Here we were on this lovely cruise. We were well fed, well taken care of, in an accessible room, relaxed, sunning, entertained, reading, … But, yet, as I read my book, I was tearing up for the second day. The book was historic fiction set near the end of the Civil War and slavery, written from the viewpoint of the slaves. I have read plenty of books about slavery, slave trade, Nazi suppression of Jews, Dutch suffering when caught for hiding the Jews, Japanese Internment camps, Native American suffering based on the US government’s broken promises and white western expansion, … lots of books about some of the worst examples of humanity. Why were the tears continuing to stream down my cheeks while reading this book, I wondered?

The slaves in this book kept supporting each other with promises from God. Promises like “his eye is on the sparrow” sustained those who were suffering. They had faith that, in the end, God would provide Glory. Eventually it dawned on me. Now that I am living in a wheelchair, I feel imprisoned in a body that no longer works. I have a small sense of what it must have felt like for slaves. In a way, I was like them with no way out of my paralysis, here through no personal choice, benefiting from the love of family who also had no ability to change my situation, … I thought I had always felt empathy for others. What I felt in the past wasn’t as real as it was now to feel the pain of others in similar groups.

Maybe the worst hurt came when I realized that a then-Presidential candidate was mocking others with handicaps like me. Not only did he think it was funny and ok to mock us (or anyone), but he did it while trying to impress and earn the support from voters who also thought it was ok. And, it wasn’t only those of us with handicaps but other groups were purposely targeted and disenfranchised.

Another realization was “in my face.” There was not one excursion off the ship in any of the six countries included on the ship itinerary that was wheelchair accessible. I was told by ship staff that one particular city we visited, of over a million people, did not have one bus in the city that was accessible. How challenging it must be for those with handicaps in such countries. It made me grateful for the many people before me who fought long and hard for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Fair Housing Act (FHA). I also wondered what America some people wanted us to go back to when America was greater than it is now. Prior to ADA or prior to more fair civil rights?

I am reminded of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I pray for America, Americans, and our leaders. Jesus ate with Samaritans and tax collectors. Our command is to love others as ourselves. Isn’t that how we work to help His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven?

Give thanks for your many blessings.

Shalom, Collene



“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Wm. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

One of my character strengths but also flaws is a ‘need to know, thoroughly.’ I often find myself purposely-delving deep into a subject. Recently three books, somewhat related, were dropped into my lap. All were excellent reads and I highly recommend each. They are all related, serendipitously, to WW2. Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown – perspective of US rowing team at the 1936 Olympics in Germany. The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman – perspective of German citizens from a small town. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom with John & Elizabeth Sherrill – perspective of the Dutch Underground. (My 3rd reading of it.)

While reading the second book, I heard one of our politicians suggest that we require all Muslims to register, the US develop a list of people of that religion, and we block Syrian refugees from coming into the US. The verbiage he used so mirrored what Hitler said that it was eerie. This deeply disturbed me. It became worse when others joined the bandwagon and asked that refugees not be admitted to their state. Facebook lit up with frightening comments. The verbiage has become more intense to the point that a politician wants to bar all Muslims from the US.

When I grew up, I was proud of my Dutch American roots. Based on the Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, and other study, I was immensely proud that many Dutch, and other Europeans, risked all to save Jewish lives. When we would visit the Smithsonian Holocaust Museum in DC, I repeatedly marveled at the list of names under European countries naming individuals who harbored Jews. I was proud to see the long list of Dutch names, especially compared to the shorter length of names listed under much larger countries. Several great Ten Booms were listed. When we bought our first home, it had a space below the living room bump-out which was hidden behind the basement, cinderblock wall. A wooden bookshelf was in the center of that area. Once removed, the hidden space was exposed and there was a carpet remnant lining the floor. I jokingly told people that is where we could hide our Jews if need be. I often wondered if I would have the fortitude to be strong enough to take such a stand. Would I have the courage to hide our Jews?

A young person well versed in the Middle East situation noted to me the other day a fear of an impending WW3. Wiser people than me need to address our volatile world. I pray they proceed with wisdom, knowledge of cultures involved, and cautious understanding. Mr. Ten Boom, a master watchmaker, took the train to Amsterdam each week to coordinate his watch’s time to the official clock. Returning with her father on one trip, young Corrie asked a question about an off color joke she had heard but did not understand. Her father asked her whether she could lift his watch filled case resting at their feet. When she replied that she was not strong enough, her father said, that no, he would continue to carry it until she was ready. It was like the joke’s meaning. Until she was ready to understand or bear it, he would carry it. Corrie repeatedly recalled that analogy. Our Heavenly Father is like that, she said, bearing or carrying what we are not yet ready to understand. Authors John & Elizabeth Sherrill visited Corrie in her home when she was in her 80s. On her wall hung a round frame containing the yellow star worn by one of the Jews who the Ten Booms hid and whose life they helped save. When asked why she kept it, Corrie said it was a reminder that, “Whatever in your life is hardest to bear, love can transform into beauty.”

Hiding the Jews, of course, is a metaphor. Each of us has something in our life that is hardest to bear. Some are visible; some are invisible. They may be physical or psychological harm; they may be difficult choices or political challenges. Are we prepared to hide our Jews? Do we trust our Father to help carry our burdens? Will we trust that the hardship can be turned into beauty by love?

Watch for your blessings amongst it all. Shalom, may all be well with you. Collene