FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP)–Customers buying “The Darins” CD with four jovial 20-something sisters on the cover sometimes get an extra bonus at the LifeWay Christian Store in Franklin, Tenn.
“Want to meet their mom?” a sales associate may ask.
“Mom” is one of the store’s employees, Marcia Darin, whose daughters Krista, Stacy, Rachelle and Heather entered the contemporary Christian scene last year with their self-titled debut album.
Darin gladly obliges each connection, though still “awestruck” over daily seeing her daughters’ CD on sale at the store or every time she hears their music — a pop contemporary sound, with some R&B edge — on the radio, remembering “all the prayers that have gone into getting them to this point.”
After the family’s move to the Nashville area last August to aid the daughters’ careers, Darin became a frequent LifeWay customer. “I was in here so much, then I saw the advertisement” at the check-out counter for a part-time slot “and thought I’d apply.” The opportunity seemed “just perfect,” she said, recounting her prayers “for a job that would fit our travels with the girls” to many of their weekend performances.
Starting as a sales associate last October, she now divides each week on the sales floor and in receiving back in the store’s stockroom — where “it’s like Christmas every day.”
Every new item to be put on sale is first delivered to the stockroom, “and lots of times I end up buying it,” she admitted. Some months, everything she earns is spent at the store, she said, thus probably qualifying her as “this store’s best customer.”
“I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on,” Darin said, and these days “when I just want to relax, I’d rather read Christian fiction than anything else.”
During the past 30 years as Darin and her husband, John, raised their daughters in Buena Park, Calif., she spent a little more than half her years as a full-time mom and the rest as a substitute teacher in about every classroom setting imaginable.
Now at LifeWay, however, “I can’t think of another job I’ve rather have,” Darin said.
“It’s been interesting just to see how a bookstore works,” she reflected. “There’s constant movement in the store.”
Moreover: “It’s so great to be able to come in in the morning and have devotions,” she said, recounting that a different employee leads each day’s gathering at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s not just a job,” she continued. “We get to minister to people.” Customers sometimes leave personal prayer requests with the staff, she said, or they come into the store in search of a book on grief or some other personal concern.
And the sales staff, Darin said, “is a family and a support group. We joke and play. Everybody gets along,” especially finding mutual patience and helpfulness when pressures rise.
“Standing all day is about the only downside,” she said.
As to her daughters’ budding career, Darin said, “It’s phenomenal to me what the Lord has done.”
The daughters grew up as tomboys, preferring Christmas gifts of soccer balls and other sports equipment over dolls, said Darin, who graduated from college with a degree in music education. “I sort of despaired of them ever doing much with music,” except for the times the family sang together in the car en route to soccer games or anywhere else they went.
The girls didn’t sing together publicly until 1995, when they joined their voices in a tribute to their high school choir teacher as Heather, the youngest daughter, was at the close of her senior year.
“From then on, the Lord took them one step at a time,” Darin said. Two of the daughters joined a R&B group that came close to landing a deal with Motown as the label was heading in a multicultural direction. Then, through their church, producer Dino Elefante heard them harmonize and soon connected them with Pamplin Records, which is based in Portland, Ore., but also has an office in the Nashville area.
“It’s taken a lot of prayer on our part to release them to go on the road,” said Darin, especially considering that Heather and the next-youngest sister, Rachelle, take medication for seizure disorders, which first affected Heather in 1993 at a soccer tournament and Rachelle during California’s Northridge earthquake the following year.
Grateful that her daughters “take care of each other” on the road, Darin said, “I pray for their healing every day,” which to this point has been “a healing of the spirit.”
For now, the seizures have become a key facet of their musical outreach, which to date has garnered a mini-feature in Billboard magazine and a full-length article in Today’s Christian Woman magazine. “We get so many e-mails from people who have had a seizure disorder problem. You don’t realize how many people are hurting,” Darin said of such concerns as having a seizure in front of others or the long-term effects of the various medications they take in attempting to control the problem.
Her daughters’ message: “You can go on with your life,” and by trusting in God for help it can be a meaningful and productive life, Darin said. “They see now why the Lord allowed Heather and Rachelle to have these seizures, because this is a part of their ministry, and the Lord has helped them … and he’s got his hand on them.”
The Darins’ Internet site is www.thedarins.com; their e-mail, [email protected]