Being a night-owl, it’s not often that I am up and at ’em early enough in the day to witness the beauty of a sunrise. If I do happen to awaken at that uncharacteristically early hour, I’m blessed to see the glow of early morning light streaming in our east-facing bedroom window. I have every intention of getting up and taking an early morning walk, but sleep usually wins out over my good intentions.
My hubby is always up at that hour, early morning person that he is. Once his eyes open from sleep, he can get up and start his day. In the quiet of the hours before I awaken, he enjoys a cup of coffee or tea while he reads his Bible, prays, and works on his computer on various writing projects and teaching responsibilities.
One morning, not so long ago, I awakened to the early morning sunlight streaming in my window. I could hear Wayne in the kitchen making a cup of coffee and washing the dishes left on the countertop the night before. I can usually fall asleep again when I awaken that early, but not on that morning, so I got up and headed downstairs to make my own cup of coffee. As I passed our gathering room, I noticed a photo that seemed to have a spotlight shining on it.
It was a favorite portrait of the two of us from a few years ago. I probably see it several times a day in passing, but on this morning, illuminated by the sunrise’s lovely rays, I stopped to appreciate it and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for one of God’s grace gifts in my life: my loving husband, Wayne.
This post was written for Five Minute Friday, a group of encouraging writers, with this week’s word: SUNRISE. Our weekly goal is to write for just five minutes, with no real editing or proofing. If you’d like to read other writers’ sunrise posts, click HERE.
As I have shared in the past, my husband and I met through the mail. We found writing letters to be of great value in getting to know one another before we actually met in person. I must confess, however, sometimes one says things in letters they might not say in person. In our case, when I re-read those letters (and I did save every one of them), I am able to pick out areas where we both – perhaps to impress the other – exaggerated the truth a bit.
Wayne shared a rather impressive list of hobbies and interests in one of his first letters to me. Now that we are very well acquainted (married for 44 years), other than marble collecting, fishing, playing guitar, and keeping aquariums, I haven’t seen him pursue most of those things on his lengthy list with any degree of relish. Likewise, in trying to create an equally impressive list, I may have exaggerated a thing or two (or five) in my response with my own hobby and interest list.
I think I said I really liked playing volleyball and may have made myself out to be a more impressive player than I actually am. I recall seeing “fishing” on Wayne’s written list, and trying to find SOMETHING in common, I told him I loved to go fishing. Well, the truth is, I could count the number of times I had been fishing on one hand and have a finger or two left. I had indeed gone fishing with my dad a few times, and I did love that. Truth be told, I probably loved the time with my dad (and the snacks he brought) more than the sitting in the boat and fishing part. That exaggeration was probably quite evident when, on one of our first dates, Wayne took me fishing and I couldn’t bait my own hook. I am happy to say that I did catch the biggest fish and that I would still go fishing with him today if he wanted to take me along.
On my not-so-long-as-his list of hobbies, I also said I loved to sew. In this statement, I greatly exaggerated the truth. I was a high school sophomore, and the truth was, I had only sewn in two of my classes: ‘Home Economics’ in middle school (a poncho with big sunflowers on it) and ‘Textile Arts’ in high school (a bathrobe with a hidden zipper). I did enjoy sewing and earned good grades on my projects, but sewing had not actually risen to the level of a hobby yet.
Fast forward to our dating days.
One day, Wayne complimented me on a pretty floral blouse I was wearing. I loved the blouse, but didn’t care for the buttons, so told him I had replaced the buttons with ones that looked like little flowers. Wayne thought I made the blouse myself. I didn’t say I had sewn it, but I also avoided saying that I didn’t. Before I knew it, Wayne told his mom that I made the blouse myself and, much to my shame, I didn’t stop him. My blushing silence on the matter wasn’t even an exaggeration of the truth – it was an outright lie.
I’m ashamed to say that I never came clean on that misunderstanding. It would have been easy to do if I had corrected him right off the bat, but got harder to do as time wore on. So, I stopped wearing the favorite blouse so the lie would just go away.
Fast forward a few more years.
It was September 18th on the occasion of my 19th birthday. Having just been married in July, it was my first birthday celebrated as Mrs. Winquist. My husband’s birthday surprise for me was my very own sewing machine. I could tell by the joy in his eyes that he knew he had purchased the perfect gift for his seamstress of a wife.
