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October-November 2020

Around the Corner


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Note from the editor: When the deadlines arrived for the October-November issue of ONE Magazine, I found myself sidelined with COVID-19. So, I decided to share the following story from my grandmother. Lillie Thomsen has been in Heaven since 2011, but her heritage of faith continues to reach across the years to make a difference in my life. The following is a poignant moment from her life on a small farm in northwest Arkansas.


On May 28, 1958, our two sons graduated from high school. Both boys had enlisted in the Naval Reserve their senior year. Tommy, the oldest, was scheduled to leave for a training cruise. At the boys’ final Naval Reserve class, the officer teaching the class persuaded Tommy to join the regular Navy.

He told Tommy he would stop by the house with the necessary papers and a bus ticket to San Diego. He told him to be ready to go, that he would give him a ride to the bus station. By the time the recruiter arrived, five other young men were waiting at our house with Tommy.

They had just finished signing the necessary paperwork when our younger son Neal suddenly stepped forward and asked the recruiter if he could sign up as well. He was too young, but my husband Tom signed the necessary papers so he could accompany the others. In a matter of moments, both sons boarded the bus that whisked them away from the farm, some 2,000 miles from home.

It was bad enough to know Tommy was leaving, but Neal’s leaving was completely unexpected. As

I watched the bus pull out of sight, my spirits crumpled. Suddenly, I dreaded walking into the quiet, deserted farmhouse.

As my steps dragged toward the door, I noticed a nervous, little wren flitting around the clothesline. I went quietly into the house, closed the door, and watched her from the window. She went to a nest in an abandoned, wooden box where five baby birds waited. Patiently, the little wren guided her babies to a nearby tree, one by one, until her nest was finally empty.

I couldn’t help but smile. Her nest was empty; my nest was empty. Life goes on. And, it did. In time, I adjusted to a new life without the boys. They created lives and families of their own, Tom in California and Neal in Florida. Whenever I started to miss them, I remembered the little wren and smiled.

I thank God for that tiny bird He sent to me on that difficult day when my own nest became empty.

About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Email:




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