Unexpected Blessings: Reconnecting with Family

For these Guideposts contributors, Covid-19 has brought their families closer together in miraculous ways.

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Lou Dean and her mother.

Forgiving Mom
Lou Dean from Dinosaur, Colorado

With Colorado’s stay-at-home order in place during the pandemic, I decided to make the best use of my time and finish sorting through boxes from the storage building. I opened the last box to find stacks of old photographs, documents and a tattered brown notebook with the years “1935-1937” written inside the cover. Bible verses and poems filled the pages. I stared at the pages in disbelief, realizing that what I’d found was a journal my mother kept as a teenager.

Mama left us four kids on an Oklahoma farm when I was seven, and Dad raised us. She later remarried, and when we visited her in the summers, there was always an element of insecurity because of her alcoholism. I had succeeded with “levels" of forgiveness for her abandonment of us, her alcoholism and her inability to ever really get honest, but I knew in my heart that I’d never truly forgiven her for everything.

Looking over Mama’s poems more than twenty years after her death, I realized my gift of words had probably come from her.  But although she'd lived to see me publish my books, she’d never once told me that she herself had been interested in writing as a teenager. This realization made me feel closer to her than I had since I was a child. As I held the faded notebook in my shaking hands, I sensed God was giving me a nudge to let go of the last remaining anger and resentment toward my mother. I closed the notebook and let the waves of forgiveness wash over me, profoundly grateful that God used this time of crisis to grant me healing.

The Inspirational ABCs
Jeanette Levellie from Paris, Illinois

Our son Ron was a professional animator for five years. He now works at Eastern Illinois University, supervising the student workers in the library. But with no students on campus due to the pandemic, Ron has had extra time at home to draw. Last month, he posted on Facebook a drawing of a whimsical bird with a block letter A and the saying, “All is Well.” He got so many likes and comments that he continued his ABCs of drawings and encouraging sayings. “Bob Monster wants you to appreciate yourself.” “Corn Monster says it’s okay to admit you’re having a rough time.”

Besides being fun and uplifting in this distressing time, Ron’s alphabet of hope has proven especially surprising to me. Our son has always been a very shy, reserved and private person, a listener who rarely reveals much of himself. Although unfailingly kind and loving, in all his 39 years, I've never known him to reach out like this to others in such a public way.  “I didn’t even plan to do it,” he told me. “It just happened.” I’m so grateful for this unexpected peek into a bright new corner of my son’s soul. 

The Full Empty-Nester
Julie Lavender from Statesboro, Georgia

When our son Jeb moved out last summer, he was the last of our four children to go, and my husband David and I were left with a sad and empty nest. Jeb even took our beloved grand-dog Caramel! For most of our lives, we’d been used to having a lively, loving household, and I felt pretty down about it.

Then Covid-19 happened and my nest started filling up again. Jeb decided to stay with us while he worked remotely, and he brought back Caramel. Our daughter Jessica’s college campus was shuttered, and while she continued her coursework online, she came home too and brought her Pomeranian Coda. They moved right back into their old bedrooms.

Now, I’m cooking for four again, but loving every minute of the extra responsibility. Besides, having my kids back home is a blast—Jessica and I stay up until the wee hours blaring shows on Netflix and Jeb plays disc golf with his dad. Although we’re all praying for the pandemic to be over as soon as possible, my nest is full again and for that unexpected blessing I am grateful.

Out of the Rut
Marilyn Turk from Niceville, Florida

Before the stay-at-home mandate, my husband Chuck and I already had our own mandates firmly in place in our retirement. We each stayed at our desks in different rooms of the house, Chuck busy with ministry events and me working on writing projects and my own tasks. We only got together for meals, and often we ate in front of the television, so our conversation was limited. I missed my husband’s company and his conversation, but I didn’t know how to push past the rut we’d gotten ourselves into.

And then things changed very suddenly with the advent of the Covid-19 crisis. With all our events cancelled, Chuck now joins me on my daily walks. We’ve talked more in the last few weeks than we have in the last year. This new and unexpected time together has greatly benefited our relationship, allowing us to become much more attuned to each other’s wants and needs. It's also been a boost to my fitness because Chuck walks a lot faster than I do and I have to push myself to keep up!

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