The story behind the name.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known the faithfulness to all generations.  Psalms 89:1

I really struggled with a name for this blog for a few months, it was an idea in my head for about a year to start a blog based on where I was in my walk with the Lord.   It seemed that while thinking about how to sum up my thoughts as of late there was a recurring theme going on in my life. My Mother, who has dementia and is in a nursing home had gotten more confused and for the first time in my 43 years no longer knew who I was.

It was a day I will never forget, and it was not dramatic at all. Just silence and sadness…and no recognition in her beautiful face of me, her only daughter. The daughter she prayed to have for almost twenty years. Time and age are visceral proof that we live in a fallen state. How can anyone who claims there is no God not see the fall’s effect on humanity through mental illness disease, and aging…  I think that God suffers this along with us, in fact there have been many times in life when I thought I could not take any more, He somehow reached in and softened the blow.  I know He is in control, I read it in His word and I have also experienced sweet Peace in the midst of a tornado of emotions or calamity. I know His steady hand, and I trust it. There have been many doors closed to me as of late, but God, in his great mercy has seen fit to open many many more. I read this story a few years ago, and when searching for the title of this blog I stumbled upon it late one night. I stayed up reading it again and realized the hope and joy expressed in this story contained the title I was looking for, and they say so much more about my experiences right now than words that I write ever could. My Pastor had recently told us of the faith of the Hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby and I found it no mere coincidence she is also included. Dear reader, please be encouraged and never ever lose hope in Christ!

Teresa 🙂

Music from Broken Chords.

Excerpts from an essay written by Corrie Ten Boom not long after being released from Ravensbrook Concentration Camp in Germany, WWII. Corrie, her Father and Sister Betsie hid Jews during the Dutch invasion by Adolph Hitler. They were betrayed and ended up in Ravensbruck Concentration camp where Betsie died from starvation. Corrie was released by a clerical error and traveled the world sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During the war she lost her home, her Father, Sister, Brother and her Nephew to Prison and the Camps. Her family saved the lives of many Jews and along with Betsie’s help and a smuggled Bible, spread the Gospel inside Ravensbruck. Betsie had a vision that after the War Corrie would return to Germany and along with God’s help turn the old camps into places of Refuge. This is one of Corrie’s essays from her book “Tramp for the Lord”.

The Germans had lost face in defeat. Their homes had been destroyed and when they heard the enormity of Hitler’s crimes (which many Germans knew nothing about) they were filled with despair. As they returned to their Fatherland they felt they had nothing to live for.

Friends in Darmstadt helped me to rent a former concentration camp to use as a home for displaced persons. It was not big, but there was room for about one hundred sixty refugees and soon it was full with a long waiting list. I worked closely with the refugee program of the Lutheran Church in the Darmstadt camp. Barbed wire disappeared. Flowers, light-colored paint and God’s love in the hearts of the people changed a cruel camp into a refuge where people would find the way back to life again.

The Lutherans assisted with the children’s and women’s work. Pastor’s and members of different churches helped build homes. I was traveling and helping raise money for the work. The camp was crowded. Some rooms where jammed with several families. Noise and bedlam were everywhere as families, many without men because they had been killed in the war, tried to carry on the most basic forms of living. Often I would walk through the camp talking with the lonely, defeated people, trying to bring them hope and cheer.

One afternoon I spotted and elderly woman huddled in the corner of a big room. She was obviously new to the camp. She had been put in the big room along with three other families and told she could set up housekeeping in the corner. There she crouched, like a whipped child, her faded, worn dress pulled tightly around her frail, wasted body. I could sense she was distressed by the bedlam of all the crying children, but most of all defeated by life itself. I went to her, sat beside her on the floor, and asked who she was. I learned she had been a professor of music at the Dresden Conservatory before the war. Now she had nothing.

I asked her to tell me about her life, knowing that sometime it helps just to have someone willing to listen. She told me that a minister in a nearby town had given her permission to play his piano. She had also learned of several farmers’ children nearby who wanted to receive music lessons. But the minister’s home was miles away and the only way to get there was on foot. It all seemed so hopeless. “You were a professor of piano? ” I asked excitedly. “I am a great lover of Germany’s master musician, Johann Sebastian Bach.” For an instant her eyes lighted up. “Would you care to accompany me to the minister’s home”” She asked with great dignity. “I would be most happy to play for you.”

It was a great privilege, and even though we had to walk many miles, I sensed God was doing something special. She seated herself at the battered piano. I looked at the instrument. Even though it had been saved from the bombing it had not been protected from the rain. The strings were exposed through the warped frame and I could see they were rusted. Some were broken and curled around the others. The pedals had been broken off and the keyboard was almost entirely without ivory. If any of the notes played it would be a miracle. Looking up, the old woman said “What would you like me to play?”. Silently, I prayed, knowing that failure at this moment could crush her forever. Then, to my own amazement, I heard myself saying. “Would you please play the “Chromatic Phantasy” Of Bach?”

