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Posts from the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Should I ever forget

 

This blog post is being re-published from September 11, 2011 to honor our 9/11 families.

A letter to my son.

Should I ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001, I want you to remember.

Seared into my memory are images from that day, conversations with my uncle and that unexplainable pit in my stomach that something so evil had happened.

I thought it was a tiny plane that had a major malfunction when the first tower was hit.  I watched the second tower get hit live on television and I knew it was not an accident.

I yelled for my uncle who was at my house visiting,  “ Hurry get out of the shower.  Something terrible has happened!”

I stood in disbelief and shock as the first building fell, peeled away to the ground.  Helplessness, I felt utterly helpless and I reached for the TV as if I could hold up the building and keep all those people from their death.  Unspeakable evil.

We sat for hours watching horrible images as the story of what was happening unfolded.

Next winter my two friends and me made our way to NYC.  Something in all of us had to see Ground Zero.  We had to pay our respects to those that perished.  We had to say thanks to those who were cleaning up.  We walked past the old cemetery fence that had become the public memorial with flowers, photographs & cards all stuffed into the fence.  I remember walking out onto the plywood make shift observation deck and looking out over the massive area that once was the World Trade Center.  I can still smell the dirt and dust, I can taste the air, I can see the worker who I nodded thanks to and I can feel the sting of my tears on my cheek on that bitter cold January day.

With a sharpie pen, we wrote our names and words of encouragement.  I penned my favorite Scripture hoping that somehow, someone might take solace.  I couldn’t pick up a shovel and dig.  I couldn’t hug each family.  I couldn’t even make a meal.  I could only pray that the God would bring healing, hope, and peace.

My eyes locked with one of the workers and I nodded to my camera to ask permission if it was ok to take a photo. He shook his head no and I nodded back to say I understood. I mouthed thank you for what you are doing.  His eyes teared up and he made his way to me and my friends.  He said, “Don’t take my picture. Come with me. Tell others what you see.”  We walked over a few streets and he met us in golf cart and ushered us past the police officer guarding the entrance.

The images from television hadn’t captured the vastness of the gaping hole and the debris that was everywhere. Steel girders crumpled like straws.

He took us to the private memorial the rescue workers had made. Ladder company tributes, photos of lost police officers, it was too much to see and feel all at once. It was a private memorial for private moments and prayers lifted to God. Out of respect I didn’t take a picture, but I can still see the faces. I tried to show a brave face but I couldn’t contain the emotion. In an instant I was overwhelmed with emotions I still can’t explain and it happens each time I see photographs from 9/11.  He took us past an area of debris piled so high, nothing was recognizable. Each worker we passed had the same look of determination as they cleared debris.

The sun was peeking through the buildings to an American flag that workers had hung and then there it was, the CROSS. It wasn’t a sculpture that had been erected, it was steel. The way the girders fell, it made the shape of the cross.  The workers merely hoisted it up as a reminder that God was there.

I have a piece of steel rebar from Ground Zero that one of the workers gave me to keep. It’s not a souvenir, it’s not for a museum, it was for me should I ever forget. But now it is yours son, should you ever forget to pray for the men and woman who died that day and the families who lost loved ones.   Should you ever forget to pray for the brave soldiers that protect the United States and the rescuers who were courageous and selfless that day, let it be a reminder. Should you ever forget to give thanks that God was there on that horrible day, hold it tightly in your hand and remember His promise.

It’s been 10 years and today as I reflect and pray for all the families, I still remember it all.   Should I ever forget, I want you to remember.

All my love

Mom

 

A Taste of Heaven From Grandpa’s Porch

Grandpa’s porch slows down this restless heart looking to check off another to do. You can see for miles in all directions clear across Bozeman to the Bridger Mountains. You almost feel the sounds as they carry across the fields and then it is still. The wind here at night rustles the aspen trees and it sounds to me what I imagine the rush of angel wings to sound like. This place for me is just a taste of heaven and a place one can be still and know that He is God.

I want so much to honor you the way your creation proclaims your glory. Make my life show others who you are the way I look at this sunset and see you. In the constant buzz and busy-ness of this season of life chasing a toddler, being a wife, and leading a ministry, I want to hear your voice even when it’s difficult to find moments of quiet like on this porch. Teach me to discern your voice in the LOUD and the QUIET.

