Sunday, June 14, 2015

A devotional from Johnnie Alexander and an excerpt from "Where Treasure Hides"

We're happy to have Johnnie Alexander with us today sharing a devotional and an excerpt from her book, Where Treasure Hides.

Monuments. Memorials. Museums.

I spent two weeks in May visiting New York City and Washington DC, two cities steeped in history and culture. 

We visited several landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building. Our first evening in the nation’s capital, we walked from our hotel to the Washington Monument and then made the circuit of the surrounding memorials—those erected to honor great men and to remember those who died sacrificed their life in times of war.

On a hot afternoon in New York, I stood at Ground Zero, my fingers tracing the engraved names of strangers who had died on September 11th. A little over a week later, I was at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. Venus shone bright in the night sky, a distant white circle, while soft yellow lights shimmered in the shallow pool beneath each of the Memorial’s cantilevered benches.

A display at the Holocaust Museum honors those who are known to have risked their lives to protect others from Hitler’s cruel regime. The names of these courageous individuals are grouped by nationality. Sometimes a picture puts a face to the name.

So much history. So many names.

I ponder this question:

Why we are so compelled to build monuments to the past.

The drive to never forget not just significant events but also significant individuals goes beyond a desire to show honor. It’s not just desire, but a deep and intense need to engrave our history into marble and stone for those who come after us.

Perhaps the earliest fulfillment of this need occurred when the earth’s inhabitants attempted to build the Tower of Babel. God didn’t appreciate their efforts and confused their language.

But in later times, He encouraged the building of memorials such as in this passage from Exodus:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:14-16; ESV).

Hundreds of years earlier, the patriarch Jacob, of his own volition, erected a memorial at the place where he had dreamed of a ladder reaching to heaven:

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel” (Genesis 28:18-19a; ESV).

Pondering all this leads to other questions:

What are the memorials of my life? Who or what do they honor?

What do I pray my children and grandchildren never forget?

What will be my legacy?

My words and actions build a monument that’s added to daily. My hope and desire is that it honors God.

An excerpt from where treasure hides...
Where Treasure Hides

Johnnie Alexander
Chapter One

August 1939

The stringed notes of “Rule, Britannia!” grew louder as the crowd quieted, eyes and ears straining in their search for the violin soloist. The patriotic anthem echoed through Waterloo Station’s concourse, and as the second chorus began, sporadic voices sang the lyrics. Travel- weary Brits stood a little straighter, chins lifted, as the violinist completed the impromptu performance, the last note sounding long after the strings were silenced.

Alison Schuyler gripped her leather bag and threaded her way through the crowd toward the source of the music. As the final note faded inside the hushed terminal, she squeezed between a sailor and his girl, murmuring an apology at forc­ing them to part, and stepped onto a bench to see over the crowd. A dark-haired boy, no more than seven or eight, held the violin close to his anemic frame. His jacket, made of a finely woven cloth, hung loosely on his thin shoulders. The matching trousers would have slipped down his hips if not for his hand-tooled leather belt.

Either the boy had lost weight or his parents had purposely provided him clothes to grow into. Alison hoped for the latter, though from the rumors she’d heard, her first assumption was all too likely. She stared at the cardboard square, secured by a thick length of twine, that the boy wore as a cheap necklace. The penciled writing on the square numbered the boy as 127.

Other children crowded near the young musician, each one dressed in their fine traveling clothes, each one labeled with cardboard and twine. Germany’s castaways, transported to England for their own safety while their desperate parents paced the floors at home and vainly wished for an end to these troublesome days.

“Now will you allow him to keep his violin?” A man’s voice, pleasant but firm, broke the spell cast over the station. The children fidgeted and a low murmur rumbled through the crowd. The speaker, dressed in the khaki uniform of a British Army officer, ignored them, his gaze intent on the railroad official overseeing the children.

“He better,” said a woman standing near Alison. “Never heard anything so lovely. And the lad not even one of the king’s subjects. I’d take him home myself—yes, I would—if I’d a bed to spare.”

Alison mentally sketched the tableau before her, pinning the details into her memory. The officer’s hand resting on the boy’s shoulder; the official, a whistle around his neck, restlessly tapping his clipboard with his pencil; the dread and hope in the boy’s eyes as he clutched his prized instrument. The jagged square that tagged his identity.

Purchase Links:  
Where Treasure Hides is currently available as an ebook. The print edition releases August 2015.



  1. Hi, Dawn. Thanks so much for having me as your guest today. I enjoyed digging up Scriptural memorials--and the NYC/Washington DC trip was amaaazing!

  2. Loved reading your opening to WHERE TREASURE HIDES, Johnnie. The Kindertransports must have been so heart-wrenching, and you've brought them to life.

    And the topic fits so well with your meditations on memorials-there could never be enough to honor all the sacrifices of that era, imho.
    Back to writing my own WWII stories…thanks for sharing here.

  3. "My words and actions build a monument that’s added to daily. My hope and desire is that it honors God." Beautiful, Johnnie.