By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Around 15 years ago when I was in Holland, I had the deep pleasure on two occasions of visiting the home of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch woman who, along with her family, hid Jews in their home and ended up in a German concentration camp. The Jews survived, many members of her family perished, and she spent the rest of her life traveling all over the world letting people know that “there is no pit where God’s love is not deeper still.” She called herself “A Tramp For The Lord,” and her experience learning how to forgive the monsters who murdered her family put a whole new spin on “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Every aspect of the ten Boom home is quintessentially Dutch — full of treasured heirlooms, spotless, proper, comfortable, and quaint. I got to hold the giant family Bible, and my gaze was held by a framed embroidery/appliqué piece of needlework that can be viewed from both sides. It is painstakingly, meticulously crafted, and is a crown. When you look at the front, it’s beautiful, when you look at the back, it’s a hot mess. It’s known as de overwinnar, Dutch for “overcomer.” Corrie has this to say about what it symbolizes: “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown.”
It is the beginning of a new year, and I am genuinely excited. I believe that this year is going to be extraordinary for reasons that I can only describe as being revelatory. I also believe that this year is going to be agonizingly difficult, and I want to be prepared for both.
This past year on so many levels could have looked like the “back side of the crown.” Three days after Christmas 2020, my 100-year-old mother died. She was in Seattle; Seattle was crazily locked down due to COVID, and I could not get near my “Mutti.” Her death was and is somewhat surreal, and most days I am fine with the wild animal that is grief, and then there are others…
A few months later I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. I was minding my own business doing hydroponic/aeroponic gardening, got bitten, waited a few hours to scratch it while driving, and the next morning had a streak going up the inside of my thigh. It was the weirdest bite I have ever had, got treated, left a scar, but thankfully none of my flesh was consumed.
Then, in August I got COVID, and while I was definitely sick, I certainly have been sicker. I am grateful that I had it and for the lessons I learned, I am grateful that I recovered, and I will be “uber-grateful” when my sense of taste and smell return to me.
There have been a lot, perhaps 2021 knots and tangles, to be sure. But my faith and experience over the past 50-plus years of being a believer tell me that on the other side of the frame, there is a crown. And so with a full heart, I wish all of you a Happy New Year.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner