Category: Inspirational Quotes

Happy 4th of July!

Several years ago, I visited the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I read the poem at the base of it and I cried. I came home, put these words on my fridge, and memorized them.

Happy birthday to the country that I love with all of my heart.

Statue of Liberty

Children are Great Imitators

My new motherhood mantra!

Children are great imitators

Practice Compassion

“The Hiding Place” Book Review

Today is Kindness Matters Monday! And today, I’m doing another book review. I want to share with you the true story of one of the kindest, most inspirational families I have had the privilege to read about.

(I’m going to warn you about this book. IT IS SAD. It’s a true story of the Holocaust. If you’re looking for a sweet, pleasant story, this is not a book for you to read right now. But if you’re looking for a story of exceptional courage, bravery, and compassion, it’s time to read The Hiding Place.)

Father's Secret

In the very first chapter of the book, as Corrie ten Boon is describing a family party, come these chilling words:

“It was a day for memories. A day for calling up the past. How could we have guessed as we sat there – two middle-aged spinsters and an old man – that in place of memories we were about to be given adventures such as we had never dreamed of? Adventure and anguish, horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know. Oh Father! Betsie! If I had known would I have gone ahead? Could I have done the things I did?

“But how could I know? How could I imagine this white-haired man, called Opa – Grandfather – by all the children of Haarlem, how could I imagine this man thrown by strangers into a grave without a name?

“And Betsie, with her high lace collar and gift for making beauty all around her, how could I picture this dearest person on earth to me standing naked before a roomful of men? In that room on that day, such thoughts were not even thinkable.”

(Um, Kimber … It’s Kindness Matters Monday. What the heck??)

I know. This book seems like the very farthest thing from a Kindness Matters post.

But it’s not.

And this is why.

“Suddenly the chief interrogator’s eye fell on Father. ‘That old man! he cried. ‘Did he have to be arrested?  You, old man!’

“Willem led Father up to the desk. The Gestapo chief leaned forward. ‘I’d like to send you home, old fellow,’ he said. ‘I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.’

“I could not see Father’s face, only the erect carriage of his shoulders and the halo of white hair above them. But I heard his answer.

“‘If I go home today,’ he said evenly and clearly, ‘tomorrow I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.'”

For that answer, he was sent to a concentration camp.

Ten days later, he was dead.

This man – a Christian – was arrested for harboring Jews. And he gave his life before he gave up his humanity.

Could the same be said of me?

Of you?

This strength – this courage – haunts me, and it inspires me. This was just one ordinary old man. But his quiet fortitude reaches out to me, decades later, and it makes me stronger. His story, his name – they deserve to be remembered.

Casper ten Boom, I remember you.

This man’s story is just one example of the faith and courage you will find in this book. I’d love for you to read it, and to let me know what you think. What character resonates with you? Casper, with his gentle mightiness? Betsie, with her ability to make anywhere – even a concentration camp – a little bit more beautiful? Or Corrie herself, with her extraordinary story of faith, hope, and ultimately, forgiveness?

Come discover The Hiding Place.

And remember.

In this house

This post is not sponsored, but does contain an Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support of this website, and thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts on this story, I’d love to hear them.

I Choose Kindness

No One is Useless …

Rhinestone Jesus – Book Review and Giveaway

It’s time for another book review! If you haven’t already, feel free to check my first review – Kisses from Katie.

So, I’m going to be honest.

The first time I saw the title of this book, I was a little taken aback.

“Rhinestone Jesus? Uh – what?”

But for years, I have admired the author, Kristen Welch. I cried as I read of her visit to Kenya with Compassion International. I rejoiced with her as she established The Mercy House, a wonderful program designed to help pregnant Kenyan teenagers living in desperate poverty. I have wept as I’ve heard bits of the stories of the girls that have been rescued, and I have continually been inspired by Kristin’s faith and courage. So I ordered the book – and from the first pages, I was completely hooked.

