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Where were you on 9/11? September 10, 2010

My husband and I were talking last night about impact events. An impact event is a moment never lost in the stream of daily minutia. That is why we celebrate and mourn them; weddings, births, deaths, national tragedies…we feel compelled as humans to venerate the day so we never forget.

My parents still remember where they were November 22, 1963, sitting in their school classrooms wondering why their teachers were to choked up to talk. On January 28, 1986 I was home sick from 6th grade, watching television at the neighbor’s house when cartoons were interrupted to watch the live Challenger launch and then explosion. I remember driving to work on April 19, 1995 sobbing in my car when the Oklahoma City bombing was reported on the radio. These days are etched on my memory as vividly as my wedding day and birth of my children.

September 11, 2001 was an impact event felt the world over. My husband and I were in a small outback town in Australia. He was there on deployment, and I had flown to meet him. Our one year old daughter was in Chicago with her grandparents, and we had called in to check on her before going to bed. His mother answered the phone and said turn on CNN, which we did…just in time to see the second plane angle to the building and plow through. I was numb. My mother-in-law was sobbing, clinging she said to our daughter. At the time she had an office in the Chicago Sears Tower. She did not go into work for days after the tragedy, because our world had gone mad and no one knew what might happen next.

My husband and I started to pack. Within 30 minutes a car was sent to get us from our hotel, and sped to the safety of base. I spent the next two days in an underground bunker with 300 Marines preparing for…for who knew what at the time. These incredibly brave men and women were mobilized, horrified, sad, even devastated perhaps…but ready and resolved. I envied them. I couldn’t stop crying and worrying. I envied them because they could do something about it, and all I could do was kneel at the base chapel alter and pray.

They began to mobilize and I had to leave. That was a surreal drive through the outback…by myself…going 120 mph (no speed limits), dodging road trains…trying to get back to Darwin to get a plane into Sydney and then perhaps home. I barely made it to Sydney. I landed at midnight, and Ansett Airlines went out of business minutes after I landed. I was fortunate to get a hotel room in Sydney, there were very few left.

The atmosphere in Sydney was so different from the week we had been there prior. It was somber, reflective and a little frightened. I will forever be indebted, as an American, to the Australian people. They were supportive and loving to what felt like an instant community of refugees. They held memorial services for us in their churches. Everywhere I went there were hugs, tears, offers of support and prayers from complete strangers.

For me, and the many Americans I met there…waiting like me to go home…getting on an airplane felt as frightening as climbing Mt. Everest. I got one of the last tickets on the first plane to leave Australia. All I wanted to do was get to Chicago and hug my daughter tight. The only ticket I could get was into Los Angeles, and then it was unknown when I could get a flight from there…but at least I would be on home soil. I guarantee you, America never felt as much like home to me as at that moment.

It took almost eight hours to get through Sydney airport security…and no one in that line cared. We wanted them to search everything. I was flying United, and the pilot and flight attendants gave instructions through tears. Strangers hugged each other and put down their books to talk with their seat mates. People shared stories, prayed together and even held hands during take off. When we finally landed at LAX, a cheer strangled through tears and sobs, went up through the plane. On man knelt on the terminal ground and kissed it when we got off the plane. We were Americans, in that small microcosm of our country, we were united.

Landing in LAX was like stepping into a war zone. National guard soliders with M-16s and police officers geared like SWAT almost outnumbered the passengers. I literally had left one country a month earlier and returned to a completely different one. Eventually I made it home to hug my baby. I didn’t let go for a long time. I was grateful though…there were a lot of mothers who would never hug their babies again.

Although we will never forget 9/11, the farther away we have moved from it, the more its lessons fade in our minds. That is why we need to venerate the day – listen to the reading of the names, remember to hug your family, pray with a complete stranger, and hold the hands of our fellow Americans in gratitude for the wonderful country we live in.

Always Remember…Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below.

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A Call for Help

This morning I was walking out of my children’s elementary school when the phone rang. On the other end of the connection was a woman with the National Marrow Donor Registry. She called to tell me that I had matched with a 39 year old man. He has a blood order disease and in desperate need of a transplant. I was shocked. She went on to say; in 1996 I had taken a blood test and checked a box saying I was willing to be a donor. Now, almost fifteen years later, I had popped up as a possible match. Fifteen years…I was surprised they even found me. Since then, I married, had two children, moved five or six times being a military spouse…and here 2010, on a sunny day in California…I was asked to make good on that checked box.
I listened to her speak about the process and that, after the next step of testing, there was less than a 5% chance I would be a match…but would I be willing to even take that chance. In the few moments she waited for my answer, I thought about the man who needed the transplant. Does he have kids like the ones I just dropped off? He is only a few years older than I…does he have a wife he loves as deeply as I love my husband? Is he a teacher, a police officer, military…or maybe an office worker or janitor? Did his life mean just as much to him as mine does to me? If the tables were reversed, what answer would I want him to give?
The case worker was a little shocked when after a few seconds of silence I said absolutely…yes, I will take the next step. My husband, a Marine, has the opportunity to impact and save lives every day. Vicariously, I feel I do as well…being a military spouse. But this is the first opportunity that I feel I could change and help save someone’s life…myself. What an honor. I am just starting the process, who knows if I will be a match. I have a lot of research, praying and talking with my family to do…but in this moment, I feel overwhelmed and excited that I could perhaps help. As the process continues, I will blog it. Has anyone else gone through this …has anyone advice? Please share your story, thanks!

