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Friday, September 30, 2011

Birthday Recap

Thanks to those of you who prayed for me today - I can honestly say, this was a great day.

The day started off with my phone being bombed with texts from my husbands first hour class.  Then they called me and sang Happy Birthday.  How cool is that?  Every class called me today and sang to me - I thought that was pretty cool.

At 9:00 a.m., I had breakfast with my sweet friend Weiling.  She fed me some yummy Chinese food and got me a beautiful frame for my birthday.

 After that, I came home and checked my Facebook and many of you left me a birthday greeting.  I love Facebook for this!  I'm silly, I know, but every time someone new posted, it just made my day a little more special.  Then I took a beautiful nap.  I do not know what is going on with me but I have been soooo tired for the past week!!

Sometime around 3:00, I baked some yummy chocolate chip cookies.

Then everyone arrived and we went to our Special Olympics soccer game.  The kids poured out of their van, running to me to wish me a Happy Birthday.  We took a 7-5 victory today and after the game, they all sang Happy Birthday to me.  Beautiful music to my ears I tell ya!!

Then Marty, Jon,  my in-laws and I went and ate a very yummy dinner at LongHorn Steak House.  Amazingly good meal!

Finally, I was given a new camera for my birthday, courtesy of my family, my Mom and Dad and my in-laws.  It is a great camera and I am looking forward to some great shots tomorrow at the apple orchard and botanical gardens.  No one knows that is on the agenda - but it is!!

It truly was a special day full of friends new and old, good food and beautiful people.  Thanks to all of you who made this day a very special one :)  Love you guys!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almost Happy Birthday to me :)

Tomorrow is my 41st birthday!  Woo Hoo :)  I have survived one year at being 40.  My day is starting off with breakfast with my dear friend Weiling - an international student who lived with us for a week 2 summers ago as she arrived to study at The University of Toledo.  Then I have some free time in the afternoon (anyone want to hang out??) Then we have a Special Olympics soccer game with 11 very special young men and women.  It's supposed to be really crappy weather so pray with me that the rain holds off so we can stay toasty warm during our games.  Then, finally, we'll finish off the day with dinner with the in-laws.

I love celebrating birthdays now!  I am, however, very sad, that this will be the first birthday not celebrated with my daughter.  I'm going to do my best not to focus on it 'cause that is going to be tough.

As a side note - will you pray for me?  Pray that I have a great day.  Holidays are sometimes hard for me.  I don't know what it is - if I set my expectations too high or what - I'm not sure.  I don't know if it's having had all holidays/birthdays/etc ruined growing up - but inevitably - if it's not the "perfect" day - I struggle.  It's silly, I know, and it's always something I have to fight.  I tend to spend the day on eggshells waiting for something to go wrong.  It's tough.  I hate it, but it's something I have to deal with.

Anyway - I sure don't feel almost 41!!  Well - okay - SOME DAYS I really do feel it - but for the most part - I don't.

All I know is this.  I'm blessed, thankful, grateful for all my family and friends.  I love you guys.  Thanks for being part of my life :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Blog?

It's 12:32 a.m. and I can't sleep.  No one is on Facebook, nothing good on t.v.  So I check in on my blog for the 15th time today.  See who's visiting, where they are from, if there are any comments pending, etc.  I have to admit - I'm really addicted to checking out where in the world you people are - literally :)  Nothing excites me more than to see a new country added to the list - except seeing that new country actually get more than one hit meaning it wasn't just chance.  The other day I had an "odd" experience.  I was checking the list and became overwhelmed with a need to pray for you.  You were in Singapore,  checking the blog as I was looking at the stats.  I don't know who you are - but I know the Lord laid you on my heart - so I prayed.

Why do I blog?  It's a good question and a valid one.  For the most part, my reasoning's have stayed the same over the years.

When I was a kid, I loved to journal.  Problem was - I was not able to freely journal.  My Dad read my journal and if I ever said anything that was really going on - well - you don't want to know what would happen.  I got real adept at hiding that thing.  I would remove vents from walls, tuck it in there, pull out my dresser drawers and put it behind there, find some place to tuck it out of his reach.  He was just as adept at finding them - but that's another story for another day.

I do enjoy writing.  It's an outlet for me - a place where I can be who I am - fully - without excuse, without apology.  In fact - you'll probably get more of me here than you will if you met me in "real" life.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not - it's just who I am.

I like to share with you all the awesome things God has done in my life.  I love to share of His healing power, of His amazing love.  I love to tell you about my 2 beautiful blessings named Elyse and Jon.  I love to tell you about the handsome guy I married.  Sometimes I'm spitfire hot, sometimes I'm cold.  All the time - I am real.

I'm not perfect.  There have been times over the years I have used my blog as a place to vent.  People don't always like that - but I stand without apology.  I have "matured" - or at least tried to - and I'm much more careful about what I say than I was a few years ago - but I'm still - me.  Some people call me "opinionated", "stubborn" and "bullheaded" - my hubby calls me - passionate.  I like that better :)  I do try to filter things better now through the grace and compassion of Jesus Christ.  I try to respond instead of react more than I used to. 

My blog is my canvas - a place to be creative.   A place to share the music of my life.   A place to connect with friends and family near and far.  A place to share my tears, my joys, my sorrows, my past, my present, my future.

These are the reasons I blog.  It's my life on paper and maybe one day if my memory begins to fade - this will be a place I can come back to and remember.

Deuteronomy 8 - The Msg.

 1-5 Keep and live out the entire commandment that I'm commanding you today so that you'll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors. Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don't live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God's mouth. Your clothes didn't wear out and your feet didn't blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.

Vacations all I ever wanted (with you)

I recently saw an article headline on yahoo that said something about taking separate vacations as a married couple will make your marriage stronger.  Yes, yes, my dear blog readers, I'm about to go off.

I consider my marriage to be one of the best.  Sometimes I feel bad saying that because I know a lot of marriages struggle.  Sometimes I feel like people will think I'm arrogant - or worse yet - lying - when I say that.  Yet, it's true.  I married an incredible guy.  We have a very solid marriage.  Is it perfect?  No.  He's a male, I'm a female and that alone is bound to bring in differences.  Do I wish he could read my mind so I didn't actually have to tell him when I'm annoyed?  Yeah, that would be wonderful :)  But in all seriousness - I'm a blessed chick and I could not be happier with my marriage.  I don't ever speak the word divorce and I never dream of what if's.

