Tag Archives: perspective

Life in a Jar

Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.

-Irena Sendler

For an aged woman of 91 at the time of her death, Irena Sendler had seen firsthand more despair, hatred and injustice than most of us can see in a lifetime. A polish woman growing up in Warsaw and the surrounding areas Irena was submerged in the anti-semitic culture of Europe during the Holocaust. Her life was normal from the outside looking in, and she seemed to be the average young polish woman who just wanted to pursue a nursing career so she could follow in her father’s footsteps by being part of the medical field… she was anything but that.

Her father not only passed along his love for medicine but also a deeply rooted belief that all person’s have dignity and that if you see a person drowning, “must try to rescue them, even if you cannot swim.” Irena took that wisdom to heart and as the Holocaust raged more and more inhuman each day she decided she would no longer stand against justice by doing nothing.

Irena’s fight for the Jewish people started in 1939 when she and her tiny army of fighters created fake documents for many Jews living in Poland. Her fight did not end there though, by the end of 1942 Irena had successfully smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto either by traveling through the sewer systems or hiding the very young ones in her medical bag.

The life of this polish woman is not just a story about doing what is right or even about finding justice for others, it is a story that drips with a desire to see all of humanity live with dignity. She did not see the Jewish people as a lesser race, she did not find them distasteful or deserving of death- she saw people, in need of what she could offer.

Irena speaks about her experiences during World War II as if she were not a hero, many quotes you find from her talk about how she is just the opposite. A person who did not do something extraordinary, but one who did something that should be very ordinary.

How are we, as ordinary people, doing ordinary things… make an extraordinary difference? Irena saved the lives of thousand of children, careful to write down their names, their parents names and where they were going and then protected that information, she buried her jars of thin tissue paper under apple trees. This allows to look back on to see the impact… the lives of thousands and thousands of people are now changed forever… because someone did something ordinary.

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Life in a Jar

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Filed under Human Interest, Women's History Month

“I wanted to see dignity.”

Today was a great day.

This is true for a number of reasons, least of which was my being 3 hours late to work as a result of very mysterious pains that are still plaguing me. It’s fine, it leaves me with two options… get better or die, I’m not ready for the latter so it’s apparent to me that I’ll just lock it up and eventually the mystery pain will go away.

However, my reasons as to why today was a great day DOES include a certain phone call Suzanne and I had with Becky and Jody from The Adventure Project.

What. Phenomenal. Women.

Continuing our topics revolving around Women’s History Month it’s time to point out what is happening here and now amongst women to shape the face of our futures. Suzanne asked Becky and Jody why and how they decided to step out on their own and start this project that is much bigger than life-size and Becky answered with a very simple phrase that speaks beyond itself.

“I wanted to see dignity…”

Becky and Jody both took some of their time to tell us their journey and how they decided to create something that would impact people around the world. The Adventure Project takes things like coal-burning stoves for people in Haiti and education for well mechanics in India as a way to promote personal dignity. Becky saw the need during her travels and found a way she could change these things and give these people she was encountering a way to not only have a need met but then provide for themselves by creating self-sustainable opportunities. Jody took account of her life and said “Where can I use the talents, time and energy that I’ve been given?” She is a mother to 6 beautiful children, a wife and the founder of an incredible organization. I have no idea how she does it, and I am consistently in awe of her dedication and desire to change the world using her skills.

As I said before, I wanted to write about where I see our generation of women now and where I would love to see us in the future. Here are two women who are inspiring myself and my friends to be not only women that are investing in the future but women who see their purpose and want to honor God through that.

Be inspired. Take action. Transform lives.

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Filed under Human Interest, Projects, Women's History Month

The Warsaw Uprising

On any given day you can look back into the scope of human history and find the events that marked that particular date and what made them significant enough to impact the fabric of our time.

January 18th, 1943- a small group of Jewish men

decided to react against hatred.


The Warsaw ghetto was the largest in all of Poland. It housed well over 400,000 Jews in conditions that were deplorable. Starvation, typhoid fever and random killing sprees by the Nazi’s were just a few of the hazards to residing in Warsaw’s ghetto. Throughout the year of 1942 thousands upon thousands were deported to Treblinka, a large extermination camp. Within the year… over 300,000 were exported by the masses to their deaths.

But there was a remnant… shipping of Jews from Warsaw had ceased for a time. From the fall of 1942 to the winter of 1943 there was a significant decrease in the deportation of Jews to Treblinka. But the ones that remained lived on a shallow breath, knowing that at any time it could resume.

January 18th, the Nazi troops began organizing… more Jews were to be sent to the death camp. But… within the shallow breathing remnant, there came a realization that led to action. No longer would they be treated as animals, no longer would they be treated as unpersons, there was a realization that they still possessed humanity, despite how they had been dispersed, disregarded and degraded.

On a preplanned signal, a small group of men turned on those who had kept them prisoner. There, in the ghetto they had come to know as home- they started an uprising.

