Bess!

After so many (amazing) adventures in Florida, we more than eager to get home. 80 miles into our return journey on Monday, though, the naughty Nautilus broke down. 🙁 It was a huge bummer for our road-weary family.

For three days we were stuck at a repair shop in Dade City, searching and waiting for a replacement part. During that time, Jayme came down with another virus that was circulating around Florida. And it didn’t just stop with her either. The majority of us were stricken with fevers, colds, and, subsequently, laryngitis when we were able to travel again.

At the end of the trip, the weight of our trials crashed down on us, threatening to hide the ways God had indeed worked for and on us so faithfully. We had to chose either to shake our fists in frustration at God, or to let go and allow Him to work His plan. Admittedly, some days we were beyond discouraged—others we took a deep breath and said, “Not our will, but Yours.”

God revealed that we needed to trust Him on a deeper level, to accept our circumstances with gratitude. It’s not easy to do! But there is peace when we release our expectations and remember that God is in control.

It was a joyous occasion when we finally arrived home—there was even snow on the ground to greet us! We were so thankful to recuperate a couple days before our concert touring resumed in March.


Well! I’ve written nearly 3,000 words in this post! Summarizing 26 days took longer than I expected. 🙂 We hope you enjoy these peeks into our road life here on the blog—which has been silent for too long! We also truly look forward to the chance we can meet you! Please visit our schedule and see if we’ll be in your area—we would be honored to share our music and the hope of the Gospel with you!

God bless you all, and thank you for being part of this journey!

Taylor for TGF 

Fulfilling the call…once again

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Today we set out from our comfy home to a fresh adventure of many miles, many faces, and much music. This trip of three weeks has snuck up on us—and yet we are desirous to accomplish what the Lord has planned. As always, there has been the rush and stress of ensuring we have all the outfits, equipment, food and random essential items that we might need stuffed in the Nautilus. It’s an all-consuming task until we finally pull out of the driveway and wave goodbye to our house and cats. (Let’s hope Sam won’t forget his tennis shoes this time!)

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Our practices have been intense lately, with a focus on harmonies (wait till you hear what Leesha, Sam, Jayme and Caleb did with “My Heart is a Chapel”!), arrangements (you will never recognize the new “Boundless Love” arrangement), and fine-tuning intonation. When we step on stage at Bar None Cowboy Church this Thursday, all the elements of practice will (hopefully) flow into auto-pilot and the Message of Jesus will be the focus.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep our perspective on why we spend hours in practice, why we pack and leave our home for weeks on end. Sometimes—well, honestly, more times than we like to admit—we gripe about the inconvenience a practice session causes or shrink from living from one Walmart to the next. We get comfortable with being “normal” folk who only venture out to church or grocery shopping during the week.

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We need the reminders, like Dad praying before practice: “Even when no one else is listening, Lord, may You still get the glory.” We need to take a breath amid the mountainous stacks of clothes that there’s a reason for this: “…whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17) We need to recall the purpose behind “The Garms Family”.

Our family isn’t setting out to bring joy to faces and hearts, find an outlet for our musical bents, or just because we want to see the sights across the country. The reason we go is because we have been called to go. We believe beyond any doubt that God has called us to utilize music for His glory and to draw people to Himself. There is no way we can deny His calling on our lives: We’ve come too far on this journey to not see the clear leading of the Lord these eight years.

So, tomorrow, when the last pair of socks is jammed into a drawer and the final bay on the rig is locked, we’ll be accomplishing a greater feat than successfully getting eight people packed for three weeks: We will be humbly fulfilling the calling to go once more—for the glory of God.

 

We have been called to be children of God,

Into the fellowship of His dear Son;

Chosen, adopted, and saved by His grace —

In Christ we are now a new creation.

 

CHORUS

We’re living the call, spreading the Word,

Sharing the Good News to those who have erred.

United in faith, to God we give all,

We have been chosen — we’re living the call.

 

In Jesus we have been redeemed by His blood;

Freed from our sinfulness, covered in love;

It is our joy now to call others too,

That hearts be encouraged with from hope above.

 

BRIDGE

Called by God, to be saved — our punishment has been waived.

We proclaim Jesus Christ, Whose life for us He sacrificed.

 

“LIVING THE CALL”
Words and music by Taylor Garms
Copyright © 2014 The Song Spot, BMI
From the album Arise to the Call

We gratefully appreciate your prayers and cannot wait to see y’all soon!

After Extended Silence…

Hello Friends!

As you have probably noticed, our family’s blog has been relatively silent – word-and-update-wise – though we have posted quite a few videos as of late.  This is mostly due to my negligence and striving to limit my computer time.  Apologies!

The Garms family has been happily enjoying life as family.  The days are filled with unexpected adventures and daily lessons, and we continue to travel day by day the journey God has placed before us.