“I trembled from more than fear. There was hopelessness everywhere I looked – endless tiny tin shanties where hundreds of thousands of people were crowded, “homes” with no electricity or running water. Plastic bags full of sewage floated in a green stream, and the ground wasn’t made of dirt at all – it was just a mountain of trampled garbage. The stench nearly gagged me.

A majority of the residents were small, unsupervised children. They called out to us, “How-ah-you? How-ah-you?” hoping we would put something into their upturned hands. We could see by their swollen bellies that they were malnourished. Their faces were filthy and covered with flies, which they didn’t bother to shoo away.

It was a hellhole, not fit for the living.

I began to cry and couldn’t stop. I wanted to shut it all out. I was angry with God. Where are you? How can You allow so much suffering?

Then I shopped and closed my eyes. I saw God’s finger pointed at my as He asked my spirit the same question: “Kristen, how can you allow this?

In that exact moment, I knew my life would never be the same.

I was a long way from home and my family. I was “just a mom”. But my faith journey that started in high school had brought me to this point. Standing in this wretched place, I realized only He knew where it was going to lead.”

Chills. And tears. As I read this prologue, it went straight to my heart. And I couldn’t put the book down.

Rhinestone Jesus is the true story of a woman who begins her Christian journey as an enthusiastic teenager who walks around the halls of her high school proudly wearing a rhinestone Jesus lapel pin. As she grows older and faces the challenges of life, she realizes that Christianity needs to go much, much deeper than the jewelry we wear. It needs to change how we act. It needs to change US, to the core.

She boldly shares the good moments of her life, as well as the bad. The pain of infertility, the near-ending of her marriage and the rebuilding of it, the heartbreaking trip to Kenya, and the realization that being “just a mom” is enough.

Rhinestone Jesus - Just Do Something

Her “yes” is enough.

So is mine.

So is yours.

Reading this book woke up something in my heart. As I finished, I was crying and praying. I didn’t know at that moment that a few of my “yeses” were about to begin.

Starting this website – that was my first yes.

What is YOUR yes?

I’d love for you to give this some serious thought and prayer. What is your yes? What can you do, right now, in this stage of your life?

NOTE: Giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced Wednesday, January 14th at 9 am. Thank you for your interest!

I have some wonderful news for you. As I began writing this review, I truly wished I could pass my copy around to all of you. I want to hear your thoughts and read your notes in the margins and sit around my fireplace and talk about it. But that’s not very practical, so I contacted Kristen’s publicist at Tyndale, and she has so graciously offered to give one of my readers a copy of Rhinestone Jesus. I am so tickled for this opportunity, and I hope this book blesses whoever wins it!

Rhinestone Jesus - Giveaway

There are three different ways to enter this giveaway. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry (you can leave up to 3 comments).

* Leave a comment here saying why you’d like to win the book

* Share this giveaway on Facebook

* Pin this article on Pinterest

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, January 13th at 9 p.m. (Central), and the winner will be announced by Wednesday morning. Thanks for entering!

Note: I was not compensated to do this review – all thoughts are my own. Tyndale House Publishers has generously provided a copy of this book for me to give away.

 

Lose yourself

September 11th Memorial Museum

A week ago today, as I was writing about September 11th and New York City and thanking our firemen, I had absolutely no idea that my husband was planning a surprise.

For months, he and a dear friend had been keeping a secret from their wives. And last Thursday, the four of us headed out for a date night – and went to the airport. They’d arranged childcare, packed our bags, bought tickets …

I know. AMAZING!

Now I’m going to be honest – flying to NYC on September 11th was a tiny bit nervewracking. But I am so grateful that we went exactly when we did. We arrived late that night, but we got up the next morning and headed to the World Trade Center memorial. And y’all … it’s just beautiful. I wish you could have been there with me to see it. But I’m going to do my best to paint a picture for you.

As I visited ground zero, many different emotions rushed over me. Grief. Pride. Shock. Horror. Helplessness. Again and again, helplessness. Even now, thirteen years later, I remember the way so many of us felt that day – desperate to do something. And as I looked at faces and heard final phone calls and read stories, I realized that there is something I can do.

