This blog was written on an antique train ride across the Ukrainian country side on Month two of the World Race.
I never lived through World War II, I’ve only created images in my head through the books and movies I have seen. And from what I have created in my mind it would look very similar to this, a hot train with bunks and crowds and body heat, winding through the European country side in the heart of summer.
This train is probably from the 1940s or perhaps even earlier, there are years of grime, the lights are falling off and half the windows won’t open. It’s muggy and I can feel the body heat and the breath of those around me. But through the uncomfortable conditions I can sense a hidden beauty to this place.
I bet this train has stories to tell, stories of war and of hope and of love.
I wonder who sat on this bunk the night before me and even generations before that. I wonder who they were thinking about, who they were leaving or who they were coming home to.
I could probably sit for days mesmerized by the stories I have yet to hear, the secrets these walls hold. Maybe someone rode this train, scared yet thankful for life as they fled the Holocaust.
It reminds me of this story I once heard in History class. During the second world war the American soldiers had taken over one of the first Nazi Concentration Camps and were absolutely horrified to find the conditions the people were forced to live in, the death and the disease and degradation. Once discovered, the General immediately sent in for more supplies for the people living in the camp, for food and water and lipstick. Lipstick because they were more than animals to be fed and watered. They were people with stories and dignity and love. Lipstick was completely unnecessary from a survival approach, but absolutely essential for the women to feel human again.
Lipstick, so simple yet so powerful.
I am pretty sure the general said that lipstick was the number one supply that he ordered that day.
This need to feel beautiful is intrinsic to the way that women were created, all you have to do is look at the women around you to see the proof. I know the power of a good shower and a bit of make-up. And I think it is a good need, to feel beautiful and delighted in. I think it is a character of God that is reflected in women.
Obviously a lot of women take this too far by starving themselves, abusing their bodies and finding their worth in the way they look. But I think at it’s root, it is good need, one that God put in us.
You see it in little girls who play dress up, who sing and dance to be admired, to be delighted in. And in old women as they line up to get their hair done at the salon.
It doesn’t matter what culture you go to, what village or city, what color of skin, or what the way of life, women all have a desire to be seen as beautiful.
This past month we stayed with the wonderful Macdonald family who made us feel at home. Bruce is the loving pop and Pia is the caring mother of twelve children, that’s right twelve. During the time we stayed with them five kids ranging in age from 5 to 17 lived with us, played with us and ate with us.
As one can imagine, being a mother to twelve children can be exhausting and one does not get a lot of time to feel beautiful. So our team hatched a plan, we would babysit the kids one night while Pia and Bruce would go on a date night. To sweeten the deal Neysa, Kat, and I would style both Pia and Bruce. So I put long, beautiful curls in Pia’s hair and topped it off with a flower, Neysa did her make-up and Kat picked out her clothes.
The result was stunning, not so much because what we had done, but because of how it made Pia feel. Pia was a glowing bride, flushed with beauty and the knowledge that she was loved. A bride that had been there all along, forgotten in the day to day life.
I feel like the whole world has a lot of brides out there hidden in the day to day life.
Women who have forgotten that they are not only beautiful, but loved. Loved by a God who delights in them and who has falling head over heals in love.
And God gave me this idea, go… find a forgotten woman, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, your daughter, your sister, your friend and doll her up. Send her out on the town, treat her to some cheesecake and let her know that she is beautiful.
I promise that she will bloom under that love, that a unmistakable glow will shine from her cheeks and that she will be reminded that she is a Bride. Someone to be loved, admired and delighted in.
And in that way, she reflects her Creator.
Who are the brides in your life that you can delight in?