Remembering

Nine years ago today:

I had a very normal morning. No children yet. Working for the State Dept. Of Ed at a school in N. Charleston.

A teacher came into my office and told me to turn on the radio (it was a poor school) because a small plane had crashed into a skyscraper in NYC.

I listened in in complete confusion as other faculty poured into my small, windowless office to hear the commentators try to make sense of what was happening on CBS radio.

I remember the utter horror and disbelief I felt when I heard another plane crashed into the second building and that both were in flames.

Ran to the cafeteria, sent students back to their home rooms, and turned on the TVs just in time to see the first tower collapse on live TV. That image is forever seared into my memory. Watching in shock as the other collapsed and people fled in every direction.

I remember going back to my office and hearing on the radio that all flights were being grounded. I walked outside and the air above Charleston was filled with planes waiting to land.

The radio confusion about a plane hitting the Pentagon and the “missing fourth” airliner.  When they finally found United 93, they said it was going to be shot down. We later learned that courageous people crashed it intentionally to save the lives of others. “Let’s Roll” took on a new meaning.

Frantically trying to get in touch with my dad, a resident of Manhattan, only to be face with jammed phone lines. Thanking the Lord when we finally connected. He was there in NYC and didn’t believe me when I told him the towers had collapsed. All electricity in his office building had gone out and the phones had not been working. He knew only of a plane crash. Amazed that I knew more than he did. Learned that his only personal loss was his laptop computer which was being repaired in One World Trade Center.

Remembering the many trips we made to the towers growing up and how Papa used to work in one of them.

I remember watching the news with a deep sense of foreboding for days. Schools, jobs and sporting events cancelled. Flights grounded. Wondering what would happen next? I couldn’t tear myself away. I’ve never been more frightened in my life.  The death toll increased to a magnitude I could hardly comprehend. It seemed so senseless and unspeakably cruel. The posters of people looking for loved ones moved me deeply, making the horror more real to me.

Strange names and foreign lands filled the news. I remember thinking: What have we ever done to Afghanistan? Who is Osama Bin Ladin and why does he hate us so much? Al Qaeda, Taliban?

I remember taking comfort in the many stories of bravery and self-sacrifice that emerged over the next few days. Flags flew in unlikely places. Every vehicle on the road sported a patriotic bumper sticker. Our country came alive with a common cause.

I thought that things would never be normal again after such great loss.

Yet here I am, almost embarrassed…

That I can sit on my front porch swing watching my boys play in the yard while I type this post on my iPhone, while those who sacrificed greatly for my safety may not have that same luxury today. That this afternoon I will go watch a friend play in a tennis tournament and then watch college football. That life is so… normal.

That, as I type this, the flag on our front porch is waving in the breeze and I realize it has been a long time since I looked at it and reflected on all it stands for.

I say I will never forget. But as time passes, I want to be sure that I really never do… Not just on September 11th, but I want the lessons learned on that fateful day to become part of who I am — not just a distant memory.

May I always remember.

Photo of towers courtesy of my friend Kelly Benedict’s  Facebook photos.

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Published in: on September 11, 2010 at 11:22 am  Comments (1)  
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Goodbye Summer…

Where did the summer go?? I can’t believe that school begins again tomorrow. Colin is starting 1st grade and Davis is starting Kindergarten. You wouldn’t think that I’d have such a hard time with this but I really am struggling.

We had an absolutely magical summer. We celebrated two birthdays and Chad and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. We shared awesome time with family and friends and spent parts of the summer in a few beautiful places.

I’m increasingly aware of the fact that God gives us only so many days to spend on this earth. It’s up to us how we spend them. I’m always a little nostalgic at the end of summer vacation… I love this time with my family where schedules are a little looser, spontaneity is the norm, and family time trumps everything else. Goodbye summer…

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Happy SEVENTH Birthday to Colin!

Well, it has been a full month. June brought us Miles’s 1st Birthday, our 11th wedding anniversary, the passing of Chad’s maternal grandfather, Colin’s 7th Birthday, and Father’s Day. What a month! It has certainly been emotional for our family. Sorry for the delay in sharing… here are some photos from Colin’s big day:

Good Morning Colin! Happy 7th Birthday! (The boys camped out in the playroom the night before).

Miles and Papa wanted to wish Colin an early morning “Happy Birthday” too!