I can remember.

Will you remember with me?

Children's painting

On that tragic day, some lives were lost instantly. Some were lost within seconds or minutes or hours. And some people had a decision to make.

For those trapped in the towers, particularly those above where the plane crashed, death was eminent. The heat and the stifling smoke were quickly overtaking them. Desperate for air, they broke windows – and the oxygen fueled the flames. Instantly the inferno grew even more unbearable. Very quickly they realized that their choice was not just to live or die. They were dying. They just had the choice in how to die.

Given that choice, many decided to do the unthinkable. They chose to fall through the dark clouds of smoke.

That day, there was fire. There was horror and death and hell.

Today, there is water.

Memorial

It’s quiet. It’s calm. It’s a place where people step carefully and speak quietly. It’s a place for quiet reflection and meditation. It’s a place for remembering.

To those who stepped off of the edge that day …. We remember you.

Inside the memorial museum were countless exhibits. In the nearly four hours I spent there, I didn’t see everything. But there were a few memories of that visit that I’d like to share with you.

Inside of one room, there was a photograph of every person who perished in the 9/11 attack. (I say “every”, but there were actually a few exceptions. There were a few people of whom, even 13 years later, no photo has ever been found. People that, perhaps, had no one left to remember them.)

To those whose photos I saw, and perhaps especially to those who had no one to share a photo of them … We remember you.

There were interactive displays that featured these pictures. You could scroll through, click on a picture, and read a story. And oh, did I read. Story after story after story.

The story of a three-year-old boy who, like my own three-year-old boy, loved Legos.

The story of the man who loved, more than anything, serving those who were in the greatest need.

The story of a volunteer firefighter who, as a teenager, once held up traffic because a mother goose had been run over by a car and he had to get her babies to safety. Even as a young man, he had the instinct to rescue and to save. On 9/11, after the first tower was struck, he was one of the firemen called to help rescue. When traffic was so congested that his truck couldn’t get any closer, he headed on foot to the first tower.

photo 5

We remember you.

As I stood, fighting tears, I became aware of a couple next to me that was viewing the same profile again and again. I hesitated, but seeing that they didn’t seem to be having a private conversation, I asked, “Excuse me, but I noticed that you’ve been looking at this man’s profile. May I ask if you knew him?”

“Yes. He was my wife’s brother.”

Looking into that woman’s eyes, there were just no words. I hugged her, and together we looked at the picture of her brother. She thanked me and moved on while I stayed behind to read his story. I wrote his name down so I could come home and learn about him. Because that was the moment the enormity of the loss hit me. Each face on the wall was a person who had hopes and dreams and struggles and fears and plans. They were just like me, and they were just like you.

We remember you, Charles Karczewski.

I listened to answering machine recordings of that day, mostly of desperate friends and family members who were hoping and praying that a loved one would pick up the phone. And one message in particular haunted me.

“A plane crashed into World Trade Center 1. We’re fine. We’re in World Trade Center 2.”

Hearing his voice, his last message to his mother … Bradley James Fetchet, we remember you.

photo 3

The museum was full of remembrances. There was a massive quilt, paying tribute to each and every victim of that day.

photo 1

 

photo 4

There were exhibits made by children, expressing in their own way the shock, horror, and desire to do something that we all felt.

photo 4

There was this stunning exhibit, forged in iron from some of the remnants of the towers.

photo 3

There were huge crowds of people speaking in whispers, wiping away tears.

And again, I felt helpless. But as I looked at the people around me, as we remembered together, as we thought of the victims and as we honored the heroes, I felt peace and comfort come into my heart. Because with all of my heart, I love my country. I honor those who gave their lives that day, and as long as I live, I will teach my children the stories of ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes on September 11th, 2001.

photo 1

As long as I live, I will remember.

Let’s remember the hope.

Freedom tower

Let’s remember the heroes.

United 93

 

In the words of Mother Teresa …