 

Laundry Day Blues September 3, 2009

A song for the Fly Lady’s

Jake sings the Laundry Blues

What is it about underwear that five year old boys find fascinating? My two children are on spring break here in our fair city. After a few days of running wild, it is now clean up the house day. We live in a two story home, and getting laundry from the top to the bottom can be a real chore…especially if you only do laundry once a week…or so. I know fly-lady says, “a load a day will keep laundry blues away.” Such organization, is lost to my creative mindset. When someone invents a fun way to do laundry everyday, maybe I will.

Perhaps, a slot machine washer…that rewards the beleaguered housewife with spa tokens every load completed.

For me, it’s not over-stuffing the washer or transfer to the dryer that I despise. I can even handle the folding (if I have a great movie on). No, the bain of laundry, is stuffing the drawers….

Conversation with my nine year old daughter…..

“Go upstairs and get dressed….we are already late!”

“I don’t know what to wear ….will you pick it out for me?”

“You never like anything I pick out, so no.”

“But mommmm….I promise, this time I will wear whatever you pick.”

“Whatever?”

“uh-uhhhh…” (add whimpering puppy dog sound effects, complete with blinking and pouted lips)

…… 3 cute shirts and several jeans later…

“But I don’t like any of those.”

“Then pick it out yourself, we are beyond late now.”

“Fine….”

Danger, Danger!!! This is the moment that all my hard work is about to be overturned, crumpled, thrown on the floor and generally smashed onto the top sedimentary layer of Barbie shoes and Polly pockets. It is why I despise laundry. I mean, truly you are just rewashing clothes never worn. The ones they do wear, they are willing to wear dirty because they are the “Only cool things I have!”

Which gets us back to the five year old. In order to make laundry day more exciting, I have reinvented the laundry chute. One sibling stands on the top landing, and the other at the bottom of the stairs. The one at the top upends their laundry baskets over the head of the sibling squealing with delight below. It keeps them occupied for at least an hour. After they dump all the laundry down, they rake up the fallen clothes into a big pile and jump into them… (palm trees don’t allow for fall leaf piles…so this is novel to them. )

After a while, you are supposed to switch positions (equal opportunity tormentor)…my daughter however, refuses to give up the power position. My son, wanting to dump out his clothes on her head, starts demanding surrender. After unsuccessful threats and pleas, he decides to take action. As the cascade of clothing falls on his head, he picks out his underwear from the stream and starts taunting his sister above with them.

“Underwear, Underwear, Unnndder-ware” gleefully, he takes steps two at a time.

“Noooooo,” she squawks, and starts to run into the castle keep.

He sings, “Dirty underwear….dirty unnndderware” and cuts her off at the pass

gagging sounds…. as it is dangled in front of her nose

“My dirty underwear…it touched my privates.” he laughs, flicking it at her… he has invented a weapon more powerful than the super soaker. A little brother’s equivalent of a plague victim being catapulted over castle walls.

“OOOO, it touched me!…..MOM, he threw his underwear on me.

I laugh. I am an evil mom, I find the whole thing hilarious, and can’t hold even close to a poker face. I remember similar exchanges between me and my little brother. I wish that I would have thought of a weapon that powerful.

“MOOOOMMM, stop laughing.”

“Why? It was funny, now give your brother a turn upstairs.”

Hmmppfff….said in the way only an 7 3/4 year old can… complete with upturned nose, eye roll and back turn. She plops down on the floor and waits for the clothes to cascade down.

My son has a highly developed sense of the dramatic. Instead of a fabric waterfall, he sends a constant drip of shirts, pants, socks (ewww)…

and of course scooby doo underoos…piece by piece.

….MOOOOMMMM

 

Your Thanksgiving Gift…John Williams November 27, 2008

I am thankful today for many things… healthy children, a warm home, a safe and loving husband, family and an abundance of food and gifts from God. I am not trying to take away from the import of the day, but instead add a little levity. What I am most thankful for is the gift of laughter. In a world that seems grim, sometimes just having a good laugh is better than most everything else. So, here is my Thanksgiving gift to you…laughter. Do yourself a favor and hit play. For the 2 million of you that have already seen it, laugh again. Presenting, in four part acapella harmony…John Williams is the Man…performed by Corey Vidal. And if you are wondering what he just sang, here are the words… http://www.moosebutter.com/lyrics.php/3 Happy Thanksgiving!

