time & treasures

Leave a comment

Due to recent weather events in my part of the world, my original plans for the past few days have been canceled – no district wide children’s Bible quiz on Saturday, no tours for the 9/11 Tribute Center or ladies small group on Monday and no teaching ballet this afternoon. I see that type of change in plans as having extra time. Laundry, cleaning, answering emails, finishing books for book club all fit into my regular schedule. So when extra time presents itself I try to think of something I don’t think I have time to do and get it done or I fall into the “binge watching” trap.

On Saturday I organized paperwork I will need for my 2014 taxes. I shredded stuff I don’t need and filed the rest. With a sense of accomplishment I then binge watched most of the first season of Parenthood. Sunday was a regular day. On Monday I organized my address book which consisted of very old addresses of family and friends and lots of little return address labels that I had stored in the book. I tossed out most of the written pages and simply taped the labels in the book. Yes, I do have contacts on my phone and computer but I don’t need to carry all of those people around with me. 🙂  Then I watched a couple more episodes of Parenthood finishing season one and starting season two.

On Monday evening I decided I should accomplish something else as I had extra time due to no ladies group. So I decided to clean out the small drawer in the cabinet that sits next to my favorite chair and has become the catch-all for this and that. Since it is a small drawer I always assume what I place in there well be safe because it won’t be swallowed up as it could be in a big drawer. I wasn’t surprised to see post-it notes, small pads of paper, rubber bands, paperclips, cleaning cloths for my computer, my amazon credit card and my checkbook. I was surprised by a few treasures:

  • a box of rose petals – a friend had collected the petals from the yellow rose that was placed in Bruce’s name  by the National September 11 Memorial on Veterans’ Day. Friendship is an amazing treasure.
  • a small metal kazoo – “a dad gift”. After September 11, my daughters and I purchased a gift for each other that would have been something Dad would have bought or something that reminded you of Dad. We continued that tradition for 10 Christmases and then decided to make it an optional Christmas tradition. Meghan had purchased the kazoos for Emily and I in 2013. Many years ago while on a long road trip from NY to KS a stop at Cracker Barrel had resulted in Bruce (Dad) buying kazoos for the girls. Thankfully it took a few miles for them to get the hang of it. Family and memories are treasures.
  • business card from Dith Pran – In 2005 (?) I had a telephone interview with a New York Times reporter and that reporter asked if a photographer could come to my home. A few days later a gentleman arrived at my home and began to take photos. In the course of the photo shoot, I realized that the photographer was Dith Pran, the man whose life the movie the Killing Fields is based on. We spoke of his passion to tell the next generation the story of the Killing Fields because one time was too many.  It was a totally surreal experience. There is a You tube video of his last words. Passion and purpose are another treasure.

Extra time and random treasures have been a blessing the last few days. Tomorrow is back to real life if Mother Nature allows. 🙂

I have to be honest I watched a few more episodes of Parenthood. Not sure why I never saw the show in real time. 🙂


Oh, this is random but…

Leave a comment



1. The other day was my mum’s quarterly care meeting. She resides in an excellent long-term care facility near my sister. Last Tuesday wasn’t a day that I could travel in that direction, so I was conferenced called in on the meeting. Everything is status quo – mum’s health is stable, she is participating in some activities, she is a delight, so cooperative. All I could think of was the Bill Crosby skit about “this is not the woman I grew up with”. Towards the end of the meeting a staff member mentioned there was a little confusion recently. Oh! It seems that they kept trying to get my mum to fill out the absentee ballot to vote. She kept insisting she couldn’t vote.  She finally informed them she isn’t a citizen. Or as my brother always said “she is an alien.” If you are a citizen, please don’t forget to vote tomorrow.


2. Today I spoke to a group of high school juniors and seniors from Connecticut at the Tribute Center. I actually spoke to two groups because it was 56 students and their chaperones so the group was divided in two.  The interesting thing that happens when I or any of the docents speak to groups in gallery 5 is that other visitors to the Tribute Center stand around and listen. After my first presentation as we were switching groups and I was instructing the students to sit on the floor (I was already sitting on the floor), something fell on the ground in front of me. It was a little pin that said Danish Firefighter. I glanced up and a man said “for you”.  I said to him “thank you for what you do everyday.” He nodded and left.


