Rembrandt in Leiden

As Chris and I were wandering around Leiden, we discovered that Rembrandt van Rijn had been born here in 1606.  We found the alley where he was born and where he lived with his wealthy family until 1631.  We also found the Latin School that he attended as a boy.

They have a nice statue of him as a young boy in the courtyard.

This part of the city was very pretty.

Rembrandt’s grandmother once owned one of the windmills on the hill.

Then we discovered that Rembrandt attended the University of Leiden at the age of 14.  One can only imagine the greats that have come through these doors, including William Brewster and the pilgrim’s pastor, John Robinson.





Corrie’s Quotes

I have been sharing stories from Corrie ten Boom, and today I want to share some final quotes from Corrie.  What an amazing woman; humble and unpretentious; always admitting her faults, loving others, even enemies; and trusting God in the darkest of situations.  I’m truly thankful for her life and witness.

Have you read my book A Prisoner and Yet...”  In it you can see that Jesus’ light is stronger than the deepest darkness.  Only those who have had the experience of being in a concentration camp can know how deep that darkness really is.  No matter how deep down into darkness one goes, deeper still are the everlasting arms.  — Corrie ten Boom, Not Good if Detached, pg. 119

God gave me a concentration camp.  It was in Darmstadt, where shortly after the War I found several of my former guards.  They were then prisoners; I was free.  They had been very cruel.  How their experiences during the War had demoralized them.  Young women still, now imprisoned behind barbed wire; but more imprisoned by demoniacal powers.  I could speak to them of Jesus’ victory, His love for sinners and His finished work on the Cross when He carried the sins of the whole world, theirs included.

When I returned to the camp it was empty.  The women had been freed or sent to other prisons  The same week I rented the whole camp, and now it is a place where refugees can stay while they build houses in the neighborhood…What a change bright-green paint and flowers, many flowers, can make to a place!  … Human love has failed in this world, but the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Romans 5:5).  It is this love that overcomes, and is able to change even a colorless prison camp into a garden of flowers. –Ibid, pg. 25-26

A widow of the suburb of Blemendaal provided an estate to Corrie, to be used as a place of healing for victims of the holocaust.  Not surprisingly, it looked exactly as Betsie had envisioned it, right down to the inlaid wood floors and statues.

Round the final bend, we saw it, a fifty-six room mansion in the center of a vast lawn.  Two elderly gardeners were poking about the flowerbeds…[there were] inlaid wood floors inside, and a grand gallery around a central hall, and–and bas-relief statues, set along the walls…

“We’ve let the gardens go,” Mrs. Bierens de Haan said.  “But I thought we might put them back in shape.  Don’t you think released prisoners might find therapy in growing things?”  — Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 245

This is exactly what Betsie had seen.

In June the first of many hundreds of people arrived at the beautiful home in Bloemendaal.  Silent or endlessly relating their losses, withdrawn or fiercely aggressive, every one was a damaged human being.  Not all had been in concentration camps; some had spent two, three, even four years hidden in attic rooms and back closets here in Holland…The home in Bloemendaal served ex-prisoners and other war victims exclusively until 1950, when it also began to receive people in need of care from the population at large.  It is still in operation today, in its own new building with patients from many parts of Europe.  Since 1967 it has been governed by the Dutch Reformed Church.  — Ibid, pg. 245

Corrie shared one story that was particularly meaningful to me:

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck.  He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time.  And suddenly it was all there–the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing.  “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said.  “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine.  And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them.  Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?  Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand.  I could not.  I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.  And so again I breathed a silent prayer.  Jesus, I cannot forgive him.  Give Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened.  From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.  — Ibid, pg. 247-248

Finally, Corrie used an embroidered crown to express an important truth, and that piece of embroidery is in the family home for all to see today.  This story is told by Corrie’s traveling companion and biographer, Elizabeth Sherrill:

I remember the time thirteen-year-old Liz and I were helping Corrie unpack.  From the bottom of the suitcase, Liz lifted a folded cloth with some very amateur-looking needlework on it–uneven stitches, mismatched colors, loose threads, snarls.

“What are you making?” Liz asked, bewildered.

“Oh, that’s not mine, Corrie said.  “That’s the work of the greatest weaver of all.”

