Nathan pushed Nonna into the ditch. Within moments, she heard Nathan’s mother scream his name, then Nathan’s small, lifeless body fell on top of Nonna, still holding the bread she had given him earlier. Covered in mud and Nathan’s blood, Nonna held very still, too afraid to move or breathe.
Within minutes the sound of gun-fire ended and all became quiet. Nonna climbed up from her grave, in shock, and made her way back to the train where she had last seen her mother.
This is a paraphrased segment of a book two of my friends have written. The Secret Holocaust Diaries- The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, by Carolyn Tomlin and Denise George, Tyndale House Publishers is the story told by Nonna through her diaries after her death. http://secretholocaustdiaries.com.
When Germany invaded Russia, Nonna was about nine years old. At one point, her mother, now widowed, decided the only thing left to do was to go to Germany and work in the factories. Receiving a ticket, she and Nonna, boarded a train bound for Germany. They soon discovered that their situation ranked slightly above the Jews, who were in the cattle cars at the end of the train.
During one of the stops, Nonna discovers Nathan, a four-year-old boy with sunken eyes from exhaustion and starvation. Nonna determines that she will give this boy some of her stale bread. As she does, the cattle car doors are opened and Nonna finds herself caught up in the rush of Jews running, with dogs chasing them, and baton swinging guards yelling at them to run into the field.
In the field, there are Jewish men digging ditches. All the people are lined up facing the ditch and the execution begins; One bullet in the back of the head and they fall into the ditch.
Nonna’s life was saved because of the actions and the blood of someone else. It reminded me that as Christians, we too are saved because of the actions and the blood of someone else.
For it is not I who lives but Christ who lives in me. Galatians 2:20.
I now try to live my life each day remembering that He took my sentence of death so that I could live my life reflecting His image.
Book reviews are not something that I typically do, but this book I highly recommend.
I’m home from Harrisburg, Pa and the Allume conference. I had the time of my life! So many of you have been asking for highlights from the conference. Here are the pictures that developed well and some quotes that were made by the various, and amazing speakers. Above is the amazing bags of gifts that everyone received when they first arrived!
And so many incredibly talented bloggers!
Sally from Zondervan,Glynnis WhitwerIs from Proverbs 31 ministry, and darling LeAnn Rice, also from Proverbs 31 ministry.
Venders were there from Chuck Colson’s Angel Tree, Billy Graham’s Christmas Child, and so many other well respected companies that reach out in ministry Yes,to others. Yes, that is the angel from The Angel Tree coming out of my head. That’s just the way I am! (laughing)
Me with airplane hair and the beautiful Holly Gerth
I am still overwhelmed with email addresses to add to my address book, and unpacking, so I am not going to write about all I heard at Allume things right now. But I will give you some of the amazing quotes I heard during the conference. And Yes, Ann Voskamp was there and I didn’t get any good pictures. The pictures I took were really bad, and after that, her talk was so amazing that I couldn’t move all. All I could do is try to absorb all that she was saying.
*Even without our dreams fulfilled, God is more than enough. ~Mary DeMuth
*If you are walking with God-and He wants to use you-He will take your messages mysteriously around the world. ~Sally Clarkson
*The only way to build trust is show how broken you are. ~Ann Voskamp
*Christianity isn’t gaining a reputation but losing it, not lauded as wise but laughed at as foolish, not celebrity but service. ~Ann Voskamp
*God didn’t give Abraham a map — He gave Abraham a relationship. He doesn’t want you to lean on a guidebook. ~Ann Voskamp
*You have to bury your fear in faith — Otherwise you bury your talents.~Ann Voskamp
*Have you embraced serving your children? Time passing gives a new perspective. ~Sally Clarkson
*If you want to make a difference in the world — it’s not so much about being the very best — but being the very breakable. ~Ann Voskamp
*You are not effective if you are not a full body!~Logan Wolfram
*If God is calling you to do something you can only fail by disobedience. ~Logan Wolfram
*The Lord wants us to show what an authentic journey looks like.~Logan Wolfram
*Even if your on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there -Will Rodgers ~Darren Rouse/ProBlogger
*Train yourself to see the sparks and go after them. ~Darren Rowse
*If your blog changes one person you blog is big enough. ~Darren Rouse
*When you compare yourself – compare yourself to where you began, not to where others are. ~Darren Rowse
*Celebrate the growth you have! ~Darren Rowse
*Be able to Rest in the Undone. ~The Nester
*God’s kingdom has enough room for all if us to do something amazing. ~Jessica Heights
*If you are not secure in who you are and what you are worth is in Jesus Christ, then nothing on the earth will change that. Your worth is decided by Christ not the world. ~Jessica Heights
The last night Ann’s talk absolutely pealed a layer off of me. I will try to blog about it later. But I will tell you, that I was so overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord, that I skipped the after party, where I might have met Ann and had a picture with her, to return to my room and have an after party with the Lord.