There are reasons we have a rock solid marriage.  Take separate vacations?  I mean come ON - WHY did you get married if you want to spend so much time apart??? Shoot - I'd be happy if we could just afford a vacation once in a while!!

Seriously.  I don't get couples that have his nights out and her nights out.  I'm sorry - I don't mean that's wrong or a bad thing.  It's not wrong to hang with your friends here and there.  Not at all.  Especially when the kids are little and you just need a break.  I'm talking about those couples who never seem to do ANYTHING together.  Where she's always with her friends and he's always with his and IF they spend any time together, they can't stand each other so why bother?  That is a world I just don't get.

If you want to see Marty and I fight - then the best thing to do is keep us apart for any length of time.  They say absence makes the heart grow fonder - but in our case - that's never worked.  If we start spending time apart, we end up getting really irritated with each other when we get back together.  Our flaws seem to stand out more than before.  We're short and snippy with each other.  The only time we fight seems to be when life causes us to spend a lot of time apart.

I LOVE time with my husband.  YES I DO!!  I could NOT think of anything better than to spend time with him!  He is my best friend.  My bff :)  My soul mate.  I have no clue what I would do without him.  No one can make me laugh or smile the way he does.  No one gets my sense of humor the way he does.  No one puts up with my flaws the way he does.  There is not a single person in this world I'd rather be with over him.

Can I say this?  Whoever wrote that article obviously does not have a very good marriage.  If you look FORWARD to time apart - then I'm sorry - something is wrong.  Seriously.  Vacation? Without my man?  That would just stink.  Totally stink.

Okay - end rant.  I'm good now.  The moral of THIS story is - take vacations WITH - not without - your spouse.  What you invest into your marriage is what you'll get out of it.  I promise you - you won't regret it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scrap Yard visit

I figured since I told you all about my scrap happy man the other day, today when the boys went to the scrap yard, I took my camera along.  Hope you enjoy :)

 Before we left the house

 Tying everything down so we don't have an embarrassing experience

 We have arrived, obviously

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I miss you

I miss you.  I miss you sometimes so much that it hurts.  I hate setting 3 plates at the table instead of 4.  I hate driving past Taco Bell.  I hate looking over at church at the youth section and not seeing you there.  I miss the sound of your voice.  I miss your laughter.  I miss all the goofy things about you.  I miss fighting with you over who gets to use the computer next.  I miss being tired of running you all over kingdom come.  I miss taking you and your friends wherever you want to go.  I miss eating fettucini alfredo at Olive Garden with you.  I miss Dr. Pepper cans spilled on my living room floor.  I miss you.  I miss your voice telling me you love me.  I miss your hugs.  I miss you fighting with your brother.  I miss making you pasta.  I miss watching tv with you.  I miss your head on my shoulder.  I miss you.  I know your coming home soon - but I can't help feeling like things will never be the same again.  I know it's going to hurt even more when I have to say goodbye again this time.  I don't know that this hole in my heart, this place that aches like I never knew was possible - I don't know if that will ever go away.  I know this is part of life and I know I am not alone - but I really miss you.  You are and always will be - my baby girl.  This song is for you.

Good preachin'

This morning we had a good service at church.  We got to hear from some missionaries that are in a Muslim country and live in a neighborhood with Sharia Law.  I have major respect for them.  As much as my heart breaks for Muslim women - I would have a difficult time living under that.  I'm such an opinionated woman - it wouldn't be good.

The best quote of the morning was this and I thought I would share it with you:

The same God that loves the Muslims - loves you.

I'm sure different people got different things from that quote.  In our post 9/11 world, Americans in general are still angry and understandably so.  I thought it was good though to point out that Jesus died for us all - even for those who tried and succeeded in killing our friends, our families.  It's tough, I know, to muster up sympathy and compassion for a people who hurt us the way they have.  I think, honestly, that's why there is never peace in the middle east.  I don't think we get it, truly, not most of us.  To be the bigger man, to forgive and move on, to not retaliate - that, my friends - takes the power of Jesus alone.

As I said - I have a major amount of respect for Christian men and women who could stay in this country, safe and sound - but instead choose to go into a place where they are hated and to show them the love of Jesus.  It's amazing to me.

Say a prayer today for our Muslim friends all over the world.  Only Jesus can remove the veil from their eyes.  Only Jesus can bring peace through Him.  It is only through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that the hate will be erased.  Do you know Jesus is appearing to them in their dreams and in visions?  I've read a few stories - it's AWESOME!

Pray also for our missionary friends in harms way.  Pray for their protection.  Pray for their ministry to explode.  Pray for their families as they serve either with them or serve at home on their knees.  Pray they are able to touch the hearts of those blinded by hate.  They need our prayers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Last night I dreamed about my father.  I don't dream of him often, especially not with such clarity.  He was blind and couldn't see me.  I watched him from across the room, wondering who he had become.  In the end of the dream, I ran out to the limo he had come in and leaned into the car and said "Dad, this is Tami.  I just want you to know I forgive you."  He said "okay", stared straight ahead and that was it.  Then I woke up.

As I lay in bed thinking about the dream - wondering if there was some meaning to it or if it was just another dream, I began to feel as if God was telling me it was time.  Time to tell my story.  Time to write a book.  Time.  I've thought about that a lot in the past - but have never gotten past a few chapters.  I lose direction, lose focus and quite honestly - my head hurts after a while!!

I decided to give it a shot tonight.  4,000 words later, I have a start.  As I've said - I've been in this spot before.  I don't find talking about my past difficult - quite the opposite honestly.  Yet, I get tired, cranky, overwhelmed.  I get a headache, I just want to go to bed.  Good indicator that it's harder on me on some level than I think on another.

