His voice dropped to a low and soft murmur as he told the story. His voice usually did become different, somber and sometimes broken, when he spoke of the war. We rarely heard him discuss the war and his time in Europe. The subject was a hallowed one. He was with the 351st 9th Army that landed on a French beach in August of 1944. D-Day was fresh on their minds as they made landfall, with hushed whispers and reverent memories of those who had gone before them. The battles ahead would prove to be some of the worst on the Western Front, the Battle of the Bulge and the Ardennes forest being ones that would live on in history books. The 9th Army moved across France, Belgium and Holland holding the Allied positions against the German occupation. At times the German army surrounded them, and day to day they advanced upon Germany. Holed up in a small town in The Netherlands, somewhere near a garment factory in Germany, my father and other soldiers met a family who had lost everything except the clothes on their back and the bombed out shell left of their home. There were 3 young girls. In the middle of the cover of night, he and his friends went to the German occupied town to a garment factory and took clothes and items for the family. The family was so grateful, and moved to tears that American soldiers had risked their lives to help them. Taking a pendant from around her neck, one of the daughters handed it to my father. She told him to wear it every day, that it would keep him safe, and bring him home to his family one day. He wore it with his dog tags and brought it home to show his father and mother, then his wife, his son and daughter in the coming years. And he told the story of a young girl, an escapade , and a pendant of a saint that I remember on this Memorial Day.
There are many firsts in life. I'd like to think that my first blog would have some significance..though the most significant fact in this little prose is that I am actually doing what I said I was going to do a longggg time ago. Life has many twists and turns and the plot line surely surprises us often. If I had tried to figure out and plot my life as a young person (and to some extent I tried), I could have never come up with the story that my life has traveled. I'm sure many of you feel the same.
On this beginning note, I wish to tell you a short story.
When I was a child of 5 or 6 years of age I had a little friend who lived just down the road from me. She was a sweet freckled red head named Frieda. We often played together, she at my house, or I was with her at her home. Frieda was a wonderful friend and I remember very fondly playing with our dolls together, dressing up, singing, and doing all the little girl things that 5 and 6 year olds often do. Frieda's mother was blind. Her grandmother lived with them and took care of many things. She also had a baby brother who was born with partial blindness. Her mother was one of the sweetest and most talented people I have ever met. She sat down at the piano one day and played a hymn from memory with all the embellishments of an accomplished pianist...all by ear. But the story here that touched my life profoundly was Frieda's grandmother. Frieda's grandmother prayed about everything. She would tell us that she was praying for someone or something, and I as a child would just nod my head when she asked me if I prayed to Jesus. Of course I said I did because I said nightly prayers, and I bowed my head every day at the dinner table with my family. But this woman..she impressed me. Often I would hear her thanking God aloud while Frieda and I played. Frieda asked me one day if I wanted her grandmother to pray for me. I said no..why did I need her to pray for me? Then Frieda told me that whatever her grandmother prayed about, whatever she asked from God, God answered her prayer. So I guess my little brain said "why not?" And this is the pivotal moment. She lay her hands on my shoulders, started praying, and then told me God said I would travel to nations as an evangelist for Jesus. She told me I would answer the call to minister for God. When she finished praying, Frieda's mother was upset and told her she never should have prayed for me! I laugh at the memory now with the realization that God indeed set me apart as a child to serve Him. That moment was the first time in my life that I knew without a doubt, that God in heaven was speaking to me. That summer in a sandbox, another friend told me that she had gotten baptized and was now a Christian. Revival in the neighborhood. I told my parents at dinner that night that I wanted to be a Christian and be baptized...and I also told them I didn't want to go to hell. Great dinner conversation. My Dad took me to visit our pastor. He asked me many questions. He told me about the Savior. Then he looked at my Dad and I remember very plainly his words, "She is really under conviction. I believe she is ready and understands." I prayed to God along with my Dad and pastor and then I knew that Jesus really was my Savior.
First story. First post. Jesus loves me this I know, from the first day I heard His voice until today. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.