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    

Four Down, Four More to Go

Well, the official temperature report is 97 degrees, at least according to Sam, Jayme, and Caleb when they last checked. Even though the LAs love playing outside, I think they’re preferring the air conditioning inside today!

That being said, we are glad to be home. We had an extremely busy week last week, and while it is much fun to travel and sing together as a family, it is also tiring and exhausting. So we are grateful for these two days to play “catch up” and “rest up”. Yesterday we spent the afternoon mowing and trimming our lawns (Sam is now push-mowing – good for him!) and taking care of other household duties. Tomorrow we’re beginning another four-day tour: first at Lindstrom, MN, then in Isanti, MN on Thursday, then in Windom, MN on Friday, and finally in Aitkin, MN on Saturday.
But let’s put things in reverse and review the past four concerts. I and the others took plenty of video of the past week in hopes of some future video blogs (no promises, but someday, sometime we’ll post some – if we ever get the time!).
JUNE 1st, 2011:
Seven hours of traveling. Road after road, forest after forest, rest stop after rest stop. Great deli sandwiches for lunch. Laughter and fun. Quiet times of reading and writing. Relaxation and space in the Glory Bus. Songwriting and video taping. And finally, arrival at our destination: Watertown, WI.
The first thing we did was check in at the hotel, unpack, and freshen up for the concert. Then we headed to Christ United Methodist Church, met our sweet promoter, Barbara, and started the unloading/setting up process. Come 7:00 p.m., we were chatting with the audience and all ready for the concert. (I kept forgetting we were in Wisconsin, so when people would ask, “Where do you guys come from?”, I’d reply “Braham…er, Minnesota!” 🙂 We were closer to Illinois than our home state of Minnesota!) We had a wonderful time with the people who attended the concert, and were glad for the opportunity to share the message and music God has given to us.
Thank you, Barbara, and CUMC for bringing us to Wisconsin! We enjoyed singing to y’all and hope to come again soon! 🙂
JUNE 2nd, 2011:
We left the hotel around 7:45 in the morning to arrive at Bethesda Lutheran Home in Watertown. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a service/home for those who struggle with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and we were going to give a concert for the residents and staff who resided in the Watertown facilities.

Wow. What an eye-opening experience.

Most of the residents were severely handicapped and disabled. Many were in wheelchairs, and could not express themselves with words. To be truthful, it was different and a little frightening, especially to Sam, Jayme, and Caleb, but we all experienced God’s moving and saw things in a different light.

When the staff was first bringing the residents in, I, to be honest, felt rather overwhelmed, and retreated to the restroom just to refocus. I prayed, “Dear Lord, give me Your heart and Your eyes.” When I came back into the chapel, I immediately saw the precious people in a new light. I saw people around my age, those who were many years older, and some younger, all struggling with disabilities, unable to communicate through words, unable to respond to normal conversation. They were people, all “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I saw the fingerprints of God all over their their sometimes expressionless faces, twisted forms, and uncontrolled limbs, and I and the rest of the family were filled with love and compassion for them.

I watched Sam, Jayme, and Caleb sing directly to the people: “There is not a mother, sister, friend, or brother loves the way that Jesus can…Jesus wants to love you, there is none above you; you are precious in His sight” and almost starting crying at the truth of those words.

Then, in the words of another song Jayme and Caleb sang, Before I was born, He was watching from above. He paid close attention as He made me in love. He knew just how special I’d turn out to be, cause God has a plan for me!…It won’t all be easy, but God will understand. Through all the hard times, He’s there to hold my hand. He knows just how special I’ve turned out to be, cause God has a plan for me!”

It was so fulfilling to watch looks of peace and joy come across the people’s faces. One time during the concert, I saw a man (who had been sitting with his face in his wheelchair tray) raise his head and arm into the air, happiness just radiating from his face. His sisters who had come to visit him watched with joy at this moment of expression and communication. The sisters came up later and told Dad, “Music is their language.” We saw that truth come alive as we observed the people respond to our music and God’s Word.

A big thank you to Joy and all the wonderful staff who helped make the day possible! We sincerely loved coming to Bethesda, learned a lot, and would love to come back soon. God bless you in your ministry.

