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9/11/2001 – The Day I Learned To See The Light

I can’t believe it is 15 years ago when our lives changed in so many ways.  I took so many things for granted.  My safety on an airplane was one of those things.  It was a day that left an imprint on so many, much like when President Kennedy was assassinated.  Although I was a preschooler when President Kennedy was killed, I was a mother of two teenagers on 9/11.  I felt so much older and wiser.  But, I had so much to learn.

I had just gotten my sons off to school and I was sitting down at the table to have my own breakfast and my cherished cup of coffee before going to a meeting later in the morning.  I turned on the Today Show and was stupefied to see one of the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out of its side.  There was confusion as to what was going on and I watched in amazement as the news anchors were speculating and wondering themselves.

Then, it happened.  There was a plane flying into the south tower.  Right before my eyes, I saw the second plane hit.  It was at that moment that I knew things were changing.  Our world was going to be different in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

I have no idea how long I sat there just staring at the events as they unfolded in front of me on t.v.  The Pentagon was hit. The south tower collapsed.  A plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  Then, the north tower collapsed.  During all of this,  I found myself doing the math in my head – how many thousands of people were in those towers, on the planes, in the Pentagon?  The work day had begun.  How many people were being killed?  What about the buildings surrounding the towers?  How many people were in them?  How many people were dying before my very eyes?!  It was surreal and I felt numb.

Mom called within minutes after the towers collapsed.  My sister was in Boston on a routine business trip.  Mom and Dad couldn’t remember if she was leaving on 9/11 or 9/12 to return to California where she lived.  They were trying to call and they couldn’t get through – all of the circuits were busy.  I went over to my parents’ house and we began watching all the events that followed while sitting on their four season porch.  We continued to try Jodi on her phone.  Praying that she was okay.

It was shortly before noon when we finally heard that Jodi’s flight was scheduled to leave the next day.  She was okay but stuck in Boston because all air travel had been stopped.  I felt a relief like I’ve never experienced before.  She would have to drive back to California, but she was safe.

As the hours and days wore on, I couldn’t stop watching the news.  I am not sure what I was looking for.  However, I had to watch so I could find it.  It was days later, when I realized what it was that I so desperately was trying to find.  I was trying to find the light in all of this darkness.  Then, I saw it.

 

(http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/news/2011/08/72-of-americans-polled-cross-belongs-at-the-nyc-memorial.php)

One little photograph of all of the smoking, heaping rubble and there was the image of the cross. Workers who were cleaning up after the events of the previous days found this sheered metal image symbolizing everything I was looking for over the past few days.  As a Christian I knew that Jesus was there and had been there all of the time.  This picture reminded me that Jesus had already conquered death.  He had already won over evil.  As horrific as the days had been, Jesus was there.

He was with all of those who lost their lives that day.  He was holding all those who were gravely injured as they waited to die.  He lifted up all of the first responders and the brave men and women who fought the good fight in trying to rescue and save so many.  Jesus brought comfort to those who were grieving with the chaplains, priests, ministers and lay leaders who ran to their aid.  Jesus inspired the men and women in health care that spent hours and days fighting to save those that could be saved and comforted them when they could not.  Jesus brought prayers from all corners of the world to show love and concern to all who were suffering.  Jesus was there.  He was everywhere.

When I saw this picture, it was as if my eyes were opened.  I could see Jesus everywhere.  I had been looking for the light.  However, The Light was there all along.  I couldn’t see Him because of my fear and pain.  But, Jesus remained anyway.  He stayed and lifted up all who needed sustenance.  He was there all of the time!

I haven’t been able to read posts or stories about 9/11 on this 15th anniversary.  I haven’t been able to watch the t.v. specials or documentaries.  I know enough of what happened on that day and the following days.  I can’t bring myself to read or watch because the pain in my heart is too great.  The world, our world changed that day.  It was never the same.

Instead, I have been rejoicing.  I have chosen to praise God for His presence that day and every day.  I am thanking Him for the gift of that photo that helped me see through the darkness.  I am worshiping Him with gratitude for teaching me through such horrendous evil how to find Him in the midst of anything that this life brings my way.  I an overwhelmed with adoration for the love He graciously gives to every man, woman and child.

Although 9/11 was a day that changed everything, not everything changed for the bad.  I was changed for the good.  I now can see things and the truth with much more clarity.  I no longer struggle to find Jesus in every situation.  The shock of 9/11 taught me to just look – because He is already there – everywhere – always.

In so many ways I can relate to Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  God took all that was wrong on 9/11/2001 and highlighted for me all that was right.  His love shined through so many people that day, that the light was brighter than the evil.  His love was everywhere.  Even in a pile of rubble at the bottom of where the World Trade Center towers once stood.  Thank you, Jesus!

Posted in Love, Meditations/Devotions.

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Alone For The Holiday

Happy Independence Day!

I am sitting in my living room watching the news, reading Facebook and drinking my morning cup of joe.  It has been a good weekend!  I shared dinner with my good friend and her husband Friday night.  Saturday was spent cleaning my garage.  Sunday morning was spent worshiping and then finishing up my garage and doing laundry.  Sunday night, I watched The Help. (Fabulous movie if you haven’t seen it. I know I am a little behind the times.) When I climbed into bed last night, I opened the blinds in my bedroom and was able to watch the fireworks at the mall across the street, from the cool, coziness of my bed.  (One of my favorite things about my townhouse.)  Today, I am defrosting my freezer (it’s an old freezer), working on paper work, preparing food for my week’s worth of lunches and maybe I’ll watch another good movie tonight.  (I love movies!)

