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The Netherlands

An airline debacle of epic proportions in July (Norwegian Air has become “he who shall not be named” at our house) ended with us having to purchase last minute-round-trip tickets to the US from Europe (cheaper than last-minute one-way flights).  Thus, a soggy grey day in late September found us heading to the tulip capital of the world.  As Luke and I sat side by side sipping our complimentary drinks he stared out the small window at the perfectly clear blue sky surrounding us and commented that we were flying over a complete blanket of clouds.  In our myopic Arizona world, the sky was covered in clouds and rain, but as we rose above those clouds there was blue skyand sunshine as far as the eye could see.  It’s a good lesson for Luke and I to remember-even when your life or day feels full of gray or is stifled by clouds, if we can reach out and above our little world there are blue skies as far as the eye can see.  HOPE.  JOY. LIGHT.

Lily looking over at us and working hard on her writing at the airport-

In preparing for our adventure I decided our theme book for the journey would be THE HIDING PLACE.  Within moments of jumping into our little rental car (it is so bizarre to be traveling with only 4 children-no big van needed) and driving along the Dutch countryside the gentle voice of the narrator began to fill our car with this story of love and hope.  A feeling of peace enveloped us, and I knew we would all be changed by the message of this powerful book.

As we have traveled more and more over the years we have gotten better at a lot of things, but we are still last minute on so many levels.  Although we had our accommodations booked it wasn’t until the night before our departure that I actually began reading through our Rick Steve’s travel guide for the trip.  In doing so I found that the Corrie Ten Boom house sells out rapidly and advanced reservations our essential.  Everything was sold out.  Thankfully there was an afternoon tour or two that was reserved for walk-ins, but each only took 20 people. Our best chance for a tour was to go immediately from the airport.  Thus, our first stop was Haarlem and the Hiding Place!

Haarlem-

The entrance to the hiding place-

How blessed we were that there were exactly 20 people (including us) waiting for the English tour.  We had a meaningful tour of the Ten Booms home with the highlight being a chance for the kids to listen to explanations while they stood in the actual Hiding Place.  The charity and love that the Ten Boom family had for their fellow man in a world of hatred and violence and self-protection gripped us and made us all want to be better. They gave their lives to Christ and to serving his people and lived extraordinary lives of courage and commitment. Would I be willing to sacrifice my own comfort?  Would I be willing to put my own family in danger to serve and love my fellow man? It was powerful.

At the end of the tour they asked Daisie to read a poem that Corrie often quoted after the war and showed the messy back of a tapestry juxtaposed to the beautiful picture on the front when the tapestry was turned around.

“Life is but a Weaving”

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

Beautiful.

We wandered through the rest of Old Haarlem including the beautiful church with the largest organ in the Netherlands where Mozart once tickled the ivories-what a joy to have the organ playing as we walked through the cathedral!  Large French fries in hand we did some quick shopping before we jumped into the car and headed for our Airbnb in the countryside.  Once we got settled into our guesthouse on the canal we went off in search of food.  We settled on some delicious Thai and did some grocery shopping for the next full day.  By the time we collapsed into our beds it was midnight and we were exhausted.