It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Corrie Ten Boom 1892-1983 From her book, THE HIDING PLACE
I visited my friend Kristeen's Blog and she was tagging* everyone who visited her site. I've decided to take the challenge. I hope all my friends in Blogville do this--it's fun!
3 JOYS: 1-Stan, AJ and Kevin 2-Singing hymns with my boys (especially when we're out driving and we can sing at the top of our lungs!) 3-My Testimony
3 FEARS: 1-Something happening to the boys or Stan 2-That I've failed in my calling as a mother 3-Drowning
3 OBSESSIONS: 1-Laundry 2-Pens (I LOVE pens. I buy then whenever they're on sale, I steal them from doctor's offices, my husband and sons get them for me too. I have enough pens to supply the high school!) 3-Lists (I also love to makes lists. Sometimes if I complete tasks I'll make the list after the fact so I can check off that I've done that task!)
3 SURPRISING FACTS: 1-I worked as a newspaper reporter and a columnist for a few years before I discovered I don't have the personality to be a hard-boiled newsman(woman) 2-I am a realtively picky eater. Since my marriage Stan has finally gotten me to try a lot of things that he likes-salmon, lamb, brussel sprouts--I'm a pretty tame eater compared to him! 3-I used to be a dancer. I studied jazz and modern dance in high school. (Times have changed!)
*I tag anyone who reads my blog! I will be looking on your blogs to find out more about you!
I'm spending a lot of time reminiscing lately. Probably because we're working on AJ's missionary papers and Kevin is now a junior in high school. I feel a sweet sort of longing for the days when they were little, and yesterday an old photo fell into my lap!
This is a picture of AJ's first day of Kindergarten! It's about a month before his 5th birthday, and two and a half months before Kevin turned 3. They just look so sweet to me. I had waited so long to find Stan and have the boys (I was 32 when I married) and I remember the waiting taking so long! And these past twenty years have gone by so fast!
When I look at this photo, I know without a doubt that the Lord answers prayers. How many years did I ask him to answer my heart's desire to be a wife and a mother, and look what He blessed me with! I am one lucky woman.
Sometimes I wonder about things. Like, who was the first person to look at an oyster and say, "Wow, that looks yummy?" Or an avacado, or rhubarb, or a lot of those weird foods we have out there. Not that they're not good ... it's just that they look so strange I can't imagine eating them if I didn't already know what they were.
And who thought the word spelunking was a good one for cave exploration? Did some guy honestly think that when people asked him what he did for fun that it would be good to tell them he was a spelunker?
This seems kind of random, but there are so many things in this big, wide world that make me wish I had a time machine and I could go back and see how they got started. If I could find the person who decided that women should wear bras and makeup, I'd sure like to have a talk with them!
(The Gay Divorcee was one of my favorite movies when I was in college. One of my best friends and I used to watch it every chance we got. A story of mistaken identities and confusion, the character of Tonetti is supposed to quote the line "Fate is the fool's name for chance" to Ginger's Roger's character. He can't quite remember the line, and doesn't know what she looks like, so he scurries around misquoting the line every time to a variety of women. Paul and I liked this version the best. So, I say, it's the weekend--let's get out there. Don't leave things to fate; take a chance! Enjoy your day off!)
There's a line in Willa Cather's book My Antonia that I love. It's a book about people who live on the Nebraskan plains. They're strong, resillient and loving people, but the country there is unrelenting. There aren't many trees. She writes that the people visit the few trees that are there as if "they were old friends."
I've discovered that trees are important to me as well. In San Jose, California we lived in an area known as Willow Glen. Give you an idea of what it was like? Lots of trees. Our house's lot was surrounded. We had two peach trees, an apricot, two varieties of apple and a cherry tree, a huge pine that we had to keep topping because it was so large, and along the back of our yard was a long cluster of birch trees that were so tall and thick it looked like there was a forest behind our house rather than someone else's home.
When we moved here to Colorado Springs we purchased a new house. How exciting! we thought, to be able to do everything the way we wanted. We didn't know that the climate here is tougher and that things are harder to grow. In addition we discovered that there are more things that can cause trees to die here--the weather, the soil conditions, etc. It's been an adjustment.
I have come to understand better what Willa Cather meant when she penned that phrase. Trees to me have also become like old friends. I wish I had more.
"Have you ever heard of Billy Joel?" my boys asked me.
"Because he is so cool!" they told me with enthusiastic shouts. "You should listen to him. Want to listen to him?"
Here we go again, I think. I must seem like such a fuddy-duddy to my sons and also to my nephews. I remember when my oldest nephew was in high school (he's now 25) and was studying U.S. History, he one day asked me if I was alive during Watergate.