3. After the second group, a woman came over to me and said “may I give you a hug”. She hugged me and then she said “I lost my son this year. Thank you for your words.” I looked at her and said “can I give you a hug.” We hugged. 🙂


4. As far as fall television – I like “Madam Secretary” and “The Mysteries of Laura”.  Scandal is getting on my nerves and I gave up on “How To Get Away With Murder”. I may subscribe to HBO for the month of November to watch “The Newsroom.”



Oops! I picked the wrong battle.

Leave a comment


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.” 



Dr Seuss was right…

Leave a comment

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

I currently belong to two book clubs one at the local public library and another with a few friends. The public library book club tends to read classic literature. For October’s meeting we read The Essential Tales of Chekhov. It was short stories by Anton Chekhov and it was enjoyable – humorous but also dark but come on, he is Russian so it is going be dark. For the next meeting we are reading The Country Girls Trilogy by Edith O’Brien. We are just reading the first book of the trilogy. I haven’t started it yet because the friend’s book club meets in a week and I needed to finish The Children Act by Ian McEwan. I did finish it and it was worth the read. The book we had read previously was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt which was good by a little long (800 pages). I am also reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Replacement Child by Judy L. Mandel both of those books are more for research than for pleasure but I am enjoying all that I am currently reading.

I also have had opportunity to visit a few interesting places recently. Two friends and I walked the Walkway over the Hudson (https://www.walkway.org/) last week and had lunch at a delightful little café called Lolas. We had beautiful weather. I would encourage you to take a stroll on the Walkway and then enjoy a yummy lunch at Lolas and then walk back. You get a view and exercise.

The week before I  visited the State Museum (http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/) and New York Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Albany. My intention for visiting the State Museum was to see the 9/11 Family Room exhibit. The weird thing is I only visited the 9/11 Family Room once when it was in One Liberty Plaza and never went when it was on the site. I was curious to see the exhibit but in earlier years I had no need or desire to visit the space. I will say the State Museum’s September 11 exhibit is a good exhibit for children.  I thought it tells the story without being overwhelming like the National 9/11 Museum. The area is bright, there are few large artifacts, information on all aspects of attacks, rescue and recovery. There is a section on rescue dogs and a statue to honor the dogs. I also learned something I hadn’t realized that at the original World Trade Center there had been bomb disposal units on the plaza. Already, then. I started wondering what on the new site is the equivalent. IMG_2934IMG_2935

When you exit the museum if you walk  all the way to the other side of The Egg you will come to the New York Fallen Firefighters Memorial. It is a beautiful memorial. As I approached I noticed a man “working” on the Memorial. I assumed he was fixing names but I would come to find out a few days later he was adding names. I asked him if the names were in any particular order. He said “no, after September 11 I added almost 400 names.” I commented that I recognized some September 11 names but they didn’t appear to be all together. He said “I just put them where they tell me.” “Thanks for your help. I will just keep looking.” After about 10 minutes of scanning up and down every panel I found Bruce’s name. At that point the man was leaving and I said to him “Thank you for the work you do here.” As he finished picking up his tools and headed towards his truck, he said “it is my pleasure.”  Suddenly he stopped walking, turned  and said “no that is wrong, it is my honor.”


FAQs about 9/11

1 Comment

A few of the Frequently Asked Questions about September 11 that I have  answered many times while leading tours or speaking to school groups.

In regard to my personal connection:
1. Did you talk to your husband that day? No, but I didn’t expect to. He was on duty. He was working.

2. Were you worried about your husband?  As I watched the events unfold on the television I was worried about us as a nation. My main concern was how was I going to handle things and protect our daughters until he could get home. As a firefighter’s wife, I knew Bruce was well-trained and that his fellow firefighters had his back.

