My ABC’s from 2015.

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Golden glitter

 

A is for adventures. A week in Florida Keys, a weekend in Chicago and being a tourist in my own city all qualify.

B is for ballet. I taught one class a week at a Modern Dance studio.

C is for Colton James. He was born on April 29, 2015.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank quite a few cups of coffee.

E is for Eagle Rock Resort. Enjoyed my cabin and the amenities.

F is for faith, family and friends. I can’t do life without them.

G is for Grammy. My new title thanks to Colton James. 🙂

H is for hope. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I is for interview. I did a couple of those.

J is for Joy.

K is for kindness.

L is for Library Book Club. Still going strong on the first Tuesday of each month.

M is for my Mum. She is doing well even though she is confined to a wheelchair.

N is for nieces and nephews. 7 plus 12 “grand” nieces and nephews. 🙂

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for published. “Unexpected Blessings” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteer and Giving Back edition and a devotional in The Upper Room.

Q is for quizzing. After 19 years, Eastern Regional Quiz at ENC was my last hurrah as Metro New York Children’s Ministries director for the Church of the Nazarene.

S is for shore. Spent a few days at the Jersey Shore with the Bowers.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for university. I spoke on two campuses.

V is for volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Center.

W is for writing.

X is for eXercise.

Y is for year. Hard to believe another has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2016, I want to read and write more. I want to be present and not distracted. I want to be who God intended me to be.

 

 

 

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At the first anniversary there was a sense of needing to do the “right” thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing. I am so grateful to a friend who said “do what you want to do” and we did. Meghan and I traveled to Quincy, MA to be with Emily who had just started her freshmen year of college. We attended chapel on campus, then drove down to the waterfront and sat and talked about Daddy (Bruce), we prayed, we cried and we wrote in our “things we would have told you” book – a recap of the year. Later, we ventured into Boston for lunch. I remember we stumbled upon numerous television crews at Nathaniel Hall and not knowing if we should laugh or cry, we kept our distance. We wanted to just be a mom and her daughters missing their dad/husband not 9/11 family members. There was something surreal about the day as there has been something surreal about so many days.

As the years have passed the advice of that friend “to do what you want to do” has proven to be excellent advice. Some years I have taken part in local ceremonies in Greenwood Lake or Rochelle Park or attended unique opportunities like ringing the bell at the NASDAQ or the concert at the Beacon Theatre.  I don’t venture to the National September 11 Memorial ceremony because I don’t think I can take on the grief of all those people. We don’t always write in the “things we would have told you” book anymore. We aren’t necessarily physically together because one daughter lives in Seattle and the other in PA.

This Friday will mark the 14th anniversary. I haven’t decided what I want to do this year. This year is a tricky year because my one daughter has now lived 14 years with her dad and 14 years without him and that breaks my heart. It seems harder this year because I have so many Tribute Center friends and I carry their stories as well. A few things that were true on the first anniversary are true on the 14th. I will talk to my daughters and I will tell them how very proud their Dad would be of them and I will remind them that he loved them so much. I will ask them to remember to pray for the other families, and the Squad 41 firefighters.  I will thank God for His faithfulness, my family and friends. And we will wish that we were just a mom and daughters missing their dad/husband who died in the line of duty and not 9/11 family members because a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy adds so many layers.

 

a new landscape

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Grief-Quote-CS-LewisToday is a tricky day.(https://missannsays.com/2013/01/18/tricky-days/). Today would have been my husband’s 62nd birthday but it has been 13 years since he celebrated a birthday here on earth (https://missannsays.com/2012/09/10/r-bruce-van-hine/). Actually I surprised myself with a “good cry” this morning. The wondrous birth of my first grandchild back in April has made today harder than it has been in the past. Each year the number of things that Bruce has missed increases. I am grateful for the years we had and I am grateful for the life I have today but…

C.S. Lewis says “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” My life is a totally new landscape now.  And in many ways that isn’t a bad thing but it is a different thing.  Happy Birthday, Bruce. See you again…

psalm 61

Appalachian Trail and Me

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The Appalachian Trail and I have an interesting relationship. I am not a hiker. I have no desire to hike anywhere let alone the “A.T.” I will admit I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods”. It was one of my husband’s favorite books.  My husband was a hiker and he enjoyed hiking the “A.T.”. Through the years I have played a role in making sure his car was where it needed to be so when he finished a day hike he could get home. Other times I dropped him off and at a set time picked him up. I have fed “through hikers” he brought home and welcomed strangers to take a shower and sleep in their tent in our yard. I purchased gallon zip lock bags so he could leave Bibles on the trail. And a few years ago I donated his trail guides to the National September 11 Museum and in June the Museum put his trail guide on display. Yesterday I had a telephone call from a Museum staff person telling me they had written a blog about Bruce’s story.

https://www.911memorial.org/blog/new-view-firefighter%E2%80%99s-appalachian-trail-guidebook

 

 

transported to a different place

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 farm

 

A couple of weeks ago I visited a Le Leche League meeting with my daughter. My intention had been to sit in the car as my daughter, a brand new mom, attended the meeting to learn more about breastfeeding her newborn son. My intention was to be just the chauffeur instead I participated in an amazing experience.

As we left for the meeting I mentioned to my daughter that I would sit in the car during the meeting. No worries I have a book I wanted to finish reading so take your time and learn a lot. She commented that she had mentioned her mom would be driving her and the leader was excited for me to attend as well. Okay, so now I am going in. I breastfeed my daughters many years ago but I never attended a Le Leche meeting. This was going to be a new adventure.

