Monday, November 28, 2011

Would You Still Be Thankful?

I sent this Thanksgiving message to my friends via email, and thought I'd share it here as well (just in case I forgot anyone!).

Hello Friends,

"I am thankful for..."

Ah, the phrase we often hear around this time of year.  We count our blessings, number off the things we are grateful for, and then celebrate over a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie.  A generic list of blessings usually includes: family, friends, home, health, possessions, food, etc., and oftentimes, the "I'm thankful for" line turns into a cliche and is reduced to nothing more than holiday tradition.  

But, I will ask, for the sake of asking, "What are you thankful for?"  Take a moment, pause, consider what you are truly thankful for - the most precious treasures in your life.  Have them in mind?  Okay, good.

Now let me ask: 

What if they were gone next Thanksgiving?

Perhaps, like me, the greatest blessing on your list is your family.  The thought of my family - any member of my family - being absent next Thanksgiving is almost unbearable.  How deeply would I miss my sweet siblings, my wonderful parents, and the precious times we have together.  What would I do without them?  

Could I still be thankful?

Another large item on my own list is health.  Despite a few allergies and the occasional cold, I must admit I have been blessed with good health.  What if next Thanksgiving finds me in a hospital bed, struggling to battle a precarious disease?  What if I were given a few months to live?  What if I am inflicted with continuous, excruciating pain from some illness?

Could I still be thankful? 
Shelter and security.  Huge item.  How I take for granted a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, the confidence of a house to "come home" to after long trips.  What if a year from now I am without a home, without a safe place to sleep, or even without some sort of shelter of protection from the elements? 

Could I still be thankful?

How about freedom?  Imagine with me next year not being able to worship inside a church building, being banned from fellowship with other believers, not allowed to homeschool or be a traditional family.  What if I'd be imprisoned for my "radical" beliefs, stripped of the religious freedom I hold so dear?  

Could I still be thankful?

The list can be extended with further blessings: food, technology, music, etc. etc., and still the question remains: Could I still be thankful?

If everything was taken away from you, could you still find reason to be grateful?  It is easy to be thankful when all your needs and comforts are fulfilled, but much harder to say "I'm thankful" when challenged by extreme trials.  Oftentimes the definition of "Blessed by God" is dependent on our comfort level, rather than our contentedness.

So this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to examine yourself: Are you really grateful?  Are you really content or are you comfortable?  If next Thanksgiving found you without the blessings you listed this year, could you still praise God and say, "Yes, Lord, I am truly grateful for Who You are and what You've done, and the blessings You have given me"?  It's something we all must consider.

"...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11b-13)
" thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5:20)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In His Love,
Taylor Garms

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vote for the New!

Finally! With the help and opinions of my best friends (Ben and Leesha, naturally) I have narrowed's website design to two choices. Except now, I don't know which one I prefer! :) Okay folkies, it's your turn to share your thoughts!

Share this with your friends; the more input the better! Also, don't forget to follow!

Someday I'll have to do a post with all the designs which never made it...


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tying Shoes

"Can someone help me?"


"Can you tie my shoes?"


The little voice rose from the entryway, and I had to go: there were not many more opportunities like this left. Seven-year old Caleb is growing up fast, and as he was telling me as I helped him tie his shoes, Dad was teaching him on to do it on his own.

As I double-knotted the little tennis shoe, I looked up into his darling blue eyes. "You know what?" I said. "What?" he replied, a small smile enlarging on his smooth face, his dancing eyes twinkling. "When you're big and old, and perhaps with a big Southern Gospel group someday," I began mischievously, "I'll come to one of your concerts and tell people, 'That's my little brother. I helped him tie his shoes.'" He grinned his broad 'Caleb' smile. "Mom and Dad would be really old by then!" he said, hunching over to demonstrate their way-future age.

I then began a walk down memory lane with him. "Yep, I used to help tie your shoes, help change your diaper, help feed you baby food. I was there when you started to crawl, when you started to walk. Ben was the first person to make you laugh." Caleb laughed as I told him stories of his babyhood and the times when Mom asked me to help out with him.

"Oh yes, and I used to put you to bed sometimes," I said with a hint of annoyance in my voice. "Did I make you tell lots of stories?" inquired Caleb, scrunching up his darling face. "No, we used to sing, and SING! You wanted to sing all the Cathedral songs. Your favorite was 'Roll Away Troubled River', and you would make me sing that over and over again. Your favorite part of the song was when George [Younce] would go down a scale like 'Rol-ol-ol-ol-ol away'. And you would sing along in your baby voice. I would leave you, and then pretty soon I'd hear you call for me to sing some more. And then I'd hear you singing to yourself after I finally said 'No more'."

Caleb looked down at me from the bench in the entryway, his little stocky legs swinging over the edge. "I'd ask you when I'd change your diaper, 'Who are your favorite Cathedrals?' And you'd say, 'Scott [Fowler], and George [Younce], and Glen [Payne], and Ernie [Haase], and Roger [Bennett].'" You wanted to be a bass singer even when you were little [two-years old], and you wanted to be like Scott and George." He laughed. (Ah, even now I can hear his little lisp!)

To some questions of his, there were no certain answers: "When was the first time I ate popcorn?" "Boy, I don't remember, Caleb!" :)

We sat there, brother and sister, in the foyer, just talking for perhaps 15 minutes. As he finally went out the door, I said, "Have fun outside!" He turned back in the doorway, and grinned his Caleb grin. "Okay! I will! And you have fun inside!" We both laughed, and I watched my little brother charge onto the deck, filled with youthful ambition and all the joys of childhood.

If I had said I was too busy to help him tie his shoes, I would have missed that beautiful time of investing and sharing in this precious life.

"Lord, help me treasure these times while I can."

Several months ago, during my nightly journal-wrting session, a song idea came into my head about celebrating younger siblings. It's been sitting in my desk for a while...along with so many other of my song ideas! While the word flow is still very rough and the music sketchy, I thought I'd share it anyway, as it fits so well with this post.
Vs. 1
He runs in the yard and falls in the dirt,
Getting mud all over his shirt.
He picks dandelions and asks to play ball;
Will he always be this small?
Then I think how fast it will go -
Watching the little boy grow -
I learn to be patient, I learn to be kind,
And suddenly I don't mind...

Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.

Vs. 2
Our time here together will go all too fast
Soon these moments will pass.
I look o'er the faults and see all the smiles,
Counting them off with the miles.
There is no one I care for more -
Of this you can be sure -
So, God, help me to show it to him today
Before time slips through my hand...

Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.

Treasure it while you can.

("Treasure" - Copyright February 24th, 2011 Words and Music by Taylor Garms)
How can you "treasure" your siblings and family today?


[This post was first composed in April, and shortly after the completion of this post, my dear Caleb successfully tied his own shoes. What a bittersweet moment!]