In 1996 the US Army deployed Dennis to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Magdalene was eleven days old, while the big boys were 5 and 3. Our simple life in Honolulu, Hawaii was the only one we’d ever known as a family. Our feet felt incapable of wearing shoes and our brown skin chilled at the thought of a blustery fall day in Heidelberg, Germany, our new home. My brave husband faced deployment, as he does everything else, by trusting in the Lord, and leading us to do the same.
The days crept by, but children are resilient and rarely resent change. As they began to thrive, I reluctantly sought the same. From the wide windows of our row house one could see farmland, then the forested animal preserve, which extended as far as the eye could see. The boys would race through our lopsided fence for each imaginative adventure. They were pirates, cowboys, or explorers, but I fought my own mind, which imagined itself as a lonely prisoner in a foreign land.
Then one afternoon, the sun beckoned me outside. I was glad to see that the community picnic table where the neighbors often drank coffee or wine was empty. Several meters ahead stood a crumbling stone farmhouse. In the sunlight the dusty farmyard strewn with colorful clusters of wildflowers, quietly invited me to sit on its old rock wall.
Close by, stood the silent figure of Oma Schilling, the 89-year-old woman who owned the farm. Her aged brown eyes looked steadily into mine, then her gaze softened as she looked at newborn Magdalene, sleeping peacefully in my arms. I motioned for her to sit, then placed my precious baby into her thin, strong arms. She removed a clean, well-worn hankie from her pocket and laid it across Magdalene's chest. The contentment in Oma Schilling’s eyes struck a chord in my heart over which I had built my own protective barrier. We sat together and my weary spirit softened while hers was blessed.
Today is Thanksgiving. In the midst of the rich aroma of cinnamon and sage, fresh bread and turkey, my thoughts draw me out of the present and back through the years to the things for which I am most thankful. It is the exquisite people across the globe, in whose eyes I have had the privilege to look, for whom I am thankful. God’s love rooted in the souls of men is the deepest well of refreshment one can give to another. Man is not the source; he is but the conduit.
May God bless you and keep you today and every day, as we share struggles and joys, all the while treasuring each other as children of the same mighty God.