You give me glimpses of your hand and still I try to do it myself and not just BE. Quiet appears to be inaction to the world, but you keep showing me this summer that stillness trusts in you, not always all the activity.

Thank you Lord for the way you slow down this restless heart to take in all you needed me to hear. Thank you for how you set creation before us so we see how BIG your love is for us.

The way the sun glides so effortlessly down behind the barn over the fields at sunset declares what my heart knows is true.
“Your love, O Lord reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

What causes you to be still? Do you have a place you feel God’s presence?

I’m linking up with some friends today. Stop by and say hi!

Beholding Glory

friday favorite things | finding joy
http://christianmommyblogger.com

Remembering Our Military & Their Families Today

She left immediately after their wedding to the place they would be stationed for the next two years-Hawaii. To the outsider it was the ultimate honeymoon…beautiful beaches, great surf and one big Luau! If you’re a military family you know the hardship of any move. New homes to get settled into, another DMV visit and finding your new normal in this new city sometimes apart from your spouse.

They would next be sent to Clarksville, TN and her husband would have his first deployment to Iraq and then two more. She would wear a brave face & a black pearl necklace to remind her of their time in Hawaii together. She would say good-bye and pray that God would return him home safely to her. Then a new single life would begin: working, caring for home repairs, mowing the lawn, figuring out why the hot water tank wasn’t working, changing flat tires in the middle of the night and cooking for one again.

Strong, capable & selfless are words her friends would use to describe her before watching her face her first deployment. There are no words that adequately describe her sacrifice, love and service after watching her the last 11 years being a military wife. We don’t often see the faces of all the military families that support our troops and maintain life back home. Thanks to her I look harder for these families.

She didn’t sit back and just hope & pray. She lead her Family Readiness Group (FRG) on base. She communicated news to families who hadn’t heard from loved ones. She provided updates, welcomed & rocked new babies and even was a birth coach when a daddy was still deployed. She cried with widows & children when they learned their father or husband wouldn’t return. She taught moms to balance check books, she made meals, she listened, she laughed and she loved all while waiting too. She wore that brave face & pearl necklace encouraging others and continuing to pray for her husband.

Three deployments to Iraq later and he’s home safe.  To Dave & all our military personnel this Memorial Day thank you for the sacrifice and service to our country. Today we remember and honor you.  To my friend Curly & all our military families, I hope we always look for your families in our communities and find small ways to give back to you the freedom you have sacrificed for our families. We are grateful!

I’m linking up today with my friends at The Better Mom. Stop by and say hi!

A Reason to Pause

“It’s a good east coast rain,”  I tell my husband for the few minutes it just down pours, trees sway.

I love the quiet of rain, that noise it makes hitting the roof, and then the occasional sound of the car that swooshes by, tires going through a puddle.

It’s so infrequent here where I live in California. We don’t keep umbrellas in cars.   We don’t really watch the weather to know if we should pack one, it’s that rare.

Sometimes it just rains for a few minutes and dries up and the sun comes out. I used to wish for those days living back east when it could rain for a week straight. Here where it really never rains, we pray for rain.

Our gardens need it.  Our reservoirs need it.  Our hearts need it.

So on a day like yesterday when it rained all day, I welcomed it.  You are excited for the pause it creates in your day, the permission to change your plans and stay indoors and maybe even stay in your pjs all day, just because you can and so I did. I think my soul needed it as much as my busy schedule did. The gentle quietness it brings, the slowing down, the excuse to not have to do the “to do” list. Instead it was building forts, drinking hot chocolate, and reading books with my son.

The rain it did what it does best and washed away the dirt on the sidewalk, the pollen from the trees and the flowers drunk in deep and well, so did I. This washing away I needed too. It flooded my head with ideas that have been stuck. It flooded my heart with gratitude for the pause, being allowed to use a comma in your day.  It didn’t stop the deadlines, due dates or commitments, but it was the ahh, I needed that kind of day.  You know the days you know you just needed to rest in Him, quiet your heart and just slow down?

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation come from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”  Psalm 62:1-2

There is mud waiting for us and puddles to be jumped in, but yesterday well, rain was a good reason to pause.

Do you ever wish you could just put a comma in your day and slow down? Why don’t we just pause more often?

I’m linking up at The Better Mom today. Come by and say hi.