Yikes! I couldn't believe that he asked me that! Like, was I around when Roosevelt was president or did I personally know Lincoln. I never viewed myself as someone that wasn't current and aware, but I've noticed that to teenagers I am definately "out of the loop."
"Sure, I'll listen to him," I replied, and as poor "old" Billy's voiced boomed out at me I wondered how he fares with his daughter....
Last night I attended my book club meeting. Although I am at a later stage of life than the women I was with, I find that age is transcendent. We had such a good discussion; sharing our own philosophies, life experiences and opinions.
This is what I love about being with women: the giving, the taking, the sharing. There are no other relationships, I find, that convey this type of give and take. Husbands are in a special category. I often find that my husband, who loves me so much, wants to fix whatever it is that angers/hurts/upsets me when what I really need is just to have someone listen. Not everything needs to be fixed. This is something that women just know.
I was fascinated by the twists and turns our conversation took us; awed at how truly lovely each of these women were; and grateful to be, at least last night, in the company of women.
I heard from my agent today. I haven't heard from her for awhile; she's been on vacation. But today I received an email from her. She sent my mystery novel to an editor and asked her to look it over. She is mystified that she had been unable to sell it and wanted some feedback. I received the report via email, and I got some information that will help me as a writer overall, as well as what I need to do to put this book into better shape.
The thing that really made me happy was that the editor thought I was a good writer. I have always believed that I was, but somehow when someone else confirms your belief it feels pretty good.
So now it's back to work. Any of you who have read my book, or would like to, I could use any and all feedback. Let me know, and please, wish me luck!
We went to our neighbor Rachel's bat mitzvah this morning. We've lived across the street from the Ginsburg's for eight years now and have watched this young girl grow into a lovely and accomplished young woman.
This coming of age ceremony takes place when a Jewish boy or girl reaches age 13. At this time, according to Jewish law, the bar or bat mitzvah is considered to be an adult and old enough to assume religious responsibility. Bar means "son of"; bat means "daughter of" and mitzvah means "commandment". Thus, the bar or bat mitzvah is expected to oserve the commandments, the heart of Jewish tradition. He/she is considered ready to accept their religious duties and be responsible for their own ethical behavior.
To reach this point, the bar or bat mitzvah has fulfilled an educational goal demanding many years of studying the Hebrew language, Jewish rituals, and the history of Judaism. Each bar mitzvah also designs and completes a community service project. Rachel built a pupet theater for a special needs class in order for the teacher to have that resource to teach her students new skills and cooperation techniques.
In addition to participating throughout the service, Rachel was called to the pulpit to recite appropriate blessings, to read from the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), and to chant the related passage from the Jewish prophets, as well as deliver a personal address to the congregation.
Rachel looked so happy and pleased; her parents were bursting with pride. It was a happy day, and an interesting and learning experience for me.
My youngest son, Kevin, is 16 and has his driving permit. He always wants to go driving. Yesterday I decided that we would spend the day having one major driving lesson. We spent 2-1/2 hours driving all over Colorado Springs. And since he was spending a lot of time behind the wheel, I thought it best if we ran some errands while he got his experience. We went to the eye doctor, got the last of the school supplies we needed, and stopped in at Burger King for a cold drink and a break during the hot weather.
Kevin is a big Bon Jovi fan and put on some of their music as we drove all over town. At one point I started to sing along.
"Please don't," he calmly said.
"Do I embarass you?" I asked.
"I don't embarass you?"
"No," he reiterated. "But you have ruined some songs for me."
Oh my gosh, I almost wet my pants I laughed so hard. I guess we can chalk this up to another session with his therapist after he grows up!
Have you ever had a moment when you see your mother in yourself? I think every woman has had this experience. I have, and it's not one of those things I really want to carry on. It's the old, kleenex up the sleeve, or inside the bra or wherever you happen to tuck the doggone things.
When I was a kid my mother always had kleenex falling from her. Like little white wads of dandelion fluff they'd filter out and drift around her. As a teenager it was embarassing. Especially if she happened to drag one out and offer it to me or my friend. Yikes!
The other day we were out getting the car taken care of, and I stopped in a public restroom and noticed this lump in my bra. Yep, you guessed it, the proverbial wad of tissues ready and waiting. What was I thinking?
From now on I think I'll carry on my mother's fried chicken recipe or her love of family history and leave the tissues in the box.
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams--this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! But maddest of all--to see life as it is and not as it should be.
I have been married for over 27 years to my husband Stan. We have two sons, AJ (26) and Kevin (24). We have two crazy dogs named Jasper and Riley. I love my life, my family and have a strong faith that directs me.
Feel free to comment on my postings and let me know how you feel. I always like making new friends!