An Eyewitness

In this era of fake news, history told by an eyewitness—someone who lived during a treacherous time—stimulates our minds and tugs at our hearts. Last week we experienced the 1930s and 1940s made relevant and alive when 97-year-old Walter Sommers shared his story. Al and I, along with our friends Anne and Larry, visited Terre Haute’s CANDLES Holocaust Museum where Walter is the docent on Wednesdays and Fridays (www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org).

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1920, Walter saw firsthand how Adolf Hitler rose to power. His parents witnessed their rights as citizens and business owners implode as the Nazis destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and homes November 9,1938, during the “Kristallnacht” or “Night of Broken Glass,” after which his father was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

According to Walter, Hitler had developed his hatred for Jews during his teen years when a few Jewish youth were accepted into a Vienna art school while he was denied admission. Even though young Adolf didn’t have a high school diploma, which the school required, he still despised his Jewish counterparts for being admitted. That hatred grew as he did.

A month after his father was imprisoned, he was released with the condition his family would sell their businesses to the government and leave Germany. And so they did in January 1939, sailing to America guarded by Nazis. Ironically a few years later Walter would serve in the U.S. Army’s 77th Infantry.

Besides learning more about Holocaust history, I came home with a broader principle. An eyewitness verifies truth. Hearsay can easily become fake news. Because he experienced it, Walter’s story painted the truth about Kristallnacht.

Truth can be verified when it’s lived.

I’m asking myself what that looks like when being a witness for Jesus Christ.

 “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT

 

 

Breathe in God’s Peace

This morning I took the time to walk around the house, dead heading petunias and hibiscus blossoms while I stumbled along through the dew drenched grass. I couldn’t help but think how much I’ve changed through the years. Now I enjoy such a simple pleasure and love “messing with” my plants.” The poison ivy I got Saturday while weeding my strawberry patch proves that “mess.”

Twenty years ago at 43, the best I could have done was to occasionally water a few flowers, a task undertaken more out of duty rather than love. The interest wasn’t there because time was tight. Then our children would’ve been 12 and 14, busy ages with lots of time spent in the minivan.

Forty years ago at 23, I was newly married, going to grad school while teaching full-time. We lived in an apartment near Eagle Creek. Gardening and flowers simply weren’t on my radar. The only connecting activity then as compared to now is my husband and I still occasionally take our 42-year-old matching Myata bikes out for a spin, but certainly traveling not as fast nor as far.

Fifty years ago at 13, my “Granny” and I spent a lot of time together while both of my parents worked full time. She taught me to stem strawberries, snap peas, and pick (while sampling) grapes. But more than that, she taught me about Jesus. One of her favorite songs, “In the Garden”, has become one of mine.

Take a moment to breathe in God’s peace, one that passes all understanding. Then find your garden to enjoy!

In the Garden

  1. I come to the garden alone,
    While the dew is still on the roses,
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The Son of God discloses.

    • Refrain:
      And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
      And He tells me I am His own;
      And the joy we share as we tarry there,
      None other has ever known.
  2. He speaks, and the sound of His voice
    Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
    And the melody that He gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing.
  3. I’d stay in the garden with Him,
    Though the night around me be falling,
    But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
    His voice to me is calling.

(public domain – lyrics by Charles A. Miles, 1913)

My Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me like down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his namesake.  (Psalm 23:1-3)

On the morning of my 63rd birthday, my husband Al and I took a walk around the area where our daughter and her family live in Cyprus. In the days before, we had become fascinated with the goat farm located just minutes from their house. There didn’t seem to be enough grass or water for any animal to survive or thrive.

Even though the living conditions were dusty, barren and stifling hot, their shepherd still cared for the flock. Note in the photo how the goats gathered in the shade, seeking relief from the piercing sun.

I couldn’t help but think of how our loving Father God wants us to thrive. He makes us lie down in green pastures because we need our physical rest. Note that his pastures are  green.

He wants us to walk with him besides still waters, to be quiet in His presence and refresh ourselves spiritually and emotionally. During those times the reflections of our lives become clear.

Finally, God wants to refresh us so we can pursue paths of righteousness for His name’s sake–to live that purpose-driven life Saddleback Church’s Pastor Rick Warren described so well a few years back.  Father God sent us a loving Shepherd to guide us through far-from-perfect trails.

Thank you, Jesus, for being our willing and sacrificial guide and shepherd sent from our loving Father.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

  • John 10:14-16