Thursday, November 22, 2012


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.   

Friday, November 9, 2012


Zion presses his face against the cold glass, which steams up his view through the rectangular side window.  His soft brown eyes peer out into the chilly day.  Soon my mother, known to our children as Mor-mor, will appear, to whisk him away on his own short adventure.  They will walk to her house hand-in-hand, jumping into every puddle along the way.  Zion’s pockets will bulge with treasures of leaves the color of flames and stones that to him are more beautiful than any gem.  With chocolate cookie crumbs in the corners of his mouth and his boots packed in mud, he will return home an hour later, content.  

Across the room two immense boxes stand as still as Zion does now. Wide tape stretches to hold each “room” in place, while roughly hewn rectangular windows pierce the cardboard castle.  Earlier in the day Malachi had led his siblings in cutting and taping, then he had directed them to gather from the bedrooms the treasured framed photographs of each of their birth mothers.  Malachi photocopied each lovely face, and then taped the paper pictures to the window squares in the castle.  A flashlight shone down from an elevated piece of cardboard on the roof of the box, so that each exquisite picture could be illuminated. “Mamma,” Malachi had called, “It’s time for you to tour our masterpiece!”

The love and honor our children give to their birth mothers mirrors the way I feel about my own mother.  For when I was a child, she valued me and her life reflected the love of God.  I remember her wise words as she sat with her Bible in her lap in the early morning hours each day, “If you ever wonder about your faith, or the direction others are leading, read what Jesus said and did, then follow Him.”

Each of our birth mothers honored the life inside them.  As I sat in the box, with the photocopies of their beautiful faces surrounding me, I choked back my tears.  Outside I could hear our children’s joyful voices, anticipating my delight over their creation. We never know the outcome our choices will have on others until time gives us the answer, but God’s way of honoring every life will guide us well, always.  

When I think of light and windows, these verses from Matthew 5: 14,16 (NIV) inspire me, “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”