It’s coming…

Leave a comment

It seems to lurk in the shadows but I always know when it is coming. I bet you didn’t know that it  falls on the same day of the week as Christmas. So in January when I look at the calendar to confirm what day of the week Christmas is, I know what day of the week September 11 is. This year it is a Monday. Next year it is a Tuesday. Those years are practically hard because September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday and it is too easy to relive the moments as they fall on the same day of the week as they fell in 2001.

As the first anniversary approached there was a sense of what was the right thing to do, what were the expectations, my dear friend Carol said “do what you want to do?” That was the best advice anyone could have given me. In the first years that meant Emily, Meghan and I were together just the three of us. In the years since “do what you want to do?” is still my standard. I don’t go to the National Memorial on that day because personally I don’t think I can take on the grief of all those people. This year first thing in the morning, I am speaking at a Jewish school in Manhattan, then venturing up to the Bronx to Squad 41 for the memorial mass and then home for Greenwood Lake Fire Department’s yearly ceremony. All of those are things I want to do, all of those things seem like the right thing to do.

There was a time when the anniversary felt like a large dark being waiting to pounce on me. I came to realize what I was fearing was a shadow. Bruce dying in the line of duty couldn’t happen again because it already happened on September 11, 2001. I also came to understand that if I was looking at September 11 the sun/Son were behind me so the shadow was in front of me but if I looked at the sun/Son the shadow was behind me. Walt Whitman expresses it this way:

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

Since I have been volunteering with the 9/11 Tribute Museum, the weeks and days leading up to the anniversary are a time I worry for lack of a better word about my fellow docents. Those that had experiences that I can’t imagine. Those that saw things no one was ever supposed see. I hold them and their stories close. I pray for peace, rest and healing for friends whom I never would have known if it hadn’t been for September 11, 2001 and our determining to tell our stories. In the Broadway show, Come From Away, there is a line towards the end that states how I now view September 11, 2001:

“We honor what we loss, but we commemorate what we found.”

On September 11, 2001 “we” lost many people and many dreams but “we” found that together “we” could go on. In the past week or so the people of Houston have lost much but they have found each other. At this time in our nation we need to find our way back to being “we” instead of us and them. So as September 11, 2017 approaches, could we honor what has been lost (opportunities, lives, dreams) in our country and strive to find a way to move forward together not as clones or mindless beings but as human beings who disagree on issues, who look different, who believe different things but stand together to educate our children, feed the hungry, aid the sick, shelter the homeless and at least offer a cup of water or a listening ear as needed.

I ask you to never forget and always remember the way we treated each other after September 11, 2001. My apologies to those who were not treated well even then but I believe we can do better.

Remedial class

3 Comments

I have often commented to friends that I am pretty sure I am in the remedial class when it comes to learning life lessons. Seriously if there is such a class I am in it. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is just the way it is. For example, last year in Children’s Bible Quizzing we studied the book of Exodus. The story of Moses with the burning bush is one of my favorites. Moses out in the wilderness doing his job of tending sheep and God shows up. Take your sandals off. Holy ground. “I AM WHO I AM” All great stuff.

What stuck with me last year was Moses asking “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God responding “I will be with you…” I loved that response. God didn’t say “Moses, you were the Hebrew baby in the basket, you were the young man in Pharaoh’s court, you are a murder, the shepherd.” He says “I will be with you.” This was an aha moment for me. Really that is what it is all about God is with us. Immanuel means God with us. I mentioned it to friends. In conversation with my pastor, he commented that Moses actually asked the wrong question. Moses should have asked “who was God?”  Yeah, right. That is worth pondering, too. The main thing still goes back to God saying “I will go with you.” I was passionate about this. I pondered it  I excitedly  shared this new understanding when I spoke at Le Tourneau and College of the Ozarks. Good stuff.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I have been invited to share my September 11 at a hearing on terrorism. Did I mention the hearing is in Brussels, Belgium at the European Parliament? An amazing opportunity but I am pretty sure they have the wrong person. No, a real invitation to speak arrives via email. Then a telephone call. All confirmed by September 11 Families Association. This is legit.  I am humbled by the opportunity but remember I am the ballet teacher. This is a “running with the big kids” event. I am a sit on the floor with kids person.

Yesterday I emailed some friends to ask them to pray for me as I embark on this amazing adventure and as I sat in my study I thought “who am I that I should speak at the European Parliament.” And then it clicked! I asked the wrong question but answer was still the same – “I will go with you.”

 

Image-1

 

 

 

How was your weekend?