Liz looked dubiously at the tangled mess.

“But Liz,” Corrie told her, “you’re looking at the wrong side!”  She took the sorry thing from Liz’s hand.  “This is what our lives look like, from our limited viewpoint.”

Then, with a flourish, Corrie shook open the cloth and turned it around to display a magnificent crown embroidered in red, purple, and gold.  “But when we turn over the threads of our lives to God, this is what He sees!”  — Ibid, pg. 250-251

Corrie passed away on her ninety-first birthday–April 15, 1983.  It is a traditional Jewish belief that maintains that only specially blessed people are granted the privilege of dying on their birthday.  That would be Corrie!

Make sure you check out this website, to see more photos and stories about Corrie; you can also go on a virtual tour of the house that is outstanding and well worth the time it takes.  Blessings as you hear about this amazing believer!

Dutch Bibles

Another museum that Sarah and I explored in Amsterdam was the Bible Museum.  They have a very interesting collection, as you can see below.

Large, old Bibles:

Several unique dioramas:

Other interesting artifacts and collectibles:

Very interesting!


Rembrandt House Museum

Another museum we really enjoyed seeing in Amsterdam was the home of Rembrandt van Rijn from 1639-1658.  It’s pretty remarkable to see, as restored in 1911.  This is what the museum website says about the restoration:

In order to tackle the restoration plans as meticulously as possible, a restoration team was put together. It was headed by the building historian Henk Zantkuijl, an expert in seventeenth-century houses. The plan was based on historical knowledge built up over many years. There was also a thorough study of available sources. The inventories of the house were very important—the inventory of 1626 belonging to the first occupant of the house and, in particular, the inventory that was compiled in 1656 because of Rembrandt’s bankruptcy. This latter source enabled the experts to work out how the house was laid out during this period and how Rembrandt had used the different rooms. Some of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings provided additional information.

Here are some photos from this wonderful old building:

These represent some of the items Rembrandt would use for models as he painted:

This is the room where his artwork was on display for purchase.

Best of all, they had a lot of his paintings and sketches on display.

This is called “The Triumph of Mordecai.”

This one is a beautiful nativity scene.

This is the front door of the house, along with a view along the canal; this was a great museum to explore!



Dutch Costumes

One of the places we enjoyed the most in Amsterdam was the costume museum.  These are amazing and colorful outfits, all made by hand, of course.

It wasn’t long until Sarah started clowning around:

Oh, we had fun alright; lots of giggles.



Dutch Shoes

My last post spoke about Dutch tourism in some of the fishing villages we visited.  Yes, we see tourism all the time in our travels (and tourism is good for the economy), but we do try, also, to discover the “real” culture of the countries we visit.  This particular area was clearly a tourist spot, as multiple signs directed us right down the street to the nearest wooden shoe factory.  They are pumping them out here at a rate you wouldn’t believe, and I didn’t find them particularly comfortable, though I was hoping to find some that would work.  You will note a “shark wooden shoe” below, which we thought was funny.

This shop was also a lovely museum.  Of course, wooden shoes are one of the most distinct items of interest to purchase or see in Holland.  They are completely authentic and historical to the culture, and are beautiful.  We saw them on walls as decoration, in every tourist shop, on the feet of fishermen and shopkeepers, in windmills, and being used as planters.  They’re wonderful!  Who doesn’t love a pair of clogs that do fit well?  Unfortunately, I didn’t find them in Holland, although I must admit I didn’t really take the time to look for them, nor did I have room in my backpack to bring them home.  Maybe some day I’ll have time to select some authentic dutch shoes.


Dutch Tourism

We loved our trip to some fishing villages in The Netherlands, but we did notice upon arrival in Marken that it was not as “authentic,” perhaps as Volendam had been.  Marken seemed more of a tourist area, at least initially (which is all we really had time to see).  Still, it was beautiful and fun to visit.

These stools were funny!

Amid all the touristy items that were for sale, though, I was thrilled to find this little fabric store!

OK, the fabric was very unique to the Dutch culture, although a bit touristy, too, perhaps, but I did love seeing examples of how this fabric is used for local clothing.

And yes, I bought a little of it!