I don't know if it's really time to put it all into words.  It's hard to know where to go with it.  More than anything, I want the love of Jesus to shine through.  I want people to know of a God who loves them so very much - of a God who breaks chains and heals brokenness.  It's a stark contrast to the earthly father I knew and I want only to speak with a clarity people will grasp.  At the same time, I really don't want to sink into some depression while writing it all out.

Anywho.  We'll see what becomes of it.  I thought about giving you it here chapter by chapter - but if I ever really do publish this thing, I don't want someone stealing it off my blog before it hits the desk of an editor :)

Will you join me in praying God makes it clear if it is time to get that book out?  And if so, that He would provide the direction? 

Thanks :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

What it takes to be called Daddy

I briefly mentioned this in the previous post - but the more I dwell on it, the more it touches my heart.  I think it deserves a post of it's own.

I case you missed it, I talked about a note our daughter wrote on my husband's Facebook wall this morning.  She's in college this year - a freshman - and last night she went swing dancing with some friends for a birthday party or something.  She wrote this on my husband's wall in the wee hours of the morning:  I learned tonight that I suck at dancing with anybody but you. Miss you daddy. ♥

It sent me into tears instantly.  I called my husband who was on the road to work (probably a bad choice - lol) and he couldn't speak he was crying so hard.

Anyone can be a parent - anyone can be a dad - but it takes someone special to be called daddy by a daughter who is 18.

It makes me so happy.  I didn't have a relationship like that to my father - and watching my husband and daughter - is bittersweet.  How do I explain?  I am beyond happy they have the relationship they do.  It makes me melt and makes me incredibly proud to call Marty my husband.  It makes me see once again what an incredible man he is.  Elyse has a been a daddy's girl from day one.  Her and I are reallllyyy alike.  Marty - he's the opposite of me.  Laid back, chill, hilariously funny.  He loves that girl so stinking much.  She has learned what to expect from a husband by watching the way he treats me and the way he treats her.  I actually feel very sorry for the guy she'll marry one day - I'm not quite sure he will ever live up to the expectations she has set in her mind for someone to be like her Dad.

On the other hand - it's also bitter for me.  I see all I missed out on.  At 18 - I was running from my father.  Literally.  To think of ever writing something like that to him - to have a relationship like that to my father - well - it hurts.  

Anyway - that's not the point of this post.  If you want to know what it takes to be a Daddy and have your daughter say such beautiful things to you at the age of 18 - let me share with you what my husband has done.  There are many things - here are just a few.

When she was little - and even now - they are buddies. No one can make Elyse laugh like her Dad.  They spend time together.  When she was an infant, only Marty could calm her as her seizure medication wore off and kicked back in again.  Hours he would hold her and they would dance around the living room and he would sing in her ear and calm her.  It started when she was 3 days old.  She would scream, he would pick her up and move gently move around the room with her - and soon, she would stop crying.  If he stopped - she would scream again.

Ah man, this post is hard to write.

As she grew, Marty often took her out on "dates".  They attended every daddy/daughter dance they could.  He would buy her flowers, tell her how a man should hold the door for her, pay for her meal, come to the door and not honk the horn.  He would teach her not just by word but action. He would compliment her and tell her how beautiful she was. The would get all duded up to go to the dances.  She would stand on his toes and they would dance the night away.

In her teenage years - she learned by watching how he treated me.  This, men, is the most important thing.  Marty always - without fail - respects me.  We have been married almost 20 years and I can maybe think of only a couple of times he has ever raised his voice to me - and that's probably because I pushed him to that point.  He never talks bad about me to his friends - we always build each other up. He doesn't make crass jokes about me.  What goes on in the bedroom - stays there - it's not open for public discussion.   He still opens doors for me, still pays for our dates (lol), brings me flowers.  He cherishes me and makes me feel like a queen every day of my life.  He's always telling me how beautiful I am - he pours on the compliments even and especially when I don't deserve them.  He is - by far - the biggest servant I have ever met.  He is constantly getting me something to drink, getting me something out of the car I forgot, running all over the house to get whatever I need. He helps around the house.  A real man does dishes, changes poopy diapers and cleans up puke.  No - he's not - what's that saying - "whipped" - he just knows how to serve.  

And can I say another thing?  A real man - cries.  Not all the time, not in a way that makes him weak - but as the saying goes - his heart breaks for the things that break the heart of our heavenly father.  He's not afraid to show when things touch him deeply through emotion.  We tease Marty about this - but truly - it is one of the things we love most.

We never walk around on eggshells in our house waiting for his mood to improve.  Never.  First - I would never allow it - but second and most important - Marty would never in a million years act that way.  Although he loves football - I never have to think on Superbowl Sunday that some stupid football game is going to cause him to be in a foul mood and become abusive.  He doesn't drink, he doesn't do drugs.  

He leads spiritually - reading the word, praying, spending time in church.  Serving others.  Even though I can be "opinionated"  (Marty calls it passionate - lol!) - when push comes to shove - Marty makes the spiritual decisions in our home.  He takes us to church and expects his kids to go.  He leads by example.  

If you want your kids to call you Daddy at 18 - well - at least your daughters - then treat your wife the way you want your future son-in-law - to treat your daughter.  She will do as she has learned - not your words - but your actions.  Don't expect anything else from her.

I know there is plenty more I am not thinking of in this moment.  This may deserve another post at a future date. At this point, I've cried myself out so I think we'll end it here.

Marty - I am so glad God put us together.  We are blessed to have you in our lives.  Our kids are blessed.  Future generations - will be blessed.  You have set in motion generations of daughters and sons who know and love the Lord.  I am honored to be your wife and our children are honored to be your children.  Thank you my amazing man.  I love you.

For I know the plans

Change - is not easy.  I kick and scream against it.  I like things the way they are. I like things predictable and I don't like when a wrench gets thrown in anything.  I have things planned out and I expect them to go as planned.  Look out when they don't!

This past few months, our family has grown closer through some significant changes.  All good - but all very, very hard.

Sometimes in life, we think we know what's best for us.  We think we know what is best for our kids, for their futures.  We arrange our lives around them.  We, quite honestly, spend very little time stopping and actually asking GOD what might be best for them.  We just plow ahead and expect God to follow along.  Sometimes - we don't even know we're doing it.  Then, we pray God's will be done and when it IS done - it's a major shock and we just don't know what in the world He's doing!  We didn't really want His will - we wanted ours with His stamp of approval.

