One year when our family was traveling through Ohio on the way to Grandma’s house, we arrived in Columbus just as a tornado warning was issued. Suddenly everything changed as we feared that our children might be in danger.
In 1859, during the turbulent years prior to America’s Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had the opportunity to speak to the Agricultural Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As he spoke, he shared with them the story of an ancient monarch’s search for a sentence that was “true and appropriate in all times and situations.” His wise men, faced with this heady challenge, gave him the sentence, “And this, too, shall pass away.”
The Bavarian city of Nördlingen is unique. It sits in the middle of the Ries Crater, a large circular depression caused by the impact of a huge meteorite a long time ago. The immense pressure of the impact resulted in unusual crystallized rock and millions of microscopic diamonds. In the 13th century, these speckled stones were used to build St. George’s Church. Visitors can see the beautiful crystal deposits in its foundation and walls. Some might say it has a heavenly foundation.
The United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky, is a fortified building that stores 5,000 tons of gold bullion and other precious items entrusted to the federal government. Fort Knox is protected by a 22-ton door and layers of physical security: alarms, video cameras, minefields, barbed razor wire, electric fences, armed guards, and unmarked Apache helicopters. Based on the level of security, Fort Knox is considered one of the safest places on earth.
On a recent trip to England, my wife and I visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is more than 400 years old, and it was the childhood and family home of William Shakespeare’s wife.
Fanny Crosby lost her sight as an infant. Yet, amazingly, she went on to become one of the most well-known lyricists of Christian hymns. During her long life, she wrote over 9,000 hymns. Among them are such enduring favorites as “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.”
Years ago, I asked fifth-grade students to prepare a list of questions to ask Jesus if He were to show up in person the following week. I also asked groups of adults to do the same thing. The results were startlingly different. The kids’ questions ranged from adorable to poignant: “Will we have to sit around in robes and sing all day in heaven? Will my puppy be in heaven? Were the whales in or out of the ark? How’s my grandpa doing up there with You?” Almost without fail, their questions were free from doubt that heaven existed or that God acts supernaturally.
The book To Marry an English Lord chronicles the 19th-century phenomenon of rich American heiresses who sought marriages to British aristocracy. Although they were already wealthy, they wanted the social status of royalty. The book begins with Prince Albert, son of Queen Victoria, going to the United States to pay a social call. A mass of wealthy heiresses flood into a ball arranged for Prince Albert, each hoping to become his royal bride.
My dad was full of stories about his hometown. So you can imagine how excited I was as a child when he took our family there every summer. We fished the St. Joseph River together and visited his boyhood farm where all of his stories came to life. Although that place was never really my home, whenever I visit that town—now with grown children and grandchildren of my own—it fills me with a nostalgic sense of belonging.