“The best is yet to be.”

“… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.”- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

I recently found a great article about Corrie Ten Boom by Elizabeth Sherrill, co-author of  The Hiding Place. One of the running themes was a phrase that Corrie’s father, Casper had said to her on one of her birthdays: “The best is yet to be.” This would become a sort of mantra for her in her life to come, assuring her through the dark times at hand.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Corrie’s life to me is that she was not infallible, and made no attempt to prove otherwise.  In her books, she names many instances of her frailty when learning normal life lessons that we all can relate to. She was not super human. She did, however, possess the ability to learn from her mistakes, and ask for strength when she needed it.  From her first experience with illness and death, to the loss of her only romantic, and unrequited, love, she managed to turn heartbreak into something useful over and over again. When she did not have the tools to do this on her own, she had the faith to know where to turn. While crying of a broken heart at age 21, as any person would do,  Casper comforted her by urging her to use it.  “There are two things we can do when this happens. we can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.” She acknowledges that this was a much larger lesson than her father could possibly have known.

Perhaps her resilience was also due in part to her having to fight for survival from her first breath. Corrie’s mother was chronically ill, and had already lost the third of the five children she had. When Corrie was born, doctors did not expect her to survive. Relatives only hoped for a merciful death for the fifth baby.  She not only pulled through, but surpassed expectations and went on to live an extraordinary life.

When Corrie was released from the concentration camp, she used her love for her late sister Betsie to fulfill their dream of rehabilitation centers for holocaust survivors. This was not limited to prisoners, however, as Betsie saw both sides as victims.  This was not an easy idea to absorb for Corrie, even when she encountered it face to face. After a speaking engagement in Germany, a former guard from Ravensbruck, where she had been imprisoned, approached her, asking her forgiveness.  She explains, “And I stood there- I whose sins had every day to be forgiven- and could not. ” So, she prayed, and asked for strength. “And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion…Forgiveness is an act of will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

Instead of clinging to bitterness, she focused that energy on keeping Betsie’s ambition alive. Corrie was able to heal through helping others to do the same. When former Dutch informants were met with resistance in the work force, she aided in helping them find employment. When she had secured a home to start her first rehabilitation center, she continued to gather volunteers and raise money to open a larger one.  At one point, this took her to New York.  At 54, with $50 to her name, she boarded a steamer to the U.S. to pound the pavement. At first, this proved unsuccessful. Though she was staying at a YMCA, and living on one meal a day (coffee, a doughnut, and orange juice) she knew that she had experienced worse, and would look forward to better. Eventually, she started booking speaking engagements. Three years later, Darmstadt, a former concentration camp, was opened as a rehabilitation facility that lasted 11 years.

Corrie’s combination of determination and humility got her through countless horrors, and more victories. She was a living example of the evolution of love, and of the greatest strengths sometimes being found by facing our weaknesses.  Our losses can become our assets. If we let them.


The Life of Corrie Ten Boom

Ordinary people achieving the extraordinary will always be a popular topic. However, it is increasingly rare to find an example of selflessness quite like that of Corrie Ten Boom and her family, and why it is such an honor to be a part of the process of bringing her story to the stage. The bravery, kindness, and most importantly, forgiveness, exhibited by these people is truly awe-inspiring.  Some of the information I’ve found,  just through routine research has literally left me speechless (an almost impossible feat. Many have tried, and failed).  It’s my pleasure to share some points of interest about Ms. Ten Boom and her amazing family who risked, or lost, their lives  for merely doing what came naturally to them.  Actually, it can best be explained by Corrie herself when describing her father, Casper: “That was Father’s secret: not that he overlooked the differences in people; that he didn’t know they were there.” 

And now, random awesome facts:

– After two years of training, Corrie Ten Boom was the first woman to be licensed as a watchmaker in the Netherlands in 1922.

– Corrie started a club for girls in 1923, which eventually evolved into the well-known Triangle Clubs, with Ms. Ten Boom managing over 40 group leaders.  These clubs taught everything from crafts to exercise, took camping trips, and each year a concert hall was rented for public performances.  The organization was shut down by the Nazis in 1940 to prevent it from aiding the Dutch underground.

 The Four Rules of the Triangle Club were:
1. Seek your strength through prayer
2. Be open and trustworthy
3. Bear your difficulties cheerfully
4. Develop the gifts that God gave you

–  Casper Ten Boom had a career as a watchmaker for over 60 years.

– In 1927, Willem Ten Boom wrote about the dangers of growing anti-Semitism in Germany in his doctoral thesis, but was not taken seriously.

– Corrie was released from the concentration camp by a clerical error. One week later, all women in her age group were executed.

– Six months after her release, Corrie wrote a letter to Jan Vogel, the Dutch informant responsible for her family’s arrest, who was in prison awaiting execution. She wanted him to know that he was forgiven for what he had done.

– At 53 years of age, Corrie Ten Boom wrote her first book about her experience and began a completely new career, travelling the world as a writer, lecturer, and advocate of many causes which spanned over 30 years. The Hiding Place was published in 1971, when Corrie was 79 years old. 

– In 1978, she had the first of several debilitating strokes which would eventually end her career…but not before publishing 4 more books that year.

– Corrie Ten Boom died on April 15, 1983: Her 91st birthday.

– The Ten Boom home, or the Beje, is now a museum. Visit www.corrietenboom.com for pictures.

It is impossible to know how many people have been touched by this story. Joni Eareckson Tada, renowned author and advocate for the disabled, credits a friend giving her The Hiding Place four years after a diving accident left her paralyzed, as a constant source of strength.  She eventually wrote the foreword to an anniversary edition of the book, in which she says, “It is for every person whose soul is threadbare and frazzled, and for every individual who must walk into the jaws of his or her own suffering. And if you have gotten this far, it is for you. Go a little further and you will discover what I did so long ago…”

Thank you for reading, and we hope you continue to come further with us.

Get To Know: Kellee – Provision Volunteer

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes about as many to put on a play. In our Get To Know: posts, you’ll have a chance to hear the stories of some of the people who work behind the scenes at Provision Theater.

This week, get to know Kellee, one of our a Provision volunteers.

I never thought much of volunteering. Volunteering = stealing my free time. Wait…what’s free time? Laundry? I think I had some free time one summer…the time I broke my collar bone. Too much free time = new high scores on Galaga.

I have a confession… Provision Theater has changed my take on volunteering. See, in my previous life, before children, I was an active theater participator.. Loved creating. Loved performing. I loved participating so much, it didn’t matter if I were paid or not.  Looking back, did I ever even make enough to cover the price of gas? I did it for the sheer joy.

I discovered that 3 kids later, something hasn’t changed about me. I am still in love with the theater. I am passionate about a story told with excellence.

When I heard that Provision was looking for volunteers, I felt grateful. I have been attracted to Provision Theater for 7 years. I’ve kept my eye on them and believed that we were the perfect match. I just wasn’t sure how to connect. Volunteering kicked that door down for me and gave me a chance to do something I love while supporting something I love.

I’m excited to be a part of The Hiding Place production and recommend you stay tuned – big things are coming (did someone say flash mob…?)