As she said, “Christianity isn’t about gaining a reputation, or getting bigger numbers for my blog, or lauded as wise but laughed at as foolish, not celebrity but service.” May all I think, write, say and do be in full service to my Lord.
Walking closer to the window, I watch leaves, gold and orange, silently drop down, covering the ground like a mother coving her child from the chill of night. Sap in trees begins to relax and settle into the ground as the leaves bed it down for a wintery sleep.
Roses, thankful for a reprieve from the sweltering southern heat, burst forth in a one last gift of blooms, and rejoicing color, before they too settle down for rest; like children who resists going to bed. And the humming birds, which stayed long past their usual departure date, have finally gone to warmer places.
Vegetable, herb, and flower gardens are now released from my care to seed press the next generation of life, and stretch deeply their roots into the earth, warm and welcoming, in their wait for spring.
The Lord God gently rocks the angle of the earth and almost overnight the harsh summer is replaced by a cool fall.
Do your prayers sometimes seem like leaves, which fall silent on the ground without notice?
We want results so desperately in this fallen world that we forget that life is about seasons. God wants you to have the desires of your heart, but have we become so focus on the desires of our heart that we have missed the joy? Are we so focused on the future answered prayer, that we are missing the beauty that He has given us here and now, that gives us a reprieve from the sweltering heat of this broken world?
Sometimes we know that God has given us a vision of what to pray about, that can only happen by His Holy Spirit. But seeing the results is like waiting for a seed planted in the fall to arise in the spring. It just takes time for the fullness of God’s mercy to be seen by human eyes.
Let’s be like the rose, and rejoice in the beauty of this season, then settle down in the arms of Christ, and allow our winter’s rest to produce new life in us, that only Lord’s spring wakeup call can reveal.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)
Opening the cedar hope chest, the faint fragrance of pine greets me as I reach down and gather into my arms an old but cherished quilt my grandmother made when I was young. Walking to the couch I wrap it around my shoulders and lift coffee, hot and sweet, to my lips and watch the sun rising through the pine trees.
Fuchsia and coral stretches up as if rising from their slumber, and chase away the last remnants of the night. As I stare at the morning sky, my thoughts wander back a few years to a time when I lost some of my community of friends.
Loosing community happens to people sometimes. The job transfers you to a new area, or you marry, or graduate, or sometimes a difference of opinion can drive friends apart.
My stare drops down to the quilt, and my finger traces the different shapes of jewel tones sewn together; each square of fabric is a story. A cotton plaid that was once my daddy’s work shirt, a poke-a-dot piece from dress my mother made for me, a shred of thermal from a blanket that was literally loved to pieces. Each section of fabric is a different color, texture and shape, then thread to needle, it is sewn together on the underside where no one can see and it becomes one.
This is how it is in a community of women – different shapes and colors come together, blue and orange, triangles and circles, and somehow it fits – it works. You see it in blogging communities, one woman answering another, “ Yeah, Me too, I’ve been through that.” Posting a comment of applause or encouragement on the blog of a stranger, and then realizing the two of you live within driving distance from each other. And with each conversation the hand of the master quilter stitches two hearts together in friendship that is soft and gentle as silk and strong as three-ply thread.
Touching a patch of silk from a wedding dress, I think, “Each person is different, each person has a story, and when people share their stories with others a thread that is never seen, begins to weave them together.”
Sometimes, despite the our winning personalities, the pairing of people has nothing to do with our ability to make friends, but the Lord who is creating a pattern of people in our lives that accomplish His will, and prepare us for things to come, as well as giving us kindred spirit as company along the way.
I pull the quilt tighter around my shoulders shielding myself from the cold of the early morning, sip my coffee, and open my Bible.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)
Real Friendship, and community is not something that can be earned, it is a gift, an inspiration from the Spirit, because it is a refection of Christ’s love for us, and His love of having a relationship with us. And we are to give friendship to others in a similar way, not waiting for them to earn our friendship, or trying to earn theirs, but loving others as Christ loves us – freely, openly, willing to be hurt, knowing that wounding has happened before and can happen again, and still stepping forward with arms flung wide open, and saying, “Welcome, come in I want to hear your story!”
And it is a frontal attack, bold and ugly, going straight for my mind. Isn’t that the first target in all battles –the information center?