With my two-week old grandson safe and secure in his car seat and my daughter, his mom sitting next to him we embarked on our journey. My daughter read the directions from her smart phone and I followed. As we turned off the highway, my daughter said “turn right at the next road. There isn’t a street name?” pause “Mom, this better not be a dirt road” Yes, it is a single lane dirt road leading onto a lovely farm complete with barefoot children walking up the road. Did I mention my daughter lives in Lancaster County, PA – a beautiful area of farms, horse and buggies, Amish and Mennonite families, a kinder, gentler way of life. “Mom, turn around” “I can’t turn around until we get to the end of road”. I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. When we arrive at the end of road there is a barn, an out building and a farmhouse. Just then an older woman dressed in a simple long dress walks out the farmhouse door. My daughter and I exchange puzzled looks.  Not sure that we are in the right place, my daughter sheepishly gets out of the car and asked “Is this where the Le Leche meeting is?” “Yes! welcome, come in.”

We were committed now. We were the first to arrive and wondered what have we gotten ourselves into. After a few moments others arrived for a total of five moms and babies, two group leaders and two more grandmas – some were Mennonite and some were not.  My daughter’s questions were answered. Information was gleaned. Experiences were shared.  I smiled that the examples to explain different things were all from nature – like when kittens feed, or milk separates. I wondered if I was at a Manhattan meeting what the examples would be.

Let me tell you it was a remarkable morning. It was like being transported to another place/time. Me from NY in my black capris, flip flops with my Alex and Ani bracelets, Pandora rings and smart phone and our hosts with their simple long dresses, aprons, white small bonnets and bare feet. But here was never a moment when I felt like an outsider or an intruder. There was never a moment when I thought this was a mistake. When we left almost two hours later I commented to my daughter that the words “there is no condemnation” kept running through my mind.  Wow! I was surprised, blessed and challenged.

Do I live my life in such a way that when people spend time with me they don’t feel like an intruder even if everything about them is different? That is my new challenge for each day because I know I fall short and I experienced how great and amazing it felt to be transported  to a gathering where there was “no condemnation.”

 

 

The first time we met

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I know exactly the first time we met. It was Wednesday April 29, 2015 around 10:30 am. An early morning telephone call  jumped started my day. Thankfully I had filled the car with gas on Monday and visited the ATM machine on Tuesday so I was ready to go in short order.  A mental checklist helped me pack for a couple of days away, a quick shower, a group text requested prayer for your arrival and I was out the door in just about an hour. Coffee and oatmeal purchased at a drive through establishment, radio tuned to the news channel for traffic reports every ten minutes  and I was good to go. The journey to you was uneventful on my end. No real traffic, beautiful weather, smooth sailing, one pit spot for a restroom break. About 2.5 hours into the journey, the beeping sound on my Bluetooth  signaled a telephone call “ignore or accept”. The voice on the other end said “Mom” and the rest of the words I couldn’t really hear or understand – water break, drugs, how long, don’t know but I understood “would you pray?” So I prayed a prayer for wisdom for all  and then I  said “I am about 45 minutes away but feel free to start without me.”

After a little wandering around and studying of signs, I found the family maternity unit.  The receptionist asked “may I help you?” I mentioned your mom’s name, a quick phone call informed me to wait in the waiting room. After a few minutes your dad appeared in the doorway. I thought he was ready to jump out of his skin he was so excited. A big hug, a few words and he returned to you and after a little more waiting  my phone rang. “Mom, you can come back. We are in room D for dog”. I proceeded down the hallway, entered the room,  pushed back the curtain and there was  your mom sitting up in bed looking no worse for wear. She was smiling from ear to ear even though I could tell tears of joy and relief were ready to burst forth. We hugged and held each other. Your dad was sitting in the reclining chair staring at your face. Your dad’s look was one of amazement, wonder and love. Your dad stood and placed you in my arms. I looked at you. Awe, wonder, hope, thankfulness, love –  yes, all of the above!

The-first-time-we-met-poem-ms-moem

A Love Story

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Today would have been my parent’s wedding anniversary. My Dad died in November 2012. Actually, we lost my Dad much early due to a massive stroke in 2006.  My sister and I have discussed if we are the people we are “because of or in spite of” my parents. We have “played” pop psychologist analyzing and scrutinizing my parents’ relationship and personalities. During one of those conversations my sister commented “their story was truly a love story”. Wait! What! I wanted to ask didn’t she remember slammed doors, raised voices, less than stellar choices on many levels.. Their story wasn’t a fairy tale – American serviceman from Oklahoma meets young British woman during Korean war and they live happily ever after.  No that wasn’t it. Their life together wasn’t perfect or maybe even what they each expected it to be – 4 children, financial stress, mental health issues, miscarriages, moving a lot – Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona and finally New Jersey.*

However just this week I realized my sister was right my parents’ story was a love story. Because after it was all said and done from April 22, 1953 until November 25, 2012.

” I, James, take thee, Margaret, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

I, Margaret, take thee, James, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”

They kept their vows definitely not perfectly but they kept their vows and something bigger than words makes you keep those vows – love!

IMG_1034 Mom and Dad in Christmas 1988.

 

*Years ago I realized that my parents did the best they could with the resources (financial, emotional, mental and spiritual) they had. There is a sense of freedom when you come to that point.