A seamstress I wasn’t…but he didn’t know that. I loved the gift, so happily went shopping for a pattern and some pretty material. In retrospect, I should have also picked up a seam ripper, because I would be doing plenty of that in the days ahead. Not knowing much about sewing, I unwittingly chose the hardest pattern I could possibly find. It was a Marlo Thomas dress pattern with a hidden side zipper, a 6-gored skirt, and lots of darts. I wish I had a photo of the pink dress with little flowers – it actually didn’t turn out too bad. I do have a little bit of the fabric left in my sewing stash just waiting for the perfect project.
I can now honestly say, I did indeed learn to sew. Many garments, curtains, costumes, baby quilts and Christmas stockings later, I still have that same Sears Kenmore sewing machine and have been happily sewing ever since. During this time of COVID-19 “stay at home” orders, I have been challenging myself to learn how to insert zippers, so decided to get some practice by choosing Pinterest-inspired projects that would help me with that skill. My little machine has been humming away as I create book/music bags for my grandchildren.
My next COVID-19 sewing challenge will be to try my hand at a quilting technique called “string quilting.”
We have been busy at the Winquist house working on some home improvement projects lately. It’s been kind of exciting, albeit a little slow and messy. We’re switching two rooms around: the “library” will now be the “gathering room” (a.k.a. dining room). Our former dining room – at first morphed into my mom’s bedroom – is now Wayne’s office. With this switch, we’ve ripped out the dusty-pink carpeting in the soon-to-be gathering room, installed hardwood flooring, and repainted the walls with a nice shade of “cream,” which looks so nice and fresh compared with the greyish shade of blush-pink.
Our front entryway with its outdated tile, chipped or cracked in some places, lies between these two rooms. We’re in the process of ripping out the old tile (pretty much anywhere you see “we” you can insert “Wayne”) and replacing it with a fresher looking tile as a transition between the two rooms with slightly different wood floors. The entryway’s wallpaper had previously been ripped down and walls were painted the same shade of cream as the gathering room.
Wayne lost a little space when he moved his office/library from one room to the other, so he commissioned our friend Gordy to build some corner bookcases for his most frequently referenced books. They are now installed, look amazing and will serve Wayne’s needs very well.
We also had Gordy remove a relatively useless banister which divided the kitchen from the family room. In its place now stands a handsomely crafted combination bookcase and breakfast bar. (Note: You can visit Gordy’s Facebook page here. A local photographer and friend posted amazing photos and a nice article about Gordon Miller Woodworks, LLC here.)
Long story shortened, we’re at the point now where we will have to purchase a countertop for this beautiful new addition. While we’re at it, we are going to tackle a project which has been on my wish-list for 20 years – replace my very dated pink kitchen countertops (one corner is held together with clear packaging tape).
My Pinterest boards certainly are coming in very handy as I gather ideas and make choices related to flooring, tile and countertops for these myriad projects.
Or have they?
I had my heart set on quartz countertops and was delighted when we spent part of our anniversary Wednesday evening hanging out at Home Depot trying to make a final decision on which one we wanted. I had previously narrowed the choices down to two, so it shouldn’t be hard. Armed with oodles of information we obtained from an amazing sales-associate named Jason, we headed home where Wayne plugged the price-point ($80/square foot) and the rough measurements into Home Depot’s countertop estimator app. The total for our project was several thousand dollars higher than I guesstimated, which sent me into sticker shock and second thoughts. Neither one of us felt good about this number, so we decided we should get a few more prices before settling in on this commitment.
The next morning, I sat at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying my traditional slice of peanut-butter ‘n jelly toast. The countertop sample piece lay on the table beside me. I ran my fingers over it, imaging how beautiful it would be on our new breakfast bar and in our kitchen, trying to convince myself that it was a good investment.
My heart didn’t buy it. Something inside of me felt very unsettled for even considering such an outrageous expenditure.
As I finished my breakfast, I picked up the latest issue of “The Voice of the Martyrs” and read through the little 16-page publication. This issue focused on the needs of persecuted believers in the Central African Republic – an area in violent turmoil where the Christians are being brutally attacked and forced to flee from their homes. I found myself praying over the details that I read and praising God for VOM as they respond to this persecution with some of the basics of life.
