9/11/01

9/11/01

My memories of that day may be somewhat shaded by the haze of pregnancy hormones flooding my body at that time.  That morning started like so many others.  At 8 months pregnant there was the exhaustion mixed with anticipation of “will today be the day”.

A curious call from my husband was the first indication of what was unfolding in New York but by the time I arrived at work the devastation had begun in earnest.  For me, it was  something of an emotional overload.  I just felt numb.

This morning my nearly sixteen year old son asked why it seems all but forgotten.  Maybe it just seems that way because none of his friends would be old enough to remember that day.  Maybe its because we don’t live near ground zero.  Maybe some of it is due to the normal healing process that leaves the memory somewhat less fresh in our minds with each passing year.


We will pay our respects this evening as we have for many years now, a ceremony at the fire station honoring those who willingly gave their lives to save others.  It seems such a small thing to do in relation to the enormity of the event and the loss of innocent lives that day.  It’s a touch stone.  A reminder.

I think we need reminders.  We need to remember to be grateful for the gifts we have in our life.  We need to remember to be grateful for those who sacrifice for us to enjoy the freedoms we possess.  We need to remember that tomorrow is not promised and it is so important that we don’t take the precious people in our lives for granted.

We will never forget!

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My First Children’s Picture Book

My First Children’s Picture Book

This is a story I wrote for my son many years ago.  I am in the process of formatting for Kindle.  Please let me know what you think.

PRINCE GABRIEL AND THE DRAGON

Young Prince Gabriel stood motionless.  Standing before him was a great, green dragon.  Its wingspan was enormous. The Prince tried his best not to breathe too deeply as the beast smelled like a combination of everything awful he had ever smelled, all rolled into one.

He felt confident he had been trained well.  His father, the King, and the king’s most trusted knights had trained him.  They had offered him a number of trials designed to build his confidence and his ability.  The Prince also felt a bit frightened because it was his first time standing face to face with this great beast. 

Prince Gabriel knew that the dragon’s greatest weapon was fear. Every time the dragon destroyed a village and sent the villagers running, he became stronger. With every knight that he defeated the beast grew larger both in his own mind and in the minds of those who feared him.

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The prince knew that he could not back down; he could not show fear. The dragon roared his loudest and puffed out his great chest. But the prince stood his ground and quietly said, “I shall not be moved.” The dragon smiled a smile full of jagged razor sharp teeth. The prince said, “Let’s talk.” The dragon bellowed, “Talk! Talk! You’d better run!” The prince spoke softly, “I shall not be moved.”

This battle of wills continued for three days. The dragon tried with all of his might to frighten the young prince.

The prince continued to stand his ground. He had his sword, his shield and his armor. He could have battled the dragon at any time. He chose not to fight. He knew that if he were to fight the beast he would likely be defeated and this would increase the dragon’s power. He would defend himself, of course, but only as was necessary.

The quietness and confidence of the young prince confused the dragon. He was unable to decide how to proceed when faced with someone who did not attack, who did not yell or scream or threaten. Those had been easy and quite honestly tasty, but never as fulfilling as he had imagined they would be. Though this young prince did not attack, he did not shrink in fear either. The dragon knew if he threatened this prince or his kingdom that he would have his battle.

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Finally the dragon realized that, although he could fight and possibly win, he would never gain from the young prince what he had come to find. The dragon could not attack because the prince refused to give in to fear.

The dragon left the kingdom. He left knowing that he would never return to threaten this great kingdom or this young prince. There was nothing for him here. The people of this land had learned that their fear gave him power; they no longer feared him.

The prince returned home knowing that he had gained the advantage that day because he had learned when not to draw his sword. He stepped out of the carriage as it returned to the castle and smiled at the crystal blue sky above. As he entered the castle he rushed to his mother, the good queen. She wrapped him in her arms and asked “How was school today?”

“It was good.” he answered. “Really, really good!”

“What about the bully?” she asked.

“He left me alone.”

The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child

I am approaching yet another birthday.  While I fell blessed to continue in this life, I find it a marvel that how I feel inside is not reflected in the number of candles that should be on my cake (please for heaven’s sake don’t actually try it!) or the face I see in the mirror.

There was a movie made many years ago (yes.  I really am that old!) called Freaky Friday.  A mother and daughter are granted wishes to live a day in each other’s lives.  While the mother has to navigate the treacherous waters of high school, the daughter has to navigate the adult world for which she is not yet prepared.  It makes for a funny movie but I find I that many times in my life I feel like that daughter.