-*-

Well, I was going to write about all four days, but unfortunately, this is already a long post. I will stop, as other responsibilities are currently calling my name, and write more later. Look for more about the Duluth Gospel Sing and Emmanuel Baptist coming soon!

Have a wonderful evening!

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF

Booth Brothers Concert Review

Good Afternoon Friends!

It is almost 70 degrees here in our town of Braham, and the humidity is wonderful! At last we can open the windows and let the fresh spring air flow through the home!

This concert review is overdue (I’m a poet, and ya’ll didn’t know it!), but life has been busy around the Garms Family home. Forgive me for my tardiness and procrastination!

I left you hanging on a countdown for the Booth Brothers in my last blog, and yes, the day finally arrived on Saturday, April 2nd. I awoke to Sam, Jayme, and Caleb saying: “Hey! This is Sam, Jayme, and Caleb Garms. We are the Little Adventurers reporting for SouthernGospelBlog.com.” But more about that later…

The day was filled with joyful and excited preparation. We gathered cameras, gummy bears, and pillows for the trip (but let me assure you, no one fell asleep on the way home!).

The family, all ready to go! (Note the nametags: the suspense is building, isn’t it?) Whitney unfortunately had to work, but otherwise, she would have joined us for the concert.

Almost there! We finally made it to Maplewood, MN and stopped at a favorite site – Arby’s! – for a restroom stop. 🙂

We were the first people at the church, other than the Booth Brothers and the promoters (go figure for arriving two and half hours early!). We sat and waited, enjoying each other’s company in the sunshine and greeting people as they came. 🙂 Caleb (above) proudly displays his SouthernGospelBlog.com nametag. Yes, we brought questions and Leesha’s and my new video camera for gathering some blog material during the concert, and did we have fun with that! (I cannot tell you how many people asked, “What’s a blog?”) Keep scrolling for a video result of our on-the-site reporting.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. 🙂 This was Sam, Jayme, and Caleb’s post during the waiting process.

Yes, after much waiting, the concert began! It was such a wonderful time to listen to Ronnie and Michael Booth and Jim Brady share from their heart and God’s Word through their music and message. We were uplifted and encouraged, and inspired to be better performers ourselves. They are so polished, so relaxed on stage, and so ministry-focused.

Part of the Front-Row, Full-Pew Crew.

Jim Brady saving money on car insurance. 🙂 Yes, he “supposedly” answered his phone during the concert. (And yes, we have been guilty of answering phones on stage as well – just once, mind you! It was an important phone call! But Jim had no excuse! 🙂

Caleb during “I’m Feeling Fine”. 🙂 Michael later told Caleb, “If I forget the words, I know exactly where to look”, as he was singing along with almost every song. We heard many of our favorite Booth Brother songs…even a song I was hoping they wouldn’t sing, “All Over the World”. 🙂 Leesha loves the calypso beat, but I don’t necessarily appreciate it. But I admit, they had a lot of fun with it, and so did we!

Michael talking to the audience at intermission. (We like this picture!) 🙂

Ronnie talking with the family.

After the concert, Ronnie and Michael just infused our family band with wisdom from a group who has traveled many more years and miles. We were overwhelmed with all their insight – in a good way – and we greatly appreciated their time and stories. We learned A LOT!

Speaking of time and talking, here’s one of the most exciting highlights of the concert! Sam, Jayme, and Caleb had the privilege to interview Michael Booth for SouthernGospelBlog.com. What a special moment and piece of history for our family. Michael was as witty and hilarious as ever, but just as serious and open-hearted. The lessons also contained in the interview are very pertinent to everyone, and we learned much from his transparency.

Watch the video below, and if you like, you can read a transcript of the interview (thanks YGG!) on SGBlog by clicking here. But you don’t want to miss this video! The hilarity and spontaneity of Michael, and cuteness and response of the LAs is a must-see, plus the added footage is fun as well. Ben and I put much time in preparing this, and we hope you enjoy it!

We are still reliving memories! We treasure the time we had together as a family, the fellowship and catchin’ up with many friends we’ve met along the way, making new friends, and of course, the ministry of the Booth Brothers. We were very blessed.

And yes, we were asked if we were related to the Booth Brothers…again. 🙂 (And the answer is still “no”.)

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!

T for TGF