Toy Story 3 was the theme for our birthday table.

After a fun morning at Vacation Bible School (where we celebrated with a Cookie Cake), we headed to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry for a fabulous party. The staff planned a beautiful party for “King Colin” and the other knights and princesses. Everyone had a great time. If you’re considering a birthday party in Charleston, this is the best venue I’ve experienced. Christine took care of everything and Crystal (our party hostess) was AWESOME with the children.

After the festivities at the Childrens Museum wrapped up, we headed to Taco Boy for a GREAT birthday dinner.

And then we went home to open presents.

We got Colin new golf clubs so that he’s ready to play with Daddy and Poppy.

Apparently Miles would like to play golf too!

We ended the evening by watching Toy Story 2 on DVD  (in new Toy Story PJs) and building towers with Colin’s new Citiblocks. It was truly an awesome day. The day wouldn’t have been complete without our traditional photo in the “birthday hat” though!

Colin is my firstborn son. I remember the shock of the first moment I looked into his eyes. I was filled with a love for this little baby that I can never put into words. I knew that I would love my child but I did not expect the fierce emotion that welled up in me. This happened with both my other boys too but the sheer strength of emotion shocked me because it was so unexpected.  I can’t believe that was SEVEN years ago. I’m so grateful that God chose us to be Colin’s family! I pray that we raise our boys well.

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…
Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV

Yesterday’s Life Lesson

I’m sorry I haven’t been diligent with blogging lately. It has been a busy month! The Family Circle Cup has been so much fun this week that I haven’t found much time to get in front of a computer. But I learned something yesterday. Please bear with me because I’m typing this quickly and trying to share a bunch of thoughts that make sense in my mind but may not work out on paper!! 🙂

Yesterday was an awesome day. I knew I’d be working all weekend so it was jam-packed with “stuff”. We went to Charleston’s Cafe for breakfast and ate WAY more than I want to tell you! If you haven’t been there and you’re local you MUST go — it was such a treat! Our day was full of fun. We went downtown and walked the length of the waterfront. Then we went to the Charleston Beer Exchange (where Scott is sporting a new look ;)) to pick up their latest rare beer for our grill-out this weekend. After that we picked up our bikes (and bike trailer for Miles) at Trek in Mount Pleasant. Then off to the pool at the club for swimming and supper and then an evening bike ride with the whole family. It couldn’t have been a nicer day!

My point in outlining the whole day is that I learned an important lesson from an interaction we had with the boys in the evening. After all this fun, we get home and it is time for bed. Colin and Davis wanted to keep going even though it was late. They asked questions over and over: Can we watch a show? Can we play a game? Will you let us stay up for 10 more minutes? Can we ride our bikes some more?… I found myself becoming frustrated that they couldn’t be content with the really great day that we had. I said something like, “We did so many nice things with you today. I wish you could be content and satisfied with what a nice day it was.”

Later that night, it hit me that I do the exact same thing. Probably on a greater scale!! We have SO many blessings in our lives but I constantly find myself praying for more. More time, money, things, desires… I always want more. So I asked myself the same thing: Why can’t I be satisfied with all that God has done for our family? How come I’m always hoping/ wishing/ waiting for the next level of comfort, security, whatever…? How can my children behave any differently when their mother does the same thing?

I’m pretty lucky that my Heavenly Father doesn’t get frustrated at me like I did with my boys. Ah, it’s good to have a change in perspective. So, I’m back to praying for contentment 😉

Here are some photos from our day. I didn’t take many because my iPhone died. I think I have some on Chad’s iPhone and I will try to add them later. And, yes, Miles got a haircut!!

Traditions

I love traditions. I think they become part of the fabric of a family. My family had a few great traditions growing up but they were nothing compared to Chad’s family. The Johnsons have traditions for just about everything and I love it!

On St. Patrick’s Day, Chad’s mom has made corned beef and cabbage for as long as Chad can remember. There are many advantages to living so close to them –tonight they brought over corned beef, cabbage, cheese sauce, potatoes, carrots, green jello, and green coffee cake. What an awesome meal. At one point, I sat back and just looked at everyone. I wondered what traditions Chad and I will pass down to our children. What will “stick”? Do we actually have any traditions at all?