As you know, if your a regular reader, little man is a soccer player and a good one.  His whole life, we have arranged our lives around his "career".  He likes it - we haven't been those idiot parents that determine their kid is better than anyone else and that's all there is to it and then push them into something they don't want to do.  It was his love as much as it was ours.  It was his talent, his gifting and we were thankful for it especially considering school just wasn't his gig.

His whole life, we have traveled, we have paid, we have built our lives around the fact that one day, he would move on to play high school ball and then, if he wanted, college ball.  Then he didn't make the high school team this fall.  I don't know why and honestly that is another story not for blog land and not for the point of this post.

The point is this.  We thought we knew what was best for Jon.  We really did.  We encouraged, drove, bought uniforms, socks, shoes - supported what was His dream - for years.  Yet God - in His greater understanding of our sons future - had other plans.

When we first received the news - we were all devastated - little man the most.  We did not see that one coming - not even close.  My heart broke for my child.  It seemed as if his future was crushed and now everything we have done all these years was for nothing.

Now, 2 months later - I have come to realize a few things.

I prayed for God's will to be done - but I didn't really mean it at the time.  But now - now I see what God is doing.  Now I see a greater purpose unfolding.  Now, I get it.  Maybe not in full - but in part.  I see a more balanced child.  I see a child that actually is learning to love learning.  I see a child getting good grades in school - and realizing soccer - is just not everything.  I see a young man loving on others in Special Olympics and taking his skills and teaching others - and he is oh so good at it.  I see a young man willing to explore other options in his life - find other talents he has. I see someone who now has the time to go on missions trips, try out for the football team or the golf team or the whatever team.  I see a child dreaming of all life could be and not trying to fit it into a very narrow box.

At the same time - we are watching our daughter struggle.  I don't want to put her out there so I'll just say this.  She was the one who we thought would embrace the major change in her life - college - and have no trouble whatsoever with it.  We thought she would run into this new life and never look back.  She has gone the opposite direction and although it is hard for her - I do see God working in her at this difficult point.  I know that although she is in the midst of the question of what God's will IS - going through all this with our son - makes me realize that God's perfect plan will soon reveal itself to her and she, too, will get it.  As a side note - she wrote on my husband's facebook wall today after going swing dancing last night "I realized tonight that I suck at dancing with anybody but you.  Miss you daddy" - yeah - I cried and I'm crying again.  Oh how much we miss her and how much our heart aches for her.

Jeremiah 29:11 says this:  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.

God's plans - not ours.  Sometimes we can't see it - but we must trust that God has our best in mind.  He is going to give us a great hope and a great future.  We need to lean into His arms when change comes that we are not expecting and embrace this truth.  His good and perfect will is always - always better than our plans.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My scrap happy man

This post is about scrapping.  No - this is not my yard - not yet anyway.

No, we're not talking about scrapping as in photo albums and cute pictures - but metal scrapping.

Years ago, when we were first married - Marty was slightly addicted to soccer.  It's not like it was a HUGE addiction or anything - he merely played in 4 different leagues and between practices and games, was gone - on average - 10 nights a week.  (Yes, I do realize there are not 10 nights in a week).  He has since grown (and busted his leg and gotten - uh - older - more mature) and doesn't play soccer hardly ever anymore.  Actually, I feel bad about the limited opportunities he has to play 'cause I think he really misses it.


Well - moving along from addiction to addiction.....

A couple of years ago, our neighbor offered to take a dishwasher off our hands.  We happily and naively agreed.  Fortunately it never dawned on either of us that there was a reason he wanted that dishwasher.

I'm trying to remember when it all started in earnest.  What was it that made him turn the corner from naivete to what we now have?  Ah, I don't know.

The point is this.  He is no longer addicted to soccer.  He is, however, addicted to scrap metal.

He got himself a trailer.  I want to paint it pink - but he's just not feeling the pink vibe.  I mean, come on, how COOL would it be to have a neon pink trailer with J & M or some catchy name on the side of it pulling behind my blazer???  We have settled on black and one of these days, I will surprise him when he comes home from work and it will be all duded (as in dude - ed ) up.

He and Jon need a 12 step recovery program at this point.  The rule is NO SCRAPPING with Mom in the car.  Seriously - I am totally embarrassed by it!  We can never get from point A to point B anymore without stopping to check out someones trash.  It's HUMILIATING.  But - they are happy.  Happy Scrappers.  (WAIT - That should be their catchy business phrase!  It's not AT ALL female or anything!!)

He spends hours - and I do mean hours - tearing crap apart.  There is always something strewn all over my house or my front yard that he is disassembling looking for a motor, copper, aluminum, etc.  He has a special magnet he uses to see what kind of metal it is.  He READS full websites to learn more info.  He talks the ears off the people at the scrap yard to get more info. He's like a kid at Christmas on the days he goes to the scrap yard.  And now my son is no different.

Okay - I'll be honest.  I kinda do like the little extra cash that comes our way here and there - and it  is something he finds relaxing.  If he's happy - then I'm happy.

I wish I would have thought to take a picture to share with you all.  I will - eventually.

The very first trip to the scrap yard - I think it was the first trip anyway - scrapping was just not as fun as it is now for him.  The trailer came unhitched - and smashed THROUGH the back of the blazer.  We didn't make any money that day - that's for sure.

There really is no point to this post except to tease my scrap happy man.  It's a good thing I like him so much and think he's so incredibly handsome.  The moral of the story is this - don't let your husband anywhere near metal.  Since not a lot of men read my blog - don't let your man know there is money to made either.  Trust me :)

Wait - wait a minute - one more thing - IF your man does decide to scrap metal - before you go to the scrap yard the first time with him - learn some self defense.  I swear every person there is a former or current convict.  I kid you not . I've never seen so many toothless men in my entire life.  If the police pulled in - I can guarantee you a scrap yard would become deathly silent in a matter of seconds because everyone would flee :)

Love you Marty :)

Chicken - bawk bawk!