 

What, no shoes? November 20, 2008

clover.jpgAs a special treat for my daughter last week, I took her to the mecca of fur-tastic capitalism for the under 10 set…Build A Bear. Actually, to be specific, Friends 2 Be Made (their doll division).  We were on a hunt for the elusive Jayden, a celery hair fashion doll. Now, I am not completely altruistic in my motives, I am tired of hearing “I have to have it in order to have the Gem Band with my purple, pink, blue and orange jammin’ jewel dolls…plleease.”

 So, to get you “in” the doll only costs twelve dollars. Big deal right? Totally do-able, I mean twelve dollars, you can’t even get a Barbie for that much. Then they up-sell you on the extras that your doll simply must have to live a fabulous life. Being a savvy customer, I am wise to their ploys. Between my own guilt purchases, and grandparent’s sprees we could probably host a decent table at a collectors show. We walk into the bubble gum pink and candy blue store. Hannah Montana is playing softly, and the store looks like daylight on a 1000 watt binge.  I steel myself for the saccharine doll salesmen pitch from the teenage doll-ologist.

Bring on your best….we are only getting the doll.

My daughter be-lines for green yarn hair. She knows what she wants…five trees have been chopped down to make the promo mailers featuring “Jayden” that flood our mailbox alone. “Her Perkiness” bounces up to us and asks my daughter what her doll sounds like. My daughter looks up at me, I stand firm. No way! I know this trick, I am not buying the five dollar voice box that sounds like Cheerleader Chuckie when the batteries start dying in a month. Her perkiness looks a little miffed when I say:

 “She doesn’t need one.”

“All jammin’ jewel girls need a voice!” reproof from a teen queen.

I let this slide. It is after all, supposed to be a happy day for my daughter, not a lecture in the cold reality of the world. Her perkiness starts in on the ritual of endowing the doll with attributes like artistic, talented, responsible and my favorite … superstar. She hands my daughter a satin taffeta heart and commands her to rub in on her tummy so the doll will never hunger, rub it on her brain so the doll can be brilliant like she, kiss it to let the doll know she is always loved…and on…and on. Finally, she stuffs the darn thing, and we can go onto the all important wardrobing.

I have already given into my daughter’s protest that you can’t bring home a naked doll. Why not? was my argument. The minute you get it home the clothes come off anyways, I am saving you time and me money. I concede though, but not the expensive one…. the outfit that cost more than the doll. We pick through the possibilities, it takes an hour. The doll has more clothes in her wardrobe than I have owned in my entire life.

Her perkiness has now turned into a personal shopper for our new acquisition, newly dubbed Clover. She trots out Lycra, satin, bags, glasses, dresses for cocktail and for the prom, karate Gui’s and soccer outfits so that Clover can be a well rounded girl. I glare at her. No I don’t think we need the Lycra rock star suit, and we don’t do karate. I find a cute little green satin shirt and capri’s. Feeling a little cheap under the accusatory eye of her perkiness, I turn my back to check out the price tags. I breathe a sigh of relief, we can still get out of there for under $30. As long as I can talk my daughter into it.

My winner argument…if we pick this outfit out, maybe we can find you one to match.

Bingo! We negotiate. She now likes the outfit, but really wants the shoes and guitar that matches the rock star outfit. She barters like a trial lawyer. 

“No shoes”

“But mom” 

I find myself almost agreeing to the plastic guitar that does nothing, not even make a noise. Even Happy Meal toys make noise… I am sticking to my guns.

“But mom”

“No way! You always lose them 10 minutes after we get home, and all your other dolls have never worn their shoes past the parking lot.”

“Mommy, pllleeeease.” Blink, blink.

“Guitar or shoes….not both,” did I just say that?

“Guitar”

I smile. We hug. Relieved that I have won the battle…I think… at least stood some ground. I go up to the register, and look around for her perkiness. She has given up on us long ago. We obviously are not her kind of customer.

She bops up, ignoring me…the one with the credit card…and hands my daughter a “special invite” for Bella Blue’s Birthday party. She is the blue yarn head doll. “You get to sign a big birthday card to her, and even get a special gift if you come!”  

Recognizing me…finally… she tells me that there is even a special party dress for the doll we can buy, only twelve dollars. My arm starts hurting from the entire 60 pounds of my daughter pulling on it….”Pllleeeease.”

“Just the doll today.” I hand her my card decisively. I won!

Her perkiness looks into the box, and looks up at me with a horrified expression…as if I have abused the poor doll.

“Is there something wrong?”

“What,” she says disgusted. “No shoes?”