What Chubby Hands Can Teach You

His chubby little hands folded together, head down, his little voice mumbling sounds in a whisper. He peeks up on occasion to watch.  If one of us is not there, he yells Daaaaad or Mammaaa loud for us to come too. He knows we gather all together to pray and give thanks. When we say amen, he claps and cheers enthusiastically. We teared up the first time he did it and it seemed like a cute moment to capture in a baby book, but God is using these moments to capture my heart.

Inside my belly before he was born, we wondered how we would teach him important life lessons like kindness, compassion, and gratefulness. We prayed God would give him a tender heart for those things and us wisdom to know how to shape his character. Now 18 months later, he is teaching us.

If he’s eating & I bring out something else to eat, he pauses and folds his hands. At a restaurant every time the waiter refills a glass or brings more bread, he pauses and wants to pray. Sometimes just because he will fold his hands and tell me to pray. At nap time we’re thanking God for what we did in the morning and asking for grace for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, we’re thanking God for fun at the park and sometimes for me to be patient.  God is using this precious life to remind me to just slow down and be grateful even for the days that there is no nap time and life is crazy. Isn’t this what God wants us to do, just take him along in our day and just talk to him?

He’s reminding me that God answered our prayer that we prayed when he was in my belly but God is also using our son to shape my character.

We can have index cards mounted on mirrors to remind us to pray, sticky notes on our dashboards, or we can see chubby little hands folded to remind us to pray!

Thank you Lord for chubby hands to remind me to just bring everything to you!

On resolutions, goals & habits

 

It’s day 3 into the new year and it still has the fresh, new feeling about it.  There is expectancy, hope for change and renewed commitment to do or not to do. In my 20’s I spent more time figuring out the best New Year’s Eve plans instead of considering the Best Year Plan. I didn’t slow down or reflect long enough on the highlights of my year.  I put so much emphasis on the big event of ringing in the new year and before I knew it, I was back at work in my normal routine with maybe a resolution but no plan.

One year a friend and I spent time new year’s eve afternoon quietly reflecting on the past year. I took to paper and penned my hopes and goals for the year.  At the end of the year, I reflected back on that list and was amazed that many of the things I had hoped to do, not do, or change had become new habits. I expanded each year since in how I approach this and now look forward to the time.

It’s a time for me to quiet my heart, forget about my daily to do list, to pray and give God the new year.  I think back on highlights, sweet memories, and hardships. Reflecting on God’s grace, his provision and faithfulness always makes me grateful. I also use the time to set goals. I’m definitely a list maker and goal setter. If I write it down, I am more likely to do it. Here are the categories I use:

Spiritual

Marriage

Family

Health/Physical

Role as Mom

Financial

Business

Time & Talent

Myself

Books to Read

Something New to Try

I can honestly say that since I started doing this over 10 years ago, there are many things that have become lifelong habits even something as simple as drinking more water .  There are many more that I’m still working on and  that will probably make my list next year.  However, each year as I become more specific with how I will accomplish and measure success I’m finding I can be more intentional about my year. One of our family goals was to take our son camping for his first birthday. If we hadn’t written it down, we might have been more likely to say we’re too busy or too crazy  to try to take a one year old camping.  We did it and had so much fun, made great memories and started a family tradition.

Books to read is new on my list this year.  I’m an avid reader so I never thought to put that on my list.  If you’re a reader like me though, you have about 3 books on your night stand you plan to read, a few more on your desk and you always seem to pick up a few when you go to the library and then all the great books you hear about on your favorite blogs and websites.  This year I want to be more intentional about some books that I definitely want to get read so I made a list.

I know that lists don’t work for everyone’s personality. I also know that I may make plans and God has other things in store for our family and we are good with that.  It’s just a good way for me to keep myself accountable as I look over the list monthly and another way for me to grow.

Have you made any resolutions? Made a list of goals?  Started any new habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you plan for 2012.

Should I ever forget

A letter to my son.

Should I ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001, I want you to remember.

Seared into my memory are images from that day, conversations with my uncle and that unexplainable pit in my stomach that something so evil had happened.

I thought it was a tiny plane that had a major malfunction when the first tower was hit.  I watched the second tower get hit live on television and I knew it was not an accident.

I yelled for my uncle who was at my house visiting,  “ Hurry get out of the shower.  Something terrible has happened!”

I stood in disbelief and shock as the first building fell, peeled away to the ground.  Helplessness, I felt utterly helpless and I reached for the TV as if I could hold up the building and keep all those people from their death.  Unspeakable evil.

