What A Gift

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by Dr. Charles L. Houston, Jr.

Charles Houston

I might never have been, but I do exist, and I am grateful. The new movie about the Battle of Midway in WWII has come out in theatres. Every time I think of the movie, I am reminded that while it was happening, my dad was a soldier in New Guinea. If Japan had won Midway, New Guinea easily could have been conquered and dad killed as a prisoner of war. What if?

My mom was born to full German parents who had immigrated from Germany and Russia. She told me one time about having to deal with the epithet “heine” even though she was a loyal American citizen who worked for the War Department, censoring mail and trying to catch spies smuggling quinine through Mexico.

Right now, I am reading the book The Train to Crystal City. Japanese citizens were not the only American citizens jailed without charges. What if mom had been swept up in the anti-foreigner fervor after Pearl Harbor? What if? But she wasn’t, and dad came home and somehow a woman born of German parents in 1907 in the Oklahoma Territory (not state) and a man born to dirt poor Georgia parents ended up married AND–Here I am!!!

What amazes me even more is the fact that these people who lived through the Depression, World War II, the Dust Bowl (mom) and who lived long enough to decline to the point they were not able to be together due to physical and mental issues, never lost their faith or their sense of presence of God, or their need to worship and serve God. What a perfect gift to their only son–an example of faith that never wavered.

We read in Psalms 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear.”

In an Upper room devotion, a writer for that date states, “Although I wish I didn’t struggle with PTSD, I’m grateful God helps me through it.” He quotes his astute pastor, “My pastor says, “Victory is not the absence of struggle. It is the presence of God in your struggle.””

That was the gift of understanding my parents instilled in me. What a gift to celebrate at Christmas.

Dr. Charles L. Houston, Jr. is the Senior Chaplain with the Georgia Department of Public Safety (Georgia State Patrol/Motor Carrier Compliance Division). http://www.chaplaincharles.org

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