I pondered each photograph and read each page. I cried when I read and imagined the terror in these words:
“Many of those who fled did not even have time to put on shoes or clothes. As bullets rained down and homes went up in flames, Christian villagers ran for their lives. In one village, the only structures not burned to the ground were two churches with metal roofs. In another village, the attackers went house to house destroying Christians’ homes while leaving Muslims’ homes intact. And in some cases, those unable to flee were thrown into the buildings to be burned alive. To date, roughly 33,000 Christians have been displaced.” (The Voice of the Martyrs, July 2019 issues, page 6)
My heart caught in my throat. Quartz countertops suddenly seemed a frivolous and personally selfish investment. Now, I realize that it is not a sin to have nice things. We endeavor to use our home to bless and minister to others and our newly built breakfast bar will certainly be a help in our quest to be hospitable. But, do I really need quartz countertops? Would a nice laminate countertop serve the purpose just as well?
Turning the page, my eyes beheld a displaced family gratefully receiving basic supplies from one of VOM’s action packs. How many families could we bless and help with even a fraction of what we were thinking of spending on fancy countertops?
I believe God is speaking to my heart…and my heart knows what to do.
We met through the mail when I was 15 and he was 21. He was in the Navy and I was in high school. Just before my 17th birthday we decided we wanted to get married, then got officially engaged on my 18th birthday, and married the next summer on my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary – July 3, 1976.
We’ve now been blessed with forty-three years of marriage and two children, Matthew and Elisabeth. We’ve seen God provide godly spouses for each of them. Icing on the cake…before long, the Lord blessed us with grandchildren: three grandgirls and three grandboys.
We’ve also been blessed to put down roots in only a handful of places: one apartment and three houses we have called “home.” I remember back in 1977 we discovered a little gem on 49th Street that would only cost us $10 more per month than we were paying in rent for our little furnished apartment. It wasn’t very big, but it was ours and perfect for our little family of three (soon to be four). God provided then, and He still provides for us now.
Over the years we’ve owned our fair share of pets (thankfully, not all at the same time) : one guinea pig, one cockatiel named ‘Jingles’, two gerbils named ‘Digger and Aaron’ (apparently NOT brothers, as evidenced by their very large family), one hamster named ‘Houdini’ (he actually did disappear and we’re really not sure where he went), two “free” dogs (Dusty and Hooch), and one porch kitty who adopted us three summers ago.
On this day, our 43rd wedding anniversary, I could think of no other person on earth who is as perfect for me as this man. May the Lord bless us with more years to walk together in love, as Christ loved us.
Ephesians 5:2:”And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. Life is Good!
Here’s a Facebook rewind where I reminisce about my first date with my (now) hubby, Wayne. We now have a granddaughter who is almost the age I was when Wayne and I met. And she reads my blog! Yikes!
Early in their writing relationship, Wayne shared his list of hobbies. It makes Cindie laugh today because she’s never in 34 years of marriage seen him even attempt to body surf or snorkel, but there they were on his lengthy list. Try as she may, she couldn’t find much in common. Why she tried so hard, knowing full well he was “too old” and she was “too young” is hard to explain. I think it is best summed up that high school girls like to dream – and dream she did.
They planned to do three things together during his 30-day leave of absence from the Navy: ride together on the church bus to Camp Fairwood; a dinner at a restaurant (Wayne’s way of saying “thanks” to Cindie for writing); and a fishing trip (because, as you may recall, in trying to find something in common on the aforementioned “hobby list,” she had stretched the truth a tad to say she “loves fishing.”) Other than these three things, absolutely no plans to “date” were on the horizon.
But God is always full of surprises.
First surprise: on the very Sunday that Wayne and Cindie met in the hallway at church, God planted a Marine named Danny (cousin to her best friend, Cindy).
Danny and Cindy came to church together that Sunday evening. Cindy introduced Danny to Wayne and Cindie. Danny was on leave too, and, small world that it is, was stationed on the very same Hawaiian island as Wayne. Danny, outgoing and gregarious as they come, assuming Wayne and Cindie were a couple (not knowing they had really just ‘met’ one another) said, “Hey, why don’t we go out for a bite to eat together after the service?” Cindie had to ask her mom, of course. It seemed innocent enough, so mom said yes, and off her daughter went on her first unplanned un-date with Wayne.
The second surprise was an “un-date” that happened the very next day when Wayne accompanied Cindie and her dad on the trip up to their church camp, Camp Fairwood. It was Monday, August 6, 1973, and Cindie’s dad was driving a bus loaded with 30 or so junior-aged boys headed for a week of camp and he had invited Wayne along [in retrospect, Cindie wonders if this was her dad’s way of checking out this young man who was paying attention to his young daughter]. The stated intent was for Wayne (who drove fuel trucks in the Navy) to give Cindie’s dad (and his bad back) a break in driving on the trip home with the empty bus. Wayne and Cindie talked all the way up to Camp, with junior boys teasing them all the way . . . and Cindie’s dad keeping tabs via the bus’s extra-large rear-view mirror.
