In 1640 Hugo Freer was born to a family in France, but France did not remain his home. He was a French Hugenot, a Protestant living in a Catholic country and being persecuted for his beliefs. So with others, Hugo fled the persecution of France and found safety in Mannheim, Germany. In 1660 he married his first wife, who bore him three children, but she and two of those children died of The Plague in 1666. Hugo married again in 1667. In 1675 Hugo joined other Huguenots in going first to England then to America. Hugo’s son, Hugo, from his first wife, married at 24 to Maria Anna LeRoy. They had at least fifteen children together. Their 8th child Jonas, was born in 1701. In 1727 Jonas married Catrina Stockerad and they had 7 children. His son Jonas Jr. married Magdelene Bevier in 1769 and they had 11 children. Their youngest child Jonathan, married Antje Auchmoody in 1809 and they had 12 children. Their 6th child Joshua married Catherine Ann Ackerman in 1841 and had nine children together. Their son, Luman, married Alice Ann Smith in 1880 and they had six children, two of those children not surviving to adulthood. Their daughter Lottie, born in 1890, married Dubois Craig in 1907. Lottie was only 16 when she gave birth to their first daughter, Marguerite in 1907. Marguerite is my Great-grandma who I knew personally growing up and who lived to be 108. Marguerite married Leonard Heerschap and they had one daughter, Alice. Alice married William Clearwater and they had three children. Their daughter, Laura, is my mother. Laura married Mark Leake and had 9 children. I am their 5th child.
To some of you, this may look like just a long list of dates, names, marriages, and a genealogy or family history that means nothing to you. To me, it means everything. I see lots of families and big miracles that eventually led to me, to my life.
I see a man who escaped the persecution of France and eventually found a home in America where he and his family would not be persecuted for their religious beliefs. I see too that through a miracle, he and his son survived The Plague even though his first wife and two other sons did not. I see numerous families who were willing to have large families and only because of that was another one of my ancestors given life in this world. I see numerous families being woven together, making more families. I see too that my great-grandma was very possibly conceived out of wedlock. Would if that child hadn’t been given the opportunity to live? What if she had been aborted because she wasn’t considered to be a real human in the womb or because the parents didn’t plan to get pregnant with her when they did? Would if her life hadn’t mattered?
I see a family who escaped persecution, finding safety and freedom in America and that eventually led to me. If the Hugo Freer of 1640 had not fled the persecution, he may have been killed and I would not be alive today. If he had not decided to leave Germany and come to America, I would not be alive today. If those many families had not decided to have as many children as God gave them, I would not be alive today. If my great-grandma was aborted because she was conceived out of wedlock like many children today are, I would not be alive today. If my mom had decided that four children was enough and decided I was a tissue, easily disposed of, I would not be here today. If it were not for the grace of God and his weaving miracle after miracle together to make up my ancestors, I would not be here today. I see that my life on this earth is a gift and a miracle, and my heritage as an American is a gift and a miracle.
Yesterday was the fourth of July and I am happy that I, living in Jerusalem, Israel this year was able to celebrate my country, America from afar.
I am grateful. I am grateful for the gift of life and for those who fought for my freedom and my country's freedom. I am grateful for those many ancestor’s who believed in life and life in the womb most of all. I am grateful for family and family history. I am grateful for my early ancestors who were strong, brave, and courageous, toiling and working hard in a young America and not afraid of hard work or suffering. America is not perfect, but America was my home for 26 years and, Lord willing, will be my home again some day.
But more than all of these things, I am grateful for the gift of Salvation through God’s Son, Jesus. I am thankful that my hope and faith isn’t resting in a temporary home, but in an eternal home. I am grateful that my hope is in Someone so much bigger and greater than any nation on earth or any power on earth. I am grateful that God chose me to be his child before the foundations of the world. I am grateful most all that I was adopted into His family.