We finally escape. I feel like a bad doll mom. I let the poor piece of material stuffed with fluff leave the store without shoes on. What will all the other doll moms think of me?

My daughter looks at me, what about her outfit? She always remembers that stuff. The stuff that I say hoping she will forget it. But I won, so I am filled with largess. I steer her into the kids gap. We found this great shirt and capris to match…on sale…twelve dollars. I am euphoric. My daughter thinks I am a great mom.

We get up to pay.

“You know, we have great shoes that match this.”

…says her perkiness 2.

 

Gotta Laugh June 26, 2008

My son has a wonderful sense of humor. When something strikes him funny, he doesn’t hold back. His laugh fills the room… a head thrown back…deep belly laugh that brings tears to his eyes and an ear wide smile. It is the sound of pure bliss. I laugh, just because he is. 

He loves old cartoons, you know the ones our parent’s watched when they were kids… Something I love about him.  He is a lot like me in this way. I appreciate humor without swear words and complicated punch lines. When writing is funny, it doesn’t matter what age you are or era you live in… universal humor that crosses these lines…is magic.

Tex Avery, is a humorist like that….and his cartoon Magical Maestro (1952) is what brought my son to happy tears this morning. I figure we could all use some humor today, so here is your chance to fill a room with laughter and shed a few happy tears.

 

Let God be God June 23, 2008

I believe that God heals us…body, soul and spirit. 

Sometimes it is through miraculous healing. Sometimes it is through the medical knowledge that resides in  God’s amazing creation…the brain.

I believe that God is a refuge in times of trouble.

I believe that God will work all the muck and mire in our life out for His glorious good.

Do you believe that God is enough in your life? Do you believe that there is nothing impossible for God? Or, are you like me, praying in faith…but also in parallel… that God will help my unbelief.

In order to allow God to be God in our lives… we need to trust Him. Do you at your core, trust Him for everything? To be honest, I have a hard time with this one. Some things, the ones out of my control I can give to Him, but the ones I clutch tightly too…the ones I need to give up…I often can’t. He wants it all. Our lives are like a jigsaw puzzle. The beautiful, complete picture can’t be realized when you are hiding pieces. 

We are also under attack. The moral fabric of our nation is eroding. The earth is groaning in labor. Hitting closer to home, our lack of knee time… my lack of knee time… is allowing the enemy of our souls inroads in our lives and those that are dearest.

We need to stop this cycle and be the ones to stand in the gap for each other. So many of those closest to me are taking hits in the face. It is time to stand together and pray for each other.

No, I mean now.

WAKE UP! Why do we starve ourselves on popcorn prayer when God’s amazing banquet is set and ready?
WAKE UP! We are under attack, and it’s time to fight back. Together, corporately…as a body of believers, whatever that might look like in your life.

I am praying for Alex, a friend and pastor who is facing some of his families hardest days right now. For Wade, a pastor who’s daughter is in need of an immediate, miraculous healing. For my friends, here in one of the hardest hit (financially) areas in our country, who are losing their houses, their jobs, their families. For my husband, who is in Iraq for the fourth time…for my children who are struggling with it.

Lord, we bless your holy and righteous name. You alone are worthy of our praise, and we thank you for the blessings…seen and unseen.. that you bring to our lives. Right now, where we sit… move us out of our complacency, move us out of our lukewarm faith, help our unbelief. You are a God of miracles. You are our healer, our friend, our deliverer, the lover of our souls, a strong fortress in times of attack in our life. Help us, we implore you…Help us allow you to be those in our lives. Forgive us the sins that so easily beset us, and guard our hearts and minds against falling into their trap again. Breathe afresh on our weary souls, Lord. We desire your spirit to fill us anew every day. We love you Lord, to you be all the honor that we can’t even fully express within ourselves. Amen 

I was blessed to run into the videos below that express, in worship…how I am feeling. Alex, these are for you. 

(Excerpted) On the evening of Sunday, March 9th 2008, thousands of worshippers gathered to fill the Acer Arena in Sydney as Hillsong Church recorded their latest live worship album. It was an unforgettable night. An encounter with God that left the thousands who filled the stadium humbled and in awe of the wonder and grace of God and the reality of Christ. We come together and we say, “This is who we are, God. We need You, we love You, and we’re going to give everything to You.

It was a night of unified faith and expectancy, with moments all will never forget such as when Michael Gugliemucci, who has battled his own health crisis against cancer for two years, walked confidently on stage, oxygen tank in hand, declaring the promise of God and boldly
Singing the words to his song ‘Healer’.

The evening culminated with a loud and victorious declaration of, ‘With Everything’ and a holy moment that all who experienced will remember. As the band left the stage and the name of Jesus on display, the people were not ready to leave and with little accompaniment, they broke into spontaneous song and continued to worship God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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