Driving down the road my mind is wrestling with negative thoughts and insecurities about myself. Age issues, ability to write, trying to find eloquence of speech, yet feeling like I walk around with one foot in my mouth at all times.
Fighting back, I recall positive things I have done, times when I gave a really good talk, and the day I rocked that new dress, or more wonderfully, spoke life into another person’s life. I have good times, yes! So why the battle?
As I push back the thoughts of inadequacy, the story of Adam in the garden comes to mind. God brought all of the animals to Adam to name, for him to observe that there was none like him in the garden. In the entire garden, there was no match found.
Fierce beast – great hair, great voice – Lion – No Match
Runs fast – strong worker – Horse – No Match
Tries to act like me – not like me – Monkey – No Match
These thoughts that wander through my mind, coming up to me as an old friend are disguised as truth, disguised as companions, as a match to live with me for life.
They wear musky smelling robes, tattered and decayed because they have been buried and yet they try to raise their ugly heads to partner with me.
Like Adam I look at them, evaluate, name and make a declaration.
You are a failure – LIE – No Match
I am more than a conquer in Christ Jesus.
You are not attractive – LIE– No Match
Created in God’s image – It is good.
You are not smart enough– LIE – No Match
Ask for wisdom and you will receive.
“No Match!” I yell over the sound of the radio.
“No Match!” I say with the authority of a warrior.
“No Match! These words of doubt and fear are no match for God or for me!” I laugh. So thankful that I am alone in the car. Anyone hearing would think I insane.
But isn’t that the point of insecurity – To isolate from others because we fear what they might think?
“No. Match.” I whisper quietly as His peace enters in.
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2Corth. 10:5 NAS)
And my Father steps in more fully; He instructs me and I take captive my thoughts.
“For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you” (2 Corth. 10:8 NAS)
And the One and Only, that spoke all things into being, drives away doubt and darkness in me. The One who hovered over the waters as Spirit, the one that spoke all things into being and said, “it is Good”, that One bring His peace.
The creator of Peace, He is my match, I was, I am created to match with Him – and so are you.
Do you struggle with fears of inadequacy? Can I pray for you today? Would you leave your prayer request in the comments and so that I can begin praying for you?
Okay, let’s just call it what it is! I have entered the sandwich stage of life! I am old enough to have children and grandchildren, and blessed enough to still have parents.
But coaching children that are becoming parents and encouraging parents that are becoming more child-like can wear on a body.
Then, add in the privilege of caring for our grandchildren and trying to find time to pursue interests that we could not do when we were up to our arm pits in ball practice, ballet recitals, and jogs to the emergency room because of bikes that did not make the jump with its rider, and I realize that I have gotten older. I don’t accomplish all that I use to accomplish. Life has changed significantly, and I need to learn to face the transition with grace and mercy toward myself and others.
Grace flows from the heart toward the ones who first taught grace to me. Bent and shuffling is the once strong man who would climb onto rooftops with me scampering at his side. Then, as a single mother, there we were together high above the world repairing the roof from passing storms.
And there was that time that we had pizza in the park the day after I signed divorce papers. My strong dad– now his smooth olive skin is lined, mapping the story of his life; and the back once strong enough to carry shingles up the ladder, now struggles to straighten.
She who once must be obeyed and brought great comfort, now forgets things. We struggle with communication and words are not always sweet. But last week we went to the inner city Ministry together, and the words and time together was sweet.
“Grace, remember grace,” I remind myself.
So how do we operationalize this gift of grace?
1) “Please place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”
You need to be as emotionally and physically healthy as you can be in this time. Get rest, drink plenty of water, go for walks and care for yourself. If you are barely holding up, then you do not have much left to give.
2) Draw healthy boundaries.
The signs of dementia begin early; sometimes it is with sharp words that come out of a person that has been so nurturing all of your life. Let that person know that it hurts you relationship with them when they say these things. Keep your words sweet and soft. You never know when you might have to eat them.
You never know how you might be at their age. Forgive, as you would want to be forgiven in the same situation. Unforgiveness tethers you to the words that hurt, and later we can ruminate over the words, which cause us to walk into the blade of unkind words for the rest of our lives.
Let it go – extend mercy with your grace.
“Every experience God gives us, every person he brings in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” ~Corrie ten Boom
And in this thought we should, we can, count it all joy.
“ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
“Like rocks tumbled or rough wood sanded, a person changes over time when external forces rub them the right way.” ~Robin Dance
So can we look at this sandwich time in our lives as a time that God is smoothing out our rough edges and perfecting His image in us?