Kids and roses

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Last month I had the opportunity to speak in a sixth grade history class in Saddle Brook, NJ. I “enjoy” speaking to students especially middle school students as they ask the best questions. I am pretty sure the high schoolers I speak with have questions but they aren’t as willing to ask.I am confident if they could text me, there would be more questions. Anyway back on September 27, I was fortunate to be able to spend over an hour with two groups of students meeting as one. The teacher had done an excellent job teaching her classes about September 11, 2001. The students had interviewed their parents or other adults. They had lots of questions, lots of good questions, lots of thought provoking questions about the attacks, the terrorist, the Memorial, the Museum. I could definitely tell that their teacher had prepared them for a visitor. 
I had mentioned that after the September 11 line of duty death of my husband, my daughters had asked me three questions. “Will we still live in this house?” “Can we still go to Eastern Christian High School?” “What will happen when we get married?” I shared my responses with the students “as far as I am able we will stay in this house. I will also try to make sure that you can continue at EC. And currently neither of you have boyfriends so we don’t have to worry yet about when you get married.” There was a giggle from the students. I also mentioned to the students that through the generosity of many people I never paid tuition for Emily’s senior year or all four of Meghan’s high school years. I never paid for a field trip, yearbook or prom. I explained to them how simple kindnesses and generosities have helped me, my daughters and so many others. I also said my daughters are married and I have photos I can show them if they would like to see me when I am finished speaking. As my time with the class ended the teacher gave me a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses, I thanked her, the students applauded and with what seemed to be a great sense of urgency one little arm shot up. “Yes.” I asked. “Can we see the photos of your daughters’ weddings?” asked a smiling sixth grade girl. “I glanced at the teacher, she nodded yes and a dozen girls moved forward so they could see the photos. ūüėä

Yesterday two boys at church gave me gifts they had purchased for me while on their recent family trip to FL. The one gift was a Mickey Mouse mug with a spoon. To quote the gift giver “if you cut the twist ties, you can remove the spoon and use it stir your drink.” I commented “thank you. I love the shape of the mug.” The gift giver responded “I liked that too. You don’t see square mugs to often.” I smiled because this exchange was so this child’s personality. His brother gave me a single Lego rose. It took my breath away. I almost started to cry. It is perfect and everything about it reminds me of the child who gave it to me. 
I am so blessed to be able to teach children in all different arenas (Tribute Center, dance class and church) and sometimes I am super blessed to receive roses (and mugs) as well. ūüėČ




At the beginning of last week a couple of cancellation notices for Tribute Center tours appeared in my inbox. I decided to take those two tours as I wasn’t scheduled to give any walking tours this week or next. But let me give you a little¬†back story¬†that plays into this story. A friend who is now a Pastor in Irwin had invited me to speak¬†to his congregation. So on September 12 I drove from my daughter’s home¬†to the Irwin, PA which is just outside of Pittsburgh. My friend had mentioned that maybe on Saturday afternoon, we along with his wife and three young children could drive to Shanksville, PA to the United 93 Memorial. I agreed that I would like to visit the Memorial again as I had been there in August of 2011. I had seen the Memorial Plaza but the rest of the Memorial and the visitor center¬†were not completed until this September.

I arrived in Irwin a little later than originally expected but after a lovely late lunch we drove the hour to Shanksville. My friend and his wife asked if I could explain a little bit about United 93 so their children would understand where we were going. Their adorable children are very young –¬†2 1/2, 6 and¬†7 years-old. In the simplest of terms I spoke of bad men¬†taking over a plane and how the people on the plane knew the bad men were going to do something really bad and hurt many people so they tried to stop them. I said the plane crashed and that was very sad.¬†We talked about what a Memorial is. ¬†I mentioned also¬†that it is safe and fun to go on airplanes.

When we arrived we walked through the new area. A National Park Ranger informed us we had arrived too late to go in the visitor center. Since I am not one to “play the 9/11 card” it was sometime later when I realized this may have been the occasion to say “I am a 9/11 family member.”¬† The weather was not the best and we were getting cold. Anyway¬†we¬†drove down to the Memorial Plaza area. My friend again asked if I could explain so his children understood. In the Memorial Plaza area there are posters that show photos of the 40 people killed on United 93 as well as other information. I called the children over to show them the photos of the passengers. I pointed to Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick and commented that these were two of the men that helped to take the plane back. I comment that all the people were brave.¬†I mentioned that these two people went to my cousin’s church (actually my husband’s cousin’s church).Look! All the people in the photos are smiling that is how their families want to remember them. My friend’s¬†7-year-old ¬†daughter, Sarah *¬†said “this lady is wearing flowers.” I looked and realized the woman was from Hawaii. And upon further investigation we realized there were two ladies wearing flowers, two ladies from Hawaii. I talked about leis and how beautiful the ladies looked. How far away Hawaii is. I mentioned let’s look for this lady’s name when we go up to the wall. Sarah read the name “Christine”. As we walked towards the wall we stopped and looked on the shelves where people left remembrances. “How many flags?” “How many bracelets?” At one point the children were running ahead. My friend was concerned that they weren’t showing respect or were disturbing other people. I said “They are being children. Children are our hope. As a¬†9/11¬†family member I am fine with the way they are acting.¬†Now if they were 10 or 12 years old that would be a different story.” When we arrived at the wall we found Christine’s name there were flowers¬†in front of her name.