I was aghast. Why had I picked one of the most difficult of all piano pieces for this old woman to play on such a ruined instrument? Yet the moment I said it, I saw a light flicker behind her eyes and a slight, knowing smile played across her tired face. She nodded, and with great finesse, put her fingers on the broken keyboard. I could hardly believe my ears. From that damp, battered old piano flowed the beautiful music of Bach as her skilled fingers raced up and down the broken, chipped keys. Tears came to my eyes and ran down my cheeks as I though of wounded Germany, left with only the remnants of the past, still able to play beautiful music. Such a nation will survive to create again, I thought.   As the notes of Bach faded from the air the words of an old Gospel song, written by the blind composer Fanny J. Crosby, came to mind:

Down in the human heart, crush’d by the tempter,

Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;

Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness

Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

As we walked back to the former concentration camp my companion had a new spring in her step. “It has been many years since I played the “Chromatic Phantasy” she said. “Once I was a concert pianist and many of my pupils are now outstanding musicians. I had a beautiful house in Dresden that was destroyed by the bombs. I had to flee and was not able to take one thing with me.”   “Oh no, you are wrong,” I said. “You took with you your most prized possession.”  And what is that?” She asked, shocked.  “Your music, For that which is in your heart can never be taken from you.” Then I told her of what I had learned in Ravensbruck, of Betsie’s vision, and that God’s love still stands when all else has fallen. “In the midst of the Concentration camp they took all we had, even made us stand naked for hours at a time without rest, but they could not take Jesus from my heart.  Ask Jesus to come into your life, he will give you riches no man can take away from you!”

We returned to the camp in silence, but I knew the Holy Spirit was pricking her heart, reminding her of the things that man cannot snatch from us. Soon it was time for me to leave the camp and move on to other fields. The day I left she was sitting in that same corner of the room. A boy was playing his mouth organ, a baby was crying, there were sounds of shouts and of a hammer pounding against a wooden crate. The room was full of discord and dis-harmonic noises, but her eyes were closed and there was a faint smile on her face. I knew God had given her something no one could ever take away from her, ever again.

21 thoughts on “The story behind the name.

  1. Teresa, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.

    I was deeply touched by these words: “Down in the human heart, crush’d by the tempter, Feelings lie buried that grace can restore; Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.”

    It is the story of every bruised reed and smoldering wick that God, in His benevolence, has protected and cared for.

    May God bless you and may He this blog be a place where God Almighty receives glory.

    I love you!

  2. Thank you so much for reading this Christina. This little story meant so much to me. I know my Mom seems a lot like that Piano now to some people. But you and I both know that her life in eternity will be so much different! I know my Mother is one of God’s flock, and he will care for her here and renew her old frail body and mind to a much better state than I can even imagine! I want to suggest you read a little about Fanny J. Crosby who wrote those beautiful words you referred to above. All these precious saints, long ago had no idea how God could still be using the things they suffered and wrote about to minister to us today. It’s amazing to me! I love you and appreciate all that you do, God bless and I look forward to much fellowship in the future!

    • Thank you so much for visiting Theresa, I am blessed that you feel the same way I did about that story, I have a lot of work to do on this little blog, but I think that one story will always be my favorite post. I hope you visit again sometime, God bless you Sister!

  3. Hi Teresa,

    I finally made it to your weblog. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve not only linked your blog to Justification by Grace but I’ve also linked it to Puritan Family Devotions.

    I’m so glad I have finally had the opportunity to visit your blog because I wouldn’t have known that you attend Elizabeth Baptist Church. I have been very blessed and encouraged by many of the messages of Jeff Arthur, especially when we were ministering in Scammon Bay, Alaska. SermonAudio provided a great many comforting and encouraging messages, and Bro. Jeff’s messages to Elizabeth Baptist was a means of God’s grace to me while ministering there… and as it looked like we had to leave as the symptoms of my ailment grew worse.

    May the Lord continue to bless you in your service to Christ and your witness for Him.

    ever in Christ by His grace,

    • Jon thank you so much for stopping by, and for adding this funky little blog to your blog roll. I am just getting started so I really appreciate it. I am so blessed to hear that Pastor Arthur’s sermons encouraged you, I prayed for quite a while to find a good church, and God blessed me and my family so much by having us hear Jeff on Sermon audio. We started going there on Palm Sunday and we are all getting baptised tomorrow and becoming members. I shared what you wrote with him and he was very humbled. I am going to send him the links to your blogs this week. May the Lord bless you greatly this year, thank you for all the hard work you do on behalf of our Lord. God bless you!

  4. Hi Tereasa!
    I don’t know how I ever missed your blog! I’ve heard your name here and there but somehow missed your blog – Well, now I’ve found you thanks to God’s good Providence. For some reason my blog list disappeared and in the process of trying to reclaim all the links I had lost I found yours @ Christina’s.

    This story brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely title you have chosen for your blog and what a story behind it – I read this book many years ago.
    My mom too has dementia and gets worse every day. She is also in a home and remembers very little now. I have wondered what it will be like when she no longer remembers me. I also am her only daughter and care giver. It is a different kind of suffering for both our moms and for us isn’t it? Lots of emotions swirling around inside me. Just today, I was meditating on God’s promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee”. I asked my husband how one could possibly hurt so much without having any physical pain or discomfort of living situation.

