little stones

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Many times as I share my personal story while leading walking tours of the National September 11 Memorial, I make the following statement:

“Before I started volunteering with the Tribute Center, I only had my story and that was quite enough. But now I know the stories of downtown residents, survivors, other family members, volunteers and first responders. To me the story of September 11 is like a mosaic, it is hundreds if not thousands of stories that lay next to each other they don’t necessarily interlock like a puzzle to tell the story of that day and years since. We need all of those stories to understand what happened. We need your stories as well.”

Yesterday I read the May 3 entry in Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey. It really spoke to me and I wanted to share it with you.

“A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say, “I make God visible.” But others who see us together can say, “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.”

The italics are mine. I want to admire the beauty of each stone but I also want to step back and see the whole beautiful picture. How about you?

mosaic

Finally Home

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generations

My mother-in-law is finally home. She passed from this life to eternity early this morning. For years she had been saying (my paraphrase) “Each night I ask the Lord to just take me home and then I wake up in the morning and have another day. I don’t know why God still has me here?” Before she moved to assisted living I would answer that question with “I don’t know Mom but I think it is so we can go to Friendly’s together”. After she moved to assisted living I would say “I don’t know Mom but I think it is because there may be someone here who doesn’t know Jesus loves them.” My mother-in-law was 97 years old last September. She served in her church until she was in her 90’s. She picked up friends and drove them to church until she was in her 90’s which to be honest was always a little scary to me but what an example of servant hood. My mother-in-law truly practiced the gift of hospitality. She was always inviting people over for Sunday dinner. She hosted more missionaries and random people overnight in her home than you could believe.

My mother-in-law lived alone since her husband had died over 20 years ago. She outlived just about every one of her contemporaries. All of her siblings and their spouses are deceased. Many of her friends are deceased.  The one death that she told me time and time again she couldn’t understand was her son, my husband, Bruce Van Hine. Through the 14 years since his death, I would remind her that Bruce was a firefighter and he died in the line of duty doing a job he loved. I would say “It is the wrong order of things for a parent to bury a child.”  I would change the subject to remind her about her daughter and her husband and her 5  grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Naming each member of the family and mentioning where they lived and any stories I could think of. Showing her photos on FB.

My mother-in-law and I didn’t always see eye to eye. Surprisingly we actually became closer after Bruce’s death. We both lost someone we loved dearly. I realized that after a point you just need to cut people slack so a change in my attitude improved our relationship. Also I think if someone is in their 80’s or 90’s what the heck give them a break.

I had the privilege of being with my mother-in-law in her last days. I held the fort down until my sister-in-law could arrive from Kansas. I have to chuckle because last Thursday was the first day I ever wore knee high boots with jeans tucked in and because I didn’t have time to go home for a change of clothing I wore jeans with knee high boots for 4 days straight. I went to CVS and bought underwear, socks, toiletries and t-shirt. On Saturday my daughter drove in from PA and brought me some clothing but wow! my mother-in-law used to call me that dancer girl and here I am in an outfit she would never approve of or understand.  But on the bright side I played church hymns for her on my iPhone, held her cup so she could sip water, feed her one or two spoonfuls of yogurt and told her “if you see the hand of Jesus reaching out to you, grab it.” I prayed for her and read Bible passages and told stories. I left her on Sunday morning in the care of her daughter and I can honestly say “we” were good.

So today I am saddened but I am also rejoicing because my mother-in-law is home and she is reunited with her hubby and son. I am currently visiting my daughter who brought the clothing and her social work expertise on Saturday. And I had to smile because on her way home from work today she stopped at the grocery store and bought shrimp, cocktail sauce and blueberry muffins. All items in memory of her grandmother.

“Don’t worry Mom we are saving the muffins for breakfast. Mom, God answered your prayer. It took longer than you thought it would but He answered it. I love you. I will see you again. Give Bruce a hug from me.” Love Ann, that dancer girl and your daughter-in-law. 🙂

 

Wonderful story about this not being our home. http://www.ugandamission.net/ministry/teaching/homecoming.html

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.

 

 

 

Symmetry

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Nature-Symmetry-4

Symmetry is the word that popped into my head as I drove home from Quincy, MA. In the truest sense it probably isn’t the right word but in my mind it fit the bill. Let me explain…

The voice on the other end of phone asked “I was wondering what your plans are for Kids’ Day?” ” Excuse me, Reverend Bergers I have no idea why you are asking me that question.” Reverend Jay Bergers was the director of our district church camp. At the time, I was the Sunday School Superintendent in my local church and had met him on several occasions during women’s retreat or family camp. My husband had worked alongside “Jay” clearing land at camp but why I was being asked about a district-wide event was a total mystery. At Reverend Bergers’ suggestion I called the district office.

“You made my day” responded Reverend Ken Blish as I explained the confusing telephone call from Reverend Bergers. Obviously a breakdown in communication had happened and no one had informed me that I had been appointed District Children’s Ministries Director. “So how do you feel about that”   “Like I should pray about it” Well, to be honest I was stunned, confused, overwhelmed and not sure if I should laugh or cry. My husband was thrilled, supportive and encouraging. Thus began my stint as Children’s Ministries Coordinator for the Metro New York District Church of the Nazarene.