We sat for hours watching horrible images as the story of what was happening unfolded.

Next winter my two friends and me made our way to NYC.  Something in all of us had to see Ground Zero.  We had to pay our respects to those that perished.  We had to say thanks to those who were cleaning up.  We walked past the old cemetery fence that had become the public memorial with flowers, photographs & cards all stuffed into the fence.  I remember walking out onto the plywood make shift observation deck and looking out over the massive area that once was the World Trade Center.  I can still smell the dirt and dust, I can taste the air, I can see the worker who I nodded thanks to and I can feel the sting of my tears on my cheek on that bitter cold January day.

With a sharpie pen, we wrote our names and words of encouragement.  I penned my favorite Scripture hoping that somehow, someone might take solace.  I couldn’t pick up a shovel and dig.  I couldn’t hug each family.  I couldn’t even make a meal.  I could only pray that the God would bring healing, hope, and peace.

My eyes locked with one of the workers and I nodded to my camera to ask permission if it was ok to take a photo. He shook his head no and I nodded back to say I understood. I mouthed thank you for what you are doing.  His eyes teared up and he made his way to me and my friends.  He said, “Don’t take my picture. Come with me. Tell others what you see.”  We walked over a few streets and he met us in golf cart and ushered us past the police officer guarding the entrance.

The images from television hadn’t captured the vastness of the gaping hole and the debris that was everywhere. Steel girders crumpled like straws.

He took us to the private memorial the rescue workers had made. Ladder company tributes, photos of lost police officers, it was too much to see and feel all at once. It was a private memorial for private moments and prayers lifted to God. Out of respect I didn’t take a picture, but I can still see the faces. I tried to show a brave face but I couldn’t contain the emotion. In an instant I was overwhelmed with emotions I still can’t explain and it happens each time I see photographs from 9/11.  He took us past an area of debris piled so high, nothing was recognizable. Each worker we passed had the same look of determination as they cleared debris.

The sun was peeking through the buildings to an American flag that workers had hung and then there it was, the CROSS. It wasn’t a sculpture that had been erected, it was steel. The way the girders fell, it made the shape of the cross.  The workers merely hoisted it up as a reminder that God was there.

I have a piece of steel rebar from Ground Zero that one of the workers gave me to keep. It’s not a souvenir, it’s not for a museum, it was for me should I ever forget. But now it is yours son, should you ever forget to pray for the men and woman who died that day and the families who lost loved ones.   Should you ever forget to pray for the brave soldiers that protect the United States and the rescuers who were courageous and selfless that day, let it be a reminder. Should you ever forget to give thanks that God was there on that horrible day, hold it tightly in your hand and remember His promise.

It’s been 10 years and today as I reflect and pray for all the families, I still remember it all.   Should I ever forget, I want you to remember.

All my love

Mom

Lightning bugs, flip-flops and summer traditions

Growing up back east there were a few sure signs that summer was officially here! The last day of school, the first lightning bug (firefly) sighting and digging your flips flops out of winter storage were all signs that summer had begun!  Summer was playing outside until our mom called us home or the street lights turned on at dusk.  It was then you pleaded for just a half hour more to stay in the yard and catch lightning bugs. It was endless hours of riding our bikes and playing outside.  My mom would load the entire neighborhood up in our station wagon and take us to Moon Park to play kickball.   

I’m so grateful for those fun memories of summer. Now that I live on the west coast and have a small son, I wonder what fun traditions will get him excited for summer to start.  We don’t have lightning bugs and the temperature is moderate so we don’t really pack away our flip-flops, but I think we have already started some traditions we’ll carry on each summer.

Picking fresh apricots off our tree and eating them, celebrating his birthday each June, ( I always wanted a summer birthday!) picnics at the park, family camp with friends, hiking in the mountains and making mud pies with the hose are just a few traditions we’ve started.

We also are excited for him to spend the summers as a family “doing for one what we wish we could do for everyone” in our community. My husband and I decided to start a family tradition in the summer to spend time giving so that our son grows up knowing the joy of giving his time to serve others. Our pastor in Atlanta challenged us with the phrase, do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.  We want to teach our son that although he can’t do for everyone that he can still make a difference serving one.

These are the memories and traditions we are making right now for our west coast son who will get to travel back east this summer to catch lightning bugs and wear flip-flops at grandma’s.

What are some of your favorite childhood summer traditions? What traditions have you started with your family?