Notice in my list of holiday weekend activities there is no mention of family picnics, parades, parties, gatherings, my sons, my parents… It is pretty much just Risa (my 13 year old Cavachon) and I hanging out and getting things done around my house in hopes of bringing some semblance of order to my little sanctuary I call home!  For me, this weekend is not about celebrating it is about ordering my world.

I have spent many holidays alone since my divorce 13 years ago.  Some have been hard, others have been harder and I continually challenge myself regarding this phenomenon.  My grandma used to say that a holiday is just another day.  It doesn’t matter when you celebrate or if you celebrate.  It really is about relationships, not the day.  So, I continually remind myself of this wise Grandma fact. Today, July 4, 2016 is just another day.

Grandma’s advice served my family well as I was growing up.  My dad was a firefighter/EMT.  He worked 24 hours on and had 48 hours off.  As a result, we didn’t have Dad around on many holidays.  We had to celebrate on different days and in different ways.  We did this a lot.  I remember the year we ate Thanksgiving dinner at Fire Station #6 with the other firefighters and their families.  It was a big potluck and we celebrated as best we could in such tight quarters with 6 men and their families.  It was great but certainly not the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner that many were celebrating.  Funny, it is one of the few Thanksgivings of which I have pretty clear memories. That is probably because there was nothing ‘traditional’ about it.  (Other than the turkey!)

As I spend this holiday weekend alone it would be easy to sit and feel sorry for myself. (As I re-read the above, I guess I would feel sorry for me! How festive is cleaning the garage?!)  But, I learned a long time ago that we need to live deliberately and with intention.  I am alone this weekend, but because my relationships are important to me I have made future plans to celebrate the relationships that are most special to me.  You see, next weekend I will be traveling back to Cedar Falls to celebrate Mom’s 80th birthday with her and Dad. The next weekend, Brad and Steve will be coming to West Des Moines to celebrate their 31st and 28th birthdays, respectively.  I have two wonderful weekends to celebrate the relationships that are most important to me.  Although I can’t be with them all today, I have intentionally made plans that I am looking forward to this month.  I am actually really excited about the next two weekends. Those plans made with my family have helped fill me up this weekend so that I can get things done around home rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

I am sharing this all with you because I know there are many who find being alone on the holidays to be difficult.  I get it.  I would just challenge you to think ahead and make a plan or two.  If you want to celebrate, make it happen. Host a gathering.  Invite family/friends to meet for dinner.  Don’t wait to be invited, do the inviting.  And, if it doesn’t work to celebrate on the holiday itself, then plan ahead.  Pick a day in the future to gather with those you love. Organize, connect, and figure it out.  If it is important to you, make it happen!

Above all else, don’t get wrapped up in the calendar.  A holiday is just another day. Celebrations are about celebrating relationships with the people who are important to us. Not the day.  Make a new tradition.  Create a new reason for celebration.  Be the master of your festive energy and find something good to do on the actual day so that the joy of taking care of you and your home (or someone else’s) fills an otherwise lonely day.

Happy Independence Day to you all!  I pray your day is filled with all that you need – not what our culture says you need – but what you need!  Make it happen!

Posted in Holidays, Living a Happy Life, Love, Relationships.

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Mother’s Day…not always a celebration

I believe that God created women to build relationships.  Although relationships are important to men, they are often times central to a woman’s life.  To many woman, relationships are sometimes the most important things in life.  As a result, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many women.

For some, their mother is no longer here.  The grief of loosing your mom and longing for that close friend to be here again can feel overwhelming.  Mother’s day is just another reminder of their precious loss.

For others, they experience a grief over the loss of the mother they always needed but never had.  There are women who were given the gift of children and yet they didn’t know what to do with them.  Because of abuse or neglect, children look at Mother’s Day as a time of grief because they have no-one to celebrate.

Some mother’s have endured the loss of a child through death.  Many will describe the death of a child as one of the greatest losses a person can experience.  Mother’s Day can be a reminder of such a great loss.

Other women find Mother’s Day reminding them of the children they always wanted to mother but never had a chance.  There is grief over the loss of an opportunity to mother and love a child.  Childlessness can be a unique sense of loss that resurfaces on Mother’s Day leaving a heart feeling broken and filled with anguish.

There are also those who grieve an estranged relationship with their mother or their children.  Broken relationships can also cause an overwhelming sense of grief.  Knowing that their loved one is just beyond reach brings a sense of sadness on Mother’s Day that others may not recognize.

On a day created for celebrating motherhood, let’s remember all of our sisters who may be experiencing sadness on this day.  My prayer is that God will fill all women with just what they need to feel loved and loving on Mother’s Day.  May losses be grieved honorably but not given a focus of defining life.  May God bring us peace of heart and mind as we find joy amongst the sadness and love in all of our relationships.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my sisters!

Posted in Holidays, Love, Relationships.

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