And on Saturday as I checked name tags at the Eastern Field Children’s Bible Quiz at Eastern Nazarene College, a woman walked up to me, introduced herself and said “I think you know my father, Jay Bergers.” We had a lovely conversation. She explained to her spouse and teenage children how she knew me and how the 9/11 memorial at camp was for my husband. Later as I drove home the word symmetry popped into my head. Nineteen years ago a telephone call from Reverend Jay Bergers started it all and on Saturday at my last official act as Children’s Ministries Coordinator Reverend Bergers’ presence and influence was made known again.  A beginning and an end suddenly tied with a bow that only God could add.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

channeling Corrie ten Boom

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Last week I was privileged to share my September 11 story with a group of fifth graders in North Carolina. I was sitting in front of a laptop in the 9/11 Tribute Center conference room and they were sitting on the floor of their music room in their public school in North Carolina.  Just that experience alone is amazing. I mean think about I was in New York City and they were in North Carolina and we could see and hear each other in real time.  As I thought about it I realized that is only a few steps away from “beam me up, Scottie” Okay, it is probably many steps away from “beam me up Scottie” but it is still cool. This wasn’t the first time I had participated in distance learning but it was the first time I was struck with wonder about the whole experience.

The session started with Sarah, one of Tribute’s educators, explaining the timeline of September 11, 2001 and showing the children age appropriate photos. Sarah introduced me. I commented to the students if we were together I would have sit on the floor, too but I have to have my head by the computer so I am sitting on a chair.  I proceeded to share my story after which the children were invited to ask questions. Little hands waved in the air and the teacher called on a child by name and then graciously repeated the question so Sarah or I could answer it. After 4 or 5 questions and answers, the teacher called on a child who we will call Kevin. Sarah and I could tell Kevin was speaking but we couldn’t make out any of what he was saying. The teacher thanked Kevin and then turned towards the computer and asked us how we would respond. “We couldn’t hear him.”

The teacher invited Kevin to come and stand in front of computer and repeat what he had said.  Kevin – “Thank you for telling us your story. I am sorry your husband died. You said you believe in God. I believe in God. My Dad is a pastor of a church. I don’t know what I would do if my Dad died. I don’t know what I would think about God.”  In that moment I was totally humbled by the opportunity that had been placed before me. I paused and remembered the words of Corrie ten Boom and decided that I needed to share those words with Kevin. “Kevin, since you have told me that you believe in God I am going to speak to you as a fellow believer. I am going to tell you what I used to tell my daughters. Is that okay?” He nodded his head yes. “Kevin, if you go to the amusement park with your dad when does he give you the ticket for the roller coaster. He doesn’t give you the ticket the week before, right?” Kevin nodded his head no. “He doesn’t give it to you until you need it. Until you are ready to go on the roller coaster. If he gave to you too early you could lose it.” Kevin nods his head yes. “Well, it is the same with God. He gives us what we need when we need it. Kevin, God can be trusted. We aren’t always happy about how things turn out but I can guarantee you God will give you what you need when you need it. He will give you peace. He will help you through” Kevin – “Thank you.” Me – “Thank you Kevin”

To give credit where credit is due:

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?”  I sniffed a few times, considering this.  “Why, just before we get on the train.”  “Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.”
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

 

** photo is from a publicity shoot 9/11 Tribute Center did a few years ago to promote education classes. Very few schools in the USA teach about September 11, 2001. 😦

faith and hope…

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Hebrews-11-1-KJV-web

It has taken years to sort through the significance if there is any of being notified on Easter Sunday that Bruce’s body had been identified.  The FDNY didn’t officially come until  Easter Monday night but the Easter Sunday telephone call told the news. A middle of the night telephone call 10 days before had  informed me that he was found. That same telephone call stated it could take up to 6 weeks to identify him so I hadn’t told my girls.  Why Easter Sunday?? Why on the day when the story was about no body was I telling my daughters their daddy’s body had been found. We never expected there to be a body. This was out of the blue. This was a wound being ripped open. This was a difficult time. This made no sense…

At the time (April 2002) something in me knew there was something significant  but I couldn’t verbalize it or even think it through but there was a sense that I was missing something. Years past and slowly or maybe it was actually suddenly, it clicked. Whether Bruce’s body was found or not, my hope in eternity is based on the belief that there was no body on Easter Sunday. My hope that I will see my husband again is based on “nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” So Bruce’s body being identified on Easter Sunday was a reminder that Jesus is my hope and my salvation. Jesus was Bruce’s hope and salvation.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

My prayer this Easter weekend is for the families of September 11, of the Malaysian airliner, of the Great East Japan tsunami, for all families  who have never had any human remains identified that they may know faith, hope and love.  

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Oops! I picked the wrong battle.

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004

This week after reviewing the lesson during children’s Bible quizzing, a student commented ” Well, Moses left and went back to Egypt but he killed his son.” I was totally confused and replied “what are you talking about? Moses didn’t kill his son. Moses killed an Egyptian” Child proceeded to inform me that in her Dad’s Bible it says Moses killed his son. I am totally confused so I ask “where did you read this?” Child reiterates with great authority that in her Dad’s Bible that she read in the car on the way to quizzing it said “Moses killed his son or wait maybe it was Zipporah who killed the son. Anyway someone killed the son”

Now I was on a mission to prove to this child that her information was wrong. I checked the scripture references from our lesson – Exodus 4:1-21,27-31. As I glanced down the page I saw the verses that weren’t included in the lesson and began to read them aloud:

Exodus 4:22-26 New International Version (NIV)

22″ Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” – “This is talking about the plagues, remember the plagues.”

24″ At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses[a] and was about to kill him.” – “You know how sometimes, a friend or whoever pushes us to the limit. Well maybe that is how God felt.” To be honest this verse has always confused me.

And then I started to read aloud the last verse and I realized where this is going. “Oh, my!! Maybe I should have let her believe that Moses killed his son. “

25″ But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.[b] “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone.” 

🙂