This week I've had two opportunities - no - make that 3 - to really speak truth into people's lives - and I've chickened out.  This may surprise some of you - but I'm not always so brave, so forward and so willing to speak my mind.  People think I am all of the above - but honestly - I'm not.  Yes, in a situation where I am directly confronted or attacked - look out - but when I need to speak truth and I may hurt someones feelings in the process - that's tough stuff.

Does anyone else struggle with this?  Do you ever walk away from a conversation and think "SNAP - I shoulda said this" or "I shoulda said that".  You KNOW what the word says - but you don't speak it?  You hold back and you wish you hadn't?

I'm good at speaking truth in love - in writing.  I'm just not good at it in person.  

I know God is working on me because I've been diving into the word, trying to memorize scripture.   I know stuff in the bible - but I can never recall where I read this or that.  Recently I've been trying to commit it to memory.  Maybe I'm wrong - but I feel like God has tested me - not once - not twice - but three times this week to use that scripture and speak truth into people's lives - but I haven't been able to do it.

I'm frustrated with myself over it.  Not necessarily discouraged - but disappointed that I would be afraid to tell people what they need to know.  I am going to be held responsible for that.  I don't want people to come back later and say "Well if you knew that - then WHY didn't you tell me??"

Anywho.  I need to work on this.  My reason for memorizing scripture is Psalm 119:11 - I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Yet - I am silent.  Grrrr.

It's never too late - I still have opportunity to speak in love and tell the truth in God's word.  Pray for me, will you?  That I would be bold and courageous - yet gentle and delicate.  Also pray that the next time I have an opportunity to use my words in speaking truth - I am able to do that.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dog Shampoo

I know, strange, strange, strange that I am posting on dog shampoo.  However - Fido and Fido (kidding, their names are Kiwi and Nali) both in the house = SSSSSMMMMEEEELLLLYYY house.  And if you know me - y'all know I don't do a smelly house.

So I have been on a quest.  Dog shampoo in the store is rather expensive and if you ask me - just doesn't do the trick.  I started looking up how to make some homemade dog shampoo so I can save a buck or two.  I do believe I have actually found something that works.  I apologize - I can't give credit to the original person because I can't remember where I found it - plus I've changed it up a bit to find what works for me.

The true test came in giving Nali a bath.  She is a 70 plus pound golden retriever and by far the most stinky dog we have ever had.  She can get a bath and within an hour smell terrible.  I don't know what her issue is.  I've pulled her off (or am trying to) people food so all she's eating is her dog food just so she doesn't get anything extra in her system.  Anywho - it's working on her.

So here's the recipe.

Equal parts white vinegar and clear antibacterial hand soap (that was the original recipe)
lemon juice (I used - oh - maybe 1/8 of a cup??)
dawn dish soap (added this because I read this helps repel fleas)

Now - I will warn you.  If you hate the smell of vinegar - they will smell like vinegar for a day or so.  When I read the original recipe, they said that didn't happen - but - it does.  I'm not a vinegar kind of person so I noticed it.  In fact, that would be why I added the lemon juice.  I'll probably increase the lemon juice this next time to see if I can get a little less vinegar smell and a little more lemony smell.  Oh - and I found a big 'ole bottle of the clear antibacterial soap in Kroger by the hand soap area.

It does work - I gave Nali a bath like 4 days ago and she still is smelling normal.  Not like a perfume bottle or anything - but not doggy stink either.

The moral of the story is - this is something that costs far less mula than the crapola in the store - and the dogs smell normalish.  My house doesn't smell like dog and I won't have to take up stock in Yankee Candle (although I sure wouldn't mind doing THAT either - I am in LOVE with Yankee Candle.  As a side note, I had some burning the other day and someone commented my house smelled good enough to eat.  MUSIC to my ears baby!!).

Try it - it works!

Oh wait...not finished yet.  Funny dog story to share.

Our dogs love to chew/eat/maul/destroy stuffed animals.  They have been working on taking the stuffing out of a largish monkey this past week.  (oh so appreciated to find fuzz all over the house when you come home from work)  Today, Nali - the retriever - is carrying around just the face of the monkey.  Jon grabs it from her mouth and says "OH SICK! Our dogs are CANNIBALS!  They ate the face off the monkey!"  That kid cracks me up.  Okay - it doesn't sound as funny on "paper" as it did in person.  I was laughing MY face off but now - it just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Ah well - maybe you'll enjoy it anyway!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scripture Memorization Update

Well folks, I failed miserably on my first week.  Well - not miserably - but I didn't do as well as I wanted.

Having said that - looking for some suggestions.  It was recommended in the book I got this idea from to use post it notes.  I did that - put them on my mirror in my bathroom and above my desk.  But I found after a while, it was easy to overlook them and I ended up not spending the time working on them that I thought I would.  They just kind of blended together after a while.  I had the first 10 up - maybe that was part of the problem?  Wondering if I shouldn't try to conquer so many in a week.  Maybe one a day or something?

Here's a picture that shows how I had them on my wall.

Do you have any thoughts?  What works for you? 

I think part of my problem is I'm an all or nothing kind of girl.  I'm not satisfied with learning "just" one verse a week or a day or whatever.  I want to learn all 100 - NOW!  Maybe I need to get over that....

Anywho - would love for LOTS of comments on how to do this practically.  I'll take any and all suggestions por favor :)

Gracias Amigos!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Letting go is hard stuff!

So tonight my beautiful daughter posts on facebook that she is heading downtown at like 10:30 p.m. and freaks me out.  Of course, I say "your not going alone" and she says "I'm not stupid."  As in - duh Mom - come ON!  But then I go to her tumblr and she's talking all about how she needs to get alone with God and she's looking for a place to do that downtown where she won't get killed - and now - I'm freaked.  But - I've said enough to her (and now I put it on here - how nice!) and - well - here I am.