After thinking about it, I realized that we have everyday traditions and special occasion traditions like everyone else. We pray before meals and with our each of our children every night. We collect all birthday money from relatives and spend it at Toys R Us on their actual birthdays. We sing the same songs at bedtime. We check on the boys and re-tuck them in each night before we go to sleep. We make a Christmas photo book each year to preserve our memories. We go to Sweet Treats for ice cream when we go to the mountains. We order pizza and the boys wear their jerseys for the first Clemson football game of the season. We make special breakfasts on the weekends. We play Uno on vacations. We write down things we are thankful for during the month of November. We always buy new Christmas PJs. We spend New Year’s Eve with several of our dear friends. We watch Elf every Christmas. We visit James Island to see the Christmas lights. We buy coordinating Easter outfits. We sit on our top porch on the fourth of July and watch the fireworks over the lake. When we’re doing these things, they don’t really feel like traditions but I guess that they are!

I love Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in Our Traditions. It got me thinking about traditions in a different way. How traditions help provide families with stability. How the anticipation of them is part of the fun.

Another tradition is wearing a silly hat on our birthdays. Here’s Davis at 4 and 5.

Anxious for Nothing

I’m a worrier. I don’t want to be —- but it seems I’m always weighing the worst case scenario in all of my decisions. On vacation, I try to put the boys in the room that’s easiest to get to in case of a fire.  I buy Tylenol before I need it (and restock it as necessary) to make sure it hasn’t been contaminated (like what happened when I was young). I make sure that Miles is breathing before I go to bed. The list is endless…Totally neurotic, I know.

I know all this worrying doesn’t get me anywhere. God knows the number of our days and nothing I can do will change that. If something tragic happened, would I grieve any less by worrying more? Of course not. The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. In fact, God tells us to stop our worrying! Why is it so hard for me to turn everything over to Him?

So… I’ve been praying for a peaceful spirit. To enjoy the moment instead of feeling nostalgic. To be at rest instead of anxious. Yesterday I read this verse:

When I said, “My foot is slipping”

Your love, O Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

Your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Psalm 94:18-19

I’m grateful for these words and will try to rest in His promises! I just want to enjoy each moment…

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Morning on the Wando River

There’s something about water in the morning. It glistens and sparkles and takes on a color that is different from any other time of day.

I went out to Mitchell Wharf this morning (without a great attitude since it’s still freezing today) to take some photos for work. As I took photos and tried to keep warm, I found myself rejuvenated and refreshed by the beauty of creation.

If I woke up to this glorious sight every morning, would I take it for granted? I sure hope not. It’s days like this that make me remember that God is an artist.  He is the Author of Beauty. I love the feeling that I get when I observe splendour and know that it isn’t a random thing.

After a bad headache last night, I got every bit of sleep possible and I didn’t have time to do my Bible Study before things got cranking in the morning. I’ve felt two steps behind on everything today and it’s only 9:00!  How amazing that He met me by the river this morning and restored peace in my distracted mind and spirit. I truly needed a clearer perspective this morning and He gave me that. Thank You, Father! 🙂

Proverbs 14:4 ~ What??!

Well…. I’ve been praying for contentment lately and this is what I got:

Where there are no oxen, the stall is clean. But much is to be gained by the strength of an ox. Proverbs 14:4

What??? I sat there and stared at the verse wondering why God chose to share this with me (and also why it was even in the Bible!?).

And then I had a moment of revelation!!

Much of my frustration comes from the messiness of daily life with three children. I’m always cleaning up or organizing something or the other. Dirty dishes, endless piles of laundry, toys that seem to multiply by the minute, sticky floors, messy bathrooms, crumbs on the kitchen table, fingerprints on the glass doors, paperwork from school, bills to be paid, shopping that needs to be done — the list is endless. Once we’re caught up, I just feel like we start all over again.

But — Wow! The riches that I gain from having these three little boys in my life are immeasurable. Sure, the stall isn’t clean. And it probably isn’t going to be clean for many, many years to come. But MUCH is to be gained by pouring my life and my heart into raising these little guys.

God — You’re right. You’ve given me these beautiful children. Help me to appreciate them fully and to rest in Your Word. My house will never be perfectly clean and our lives will never be perfectly organized.  These are not the things that matter. Chad and I would lead such a different life without our little guys! We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Help me to realize that our “stall” is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

And MUCH is to be gained by the strength of an ox. 🙂

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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I needed that!