 3. How are your daughters? Since September 11, 2001, they have graduated from high school, college, and graduate school. Meet wonderful men and married. Bruce would very proud of the women “his girls” have become. My daughters appreciate when people say their father was a hero but they didn’t lose a hero, they lost their daddy. I am a very proud mom and will talk your ear off about “my girls and their guys.”

4. Isn’t difficult for you to come here (WTC site)? It is more difficult for me to go to Bruce’s firehouse. It probably sounds strange but I don’t associate him with being here. Before I started volunteering at the Tribute Center I didn’t have a strong connection to the WTC site. I had only been here twice in my entire life. Once as a teen and once with Bruce on July 4, 1976.

5. How do you deal with the hate? I don’t  have time to hate. I had two daughters to raise, a business to run and life to live.  I believe Bruce died in the line of duty so no one took his life, he gave it.

6. Were you excited when bin laden was killed? I hadn’t spent 10 years waiting for bin laden to be killed (5/1/11). A long time ago I read or heard the following “the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference”. The truth is on May 28, 2011 as on August 4, 2006 whether bin laden was dead or alive, my husband wasn’t there to walk his daughters down the aisle.

7. Have you ever read the names on September 11? I have been invited to participate in the name reading each year. The one day of the year I don’t visit the WTC site is September 11. I don’t think I can handle the grief of all of those people.

General information questions:

1. What do you think about the conspiracy theories? I think when the unimaginable happens one of the ways we try to explain it is with conspiracy theories. Popular Mechanics had a great article a few years back that debunked many of the theories.

2. What do you think about the mosque and where was it going to be built? I believe if we stop a mosque from being built this week, next week we will stop allowing Protestant churches and then the week after Catholic churches and then Jewish synagogues. There is freedom of religion in the US and that is freedom for all religions. I will add “that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.”

3. What do you think about the government in relation to September 11? One of the things I remember my dad saying after September 11 was” the first job of a government is to protect its people.” I believe that the government let us down but I am hopefully that the “alphabet agencies” are talking to each other. I am proud to be an American. I support those who serve our nation in the military and foreign service.

There is one question that always surprises me when it is asked. It has made me wonder if I have told the story in a way students can understand. But then I realized even hearing all of the facts the one thing that is impossible to comprehend is hating someone so much that you would kill yourself.

“What happened to the terrorists that hijacked the plane?  Did we capture them? Are they in prison?”

Now I actually find comfort in that question because it means the chid asking can’t comprehend that kind of hate.





Continue Reading »

Japan 2014 – part 4

1 Comment

Three random stories from Japan – one is blooper reel worthy (if it had been filmed), one is amusing (at least chuckle worthy) and one is thought-provoking. 🙂

1. On the seventh morning in Japan, my eyes lit up as I saw applesauce on the breakfast buffet. Breakfast buffets in Japan usually have a “western” section and a “traditional” section. This particular buffet was not divided that way. I wasn’t in the mood for eggs so I took some fruit, made two pieces of toast and took a separate bowl of applesauce. The dining room was crowded. We found a few seats here and there and sat down to eat. I put my tray on the table and went to get some coffee and butter and by the time I came back the table was “just our group”. I was really looking forward to the applesauce. I don’t know why but I was. I scooped up a small spoonful and the moment the applesauce touched my tongue I knew this isn’t applesauce. I knew I couldn’t  swallow it. Okay proper etiquette is however it goes in your mouth is how it should come out of your mouth. So as politely as possible I spit it back unto the spoon and slowly placed the spoon back in the bowl. I glanced around the table to see if anyone noticed. Thankfully, no. I took a quick drink of coffee and a deep breath to stop myself from bursting into laughter. I looked at one of my fellow travelers and said “it wasn’t applesauce” and proceeded to share the story. 🙂

2. At one moment towards the end of our journey we all had to “pile” into one elevator. Luckily we didn’t have out luggage with us. We were definitely standing too close together. There wasn’t room to breath.I said “if this elevator gets stuck, I am going to need Dr Katz!” To which Dr Katz said “if this elevator gets stuck, Dr Katz is going to need Dr Katz!” Dr Katz is a psychiatrist.