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The years have flown by but inside I still feel like that kid.  There are days I feel on the verge of being revealed as a fraud in this adult thing.  At times I stumble and feel awkward in the adult world.  When I am in the midst of parenting my children, I hear myself and think “Wow! Don’t I sound like such a mom?!?”.  I hide the child inside because I fear that I might not be taken seriously as an adult.  I fear if others knew how awkward and unsure I often feel inside they would be less confident in my abilities.

The hidden child is a blessing though.  She keeps me grounded.  She keeps me real.  While my body may continue to age, she holds the key to who I really am regardless of the reflection in the mirror.  She reminds me to smell the roses, to dance in the rain and to laugh until my cheeks ache.  She is the one that slows me down to take the time and create the beautiful moments with my family. It is in those moments that I am truly alive and so I am thankful for the hidden child.

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The Dark is Broken

The Dark is Broken

On the few mornings that my little guy wakes up before I do, he will wander into my room and announce “Mom, get up!  The sun is up!”.  Yesterday he arrived in my room at 4:30 AM.  As the sun was not yet up but he was, he reached the conclusion that there was some issue between the sun and the moon.  “Mom, I think the dark is broken.”

Ever have one of those mornings?  You know the ones.  You wake up, ready and wide awake for the day, only to discover that your day isn’t scheduled to start far a few more hours.  What do you do with that time?  Try to go back to sleep?  I generally end up exhausted all day if I do go back to sleep.  If you stay up, what can you do that doesn’t wake the whole house?  Its a bit of a dilemma.  It seems like you should be productive.  You may even want to be productive since you are awake and ready to start the day.


In thinking about all of this, I discovered that my son’s statement truly sums up the way I have been feeling for a while.  You see, there are several plans that we have made, things we want to accomplish but the timing hasn’t been right yet.  It’s like being awake early, ready to get started but it isn’t time yet.  Sometimes, I have felt frustrated by this timing.  Impatient.  It feels like the dark is broken.  Its lingering too long and not allowing the sun to shine.

As a parent, I see the clock.  I know that it isn’t yet time for the sun to shine.  I know that there is nothing wrong between the sun and the moon.  From my perspective, I am assured that the dark is in fact not broken.

Now I am reminded that God the Father can see what I do not.  He knows and understands things that are beyond my comprehension.  He knows that the dark is not broken.

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The Green Food Wars

The Green Food Wars

My oldest son went through a phase shortly after starting preschool.  He suddenly decided that he didn’t like to eat any food that was green.  As he had never been a picky eater, I attributed this to the influence of his friends at preschool.  Understanding the source of this issue did not, of course, mean that I was going to allow his new-found green food issue to continue.

Enter issue number two.  My child is stubborn.

And so…  the green food wars commenced!!!

“Eat your green beans.”

“I don’t like green stuff!”

“You liked them last week.”

“I don’t like them now.”

“Try one bite, just to make sure.”

Response?  Jaw firmly clamped shut and shaking his head ‘no’.

This battle would continue for what seemed like forever.  I admired his tenacity but come on!  How long could this kid hold out??  He could have been done and on to dessert long ago but instead he dodged my every attempt.  I knew he liked green beans!  If he would only taste just one, he would remember he liked them too!

Eventually, I managed to negotiate one small green bean into his little mouth and oh the wonder!!  He remembered they were good and he ate them all.  Finally!!

Now this was only one battle.  We had to battle with the reintroduction of every green vegetable.  Often more than once!!

A few years later, we entered the homework wars.  Similar in nature as we spent more time arguing the point than it would have taken to just do the work.


I’m not telling you this to complain about my kid.  I have a certain twisted pride in his stubbornness.  Maybe it is because I happen to know that he is genetically predisposed to this bull-headed nature of his.

I have been in similar places as an adult.  I know what I need to do.  I know what I am supposed to do and yet, I resist.  In order to do what I don’t want to do, I have to fight past the voice inside that is screaming “I DON’T LIKE THAT!!”  In the end, I question myself much like I have questioned my son.  “Why didn’t you just do it and get it done?  Fighting just made the unpleasantness last longer.”  For me, I believe that the answer to that question would be fear.  Fear that whatever it is that I am resisting will be worse than the unpleasantness I experience while I resist.  Fear of failure.  Fear of failing to measure up to the task in front of me.  Fear of being perceived as foolish or clumsy or stupid.  Fear of change.