Why is it that sometimes life seems like it is speeding past us like a freight train? For days now, I have had the feeling that I am running a race and can’t slow down. In my (albeit abbreviated) morning quiet times this week, I’ve asked God to help me to enjoy being in the moment. To be intentional. I’m scared that I’m going to miss the sweet, important moments that truly matter because life is so busy now.

He gave me a verse that really spoke to me. Psalm 3:3 states that God is the one who “lifts up my head.” I needed that! It made me realize that I am looking at the ground (the mundane) when all I need to do is look up (at the things that really matter).

I do this with my boys all the time. When I need to say something important to to one of them, I place my hand under his chin and gently lift his head so that he is looking up at me. How awesome to think that our God tenderly does that for us — His children.

So — He “lifted my head” this morning. I walked out on my upstairs porch and was instantly amazed by the beauty of His creation.

Thank You Lord, for showing me what I miss when I forget to simply look up.

 

Here is another photo taken by a much more talented friend (Pat Stuckart) with a camera better than my iPhone! Thanks for sharing, Pat! You can view Pat’s amazing photos by clicking on the link above.

It’s hard to say good-bye

We said our final good-byes to Travis (Chad’s brother), Amy, Lilli, Patton and Aidan yesterday afternoon. As I mentioned before, they are leaving for Uganda where they will serve as missionaries in the village of Bundibugyo.

The cousins had a very sweet time together. We met at Lake Keowee (where Amy’s parents havea  condo on the lake) and enjoyed being with them — trying to soak it all in.

The weather was terrible as we traveled. It amazes me that we had snow and ice in upstate SC! It was well worth the trouble to spend this last bit of time with them.

The photo above was at a gas station in Spartanburg, SC. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We enjoyed a great brunch together and Davis had his first taste of crab legs! We couldn’t get him away from the table. He loved cracking them open and using the “cute little fork” to dip them in the drawn butter. He had strep throat a week ago and lost a lot of weight so we were glad to see him enjoying food again!

Lilli & Colin created a little “store” under a table at the condo. They found items from all over the place and charged us 25 cents for each item we purchased. I had to buy back an apple for a snack yesterday! They said that they were doing it so that they could earn money for Uganda. They named the store AppleBirds and had a ball with it for several hours.

We played Dominoes, watched movies, went for walks around the lake, and played “find the rubber band” (yet another made up game).

I hope the boys will have special memories of our time together. So much will have changed by the time we see our family again. We are confident that God has called them to serve and are excited for all that He is going to do through them.

However, it is still hard to say good bye.

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Frankie is home!

To those of you who have followed the journey of our friends, Frankie is home! We are thrilled for Kim, Dave, Emma & Izzie. You can follow their journey at http://kimrhodes.wordpress.com/. Here are some photos:

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Counting our blessings

While watching the coverage of the horror that is unfolding in Haiti, I am reminded of what is truly important. Our dear friends Dave and Kim Rhodes have a son in Haiti who they have been waiting to adopt for two years. Here is a photo of the Rhodes family (minus Frankie) and Frankie is below. You can follow their adoption journey at http://kimrhodes.wordpress.com/.

We are so thankful that Frankie is all right but my heart hurts for those whose families are not. Dave and Kim are still so worried about the situation in Haiti. Although Frankie is physically unharmed, they don’t know what the days ahead will hold. There is a shortage of food and water and disease will run rampant in the next few days. If you think of it, please pray for them. It is heartbreaking to know your baby son is in the midst of a terrifying ordeal and not have the ability to be with him. Here is a photo of the children sleeping outside since the children’s home was damaged in the earthquake:

I know there are several worthy organizations, but Heartline is near and dear to our hearts. If you feel led to give, here is a link to their website: http://haiti-relief.org/

All I can think of is how blessed we are as a country that our problems are economic and financial. If God gave me the choice, I would choose financial hardship over physical hardship EVERY time. I can’t get my mind around what the people of Haiti must be going through. It’s too big for me to even begin to comprehend.

What I do know is that God is using this tragedy to teach me to get a stranglehold on the things in my life that are really important: Family, friends, and enjoying the gifts that He gives us each day.

When we see the fact that “life is a vapor” before us on our televisions, we realise that the rest is just not that important.

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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