3. We had the opportunity to visit a high school. School wasn’t is session but some students came to share their 3/11 stories. They presented their stories in English and two of Tribute Center docents myself included shared our stories. When I finished sharing my prepared presentation, I said “I wanted to tell them something I had always said to my daughters September 11 does not define you.” I told them that “March 11 doesn’t define you. It will shape you but it doesn’t define you. You have done a great job today telling us your stories. Keep up the good work. I am proud of you.” Later on the bus one of the Mount Sinai medical students asked if he could ask me a question. “sure” “You told your daughters not to let 9/11 define you but everything you do is about 9/11. Wouldn’t it be easier to just not deal with it. To just move on.” I made a few comments and said “I have to think about what you said and will get back to you.”  I have actually thought about that idea before by doing tours and speaking about September 11, I am allowing it to define me.The next morning at breakfast I said “I have to tell you this right now. It will seem totally random but I am tired and if I don’t say it now I will forget. Remember yesterday and our conversation about all the things I do being allowing September 11 to define me, that is wrong. All I do defines September 11.”


Japan 038

“writer’s blog hop “

1 Comment

My friend, Susan Panzica, invited me to be part of a “writer’s blog hop”. I panicked at the idea and told Susan to use me “only if she had to”. She “had to” so here I am in a blog hop. From what I understand the idea of a “writer’s blog hop” is I introduce what I am writing by answering 4 questions and then I introduce you to three of my “blogging friends”. Well, I only have two bloggers to introduce and I almost thought I can’t do this because I don’t have 3 and I don’t have any witty, smart answers to the questions. Then I realized there are probably no “blog hop” police or even “blog hop” penalties for doing it wrong. So here goes:

1 – What am I writing or working on?
I am writing a few pieces to submit to magazines and devotionals. My goal for the fall is to really start working on a manuscript for publication.

2 – How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I share stories from my everyday life and my goal is to show the intersection of the spiritual in all things.

3 – Why do I write what I write?
After September 11 I promised the Lord that whatever opportunities He gave me “to tell of His praiseworthy deeds” I would step up and speak of Him. I have had many opportunities to speak and for some time I have believed that I am also supposed to write.

4 – How does my writing process work?
I am trying to figure that out. 🙂 I need to be more disciplined about writing. Writing actually scares me to death. I don’t mind speaking in front of hundreds people but putting my thoughts on paper (or my computer) isn’t something I feel qualified to do.

I meet the following two ladies at Mount Hermon Writers Conference in the Spring of 2013. Hannah and I actually meet at the airport. We were both “newbies” and I was so glad to have someone to learn the ropes with. Since I met Hannah she has released a beautiful Christmas CD which was one of my favorites last Christmas and will be for years to come. Jennifer was one of Hannah’s roommates at the conference and I was thrilled to make another friend. Jennifer has published a book since I met her. You go, girl!

Hannah Frances DeVol Thomas is a writer, a singer, and a pilgrim. She is the Principal at By the Lion Arts—a fledgling enterprise dedicated to words and music of quality and substance. Her blog, At the Top of my Lungs, was launched to chronicle the release of her first album, In the Bleak Midwinter, in December of 2013, and has embarked from there on explorations of life, art, and other worthwhile things, including recent journeys to London, Oxford, and Paris. In the Bleak Midwinter is currently available from Amazon and iTunes

Jennifer Edwards is a writer, blogger, speaker, and editor. She recently published her first book, God’s Radical Plan for Wives (with co-authors Gil & Dana Stieglitz), and a companion 9-week Bible study. Her blog, Truth Bites, is rapidly growing in readership. Women of all ages & stages enjoy her transparency, humor, and crazy life lessons as they gain new insights, perspectives, and clarity about many issues women face today. She also writes a monthly e-newsletter just for wives (The Radical Wife) sharing from her own married life, as well as the principles taught in her books. For more about Jennifer, visit http://www.jenniferedwards.net.