Often, like getting dessert after eating the green beans, I find that the greatest blessings sit waiting on the other side of fear.  I believe that God has great things in store for us if only we will allow our faith to be greater than our fear.

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Not Fair

Not Fair

I’ve been trying for days to write a post.  Every time I have begun, I have ended up deleting, logging out and moving on.  The thing is, recently, life has not been fair.  I know.  No one ever said it was supposed to be.  There are just days when it seems to all hit at once and knock the wind out of you.  Or maybe, it’s just me…

As a rule, I try to make my posts helpful or encouraging but its difficult sometimes.  I’ve learned that forcing it doesn’t work here.  When I write with an agenda instead of from my heart it falls flat.  I know it and I feel like I haven’t given those who read it much of value to take away with them.  On good days I still struggle with the feeling of vulnerability that comes with putting my thoughts, opinions and stories out for the world to read.  When I know it’s not my best, it can be truly nerve-wracking.  I don’t want to take a moment of discouragement and forever memorialize it here.

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I have faith that “all things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28) but knowing that there is a greater plan at work is not helping me to shake this deflated and worn out feeling.  Knowing that gratitude is one of the greatest antidotes to feelings like this, I am going to take my own advice.  So today, I’m going to share with you one of the greatest gifts that I have in my life.  I have the sweetest support system.

At the worst moment of the week, my family surrounded me with love.  My teenager wordlessly wrapped me in a hug, not knowing what had happened.  He saw the look of shock on my face and came to give me comfort.  My little one held on tight and then, in hopes of helping Mommy feel less sad, he brought the crew of teddy bears to hug Mommy too.  My husband not only provided the moral support of hugs, he cooked and took over everything else that needed to be done so that I could have time to process.

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Moments like these reinforce my belief in the necessity for human connections.  They remind me why I tend to harp on the need to nourish our relationships.  Life is not fair but these moments are easier when we don’t carry the burden alone.

I am blessed and life is good even when it isn’t fair.

Secrets, Surprises and Lies

Secrets, Surprises and Lies

Anyone who has been around little kids knows that you never quite know what will come out of their mouths.  Most of us know that you can’t trust little people with secrets even if its intended to be a surprise.  Like Mother’s Day weekend….

Saturday afternoon my husband offered to take the kids with him to run errands.  Sweet!!  I would have an hour or two of quiet to get a few things done.  When they returned home, my boys were the first to come in the house.

The four-year old found me in the kitchen and proudly asked “Mom, do you like flowers?”

“Yes. I do.” I answered.

He smiled and said “Great because we…..”  This is the moment when his teenage brother reached him and clamped a hand over his mouth.

I burst out laughing which is when my husband entered the house.  No harm done.  My Mother’s Day started a little early since the cat was already out of the bag.


Last night, the four-year old was playing a video game with his dad when I heard the f-bomb from his little mouth.  I responded by reminding him of his full given name in a scolding tone of voice.

“I’m sorry Mom.”  he said.

The teenager piped up and said “What?  He’s playing a game.  He said ‘duck'”.

“Uh huh…” I look at the four-year old, “Did you say ‘duck’?”

“No.” he answered.  (Giving little man full marks for honesty here)

The teenager whispered to his brother “Dude, trying to help you.  Stick with my story next time.”

And this is when I scolded the teenager for trying to teach his brother to lie.

I love that my children talk to me and I know that it is very important to keep the lines of communication open.  Surprises are great but by the time you get to the teenage years, secrets and lies can be worrisome.  I know my boys.  I know their hearts and I know that they are growing toward being great men.  My oldest has always been a great weaver of stories but he knows that I know him well enough to bust him in a lie pretty quickly.  He doesn’t try it often with me and last night’s attempt was (mostly) in jest.

We live in a world where we have so much information at our fingertips.  Most of us have learned that WWE wrestling is fake and you can’t trust that everything you see on the internet is true.  As of this last week, we learned we can’t trust CNN for accurate news.  Because of these things, teaching our kids to be open and honest is harder and more important than ever.

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We need to set aside time to talk to our kids and really listen when they talk to us.  We need to know these young people we are raising and they need to know that they are heard, really heard.  We have to set the example for open and honest communication for our kids to follow.  The reward is long-term and you never know how much fun you’ll have just talking to them.

You never can quite predict what a four-year old might say…