I was born in 1955 into a family of blue-collar workers. At the time, Germany was in reconstruction mode after the devastation of WW2. “Work hard and grit your teeth” seemed to be my family’s motto. Life was tough, supplies sparse, and my parents both worked, leaving my sister and me to ourselves most afternoons after school. There wasn’t much talk of faith or prayer, or even time for addressing our emotional needs.
“What’s that?” my friend asked, pointing to a small brown stone on my coffee table. I had to smile, thinking how odd that plain little rock must look to her. Usually, people’s coffee tables showcase something valuable, or at least, beautiful. Instead, I had a plain old garden-variety rock.
The first time I ever held a Bible was as a little girl sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I opened the first pages and read until the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder in history. Oh, this is scary! thought my little grade school mind. Then as a teenager, I picked up the Bible again and decided to start from the end this time! So I began reading the book of Revelation. This is some really weird stuff! I thought, and once again, I closed the book, no more enlightened than I had been.
Recently I’ve been trying to read my Bible more. I’ve read through it cover to cover before, but something inspired me to read it again as part of a daily reading plan.
It was my Swiss Army knife.
When I was very new in the faith life, I spent some time in Nova Friburgo, in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, along with two other missionaries. It’s a beautiful city with German and Swiss architecture, nestled between some of the highest mountains in the state.
A few years ago, it came to me that I had a superficial relationship with the Bible. I was a bit taken aback, since I had spent my entire life as a follower of the Bible. I knew many verses, stories, and interpretations like the back of my hand, but I realized there was a whole lot of stuff I had no idea about.
It was a typical morning in our home. We were all rushing to get ready for the day—kids getting ready for school, breakfast to be made, spaces to be tidied, and me trying to get dinner in the crock pot, makeup on, and so on. My youngest was trying to get herself a glass of milk and not quite mastering it, so I asked her older sister to help her. For some reason helping did not come easy for her that morning. She rolled her eyes, grabbed the cup, hastily poured the milk, and harshly put it down. This set off a grouchy reaction from the younger sister, which progressed into an argument between the two of them. Not cool.
Ted and Dorothy were a young couple who bought Wall Drug, a drugstore in a small town in the western United States, in 1931. In those days, a drugstore was like a convenience store and sold a wide range of beverages and products, so there was a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the town had only 326 people, all of them poor. Business was bad, and they barely made enough to keep afloat. But they believed that they had a calling: they were making friendships, providing medical care, and feeling that they were becoming a part of community life.