Leave a comment

My intention on Saturday morning was to leave the house a little earlier than I needed so I could get cash at the bank and then get gas. My car usually has at least a half a tank of gasoline in it. Mostly because whenever I drive to or through NJ I fill up the tank. Fuel in NJ is cheaper than NY and “they” pump it which is a major selling point for me. I hadn’t driven to or through NJ in the last few days so my gas gauge was registering at less than a quarter tank. I definitely didn’t want to purchase gas in my little hometown. It is too expensive typically gas is at least 50 cents a gallon more than anywhere else. Anyway I left the house a little later than planned and my gas tank was a little emptier than original thought but I realized I had $40 in cash so I could get “some” gas. The part you need to know is unless I get gas in town there won’t be another gas station for at least 10 miles in any direction. Nervously watching the gas gauge and hoping the “you need fuel” idiot light won’t blink on I headed out. No worries, it will be fine! Please, please may that be true. I pulled into the first station in NJ I came upon on my journey. I said “$40 cash, fill it regular.” I hadn’t looked how much it was a gallon so I glanced at the sign and was pleasantly surprised to see it was $2.95/gallon. Wow, I hadn’t seen that price in a long time. Guess what? at that price my tank was filled. The funny thing as I drove rest of the way to my destination and then home every other station’s prices were over $3.03. It was like a secret little Saturday morning surprise for me. 🙂

On Sunday I posted it on Facebook ”

“Apple picking, pumpkin picking and fall foliage bring many people to my area this time of year. Plus the first Sunday in October in Warwick, NY is Applefest. If you don’t know what Applefest is, think Time Square meets lovely quaint village for just one day as the Thanksgiving Day Parade is also happening. I am at the iPray/iThrist booth this morning.”

Applefest is a craft fair, farmer’s market, art show, music event that brings lots and lots of people to Warwick, NY. It is a little difficult to be excited about Applefest due to traffic being horrific mostly because the roads are not equipped to handle the volume of traffic that descent on the area. Actually the streets are wide enough for the number of people walking around. My local church sponsors a booth that has a two-fold purpose. It is called iPray where we take prayer requests and/or prayer with you and we also have iThrist where we sell bottled water for $1 to raise money for building clean water wells around the world. I volunteered to help set up and “man” the booth for a few hours. My goal was get in and out before it got too crazy in Warwick but really two people I met were worth all the traffic and all the crazy.

As a woman was writing her prayer request I asked “is there something I could pray for right now?” She responded “yes” and proceeded to tell me her request and then she said “the only reason I come to Applefest is you are here to take my prayer requests and pray with me.” Wow!! A little later another woman came over and wrote her request and I asked if I could pray with her. She has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I briefly shared with her my breast cancer story and in further conversation realized we have the same doctor. We hugged as she left and I will be praying for her. All that said to say I helped at Applefest yesterday and missed church or did I?

How was your weekend? Mine was good! 🙂

The class of 1964

2 Comments

083

Last fall I received an email from a Facebook friend of my sister-in-law’s. After a brief introduction of who was emailing me, the sender explained that her husband is a 1964 graduate of West Point and she would like to schedule a tour of the Memorial during their 50th reunion weekend. She also mentioned it would be 100 people. I quickly suggested she contact the Tribute Center and forwarded her the information. I did say that I was more than willing to be one of walking tour docents but 100 people will require more than one guide. Through the months arrangements were made for the group to visit Tribute but because of the opening of the Museum the group was told that the Memorial may not be open on May 17 but they were welcome to meet with a docent in gallery 5 instead of a walking tour.

So this morning I traveled into the Tribute Center to speak to 100 people in 2 groups of 50. As I thought about who this group was, I realized as 1964 graduates of USMA at West Point these men most likely went to Vietnam. As graduates of the USMA, they had served their nation, my nation. I realized as I was growing up they were servicing our country.

Well, due to traffic and more traffic I arrived at the Tribute Center at 10:28 for a 10:30 group.Just in time for the group but these folks had arrived early so they were waiting for me. I quickly put my jacket and purse in a locker, grabbed some photos and walked into gallery 5. The gentleman in charge of the group pulled me aside and said “before you start speaking I would like to introduce you to the group.” Okay, I had never met this man but his wife was the one who had emailed me and set everything up. He got everyone’s attention using some military jargon and proceeded to introduce me. He mentioned I was an email friend of his wife, that Richard* had been a firefighter and had been killed on September 11. He commented that he had found a YouTube video of me speaking at a Christian college and suggested everyone watch it. 🙂 One of the things I had said in that video had really stuck with him. He stated that I had said “Bruce’s decision to enter the building on September 11 had been made long before September 11. Just as Christ’s decision to go to cross was made long before the Garden.” He went onto say that “23 members of the class of 1964 had died in Vietnam and 1 had died in the Dominican Republic.” He also said “that their decision to serve their country had been made on the parade ground on July 5, 1964 as they (we) raised our right hand and took the oath. Actually it had been made before that.” He also commented that duty is a form of love. He then introduced another man who handed me their class coin and announced I was an honorary member of the class of 1964. I was overwhelmed and humbled. I thanked them for their service, made reference to the fact that Bruce had been a firefighter at West Point before being FDNY and then told my September 11 story.