Although in the short scope of things, the uprising at Warsaw did not turn out in the Jews favor- it did start a liberation. There has been movie after movie made about the Warsaw ghetto and the uprising that happened there. The utter darkness that the evil of men had cast throughout Nazi-occupied Poland was not enough to destroy a people who suffered as the target of that evil. The liberation and understanding of their humanity gave rise to a renewed hope that there was light at the end of it all. That one day there wouldn’t be any more destruction and death.

And here we are… almost 70 years later, most of the survivors are gone now…only a few remain.  The Nazi’s who tortured, burned, destroyed and killed this people group have been brought under the strong arm of justice. Why not take just a moment to remember those who died simply because of who they were born as. But…I am not Jewish and logistically most of you are not either. So, why should it matter to us?

The same reasons rape, murder, abuse, hatred, racism and all other forms of violence should matter to us. When we see things like this that mar our history, it doesn’t matter if we are or would have been included in that particular population. It matters because it isn’t a white or black issue, it’s not a male or female issue, it’s not an intelligence and handicap issue…

 

It’s a human issue.

 

“We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.

We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers

from Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,

and because we are only made of fabric and leather

and not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.”

 

The Holocaust

The Warsaw Ghetto

Movies about the Warsaw Ghetto and Treblinka:

The Pianist

Defiance

Uprising

Jakob the Liar


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Filed under Human Interest

Strange Assumptions

There are a few assumptions that I’ve developed through the course of my life that are extremely inaccurate. With some of them I wonder how uniquely my mind must have functioned to rationalize these…

  1.  I used to believe the light in the refrigerator was always on. I distinctly remember standing in front of the fridge carefully opening and closing it to see if it actually did turn off when I closed the door. I was never quick enough… so I just assumed the light was always on.
  2.  I remember asking my Dad what his favorite animal was,  he answered “Wolverine” which made absolutely no sense to me as I was certain wolverines did not exist. I have never seen one and had no knowledge of X-men, I just assumed he was making up various mythical animals just to be mean.
  3. I used to believe I could never have straight hair. That no matter what, all the days of my life I would have curly hair. Which did not settle well with me; as my sister had beautiful, long, blonde straight hair. (I also remember thinking it was very unfair that straight people could curl their hair, because I of course would never have these options)

I’ve come to realize the error of my ways with these assumptions, that I can have straight hair and wolverines really do exist… although I’m still not sure what one looks like or where to find it. But I’ve grown, matured and realized a few things about they way life is and the way the world works.

There is one assumption that I continue to battle with though…

I assume there are a number of people in my life that “have it together”. From the outside looking in, I really do think that they live the charmed life. I mean, I know what my life is like; and I’m sure there are people who think I probably have it together somewhat– but they are so wrong. As am I.

We seem to have developed this art of maintaining a manicured appearance that is picture perfect. We don’t expose our weaknesses, we don’t get vulnerable and we never allow people to see that we are running on empty.

But, how does that proclaim the glory and might of the Lord? I can think of very distinct conversations with people in my life whom I respect and love very much that have exposed their weaknesses and emptiness to their very core… and each time I catch a glimpse of God’s beauty and grace. Each time it has only led to encouragement, deeper friendship, more love and greater respect within that relationship.

We are so afraid to expose ourselves– I know I am. I don’t like it when people see my life out of control or seeing me be completely empty and trying to regain my spiritual footing. But the Lord’s redemption speaks of a different plan. Sarah Young puts out a daily reading book each year, and each year that I go through it I find more treasures. This is her entry for Today in her book Jesus Calling– take note… you don’t have to be ashamed of emptiness:

Let me bless you with my grace and peace. Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you. Do not be ashamed of your emptiness. Instead, view it as the optimal condition for being filled with my peace.

 It is easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being. There is no place for pretense in your relationship with Me. Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood. Talk with me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little, I will transform your weaknesses into strengths. Remember that your relationship with Me is saturated in grace. Therefore, nothing that you do or don’t do can separate you from my presence.

 I Sam 16:7– But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 Romans 8:38-39- And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Happy Friday 🙂

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Filed under Reflection

here lie the bones.

Epitaph: A brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past.

Each day I realize with growing certainty that my epitaph will; in all likelihood, resemble something close to-

“Here lie the bones of Tiffany Eriksen, a horrible wretch of a woman, selfish, proud and self-serving.”

So the question posed is, ‘What will your life speak about you when you’re gone?’ As you can see; if I were to… say, fall of my roof tonight as I go out for my nightly dose of star-gazing and die, I don’t know that my epitaph would say quite what I intended for it to.

A principle similar to my opinions on testimonies, I am convinced that when you form a simple summing up of your life, (the epitaph) it should wholly reflect the glory of God. When I just simply glance at what my life says about me through the lens of my daily sin filled life then that is exactly what I am, a horrible wretch of a woman.

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Filed under Reflection