Feels Like Home

A young widow travels home with her two small and adorable children to spend Thanksgiving on the family pine tree farm. This is not the logline of essentially every Hallmark movie, but how I spent last week. I laugh to keep from crying that the synopsis of my life has become so cliche, but I will add to the banality of my current circumstances by saying that there really is no place like home. I loaded up two girls and two dogs and hit the road last Tuesday morning. We drove a little over ten hours from gate to gate. I have to brag on my kids though that we made it successfully with only one stop on the way and zero screen time and the only whining on our journey came from my youngest who “just wanted to listen to Spiiiiice Guuurlls.”

The thought of road tripping that distance might sound like misery to some people, but aside from a stiff back the next day, I genuinely enjoyed our drive. Even though I had never taken the route I took for the latter part of the trip, it was all familiar to me. Since making New Mexico my home, driving east has always given me that sense of belonging you can only get from the area in which you grew up. Almost eight years ago, Taylor and I made our first drive from Roswell to Fort Worth as a married couple. We had plans to join my family and some friends that weekend for dinner at one of the well known, local Mexican restaurants. The ambiance and margaritas at this particular restaurant have a higher applauded reputation than the actual meal, which is one of two options. Regardless, three generations of my family have enjoyed many celebrations and get-togethers at this restaurant and it is always pleasantly constant. As Taylor and I were crossing the state border into Texas we were talking about what we were excited about doing in Fort Worth. I’ll never forget the look he gave me when I said, “You’re going to kill me for saying this right as we leave New Mexico, but I’m really looking forward to eating some good Mexican food.”

You can’t compare apples to oranges. We tend to like what is familiar to us because it gives us that feeling of comfort that only comes with an established relationship. I relished that familiar comfort last week when the roads welcomed this Texas transplant with open arms. The highways evolved from dusty tumbleweeds to the trees I grew up seeing my whole life. Even the road kill at some point changed from coyotes and deer to armadillos, skunks and more deer. It’s such an odd thing to find comforting, but I spent countless weekends of my childhood driving very similar roads. Those small town Texas back roads that are lined with houses that are hard to distinguish between a residence or a business. I think humans naturally have a strong sense of home. Even people who don’t have fond memories of their homes will step foot back in their hometown and instantly have all kinds of memories and emotions flood their senses. The world probably wouldn’t have as many therapists if this phenomenon was not universal.

“ But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

Philippians 3:20

I have wondered a lot as an adult about the American soldiers who have served in Iraq. I have one question I would desperately like to ask these men and women. Did you feel at home? I know this seems a little strange. I imagine someone who served thousands of miles from their home and families in less than desirable living conditions didn’t feel that truly “at ease” feeling that comes from sinking into your parent’s couch after a long day or eating your grandmother’s famous cookies. Still, I want to know if this foreign land gave those veterans some sense of home that you just feel in your bones.

Writings in the Bible lead us to believe that the Garden of Eden could have been located in modern day Iraq. The geography of the world undoubtedly was changed during the great flood making it impossible to know where the garden written about in Genesis actually lies today. I have always found it interesting though that what might possibly be the location of our former utopia is on top of what is possibly the biggest concentration of one of our modern world’s most valuable resources. God always provides for his people.

It is hard to go into the holiday season while you are still grieving or fighting illness or enduring any suffering. That’s why I think as we prepare for Christmas we need to remember the greatest gift we are celebrating!! We need to take a step back from the stress of what we don’t have or can’t put under the tree for our children. Our real home, our eternal home is already full of treasure far more valuable than crude or even the sparkliest stocking stuffer. Let’s focus on the fact we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who gave us all the keys to that home with his birth, death and resurrection!!

Love, Molly

Copyright © 2021 M.Marley, LLC

Onward Christian Soldiers

My maternal grandfather, James Newcomer.

**Reshare from Veteran’s Day 2020**

“I’m going to be such a young grandfather!” These were my dad’s first words when Taylor and I returned home from Europe in the summer of 2015 and told him we found out we made the flight back to DFW with an extra passenger. We just celebrated his 60th birthday the summer before. I don’t think anyone else would put my parents in the “young grandparent” category, but they are part of the baby boomer generation and got to welcome their first grandchild much earlier in life than their own parents did. My grandparents put their family lives on hold when they were interrupted by World War II and I know that nobody thought they were young by the time I came along.

When I was growing up, I was envious of my friends who had grandparents that were able to cheer them on at their sporting events or drive at night. These friends were always spoiled with the most popular toys each Christmas season while I got handkerchiefs and undershirts. Now, I consider it one of my greatest blessings to have grown up around the “greatest generation.” Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. A handful of people my age might have one grandparent old enough to have served who was drafted at 21, but not many. My dad’s father was already finished with medical school and his residency before he served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army. My mom’s dad, an academic, initially enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was turned down at first because of his age and eyesight. As the war went on, he was eventually drafted and served as a 1st lieutenant in General Patton’s third army.

I think a lot about the world my grandparents lived in at my age. I think about my grandmothers and all the other women constantly praying that their men would make it home. I wonder if their worries were all that different than mine are now living through a pandemic. We put our entire lives on hold while simultaneously adapting and moving forward. We get up every morning and do what we have to do. Just like my grandparents, I have no control over the world or climate around me. I know I wouldn’t be here without my grandmothers both postponing having children. Their sacrifices led to my existence, but somehow I am the one who got the news they probably spent countless hours fearing…that my husband wouldn’t be coming home. Although we have gone through our early 30s lifetimes apart, I feel a connection to the world my grandparents experienced. I have been through the trenches too.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Ephesians 6:10-13

I have heard countless times since losing Taylor how strong I am. Forgive my lack of humility, but it is true. I am incredibly strong. I grew up around the influence of the strongest generation and quite frankly… I have the best armor. God doesn’t tell us to “suit up” because our days are guaranteed to be sunshine and rainbows. We are instructed to put on the Lord’s armor because we will be in constant battle with the enemy that is a fallen world. This life is hard. Fortunately, we are fighting under a Lord who is greater than any general history will ever know. We are instructed to put on the armor of God so that we are protected from whatever the world might throw at us.

History portrays a rose colored America immediately following WWII. When we look back we see the baby boom and a pie cooling on every windowsill in suburbia. This idea of a picturesque country was just as inaccurate then as it is now, but I think there is an important lesson in the idyllic rendering of post-war America. That is that life goes on. We are living in unprecedented times, but babies are still being born every day. Our jobs and family life may look different this year, but we are finding ways to adapt. We have no idea when life will throw a curveball at us which is why it is so important to heed the scriptures and guard ourselves with the armor of God. What we do know is that those curveballs will come, often and out of nowhere, and with God on our side we will be able to continue marching onward.

Love, Molly

Copyright © 2021 M. Marley, LLC

(left to right): My maternal grandfather with his parents, in his uniform and standing next to his brother and fellow soldier, Ned Newcomer, outside their family home in Ohio.

Copyright © 2021 M. Marley, LLC