I've decided that parenting had to be easier for my Mom (stop laughing Mom) in the non-techno age.  The age of no cell phones, no tumblrs, blogs, twitter updates - etc.  The land where she didn't know what in the world I was up to (and that was probably a good thing) or where I was.  When she didn't know I was downtown Grand Rapids (hmmmmmm.......) climbing a building with Donnie and Marty and Dave - or wait - was that just Donnie and Marty - anyway - in the middle of the night.  Where she didn't know I was too chicken to go all the way to the roof so I stayed on the stairs on the side of the building several stories high where I absolutely did not belong and almost got us caught which would have probably resulted in, at the very least, being spoken to by the cops.  Of course, I was only trying to get alone with Marty (do not read into that) and not God - so I guess my kid is leaps and bounds ahead of where I was.

The point is - I thought I was a crappy parent of a teen - but I am coming to realize - I am a crappier parent of an 18 year old.  I can be - uh - obsessive (no comments Elyse!) in my worry and checking in on her.  It's so hard!!  I want to know, but I don't want to know - and this is a GOOD kid.  Lord knows she's in a WAY better spot than I ever was at her age!!

Seriously.  She's taking a cell phone break (ah crap - that means she's probably downtown with NO PHONE.  Sigh.  There is no sleep happening tonight!) and I think I need to take a technology break too.  Not from all of you - but from checking in on her and making sure she is safe, good, okay, healthy, happy, eating, not getting killed downtown at 10:30 p.m., etc.  Does that make me a bad parent??  MY HEAD HURTS from all the worry sometimes!  I'm beginning to wonder if I've crossed into the land of needing psychological help.... :)  Yeah, yeah, okay, so maybe I was in THAT place a long time ago!

Kidding around - but in all seriousness.  I really do think that for my own sanity - I'm going to take a break from my checking in.  Of course I'll call and all that - but I need to take a step back and realize she is safe in the arms of Jesus.  I can't fix anything from here.  She has to have some room to breathe for goodness sakes. 

Sorry Lysie Bug.  I love you.  Oh so stinking much.  I miss you more than I can stand some days.

Letting go is hard stuff!!

Break my heart for what breaks yours

Saw this article today.  Don't worry - it's not like the last one I shared - but it is about child abuse.  Does it break your heart like it breaks our father's heart?  It should.  May we be a people who hear the cry of our children and respond.

Child abuse rose during recession, research says

The definition of a man

To start this post - let me brag a little on my kids.  I'm not sure how E is doing grade wise - but she seems to always be doing some kind of homework!  We checked little man's grades today and he has all A's except in Algebra where he has a C+ - which is - A-MAZING!!!  Woo Hoo :)  So proud of how hard they are both working!

Little Man had to write a paper on what it means to be a man.  He doesn't know this - but he had us in tears.  I am sooooo proud of what he wrote.  Proud because writing is not his thing - proud more because of what he wrote.  Proud because the reason he knows what it means to be man - is because his Daddy taught him.  Young ladies out there - pick your man wisely - because your sons and daughters will watch - and your husband - will teach your kids how to be a man and what to expect from a man if you have daughters.

Anyway - you've got to read this paper.  Keep in mind he's learning disabled so don't look at anything beyond the meaning of what he says.  There are some pretty funny moments too.  Awesome.  Here goes:

The definition of a man - by Jon says a man is this:  “The term man (pl. men) is used for an adult human male (the term boy is the usual term for a human male child or adolescent). However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole. Sometimes it is also used to identify a male human, regardless of age, as in phrases such as "men's rights". 

My definition of a man is a guy that supports his family and spends time with them.  He does fun stuff with them.  He goes to amusement parks with them.  He plays football with them.  He helps them with their homework.  He goes to their school activities and cheers them on. 
Second of all, I think a man is someone who is a gentleman and holds doors for women and children and old people.  He walks to the door to pick up his date instead of honking the horn.  He gives up his seat for a lady who needs it in a public place.  He pays the bill when he takes his date out.

Next, a man is a guy who works in the family to put food on the table, buy clothes and provide for other family needs.  He gets a job and works hard.  He saves up money.  He doesn’t gamble or waste money on alcohol and drugs.  He puts his family first in his money decisions and not spend money on stuff he wants all the time.  I think a man is a guy who helps his wife at home with cleaning the house, mowing the yard and other stuff around the house.  He changes diapers and takes the kids so his wife can have a break once in a while.   I think a man is a guy who is a role model to everyone in the family.  I think a man is a guy who protects his family from things such as robbers, bullies, and terrorists.  I think a man is a guy who is nice and caring.  He doesn’t yell all the time.

Another thing a man is is brave and courageous in times of need.  I think a man votes.  I think a man joins the military if needed by his country in a draft.  A man should support his family’s religious and political views.

If a man has animals, he takes care of them.  He makes sure they have food and water and cleans up after them.  He treats them well.  He doesn’t let anyone treat them bad.

A man teaches his son how to be a good worker.  He teaches his son how to take care of the cars.  He lets him help around the house.  He teaches how to start a campfire.  He takes his son camping and teaches him how to camp.  He takes him hunting and teaches him how to use a gun.  He teaches his son about gun safety.  A man teaches his son how to play sports. 

A man teaches his daughter about how a boy should treat her.  A man teaches his daughter about how she should treat other people.  A man takes his daughter out to eat and shopping.  A man helps his daughter know self-defense and how to take care of herself when he is not around. 

A man also takes care of himself.  He takes showers.  He keeps himself healthy by not becoming overweight so he can play with his children.  A man goes to the Dr. when he is sick.  A man wears nice clothes so he doesn’t embarrass his kids.  A man gets an education so he can get a decent job. 

A man takes care of his extended family when they need it.  He takes care of his parents, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews when they need it.  He visits them often.  He calls them on the phone too. 

A man is many things.  These are just some of those things.  I hope you do these things to be a good man.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caramel Apple Cider

This weekend we had some time to kill so we stopped at Bigsby coffee.  I'm not a huge fan of hot apple cider - but it was a cold day and they had advertised caramel apple cider.  We got some - and oh my - was it yummy!

So - of course - I am on a recipe hunt for it.  Here's some recipes I found in blogger/Internet land and will be trying in the very near future.

Baking Bites - Caramel Apple Cider - Hot Caramel Apple Cider

Our Best Bites - Caramel Apple Cider

CdKitchen - Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider

Now - for all I know - these recipes are similar.  I honestly didn't look them over.  I'll try them all and see which one comes closest to Bigsby and let you know.

