Through Glass-Panes, Army Fatigues, and Deepening Twilight

He arrives with a familiar ta-da-da-ta-dah tapping on the door, and there’s no mistaking that capped man through the glass door.

My dad steps inside, his dark cap matching his black chaplain jacket.

“Dad, hi! Come on in.” I jump down the stairs, kick stray shoes off to the side, and hug him. “The house is trashed, sorry,” I warn.

At the top of the stairs, three or four muddy plastic bags bulge with dirty canna bulbs I unearthed last night, still waiting further instructions from my sister. Clean laundry stacks in piles by person and mounds unfinished by the couch. Dishes lay jumbled by the sink.

Dad shrugs it off, and starts unloading a paper bag of items onto the kitchen table.

“Coffee? It’s just brewing,” I ask, nodding to the gurgling black machine in the corner. “Want a piece of pumpkin pie?” The pie sits on the counter, a decadent breakfast treat for us all, and needing to be eaten since it’s a day or two old.

“No, I’ve just got a minute…” he unwraps old photos from my grandma’s home, decides upon a cup of coffee after all, and we chat about oil changes, garden bulbs, and graduate classes. After hugs again to the family, he clicks his coffee mug lid in place, and heads out the door.

Clearing breakfast dishes, I pour myself another cup of coffee and slip onto facebook in between grammar edits with Morgan’s school. Creamy black and tan photographs of round-cheeked young men in Navy and Army uniforms grace my friends’ and family’s newsfeeds. Across cyber space, we marvel together at the sacrifice of these men in uniform. Saluting them in memory, Americans around the nation commemorate Veteran’s Day. These men and women –dads, sons, nephews, daughters, and grandpas alike– stood tall and battled hard for each other and for our freedoms.

Hours later, as twilight sinks, and the temperature creeps lower, I pull my black French scarf around my face as I walk home from work and hunch my shoulders against the cold. Minnesota has fallen into the twenties this week, and the rapid descent into a November winter still takes me by surprise.

A black-coated figure rounds the corner ahead. A moment or so later, I recognize my husband, hands plunged into pockets deep, his hood pulled high against the chill. I wave a mittened hand, and we finish our approach in silence.

“You came to walk me home,” I blurt in girlish delight. “That’s romantic, thank you.” We are learning new ways to speak love, my man and I. Some days, it’s easy, other days, it’s fumbling.

We kiss, and then the talk turns to harder things. The words slip out in unison with our steps, and the cold air sucks my breath away. I put foot in front of other, and pull my scarf up higher.

These men in my life, they shape the way I see my God. 

An Abba enters unannounced, and my delight is marred only by the worry that he’ll see the mess, the unfinished products. He doesn’t scold or press. Undeterred, he uncovers glimpses of beauty from my past: moments captured in time, freezing them in frames. “Remember these times of beauty and relationship?” is the unspoken question. “Remember this gift here and here?” as frame after frame are gently unwrapped.

The grandpas, uncles, service men and women fight for us, fight against unseen armies, ushering in a freedom and safety that I am thankful to call my life. My Savior battled an ancient foe too, with weathered wood and iron still scarring him.

And coming towards me down the road is a figure I didn’t recognize at first in the distance and twilight. He’s never been far, though, and now we walk the rest of the way together, shoulders hunched against the darkening cold.

(Counting, always counting gifts, with the gentle Ann Voskamp…)

Hi friend. I’m glad you are here, thankful for you. Who in your life helps you see aspects of God’s character? (Those viewing this in email can click here to join the conversation.)

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  1. Anonymous on November 12, 2013 at 3:11 am

    Thank you for dropping by Being Woven today. There are so many who have done so much for the likes of us. We are truly loved in more ways than we can possibly know. Huh? ~ linda

  2. Anonymous on November 12, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Jennifer, I forgot this part of my comment so must come back again: is that picture on your post your Grandfather? He looks so very, very young. I looked closely at the picture and it looks like he is wearing a wedding ring too.
    But isn't that the way of war, the military? The young go off to battle for all the rest of us.

  3. Summer on November 12, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Thank you Jennifer…I love the parable of Him always close, always near, though we may not see him clearly until we take the time to walk step in step. Yes.

  4. Floyd on November 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Awesome post and analogy. You are blessed sister… and the fact that you know it and cherish the love from our Father and the men He's sent to care for you is an honor to Him, them, and all of us. Beautiful tribute, Jennifer. I'm encouraged to be a man like that to my Father, wife, and daughters…

  5. Jenifer Metzger on November 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for stopping by my blog, Sweet Blessings. Nice to "meet" you! 🙂

    Beautiful, beautiful post. You are a blessed woman.

  6. elizabeth on November 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Your writing is beautiful! Glad that we are gathering gratitude together in Ann's community.

  7. Unknown on November 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Beautiful words Jennifer…thanks for stopping by Our Adventure with Boys!

  8. Pam on November 13, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Lovely, Jennifer – love your tie in to our Father at end 🙂

  9. Dolly@Soulstops on November 14, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Dear Jennifer,
    What a blessing to have loving dad, husband and heavenly Father …what beautiful post 🙂

  10. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:47 am


    So nice to meet you. Thanks for coming by.

    Yes, that is my grandpa. Apparently he was 17 there, aiye! I don't think he was married though. It must be a momento from home.

    Jennifer Dougan

  11. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Thank you, Summer.


  12. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Thanks, Floyd.


  13. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:52 am


    Thank you for stopping by here. Have a lovely week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  14. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Thank you, Elizabeth. 🙂

    It's nice to have you stop by here.


  15. Jennifer Dougan on November 16, 2013 at 1:58 am


    Thank you. Thanks for stopping in here.

    Have a great week, and enjoy those boys! 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan

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