When I finished, I did it one more time. The man who introduced me the first time, introduced me a second time and joked there wasn’t another coin. Wow!! I can’t believe I got one coin. I am ever amazed at the opportunities I am given. I am ever humbled by meeting the class of 1964. I am also very glad that the class of 1964 did actually get to go onto the Memorial after they finished at Tribute and they had a beautiful weather to boot.

*Richard Bruce Van Hine was my husband’s full name. People who knew him referred to him as Bruce. The gentleman today referred to him as Richard and even mentioned to the second group that I called my husband Bruce but he would refer to him as Richard. I thought that showed respect.

Heed my own words

4 Comments

This morning the radio newscaster announced “the fences are down and the Museum is open to the families and the first responders.” I thought I would throw up. As I drove and pondered those words, I realized I needed to heed my own words. There are two issues that occupy my thoughts lately.

“The fences are down for the first time since September 11, 2001” almost overwhelms me with fear. I have been leading walking tours around and on the Memorial for 8 years. There has always been a fence. A fence around an empty hole and then around a construction site. A fence around the Memorial that allowed me one place of entry. A fence that kept me out and then kept me safe and now it is gone. My mind races with thoughts what if I am on the Memorial and some wacko does some wacko thing? Am I responsible for the visitors on my tour? What if I am with a group of children or teens? Do I have a plan? And then I remember what I say to the students “be aware, not afraid!”.

“The Museum is open to families and first responders” is another source of anxiety. I have seen the space, just the sheer size is overwhelming but what about the exhibits. As I ponder my upcoming visit, I know it will be difficult but I wonder will I be able to do it. And then I remember something else I say to friends and family when they visit the Tribute Center “be kind to yourself. Look at what you can look at, listen to what you can listen to and skip the rest.”

I have said many times when speaking about my faith in relation to September 11 “that in the beginning I hid behind God then He carried me and then He put me down to walk.” I know He will supply what I need but sometimes I just need to remind myself. Below are the words to a song by Matt Redman that is currently my friendly reminder of how far I have traveled and how faithful God is. You can find a video on YouTube.

“Never Once”

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

001

surrender

Leave a comment

008

I came up to Barn to write but have done everything but write. Between yesterday afternoon and today I have cleaned the oven, emptied, cleaned and refilled the hot tub. I have also watched the latest episode of Blue Bloods so I am all “caught up”. I watched Blacklist I don’t even like that show. I finished reading a book. Checked my email and Facebook. I investigated the writers guidelines for Todays Christian Woman magazine. Oh, did I mention I tried to set up the new DVD player and I even finished the online defensive driving course to lower my auto insurance rate. But the pièce de résistance this morning instead of writing I decided to rake the dead leaves to “tidy” up the yard. The fact I even came up with that idea was to do anything but to sit down and write. Well, raking lasted 5 minutes. The gentle breeze that was blowing while I cleaned the hot tub became a wind as I started raking. The leaves kept blowing back at me. I can take a hint so I laughed said “okay, Lord” and was grateful the wind wasn’t a whale.

As I sit looking out the window towards the hot tub, every now and then there is a flash of white material like a surrender flag. I left a roll of paper towel outside and the wind must catch it in just the right way for a piece to wave in my direction. Surrender an interesting thought. What do I need to surrender – fear, pride, control.

The breeze has definitely turned into a constant wind, the dark clouds are rolling in, the trees are really swaying, there is a storm coming. I am reminded:

“You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Well, now I should write since this is blogging but maybe I should eat lunch first or maybe not. 🙂

one homemade Christmas ornament

1 Comment

026

It appears to be a homemade Christmas ornament – a glass ball containing some kind of gold substance with a gold ribbon hot glued around the circumference. It is however an amazing story of an acquaintance being in the right place at the right time. It is a story of a one of a kind gift.

In the Spring of 2011, a friend would contact me stating that someone was trying to contact me and asking permission to forward my contact information to said person. I said “sure”. On Easter Saturday that someone would call and ask to stop by. They had something they knew I would want. My daughter and son-in-law were visiting. We were all slightly curious and a little skeptical so we said “fine, stop by”. The someone and his wife arrived carrying a plain brown box and a DVD. We invited them in and he proceeded to tell us about the contents of the box and the DVD. Before he started to speak his wife commented “watching the DVD was like watching grass grow”. Okay?!? He opened the box and it contained a plastic bag of metal shavings. Strange?!? And then he told us “I have been working at the company that is engraving the panels for the September 11 Memorial. I was working the day they engraved Bruce’s name. These are the shavings from his name being engraved. I also took a video of his name being engraved. You can’t show this to anyone until after the panels are installed” Oh my, I was amazed and ashamed of my attitude and dumfounded. Wow!!

In December of 2011, my daughter and I filled 3 glass balls with those shavings and glued a ribbon around the circumference. We made one for me and one for each of my daughters. That ornament hangs on my tree (and their trees) and I am ever reminded of how God uses everything to remind us of His love.

001