Some of you might know that our friend Mal fell last week after coming home from a doctor’s appointment.  He has been steadily weakening, and the fall was inevitable as his shakiness has increased quickly over the past few months.  He had decided to cease the weekly Walmart trip several weeks ago because of the difficulty and weariness of walking.

Mal actually had a good appointment on Thursday and allowed Mom and I to push him in a wheelchair to the various parts of the clinic.  When we returned from the trip, he was worn out and walked unsteadily into the hallway to his room.  On the threshold of the door between the main part of the house and Mal’s room, his foot caught and – boom, BOOM! -down he went.  Dad and Jayme both saw the fall and Dad quickly raced to assist him.  I had just been debating about whether or not I should continue walking with him to his room, and was horrified to hear the crash.

After landing squarely on the floor, God spared Mal from any broken bones and major injury.  He only experience minor bruising on his nose, a cut on his forehead, a hurt finger, and soreness.  Just minutes before, I had been praying for God to put a bubble of protection around him, and God certainly did that!  Praise the Lord!

We are firmly in the midst of “birthday season” now, with Ben’s 21st birthday speedily approaching and Sam’s 12th birthday yesterday.  How the time flies…

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of our “Great Adventure”!  If you’ve never read the (simplified) story, check out this link.  We have begun to watch footage from that special season of our lives and have been finding “memorabilia” (like the Olympic torch drawings and the subsequent letter from Dr. James Dobson, but that’s part of the story that isn’t mentioned in the “simplified” version you’ll read online!).  What amazing memories!  It is so wonderful to see the hand of God so intricately involved in our lives.

The calls are beginning to come in for 2012 and our concert schedule is beginning to fill up.  If you’d like Great Adventure Gospel Band to come to your church or event, get in contact with us; we’d love to talk with you!  We are looking forward to our fourth year of ministry and what the Lord has in store!

We pray you all are well.  We encourage you this new year to delve into God’s Word daily and wholeheartedly love and serve Him in all areas of your life, as we also strive to do.

Blessings and Joy in the Journey with Jesus!
Taylor for the Garms Family        

Chronicles of the Sightings: Counting Our Blessings

On Monday, November 21st, our family was traveling in the Glory Bus to celebrate our grandpa’s birthday with him when disaster struck.  Leesha tells the story below and shares the numerous blessings which came from the day…


“The cheesy potatoes were baking as they recorded the commercial and mmmm, they smelled so good!” Jayme chattered excitedly to Mom.  Then she stopped, suddenly seeing Mom’s fixed stare at Taylor.  At that moment, Taylor smacked her forehead, “Oh! I should have just made the cheesy potatoes and brought them along to cook at Grandpa’s!” she groaned.  Both Jayme and I looked at each other confused; until it dawned on me what they were talking about.  “So that’s what you meant when you said we were bringing potatoes for Grandpa’s birthday!” I cried.
  
“Yeah,” said Mom, “they were to be baked at Grandpa’s so they would be warm for supper.”  Still Jayme did not grasp the situation, so Mom patiently explained to her why the cheesy potatoes should have been only made, not baked.  


I turned to Taylor and said, “Sorry Taylor, I didn’t realize you shouldn’t have baked them.”  “It’s okay, but I wish I had thought about it before I cooked them,” she sighed, “But we need to get busy; we have yet to make cranberry sauce and a cake, not to mention doing the dishes from supper.”  Wearily, we both got up from the couch in our family room and headed to the kitchen.


Jayme came prancing into our room on her stick horse the next morning, saying “Wake up girls! It’s Grandpa’s birthday!” and galloped out.  I groaned (while saying to myself “Next time Jayme, could you sing a song or something other than making your horse say, ‘I like it when you brush me!’”) and looked to see what time it was – more specifically how long it would take us to get out of the house.  Then I cracked a smile and called down to Taylor from my top bunk, “At least the cheesy potatoes are made!”  Taylor only groaned, rolled over, and threw her covers her head.  


Despite having a late start in leaving, we were finally all in the “Glory Bus” (or as Taylor has started to call it the “Adventure Bus”) on our way to celebrate Grandpa’s 71st birthday.  “Isn’t it nice to be going down just to visit Grandpa and not having to pack suitcases and set up at a church?” remarked Taylor from across the aisle from me.  Ben and I nodded as we bumped along down the road.

We were about at the half-way point in our trip when Dad suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no! We have a problem!  I’ve got to pull over, the engine is over-heating!” Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a busy highway during the lunch hour rush.  In the next suspenseful moments, Dad slowed down and took several exits to get off the highway.  To make matters worse, the roads we turned on were under construction!  Finally, finding a gas station, we turned in – only to find all available parking spaces filled.

Driving a little further, we found a nearly deserted parking lot; Dad pulled in.  As the engine shut off, we all thanked God we had made it this far without the bus exploding into flames or maybe worse.  Ben and Dad exited the bus to look around and see what was going on with our “whale on wheels”, while Mom took stock of the position we were in.

