Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “Heavenly Harvest” by Mariane Holbrook, is an inspiring story about a Depression-era family whose small house garden miraculously produced enough to fill their table and the neighbor’s just when they were at the risk of going hungry. If you haven’t read “Heavenly Harvest” yet, you need to head over to our featured story page right away—we’re sure it’ll make your day, especially if you’ve been touched by economic hardship in recent years. Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Mariane.
GML: What are you up to these days, Mariane?
Mariane: Well, I live on the beach in North Carolina with my husband, John. We’re both retired. He used to teach junior and senior high science and I taught fourth grade.
About five or six years ago, we built our house on the beach. At the time, we decided to add an apartment for our children (two sons) and grandchildren to come visit. Good thing we did because one of my sons recently lost his job so he and his wife and two little boys (ages six and ten) are staying with us now. We love having them here. They are just delightful. We know it won’t last forever because they’ll move when their dad gets a job, but we love it for now. Our other son lives in Raleigh and runs his own business. He and his wife have four daughters.
Other than that, I love to write and have self-published two books: “Humor Me” and “Prisms of the Heart,” collections of my poetry and short stories, written over a thirty- year period. I love music and play the organ/piano for my own pleasure, and I am an amateur artist, concentrating on folk art wooden eggs for “fun and profit,” as the expression goes. I usually end up giving away far more than I sell, though [smile]. My website has more information on what I do: www.marianholbrook.com
GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?
Mariane: I wrote “Heavenly Harvest” as a tribute to my father, the most honorable man I’ve ever known. I was born during the Great Depression, the sixth of seven children. The story of my father’s garden is true and though I was too young to remember it, it became so well-known that relatives and friends still talk about it. We lived through the Depression. He was within $500 of paying off his house and he lost it. He went to my uncle to ask him for financial help, but because of personal differences, my uncle refused. I never saw my parents waver or lose faith, and that was a lifelong lesson for all of us kids. My parents just held on. That garden turned out so strangely. It showed all the neighbors and everyone in that tiny town hope. We had more in our cellar than we had ever had before. We had food coming out of our ears. That garden was a lesson in faith that I’ve treasured all my life.
GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?
Mariane: I was thrilled to be part of the inaugural edition. I foresee this project becoming as popular as the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. The generous payment for each story, as well as ten free copies of the book, is definitely a plus!
GML: Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?
Mariane: Yes. I liked the first two very much. I like to skip around to read them. I’ve read almost all of it now, and I’ve just loved it. It’s such a good variety. We’re all so different. Some people are so courageous, dealing with illness and death. I’m high on that strength in those stories. I come from a family of missionaries and pastors so those things are important to me.
GML: And just for fun, since you already live where some people dream of vacationing, where would you go on vacation today and why?
Mariane: Hawaii or Alaska because of how extremely different they both seem. I grew up in New York State and now live in North Carolina. Alaska and Hawaii seem so different. My son went to Alaska and said there’s no way to describe it. He said it was like another country. I can’t really travel anymore, but I wish I could have gone when I was younger so I could appreciate their unique beauty and flora and fauna. And I’ve also always wanted to take a tour of the cathedrals in Europe, they look so gorgeous and worshipful.
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Mariane a bit better. Come back next week—we’re already working on another interview with the author of our next featured story. Or you can pick up a copy of God Makes Lemonade, where you’ll find more than eighty inspiring stories like this one.