And - to give a shout out to my friend Jackie - I think Hot Caramel Apple Cider will go along GREAT with her Pumpkin Dip which you can find by clicking HERE.

Fall is a great food time - unfortunately!  Anyone else know of some yummy fall recipes they want to share?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Luke 6:38 and Special Olympics

Check out this verse:

Luke 6:38
Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

Love this one!

I'm not sure if this verse is supposed to be talking about money.  Maybe it is - I would have to check into it.  However, I think it applies to other areas of life even more.

We coach a Special Olympics Soccer team which most of you know if you read regularly.  Last night - I was I tired.  I had taught for 7 straight hours, my throat hurt, my feet hurt, and talking was a struggle.  I got out of work at 3:20, got home and ran out immediately to go to practice.  Truthfully - I didn't want to go.  I wanted to climb into bed and go to sleep!  But - duty called - and so we went to practice.

Coaching Special Olympics is by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in life.  I can't tell you how awesome it is.  Had I known it was this wonderful years ago - I would not have spent so many years (not counting a few groups of beautiful young women that I still am in contact with whom I love!) coaching at the high school and travel level.  The politics are just gone and I actually get to do what I LOVE to do - work with amazing people and teach them a sport I love.  So nice!!

This verse - applies to Special Olympics.

Give - give of your time, your talents, your heart.  Give out of compassion.  You will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full - and then some!  Coaching Special Olympics is just plain SPECIAL!  Every day I go, intending to "impart" my "knowledge" - and always -without fail - by the end of the practice or game - everything I want to give to them is handed right back at me - in more quantity than I can even contain.  I don't know if that makes sense - but just like the verse says - it's poured into your lap.  Poured!  I just love these "kids".

It is true.  It is better to give than to receive - but it is also incredible to see that when you do give - you receive back oh so much more.  Blessings are just like that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mean - Taylor Swift

I've been tossing around sharing this post with you for a while.  I love the lyrics to this song - it speaks to the heart of the girl I was, oh goodness, 20 some years ago as a pre-teen.  (Okay, okay, a little bit more than 20 - but not much!)  I've debated sharing it because I wonder if anyone else can relate to how a song can speak to a part of you from years past.  Not sure that makes any sense - but there it is.

I would hate for you all to think I've gone off my rocker.  Yeah - no smart comments from some of you (A) - we all know I fell OFF the rocker a long time ago!

ANYWAY.  Let's move this post along.  I'll share the lyrics and then some thoughts with you afterwards.  Read on past the song - especially if this song speaks to you.

Mean - Taylor Swift

You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again, got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, pickin' on the weaker man

Well, you can take me down with just one single blow
But you don't know what you don't know

Someday I'll be living in a big old city
And all your ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides and your walk-by lies and your humiliation
You, have pointed out my flaws again as if I don't already see them
I'll walk with my head down trying to block you out 'cause I'll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again

I'll bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold
But the cycle ends right now 'cause you can't lead me down that road
And you don't know what you don't know

Someday, I'll be living in a big old city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar, talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion but nobody's listening
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing

But all you are is mean
All you are is mean, and a liar, and pathetic and alone in lie
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

Someday, I'll be living in a big old city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean, yeah
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me 
And all you're ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

There's so many ways this song speaks to me.  First, although the physical abuse was the lesser of the 3 evils of my childhood, it was still there.  Second - I remember very vividly growing up telling myself, telling him - that who I was then would not be who I would be as a grown up.  I knew, even way back then, that the abuse stopped there and my kids would never experience the life I lived.  I knew one day I would be in a big old city and I would be big enough  - brave enough - strong enough - to not be hit anymore.  I never in my life doubted that. I was as stubborn then as I am now.

Although my Dad wasn't a drunk.  I wish I could say he was, at least as some kind of an excuse for his meanness.  I only saw him drunk once in my life.  He was just mean - without alcohol.  But - I can see him in a bar talking over something, washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things - with a big loud opinion and no one's listening.  I can see that as clear as day because he always had a big loud opinion.  (yes, yes, I DO get that from somewhere!)

Someday has arrived.  This is where I just cry.  Someday has arrived.  It has arrived because I serve a God bigger than my past.  I listen to this song, I feel the heart of the 13 year old girl I once was.  I feel her pain, I feel her hoping against all hope that the day will come and things will change.  Now things have - and it sets me to tears so fast.  Someday has arrived.  I serve a mighty God.  My kids have never - and will never - feel the way I felt.  They will never be able to sing this song.  Praise Jesus.  I can't say it enough - someday has arrived - and I am oh so grateful to the God I serve.

Last night as we were driving home from Special Olympics, this song was playing on the radio.  Little man was sitting in the front, me in the back.  It's not often - if ever - I think of my father now and what has become of him and his life.  I'm sorry if this makes me sound ungodly - but I don't much care.  I have forgiven, yes, but honestly - there is still a part of me that hopes he is, in fact, sitting around with no one listening after all he did to my family.  But last night, I thought what a lonely man he must have become.  Lonely, bitter, hopeless - and I felt for him.  I thought of all his actions have caused him to miss out on.  My beautiful children, my amazing rock solid man - me.  And I felt sad for his sadness, his emptiness.  It was his choice, yes - but at the same time - we all make choices in life that leave us in desperate places.  It made me see how far my forgiveness - God's forgiveness - has stretched.  To be able to feel sorry for him - well that's a new step.

Anyway - for all those pre-teens and teens that happened on this blog because you looked up the lyrics - and have actually stuck with reading this to this point - please know this.  There is hope.  This is a future.  There is a plan - a grand purpose for your life so much bigger than you now know.  No matter what has happened or is happening to you - you WILL HAVE your someday.  Hang in there.  Jesus loves you oh so much more than you could ever know. I'm here.  Leave a comment, we'll talk.  Don't give up.  Your someday is coming.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

His Masterpiece

I am not a painter.  I wish I were. I think painting/drawing/sketching is an incredible gift. To be able to see with your minds eye and transpose to paper - that's pretty special in my book.

