Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walls Fall Down

On a Serious Note.
I have really struggled with this today, with the Empire State building being illuminated for communism in China. I've thought about how life moves on and history becomes a story in a book, watered down with time. The pain endured is a scar that people no longer notice, the kind you get used to seeing and so it becomes invisible, painful only to the person bearing the scar. Younger people don't understand. Those who are older become a little forgetful. What we once saw as bad somehow gets romanticized, especially in the minds of the very young or uninformed. They hear a song that makes it sound like a perfect world; everyone sharing, no one earning, everyone happy.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. We were in Germany when it happened and we got to take part in history. An East German family ended up in Frankfurt. They had won a prize, airfare to West Germany. No accomodations, just airfare. Somehow they found members of our church and they found us. And we learned their story first hand. The story of a husband, a wife and three children.

They lived lives so different from ours that reading about it in a text book might not do it justice.

This is their reality:

The husband had once been given a special visa to visit a dying relative in America. Other than that, they had never been allowed to leave East Germany. (Imagine no countries? no borders?)

The wife didn't have a coat. There were no coats available for her in the East German stores. It gets cold in Germany. (imagine living for today)

They didn't have a bathtub. Theirs had a crack and wouldn't hold water. A new one couldn't be bought, not by a normal family with a normal income.

They had never seen a grocery store like ours, with full shelves and choices.

They had never seen an ice cream store with more than two flavors.
(imagine having no possessions...)

They had prayed in secret, knowing soldiers were on the streets with orders to kill them for their act.
They had PRAYED for that wall to come down and for communism to end. (Imagine no religion)

It had been anything but idealistic for their family and for the millions of others who lived behind that wall. They didn't have a world where everyone shared and no one went without. They had a world in which a few had everything and the rest did their best with what they could scrape together.

The one thing this family did have: they had faith. The government couldn't take God from their lives.

Another memory of Germany that I cherish takes us farther back in history.
My husband was in the Army and one night we went to dinner at a restaurant in the town where we lived. While we were there a family joined us. An older man, his wife, their grown son. The father was quite a bit older and as we talked, tears came to his eyes and he shared a story, the story of being a young man held in a concentration camp. He had been that young man. And American soldiers had freed him, had given him back his life. He wanted my husband to know that he loved America. He loved what our Army had done for him. He was alive. He was free. He was a part of history that should never be forgotten. He wasn't merely words in a history book, a story on PBS, he was a human being who had been held captive while millions were killed.

Imagine if you will...

I'm sorry to get political. I really told myself to stay away from this subject, but I didn't listen to me. There are people who need these stories, these pieces of history.
Never forget.

Take a journey through history; watch THE HIDING PLACE or CHINA CRY.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

romance and surprises

ah, romance, isn't it wonderful.
most of the time.

My husband, bless his heart, he tries.
Let me take you on a brief journey to the year 1989. The place is Germany. The couple, us on our 4 anniversary. Or 3rd. I think. My sweet husband, just a kid back then, comes home in his army uniform, excited because he bought me a gift. We really couldn't afford much, but he'd taken what he had to buy me a Hummel figurine. Or maybe a yard gnome. Yes, that's what it was, a yard gnome. Painted bright blue, green and red. And he wanted me to keep it in the china cabinet. It was years before I told him what it really was.

Two years later, still in Germany, I wanted a saphire ring. He bought me an emerald necklace. But he got a little extra gift for free. He brought it home, wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree. (he was so clueless) A week before Christmas he said I could open one gift early. Of course I picked the little box that I thought was the ring. My heart was beating in anticipation as I tore off the wrapping paper. To reveal a jar of wrinkle cream.

Warning to men: You don't give a 24 year old new mom WRINKLE CREAM for Christmas. If you do, be prepared to duck. Quick.

Fast forward 20 years to the phrase, "Honey, I have a surprise for you."
I get a little sick when I hear those words.

This time as we climbed into the car and headed down the road, I felt a little nervous. We weren't going in a direction that promised 'great surprises.' As we drove through small towns, then down country roads, I laughed because I had a feeling he was going to be as surprised as I was.

We passed a one room Amish school. The children were in the field playing baseball and basketball. They waved as we drove past. I was starting to get into the surprise because it had turned into an adventure: note the ability to switch gears and lower expectations. This skill is not provided on your wedding day, it comes with time and practice.

Finally we turned into a long driveway. We circled past a house and in front of a metal building that had the sign: Down the Lane General Store. Closed.
But there were people inside, so, being determined, we circled and sought the parking that was indicated. The only thing we found: HORSE AND BUGGY PARKING ONLY. Cars were directed to park in a small yard that was kind of a mud hole. A big truck was actually stuck in the 'parking lot.' They were putting chains on the tires and trying to dig it out. (if you guys are reading this...sorry my Saab couldn't pull you out)

The place was great. It was at the back of the 'general store.' Grab a bit to eat, a gallon of milk and fifty pounds of grain for your cow. Now that's 'one stop shopping.'

My favorite part of the cafe--the french fries. They were fresh cut and you ordered them by the potato. ie; one potato or two.
We had a blast.

Last night we went to see The Producers at the Landers Theater in Springfield. It was a great performance! But the greatest moment of the evening, A SURPRISE. (not mine)

As the lights dimmed, a young man came out on stage. He started to explain his relationship with his young girlfriend. On their first date they saw The Producers. Since then they've gotten to know one another, and they've fallen in love. He brought her up on stage, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Right there, on that historical stage, the orchestra in the pit behind them, ornately carved ceilings overhead and an audience!

Do you think he came up with that on his own?

I actually proposed to my husband. Sitting on the floor watching TV, I nudged him and said, "My aunt thinks we should get married." and he said, "OH, okay."

MOMENTS! Life is made of them, so create as many as you can. And cherish the ones that make you laugh; like surprises that backfire, yard gnomes and wrinkle cream.

Anyone want to share their 'great surprises?'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

pet peeves

I'm a morning person. I honestly don't have a problem with 'morning people.'
BUT morning people who accomplish things, that bugs me.

Mornings are for waking the kids up, dragging them (kicking and screaming) out of bed, hugging them as they go out the door, and then drinking coffee as I surf the net and talk to my BFF on the phone. We discuss all we're going to accomplish, how clean we're going to get the house, and how many pages we're going to write. Note, I said: TALK about what we're going to do.

But I don't know if I trust people who accomplish a lot before noon. Which is why I choose to surround myself with people who, like me, procrastinate. They make me feel safe and happy.

oh, don't forget to sign the comment under the post on free critique.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


IN HONOR of my CLEAN HOUSE! As a celebration of dusted furniture and clean bathrooms, I'm having a new contest!

No contest rules, nothing to sign up for, just sign in and comment on this blog that you'd like to be entered in the contest. In two weeks I'll draw a name and announce the winner here on my blog. So be checking back to see if I pick you!