Then, as God would have it, surprise number three. A Pastor from another church asked if he could hitch a ride on Garfield’s bus – this would get him closer to home where his wife could pick him up. God’s surprise? Pastor Luke offered to drive, allowing Wayne and Cindie to chat non-stop for another 120 miles (although neither apparently wanted their photo taken, here is photographic evidence).
Cindie attended prayer meeting on Wednesday night – and so did Wayne. Cindie’s friend Cindy (I know, it’s confusing) was there with her cousin Danny too. They decided once again to “grab a bite to eat” after the service together.
During their table talk at Jolly Roger’s, Danny suggested they all go to the Wisconsin State Fair together on Friday night. Cindie swallowed hard knowing she’d have to ask her parents about that one too. She knew this one was going to sound more like a REAL date. Surprise number 4: since it was a double-date, her parents said ‘yes’…with reservations and restrictions, of course.
The fair was wonderful. The foursome enjoyed all the usual fair fun and food, then decided to take in a concert by Sha Na Na. Arriving late for the concert, they took a place seated on the ground near the stage. A song or two later, Danny decided for reasons unknown to lay his head in Cindie’s lap. She didn’t know quite what to think, or what to do. But Wayne did. He stood up and said to Danny and Cindy (mostly to Danny), “We are going to go take a look around at some of exhibits, we’ll catch up with you two later.”
Before the evening was through, in the midst of a crowded state fair exhibition hall, Wayne and Cindie were separated. Wayne once again knew just what to do. He reached through the crowd, took her hand in his, and didn’t let go until the evening ended with a gentle goodnight kiss at her front door.
He let go of her hand that night, but never her heart.
I promised I would tell how “she” started writing him in the first place.
You’ll remember that her church made it their mission to ensure that every serviceman and woman who went out to serve their country from this church would receive at least one piece of mail each month from someone in their church family. Several pre-addressed, stamped envelopes were distributed to the teachers in the various adult Sunday School classes. The high school class also participated in this letter-writing endeavor.
Each month her Sunday School Superintendent (Mrs. Grace Barron, her youth pastor’s wife) would hold up two of these pre-addressed envelopes seeking volunteers to write a letter. “She” was accustomed to volunteering to write a random recipient each month, but, as was mentioned in an earlier account, had selfishly decided that she was no longer going to volunteer.
Her reason? Simple. Because they didn’t write back!
Pretty selfish, wasn’t it? If she wasn’t selfish, at least she was a bit naive. It never dawned on her that it sometimes takes months for mail to reach someone serving in the armed forces. It also never dawned on her that some of the recipients might be in a foxhole dodging the enemies attack somewhere in Viet Nam.
On this day in early January, while sitting in class waiting for the Sunday School pre-session to begin, she saw the familiar air-mail envelopes sticking out of Mrs. Barron’s Bible. To further strengthen her resolve, she whispered to her best friend Cindy that she was not planning to volunteer this month.
Mrs. Barron held up the two envelopes and, with her characteristic deeply dimpled smile, asked who would like to write one of our servicemen this month. The reluctant writer avoided looking at Mrs. Barron, but could somehow still feel the teacher’s eyes imploring her to write. But, no one would volunteer.
“She” felt bad, but still stubbornly refused to volunteer, sitting on her fingertips, so as to remind herself not to volunteer. Mrs. Barron sounded disappointed and made her request one more time, this time looking straight at her usual volunteer. The reluctant writer didn’t budge in her resolve – though something inside of her really wanted to.
So, without a single volunteer, Mrs. Barron opened the class in prayer. The now guilt-ridden reluctant volunteer bowed her head in prayer too, a little bit ashamed of herself.
Then a really unbelievable thing happened. As Mrs. Barron raised her voice in prayer invoking God’s blessing on the students and their class time in God’s Word, the reluctant volunteer felt the Bible that was sitting in her lap move. She looked down and underneath her hand, the cover of her Bible was being raised and one of those envelopes was being slipped into the flyleaf of her Bible. Mrs. Barron never paused or missed a beat in her prayer as she cunningly executed the drop. The disinclined letter writer looked up at the praying pastor’s wife and made eye-contact. Mrs. Barron’s eyes were saying, “Please?” The hesitant writer nodded in reluctant affirmation…she would do it. Still praying, Mrs. Barron’s eyes smiled a “thank you.”
