Faith

Quiet Moments in Quarantine: New Life in the New Normal

Several days ago, the air in the house was getting stuffy, so I went around the house opening up windows. But a small part of me did it because I needed some kind of normalcy in this quarantine craziness. The normalcy of open windows on a nice day, listening to the wind chimes outside and a breeze coming into the house. I’m sure everyone craves some kind of normalcy right now and are doing all they can to create it.

But we don’t just crave normal, we want hope. Hope that there is life on the other side of this chaotic time. Hope that we can get back to our normal lives as soon as possible. I know, some days it feels like that day will never come.

Quiet Moments in Quarantine_ New Life in the New Normal

As I opened a window in my living room, my eyes caught on the small bush plant on one corner of our front garden. At this time last year, I thought that little bush was long dead. There was a huge weed growing in the middle of it, the big branches were brittle and easily fell apart if you touched it. I told my husband we’ll need to dig it up and toss it aside with the new garden plans we’re hoping to pursue.

But about a month or two later when my mom was visiting, she thought the little bush was alive and suggested that I just trim back the dead branches and weeds, and then see what happens.

New BudsSo I did. And a year later, that little bush has buds. Cute little green buds ready for new life and a second chance.

It offered me a glimmer of hope. Perhaps God is using this quarantine time to trim out the dead stuff to bring out something new and alive. This quarantine isn’t even done yet and we’ve already seen a lot of good come out of it. People finding new ways to get connected. New hobbies found. Churches preaching the gospel all over social media. Neighbors entertaining each other from their driveways.

Jesus did say, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does not bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) And I know, the plant he’s referencing is a grapevine, but I’m sure you know where I’m getting at.

What are the things this quarantine has taken away that we now realize we really don’t need? What things did we take for granted? What is God trying to tell us?

I sure pray that when this is all over, we keep trimming. Look at our resumed busy schedules and snip away the things that do not help us love our families and neighbors, and that take us away from walking with God.

So tell me: What things are you learning to appreciate in this quarantine?

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Faith, Family

“It started with a unity candle…” Looking Back on 10 Years of Marriage.

 

_It started with a unity candle..._

Ten years.

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Ten years ago today, these two young kids tied the knot. Ten years, three kids, multiple moves, and a mortgage later, here we are. We look a bit more tired, wrinkles are coming in, the hubby has an amazing beard and I have a nice sprout of gray hair that I glare at every day in the mirror. But we’re still here with no plans on giving up.

Oh, there were plenty of times we wanted to give up on certain situations or things during our marriage, but not on each other, and definitely not on God. We learned the art of not giving up at the wedding itself in the most hilarious fashion.

Like most weddings, we wanted to light a unity candle during the ceremony. But the wick of the candle was incredibly short and what should have been a quick three seconds, actually turned into three minutes (We watched the wedding video months later, and timed how long it took. Three minutes exactly). And when you’re up on stage, wearing fancy clothes, with everyone staring at you while you’re literally holding fire, three minutes is a stinkin’ LONG TIME! My face in the picture below basically says it all.

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I wanted to give up, I even put the candlestick down and made a joke to our wedding guests that we should just pretend it’s lit. But Stephen was determined that we light it. So I grabbed my candle and finally, after what felt like forever, we got that thing lit.

And in the ten years since, the challenges have come and gone. They knocked us down a couple times, but we got back up. Like the time we were in Michigan, living on very little money and food stamps, and not hearing from all the jobs the hubby applied for, but we still didn’t give up.

Then there are the times when parenting is just hard.

Or when I want to quit writing altogether.

Or when medical stuff keeps coming up.

It’s easy to give up. But when you have God and each other, giving up just isn’t an option.

“Blessed is the one who endures trials because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

We still have that unity candle, and yes, the wick is still short. I smile when I see it, thinking back to the three minutes we spent lighting it, and I love the lesson it has brought.

So here’s to ten more years. And ten after that, and so on. Happy Anniversary, babe!

 

Faith, Family, Writing

“So, what does D.M. mean?” A tribute to the woman I never met.

It’s a question I get a lot when someone notices my “pen name.” And I always give the short answer: “I have two middle names and since I have a very common last name, I figured ‘D.M.’ was a good way to make it stand out.”

_So, what does D.M. mean__

But there is more to the story. Yes, I do have two middle names: Dolores Mae. But my parents didn’t randomly pick those names when I was born. Like many people, my middle names were inspired by a grandparent. Dolores Mae was my grandmother on my mother’s side. Unfortunately, I never got to meet her. About three years before I was born, she died of leukemia. This coming December 23rd will be 34 years since her death.

This woman has intrigued me my entire life. I’ve always loved hearing stories about her. On the surface, she was a simple wife of a farmer down in Iowa, raising four kids who were all given names with the letter C. But if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find a woman with a heart for Jesus, loved her kids and grandbabies and had the gift of hospitality like no other. She was ready for company at all times, with the coffee pot always on, and sweets in the freezer to pull out whenever someone came through the door.

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Her and my grandpa had a special kind of love that people dream about for themselves. They were separated by WWII when Grandpa had to fight in Europe, keeping in touch with just letters. Grandma kept a scrapbook of their time apart. She was like any young lady in love, writing down song lyrics that reminded her of her man. Kind of like young girls would do today, but only on Instagram. There was one song in the scrapbook called “Carolina Moon.” I found a 1929 recording of the song on YouTube and the lyrics are super sweet. (Give it a listen: https://bit.ly/2Cp8Cuq ) This scrapbook probably kept her sane through all the years they were separated by war. It’s no surprise that they were married less than a month after he was discharged.

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Even though I’ve never met Dolores Mae, she’s everywhere in my life. Most recipes I grew up eating and now feed to my family are hers. (Her chocolate chip cookies are legendary. And then there’s Klinkers, you know what I’m talking about McCarty family) The lullaby that my mom sang to me and that I now sing to my kids was hers (It goes to the music of the hymn “Love Lifted Me). The two most precious ornaments on my Christmas tree right now were hand painted by her and have her name on them. I have a crocheted blanket in my living room that she started but never got to finish. My aunt had to finish it. A milk can that once belonged to her and Grandpa on their farm now sits in my living room. I plan on keeping that around even after the farmhouse chic style goes outdated.

If someone were to ask me “If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?” No surprise that I’d choose my grandma. But I don’t want to just have dinner with her, I want to help and watch her make the dinner of her most loved recipes. Maybe even see how she makes her cinnamon rolls so I can show my mom how to finally make them. I want to watch her gift of hospitality because it’s an area I struggle in. I want to tell her that her and Grandpa’s love for Jesus still carries on. That her kids and grandkids have carried that love across oceans and to their local communities, through musical talents, through writing, to special needs children, one of whom is her great-grandson.

So, that’s Dolores Mae. A simple but extraordinary farmer’s wife who loved Jesus, and that love carried over to everyone around her.

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