This week has marked the 70th year since the Liberation of the dreadful Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Watching the events surrounding the 70th Anniversary made me think of another liberation story I had recently read. This story is so beautiful that it is worth sharing.
The following Liberation story is found in this book.
The ten Boom household were preparing for a party. The parlor wall was removed to make room for the many guest they were expecting. Corrie ten Boom's nephew, Peter van Woerden was to be the guest of honour.
The following is recorded in "More Than A Hiding Place:"
"Peter had spent several weeks in prison. His crime was showing patriotism to Holland. Peter, who was only 18 years old, was a gifted musician and church organist. The second anniversary of the Nazi occupation was Sunday May 10, 1942. Peter's church was crowded that day but everyone was very somber. At the end of the service Peter decided to lift the congregation's spirits by playing the "Whilhelmus," the Dutch national anthem! This is what happened as Peter began to play the notes of that forbidden song:
One voice began to sing, then another, and others; and soon, like a mighty sea, the glorious old hymn rolled forth from the overflowing hearts of hundreds of Hollanders as tears streamed down their faces. For that one moment we were a free people in the midst of a dark world full of oppression and persecution.
Exhibiting Dutch patriotism in occupied Holland was a crime, and the Nazis arrested Peter.
While in prison, Peter saw many loyal Dutch men taken away to their deaths. These were Peter's thoughts as he struggled with this own reality:
As far as religion was concerned, I'd been a model child. Of course I'd gone to church. Hadn't I been the organist? I had dutifully memorized my catechism. My knowledge of the Bible had been good enough to fool a lot of people. Somehow, though, as I looked back, it seemed superficial. At mealtime and during family devotions, I remembered thinking that religion was for older people, especially women. I could have used my mother's assurance now, in this place. But I tried not to think about it. Religion was not for me, not at 18 at any rate. Still the Holy Spirit kept working, prodding me, making me crave the assurance that she had. I tried to recall the Bible verses that I had memorized. This was to no avail; I 'd only memorize them for a day, or to recite them for a special occasion.
Peter's mother Nollie, smuggled him the New Testament portion of the Bible. Peter began to read it, as if for the first time:
Finally I quit struggling and knelt in the corner of the cell. Quietly I sought the lord, pouring out my heart full of tears and troubles until at last the wonderful assurance and peace that I had heard others speak of was mine. All the promises that I had read were now for me. Inside, I felt free, almost light, with a sort of joy. Circumstances no longer infuriated me. I had had to come to prison to find Christ, an unfailing Friend.
Casper ten Boom was so happy when he heard of grandson's newly found faith! The ten Booms wanted to recognize Peter's commitment to God in a special way. This was the reason for the party! As soon as Peter was released from prison his family and friends came to celebrate his "liberation." They were very thankful Peter had been liberated from prison, but they were thrilled about Peter's spiritual liberation! To honour Peter's new relationship with God, the parlor was renamed the "Liberation Room.""
When a special card came in the mail, the timing was perfect. A few hours before the mail arrived, I had stood in the kitchen praying for help and encouragement. One of our sons had just come home from school with lice (that is a story for another blog post!) and I was going slightly ballistic. Surrounded by garbage bags and lice shampoo I ripped open the envelope. Inside was a beautifully written note about friendship and how thankful the card sender was for our friendship together. At the end of the card, I read "keep the last Friday in November opened for a special outing." Babysitting had already been arranged for that night and my friend was looking forward to a special evening out. I got watery eyes after reading this special card and realized that God's timing is everything. The card was not signed so I would have to wait a few weeks to see who my secret pal was. I proudly displayed my card in the kitchen eagerly telling our visitors about my secret pal.
Soon another card arrived in the mail and I searched for clues because by now my curiosity was escalating.
On the last week of November the final card arrived telling me what time and where I was to meet my friend, and...this is big...I didn't need to make supper for my family before heading out that night because supper would be made and delivered to my parents. Unbelievable.
That evening I dressed up and headed off to Starbucks where my secret pal would be waiting.
When I got there, my friend Carrie was waiting. After giving her a bear hug, we ordered our warm drinks and headed out to the Keith and Kristen Getty concert.
Years ago, I met Carrie while working in the hospital and within a few shifts of working together we knew this would be a friendship for life. We traded shifts just so we could work together and soon the other nurses on the ward referred to us as "team Carrie/Kerri."
Enjoying ourselves at the concert!
Friendship is a great gift! God uses friends to encourage, strengthen, gently guide and correct. I was thankful to Carrie for her thoughtful planning and encouragement. She taught me that nurturing friendships is so necessary, even when there are busy seasons in life. Carrie and I had a wonderful evening together and I will always remember those special cards that arrived in the mail.
Bill & Jenny immigrated to Canada with their one year old daughter and expecting another child. They left Holland knowing this wonderful news but didn't share their secret. Months later, Bill & Jenny's friends and family in Holland were surprised to receive a telegram; a second daughter, Marietta, had arrived safely on January 19th.
Marietta, giggling behind the tub.
Siblings and Laughter
My mom is a gem! Full of laughter, always welcoming, easy-going, ever helpful, understanding, and wise. Growing up with a mom who didn't make a fuss over dents and scratches, many unexpected guests, and hand written messages with sharpie on the fridge, made childhood very easy and enjoyable.
After raising four daughters she has embraced the world of many grandsons. They adore her. She understands them and lets them be who they are - even if that means racing around the kitchen and making flying leaps into the living room. Her son-in-laws love her. They are comfortable around her and they know she will take their side! Always.
Cozy evenings with warm tea and a good book - I love it!
Here are the books we read during December:
Wow. The author's detailed research does justice to this fascinating story of hunting down Eichmann, the German Nazi responsible for ordering and carrying out the Final Solution. On the back it reads, "offers the intrigue of a detective story and the thrill of great spy fiction."
The Badeau's adopted and raised 22 children. The amount of energy they poured into raising these children, some with disabilities, made me tired just reading it. It was an interesting book to read, but not worth buying new.
This book was put into our church library to equip those may be in a destructive relationship or to help walk along someone who is. Author, Leslie Vernick teaches: confronting and speaking truth when the timing is right, recognizing behaviors that are meant to control, punish, and hurt, and the author emphasizes being transformed by God as you build an identity in Christ. This book would be helpful to those who are in emotionally destructive relationships. I would also say this book is meant for just that, not for someone who is trying to "get out" of a relationship by looking for excuses.
This book had a good reviews. Adam is almost finished "A Higher Call" and he said the story line is intriguing, although not exceptionally well written.
*Devil at My Heels" by Louis Zamperini was another book we polished off. (sorry no picture)
Zamperini has an amazing story. He was a World War II air force pilot who was shot down in the middle of the ocean. Miraculously, he survived 47 days on a life raft only to be captured by the Japanese and after two years of torture, he was finally released. Zamperini writes of his struggles after his imprisonment and shares his story of salvation and forgiveness towards his captors. Unfortunately Zamperini could of used a tamer tongue in his own book. ("Unbroken" the story of Zamperini's life, has been a best seller and now a movie has come out depicting his life but both have stopped the story before Zamperini becomes a Christian. Zamperini's own book, "Devil at my Heels" differs from the others because of this.)
The boys love reading and I love it when they read. There is silence in a usually loud household! And yes, Tyler would say reading is even better when you are wearing a mask!