Soon Dad and Ben came back in with what they thought was wrong.  Dad thought that a hose was leaking coolant, thus causing the engine to over-heat.  But a more careful inspection (I am so glad Dad is a mechanic) showed a belt almost completely demolished.  This belt controlled the alternator, the water pump, and the fan, all necessary for the running of the engine.  And this was beyond what Dad could do (he happened to leave his tools at home on this particular trip); we needed help.  With the aid of his GPS, Dad began calling different auto shops to see if anyone in the vicinity could help.

The shredded remains of the belt.

It was around 12:00 p.m. when we stopped in the parking lot, and after the preliminary settling down, Mom suggested we all should have some lunch (we were all starting to get hungry) since it was looking like we weren’t going to make it to Grandpa’s any time soon.  As I made my way to the back of the bus and saw the cheesy potatoes, I exclaimed, “Hey, maybe it was a good thing after all that Taylor made the cheesy potatoes!  God knew we would need them today before we got to Grandpa’s!”   Everyone agreed; the first blessing counted.    


“Well,” said Dad just getting off the phone with roadside assistance, “it’s going to be an hour and half wait until the mobile mechanic gets here.”  “I’m going to walk over to McDonald’s to keep warm,” said Mom, “And this will be a great time to get those spelling tests done, Sam and Jayme, as we’re not moving. Anyone else coming in with me?”  Taylor said she would also come, so Mom, Sam, Jayme, and Taylor set off across the parking lot.  Dad, Ben, Caleb and I waited in the ever-getting-colder bus.  Caleb, Ben, and I began reading books as the minutes ticked by.


Suddenly Dad said, “They’re here!”  All of us in the bus looked outside excitedly as a repair van pulled up beside our poor bus.  We all hoped the repair man would fix it soon so we could either continue to go down and visit Grandpa or go home soon.  Sam and Jayme came over and Ben, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb began playing games as the repair man, Jim, began trying to fix our bus.  Soon he (and we) found out that the replacement belt was too short and would not fit.  Then began the long process of finding another belt, waiting for Jim our repair man or some else to get a belt, and trying to make it work.  


Jim, the mechanic, discovered the tensioner for the belt was broken, so after another belt was picked up, we waited for that part to be fixed.  But even after the tensioner was fixed, the belts we had didn’t work!  In the end, Jim and another repairman moved the alternator to make one of the belts work.  


Meanwhile, all of us kids (with Mom) hung out in McDonald’s.  Boy, I was never as thankful for McDonald’s as I was then.  First, we sat around and chatted, but then we had the bright idea to play a game. We played one game for over an hour and got quite loud, so loud that Mom asked us to burn off some energy outside.  🙂  After walking around in the parking lot, we came back in not wanting to finish our game.  Being supper time, we had gotten awfully hungry sitting in a restaurant.  Knowing it would be rude to bring in our food to eat, Mom said we could eat off the dollar menu (our last concert we had been given money for a meal, and well, it came in handy!).  


As we were eating, Dad and Jim came in to get warm and wait for the last belts to arrive.  Jim shared stories about going out to eat when he was young; how a cheese burger cost sixteen cents and a regular burger was fourteen cents.  He told us of growing up in a family the same size as ours with eight kids.   It was interesting to hear what life was like back in those days, before the age of technology.  


Around nine o’clock the bus lights went on (we saw through McDonald’s windows), and we knew the bus was fixed!  We could go home!  We cleaned up our school books, games, jackets, etc., at McDonald’s (we took up a lot of room, three booths!) and prepared to head out to the bus.

As we left the parking lot, we began reviewing the past few hours, seeing how God’s hand had been at work through all the crazy-mixed up day:

  • First, we were not out in the middle of no-where, but still close enough to the Cities (as we Minnesotans call Minneapolis/St. Paul and their suburbs), so that we didn’t wait hours and hours just for someone to arrive.  
  • It had been a nice day, not snowing or raining.  
  • Also, we were near a warm place with bathrooms.  
  • We had food along (already baked!) and it was cold enough they didn’t spoil during our long wait.
  • Another blessing was we had brought along games (more than we usually do) to play with Grandpa on his birthday.   
  • We were blessed with good mechanics who worked hard to fix our bus.  
  • God was watching over us; the bus didn’t break down on our way to a concert.  And even though it was sad not being with Grandpa on his birthday, we were not really pressed for time.  
  • God had also provided for a meal at McDonald’s, and He brought us back home safely – all in one day! 
  • Also, because of the amazing generosity of a certain individual, we were overwhelmingly blessed to not have to pay labor charges (which were very large) – we only had to pay for the parts.

All the way home, I was praising God for the good things He had done for us.  Truly I could say with David: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”  What a time to be mindful of all the benefits of trusting in God!  And how fitting that it was Thanksgiving week, a time set apart to be grateful for the abundance of our blessings so graciously given to us from a loving God.

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!   


– Leesha for the Garms Family