My husband did come back, but he was different, demanding. He wanted to be with me, but he had his own issues, which are his to tell, not mine. We went to live with his parents again and he joined the army. Things were not as they used to be but we were happy–sort of. He was more assertive than he used to be, but he wasn’t mean.
We were at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts for a year where he went to electronics school. We loved it there, made some good friends and had some good neighbors (and some not so good neighbors). We had a good year there. I taught our five-year-old son how to make snowballs and we had our first family snowball fight when his daddy pulled into the driveway one afternoon.
But my temper was still controlling me. We had been Christians for about a year so we still had a lot of growing to do. I was an abusive parent when our son was little. I didn’t mean to be, didn’t want to be, but I didn’t know how to stop. As a baby Christian I still had not learned self-control. One day I was washing dishes (and rinsing in water as hot as I could stand). Our little five-year-old sassed me. I was rinsing a cup at the time. I threw that cup of hot water on his back. It was as if I was standing outside of myself, watching my other self do this horrible act. I immediately dropped the cup, took him in the bathroom, gently dried his back, hugged him, and wept as I told him I was sorry. It was at that point that I asked God, pleaded with Him, to please take my anger, my temper, and replace it with His peace. I did not want to be like my mother. I did not want to have my children terrified of me, or to feel unloved. I can’t even write this without weeping. But God, in His great love and mercy, heard my cry. It took some time, but He did teach me self-control. He did take my temper and replace it with His peace. I am so thankful my son doesn’t remember his early childhood, at least not the bad stuff. I am thankful for Galatians 5:22, 23 that teaches us how to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within every believer. I am thankful that God is in the life-changing business.
Our next duty station was West Germany. We were so excited. I was pregnant with our daughter and would have to fly over with our son after he got over there and found us a place to live. We lived on the economy at first, in an apartment above a German landlady and her family. It was great at first. She had a little girl that was eight named Annette (I don’t know how to spell it in German but it is pronounced Annaday in that language. There was also a fifteen-year-old daughter. The landlady, Anne, said she didn’t speak English; however her children did. One day I was talking to the older girl in my apartment about some problems she was having with her mother’s boyfriend. The windows were open and Anne was outside working in the garden near the house. She must have heard the conversation and understood it, because after that she started calling the base and complaining about us all the time. We were finally able to get an apartment in base housing.
I loved our apartment. I couldn’t believe how big the closets were. The kitchen and dining areas were small but the other rooms were a nice size. We had two bedrooms and a maid’s room, which we converted into a nursery for our baby daughter, who was born over there. I was able to develop friendships with a lot of the other military wives. We attended couples Bible study once a week, and I had two daytime ladies’ studies, one of which was in my own building. My upstairs neighbor, Jan, had Friendship Bible Coffees weekly and we even saw one of our neighbors receive Christ as Savior.
The scenery was incredible in Germany. I’d go back in a flat minute and stay for six months if I could. The food is some of the best in the world (in my opinion). The people are friendly and their hand-crafted items are true works of precision art. We also really enjoyed the beverage man coming around twice a week to sell us German sodas.
We were there for two years. As the second year began to wind down and it got closer to time for us to return to the U.S., my husband began speaking to me less and less. One day I asked him what was wrong. He said he’d tell me when we got back to America and had our own place. It worried me, but there was nothing I could do but wait. Obviously something was terribly wrong. I was happy; he was not.
Stay tuned for Part 3, which will be posted Monday, April 13.
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