    Thank you for posting this dear sister. I pray God will give you much strength for the journey.

    And I am so happy that Blogger lost my blog list!

    God bless you!

    Diane from Theology for Girls.
    ps. And thank you for linking to my blog!!

  5. Diane

    I am so grateful for God’s providence! I read your testimony here this morning. It moved me to tears thinking about your loss and difficulties but I rejoice that our Lord found you in the midst of all of that. It’s pretty amazing the stories of redemption I keep coming across this week. I have battled myself for about five years on and off about writing my own testimony down, and recently I have really been thinking about it. It’s the greatest day of my life but it’s intertwined with one of the worst situations, and in my telling it I will have to deal with something that could possibly hurt or upset a few people in my family so I keep putting it off. When I read your testimony this morning I was amazing to log into my blog and there you were again! I love how this works! 🙂 God is so amazing…!!! I have to agree it’s a different kind of pain dementia and the swirling emotions you mentioned are the hardest part for me personally. That and just watching it happen to my Mom. My Dad died from the same issues and Pneumonia 8 years ago in April. He was the parent that I had the best relationship with and I got saved about a year after he passed away. The situation with my Mom is so hard for me to deal with, much harder than his in a way. We never had a good relationship growing up, I fought tooth and nail over the years trying so hard to love her or get her to love me, and just before she got really bad we finally had some semblance of a relationship and now suddenly almost, it’s over. That is the hard part for me, trying to do the right thing and at the same time not live in guilt over what should or could have been situations, or not sugar coat things in my head either. Anyway I am so blessed just that you commented or posted. You and your Mom will be in my prayers dear Sister! I know God is in control of both of these situations, no matter what I trust Him with it all! Love to you….and thank you.

    • Hi Teresa, Since you invited me to not be a stranger here, I thought that I would follow up on what you wrote almost three years ago. How have you gotten along with writing your testimony down and dealing with those situations that have impacted your life (that God has allowed and brought you through) but that such revelations could be hurtful or upsetting to others. Last year a speaker came to our church to talk about healing. One of her statements….”no secrets”….kept cycling through my mind like a broken record, because I had been keeping from my daughter a secret so shameful I didn’t know if I could face her. Through prayer and counsel God gave me the words to say and just the right setting to say them. What a relief! What freedom! Not only have my daughter and I drawn closer, but God has opened the door and empowered me to minister to other women who have had similar experiences. God is so Good! Thank you for keeping this blog open. God does work in mysterious ways!

      • Hi Annakay,
        I am healed of all those hurts and pains, but I know there are other family members who are not, I don’t think posting those things here would help those people but it’s all something I think about a lot. I don’t have a problem sharing those things with other women in group setting or in person, but somehow putting them on the world wide web doesn’t seem quite right yet. Maybe someday!
        God bless you, and thanks for your comments

      • Also my Mother passed away in April, so I am processing all of that and it’s part of the reason I don’t blog much. Too much to day and no words as of yet

  6. Amazing indeed! I feel as though I’m looking in the mirror with what you’ve shared. Please feel free to keep in touch through email.
    Mine is dianebucknell AT – It’s a difficult road for sure. I’ll pray for you both as well.

  7. In January of 1972, I packed my little VW bug with most of my earthly belongings (at age 29 I didn’t have a lot) and left my home in California heading east, to where I wasn’t sure, but I knew my life in California was over. I needed a new beginning. I was a lost, sad and lonely woman searching for love and for the me that I was sure had to be somewhere. In Dodge City, Kansas, I stopped for the night, and in that motel room, on that bleak, wintry day, I found a blessing of hope that changed my life. It was written on a piece of scrap paper and tucked into the drawer of the bedside table. “Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore. Touched by a human heart, wakened by kindness, chords that were broken will vibrate once more.” I can’t say that transformation occurred immediately or fast, but like layers of an onion, God has peeled away the hurts and brokenness that had strangled my wounded heart. I am so grateful for His tender mercies that are new every morning. He has blessed me to be a blessing to others. Thank you for your lovely blog!

    • I know God works in mysterious ways, but sometimes He takes my breath away. Today was the day I was going to delete this blog. It’s been a long, tough year. The worst I have even been through and God has been gracious, merciful and His promises ring true still, but I got into an unfamiliar place where I had nothing much to say. Your comment means so much to me! It’s not unlike your story where our Lord found me, and it gives me a little hope that in pressing on I might find my voice here again. God bless you, and please don’t be a stranger here.


  8. I am so sorry for your loss, Teresa. I am sending you a hug, some pretty flowers, and prayers for God’s tender love to comfort and protect you.
    In Him,

  9. I loved this article about the Broken Chords. My dad is in the early stages of dementia. He knows us but his reasoning skills are leaving him. He was a pastor for 40 years. He now walks through his house praying everyday. I have a wonderful heritage. Thank you for your blog.

    • Thank you so much for commenting Kat. I’m so sorry about your Dad. I’ll be praying for you both and please reach out to me if you need encouragement. This is so tough, we have to lean on each other when times are hard.

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