Monday, February 4, 2008

Franciska - Chapter One

I’d like to introduce you to a real woman - real, not only in the sense that she actually existed, but real in the sense that she truly lived out God's design for her as a woman.

Her name was Franciska. I became acquainted with Franciska after my father went to be with the Lord in May of 2003. It was then that I acquired and began reading some of the family history books. Franciska, I discovered, was my great-grandmother – my dad’s father’s mother. This is chapter one of Franciska’s story.

Franciska Agnes Maria Hoenow was born into a wealthy Catholic family on January 6th, 1862 in Berlin, Germany. At the tender age of 5, her mother passed away, overshadowing her young life with a dark cloud. Franciska was the only child at the time.

Soon after his wife's death, Franciska's father remarried. It was customary in Germany at this time for a widower to marry the sister of his dead wife. So, true to custom, Franciska's father married his wife’s next youngest sister. Sometime later she became pregnant. She had a healthy baby, but she, herself, died in childbirth. Franciska’s father then married the next sister, who was already pregnant with his child. She gave birth shortly after they married. This time the baby died, but the mother lived.

Franciska was not treated well by either one of her "aunt-mothers". They resented her and treated her accordingly. She felt rejected and unloved. Her second aunt-stepmother did not try to hide the fact that she favored her own children over Franciska. Though she was the oldest child, a position deserving of respect from her siblings, Franciska was made to walk behind the youngers. Add to this her father’s immorality and the family deaths, including her own mother’s, and we begin to sense the strain of grief that was laid upon this girl at such a young age. In light of Franciska's sufferings, I am ashamed at how little it takes for me to offer objections when my life is slightly uncomfortable.

One positive aspect of her young life was that she received an excellent education and in her adolescence was apprenticed to a milliner (hat designer and seller). She learned this trade well and enjoyed it immensely. Franciska also began to keep a diary of sorts. She called it "Poesie" (pronounced poe-EE-zee) which is the German word for poetry. She began making entries in this little book from the time she was 12 and continued until she was 19. "Poesie" was a type of autograph/photo book which must have been a good distraction for Franciska during this period of her life.

But as a teenager, with all of the difficulties she had faced in her early years, Franciska desperately needed some good news. That’s when God graciously intervened by sending someone her way to share the wonderful message of the gospel. She was convicted of her sin, received Christ as her Savior and experienced God's mercy and forgiveness.

Happy day for Franciska! She was a good woman at that point. Now that God had imparted His goodness to her through the new birth, she was ready to learn how to walk in the good works He had prepared for her from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 2:10 would be the expression of the remainder of her life. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

This began with her attendance at a local church. Franciska was soon baptized by her pastor and added to the fellowship of the Konig Strasse Baptist Church in Berlin.

Stayed tuned for chapter 2. Here's a preview: "Because she was a serious disciple of Christ, Franciska's grandparents, with whom she had enjoyed a close relationship, now disinherited her, giving her portion of their wealth to the Catholic church."
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Join the discussionFranciska - Chapter One

  1. enjoying this and can't wait to read chapter 2! I haven't checkout out all the posts yet, but am very glad to find everything in one place...easy for me who loses everything these days. (There was a time that I would have considered myself organized). Blessings to you today!

  2. Sharon, I really enjoyed this and am looking foward to the next chapter. Thankyou!