Fast forward to Thursday as I finish my tour a woman comes up to thank me. She is obviously upset and I ask if she is okay and she mentions she lost a good friend on flight 93. In conversation I realize her friend is Christine. I tell her of a little girl named Sarah¬†who paid respect to her friend Christine. We hugged.¬†And not for the first time and I pray not for the last time¬†I¬†was blessed by the amazing “coincidences” God allows me to experience.

*Sarah is not her real name. FYI: I was able to share this story with my friend and we are all amazed and will never forget Christine.



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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


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. ūüė¶

the love of wonder

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Recently, I¬†read this poem by Samuel Ullman. May you also have “the love of wonder”.

Youth is not a time of life – it is a state of mind, it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whether they are sixteen or seventy, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and starlike things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what is to come next, and the joy and the game of life. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair. When the wires are all down and all the innermost core of your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then you are grown old indeed. But so long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man and from the Infinite, so long you are young.



Oops! I picked the wrong battle.

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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, ‚ÄėThis is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23¬†and I told you, ‚ÄúLet my son go, so he may worship me.‚ÄĚ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.‚Äô‚ÄĚ – “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‚Äôs foreskin and touched Moses‚Äô feet with it.[b] ‚ÄúSurely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,‚ÄĚ she said. 26¬†So the Lord let him alone.”¬†



summer randomness

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Japan 038

I have had a very interesting and diverse summer. Since mid June, I have flown to Seattle for my daughter’s convocation and then flew directly to Minnesota to help Kari, my niece, care for her 4 children and her newborn while Jeremy, my nephew, was doing his two weeks active duty. Kari, the five kiddos and I drove to Kansas to meet up with Jeremy and spent time with Jeremy’s folks and more family. I flew home and five days later I directed Kids/Tween Camp. I had the “dream team” of staff, counselors and CIT’s. Directing camp is always a great week but it is also a difficult week. I was home from camp twelve days and went to Japan for twelve days. I plan on writing about Japan soon but first I want to share a couple of random quotes that even weeks later make me smile.

“Jumping in the shower is dangerous. You might fall.” said by one of my great nieces after I had commented “I am going to go jump in the shower”.

“You will not throw up!!!” said by me in my Miss Ann voice to my niece after a huge insect flew into the windshield while traveling to Kansas. Kari was driving, a bug went splat on windshield, blood was dripping down the windshield and she started to heave. Did I mention one of the grand nieces had already thrown up and she had done a super job of throwing up in a plastic bag but we had no more plastic bags and this was hours later. ūüôā

“He didn’t follow us” said by the three boys I found walking by themselves on the first morning of camp. I was driving to the dining hall when I saw three boys walking with no counselor. The following conversation ensued: Me “gentlemen, where are you going?”. Boys – blank stare. Me “where’s your counselor?” boys – “He is in the cabin. We left and he didn’t follow us.” Me – blank stare and then “Your counselor doesn’t ever follow you. You follow him.” There is some food for thought.

One day at camp during lunch I suddenly heard banging on tables. I turned around expecting to see kids doing the cup game and instead saw 6 seven-year old boys banging their forks and knives on the table ala something you would see in a prison movie. I walked over and asked the participants what they were doing? They looked a little shocked to see me and were still holding their knives and forks in an upward fist clenched position. I promptly collected their knives and told them to put their forks on the table. Me -“would you do that in a restaurant?” boys – “no”, Me – “would you do that at home or school?” boys – “noooo”, Me – “so why do it at camp?” The usual finger-pointing started and I informed them they were each responsible for their own actions. This was obviously a teachable moment. I commented that they needed to apologize to the dining room manager for disrespecting his dining room. I walked over to the dining room manager and asked him to join me at the table. I told him I had some campers who wanted to apologize to him for disrespecting his dining room. He looked at me and said “I have been waiting all summer for this.” I introduced him to the boys and the boys to him and they apologized for “disrespecting his dining room.” He accepted their apology and then I said “Does anyone have anything else to say?”. A small hand went up and a little voice said “Can we still eat here?” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. ūüė¶