After the “Amen,” the involuntary volunteer looked at the name written on the envelope. She had no clue who this Wayne L. Winquist was…but Cindie Boyles would soon find out.
He looked forward to receiving her weekly letters so much and one day sat down to put his thoughts about their letter-writing friendship to pen and paper.
Your first note came five months ago And although it was quite brief It had a lot of meaning Like the Spring’s first light green leaf. It wasn’t very polished And you seemed a trifle shy But I must say that didn’t matter You were a new friend saying “hi.”
After one year on this island (A paradise to some) I had lost a lot of interest And my world was too hum-drum Still your “crazy” little letter Though I cannot explain Gave me words I never had before And made my days less tame.
Your cheerful, lovely person Has traveled all these miles In little paper envelopes And brought me many smiles. Your thoughtfulness and kindness And spiritual uplift Removed a lot of darkness And slowed an aimless drift.
Each letter that I open Contains some new surprise – when the paper changes color – when your thoughts across them fly Though my poem to you is heartfelt It never can proclaim The friendship I extend to you Even though it should be plain…
She loved the poem and read it over and over again. The last line in the poem puzzled her though. It seemed an awkward way to end. What did he really mean? Was there more to their friendship than she knew? Was this the beginning of something more?
He was right – as awkward as the last line felt, the relationship that was just beginning would turn out to be anything but plain.
February 9, 1951 is the day that God chose to bring my future hubby into the world. Though I would not arrive on the scene until 1957, I recognize that Wayne is truly a gift that God prepared for me. Ten years ago, before my blogging days, I began writing and publishing my stories on Facebook. In honor of Wayne’s birthday, I thought it might be time devote the next few blog posts to retelling a few of those stories. I marvel in thinking that this story of God’s providence took place a little over 46 years ago…
She was 15 years old; a nice, quiet, kind of shy high school freshman.
He was two weeks away from being 22; a sailor stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
She belonged to a church that made it their mission to have someone from the church write each and every serviceman or woman from their congregation each month. They would solicit volunteers from the high school and adult Sunday School classes to write letters, and she was one of many who would faithfully volunteer to write a letter each month.
He was one of those servicemen from the church, and he didn’t particularly relish receiving those letters. Most of them were dutifully written by one of the “older persons” in the congregation on the customary sheet of church letterhead included in the pre-addressed and stamped envelope provided for the convenience of the letter writer and, by his own description, “usually general and impersonal.”
She would take home the pre-addressed stamped envelope every month, open the flap of the unsealed envelope, slip out the piece of church letterhead, and dispose of it. Being a teen growing up in the 70’s, that just wasn’t her style. Instead, she would reach for a sheet of colorful lined theme paper (usually neon or pastel) and then sit down with a blue ball-point pen to pour a little bit of herself into the note before popping it in the mail.
He would notice the familiar letterhead envelope from the church in the mail each month, but rarely rush to open it. He knew that it would probably be the same as last month: a rather impersonal letter with a church bulletin and maybe a Sunday School paper or two enclosed.
She had decided one particular Sunday, rather selfishly, that she was not going to volunteer to write another letter. In her experience (short as that was), no one had ever bothered to write back. On this particular day, no matter how she tried to avoid volunteering to write yet another serviceman, she was encouraged…no coerced…into doing so yet another month. (That’s another story for another time.)
He, being properly trained by his mother, would always write everyone back – no matter how boring or impersonal their letter had been.
She really didn’t want to write this month’s letter. Being a bit annoyed that she had been volunteered against her will, she didn’t even bother to dispose of the letterhead this time. She just pulled it out of the envelope and started writing. Oddly enough, once she got past the introductory paragraph, she rather enjoyed pouring herself into another letter to yet another serviceman she didn’t know.
He was the one to whom this letter she wrote was addressed, and he had no idea what was in store for him when he opened this month’s letter from home.
She apologetically and shyly told him in her letter that he’d probably think she was a “nut” for writing because he certainly wouldn’t know who she was. She also told him she would understand if he didn’t answer her letter.
He read the letter on the familiar church letterhead, but this letter was different than the rest. He wrote back and told her, “First of all, let me thank you for the beautiful letter – maybe it didn’t seem so beautiful to you when you wrote it, but it meant a lot to me.”
She didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of two and one-half years of letter-writing that would change the entire course of their respective lives.