I am, however, a musician.  At one time, a very good musician.   When I was at the height of my "career" in music - I loved to play.  I loved to hear the music, to play in a way to make people feel the music.  I was able to play with or without written music and make something beautiful.  Now - not so much - but at one time, this was true.

Ephesians 2:10, NLT says this:  "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I love this verse. We are a masterpiece!  We, in the hands of God, the master artist, make a beautiful song - we are a beautiful painting!  We have been created anew.  Think about that.  In order for a piece to reach the "master" level - it must be removed of all defect by the maker.  We have been removed of all defect by our maker!  We are beauty.  We have been created this way for GOOD things.  And the best part?  For good things God planned LONG ago.  Amazing!

Much like a musician begins to hear a song long before it is ever played, or a painter begins to picture what she/he will create in her mind long before she begins creating it - our God - our great, awesome, magnificent God - began planning US - his MASTERPIECE - long ago.  Isn't that exciting?  I think it is!  He saw us in His mind's eye and he couldn't wait to put us to paper - to see what He created. 

God's masterpiece.  Something incredible, beautiful, perfect.  Owned, created and gazed upon with approval and affection by God.  He loves the look of us, he loves the sound of our laughter.  Yes - we are beautiful in His sight.  He is proud of what He has created. Can you feel that today?

Monday, September 12, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Tonight I went to capsule night at my son's new school - also Marty's place of employment.  Who knew a year ago that I would be traveling the halls of Pioneer following my son's schedule?  Not me.

I've always been happy with Marty working there.  Of course there have been bumps and challenges along the way - but by in large, the support Marty receives as a teacher is tremendous.  I don't try to hide the fact that here, in the community we live in (at least in the school system arena), we are not welcome in a lot of places and by a lot of people - but there, in Ann Arbor, Marty is well-liked, well-respected and is considered one of the best teachers your child could have.

Because of the bad experience we have had here for the past 2 years of Jon's schooling, it's hard for me not to have a negative attitude about school in general.  It's hard for me not to be on the defensive and not to expect the worst.  It's hard for me to grasp that there are teachers (and a majority) who love my child, who want the best for my child and want nothing more than to see him succeed.

Tonight was incredible.  Jon truly has an amazing group of teachers - all of which we were able to hand pick - because that's just how things are done in Ann Arbor.  Because they care.  Every teacher talked about how much they cared about the kids, about how much they wanted them to succeed.  Every teacher talked about respect for each other, about having a family atmosphere in their classrooms, about the diversity and the acceptance of each other.  Every one talked about how the students will learn from each other and how they (the teachers) are learning from them (the students).

As I shook the hand of each teacher, I realized we have begun a new era.  One in which I, too,  will have to learn and grow.  One in which I will also learn to expect the best people can and do give, and not the worst.  I, too, will have to learn not to look at people with skepticism and realize not everyone is out to hurt you or your child.  Jon is growing, and so am I.

So - thank you Ann Arbor Public Schools.  That kind of care and concern starts at the top and filters down.  Thank you for caring about students and not just about test scores, blue ribbons, personal agendas and academia. Thank you.  I am more than excited to watch my child grow, learn - flourish - in your hallways.  For once - I am excited about school and community.  Thank you.

Beauty in the Moment

Today I went shopping for some work clothes.  I am running way low.  As in 1 pair of pants and maybe 2 dress shirts and that is it.  I needed to pick up 2 pairs of pants and a couple of shirts.

As always, I struggled.  The negativity in my mind in the dressing room is crazy.  I scold myself, yell at myself, feel regret, remorse, guilt.  None of it is positive.  I'm mad, angry, ready to cry.

After trying on stuff for over an hour, I finally found a fit - and a wonderful woman who helped me out that was so non-judgmental, it made me think.

As I was walking out the door with clothes in hand - something struck me.

I need to be beautiful - feel beautiful - in the moment.

I think all women struggle with their self-esteem.  Some more than others - I think it's part of the curse.  We'll never be happy with where we are at weight wise, shape wise, fitness wise.  There is always "more" we can do, "more" we can be (or less, as the case may be, lol).  But, is there?

Today - I am allowing myself to be beautiful - to feel beautiful - right now.  Right here.  Right where I am at.  Today I love me even though I'm overweight and not where I want to be.  Today I will look in the mirror and tell myself positive things and relish the fact that I have a man who loves me, finds me attractive - right where I'm at.  He's sure not complaining - just the opposite - so why am I?

We are all beautiful.  Give yourself permission today to be beautiful in this moment.  Forget about tomorrow, forget about how your body has changed, forget about the extra pounds.  Just look at yourself through God's eyes and see that you are beautiful.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Families Take Back Ground Zero

Here is a beautifully written article found on, written by Dan Wetzel, Yahoo staff.  Original found HERE.  The man has a gift for writing - he couldn't have said it any better.  I won't soon forget his poignant words.  It felt as if I was standing there watching the ceremony myself.  Read it for yourself - it's a masterpiece.

Families take back Ground Zero amid sunshine, shadows

NEW YORK -- Some arrived the night before, standing until dawn's early light. Others came in swarms at the end, up from the heavily secured subways to these sad, sacred acres.

Some were there to mourn what had been lost. Others came to represent what had been saved. Some came so they could remember what had happened 10 years ago. Others to find a bit more closure so maybe they could, at last, enjoy a measure of relief.

They came to the memorial service at Ground Zero here and heard a choir sing, two presidents speak, and six moments of silence pass.

Church bells rang throughout the city. The bagpipes of "Amazing Grace" whistled around corners. People even chanted "USA, USA."  They stayed and listened to the reading of 2,983 innocent names into the Manhattan morning, an act designed to both provide remembrance on an individual level and offer proof on a global one to all the despots that divide through denial.

"We've lived in sunshine and shadow," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. This day was to acknowledge both.

They came to look wide-eyed up at the surrounding canyons of steel and into the still gaping, reconstructed space where hell came to America like never before. One World Trade Center is being built, a museum is nearly done, yet it still feels empty.

They came by the thousands even if they could barely see or hear the ceremonies, even as the warnings of more terrorists seeking to kill more Americans dominated discussion.

They refused to be deterred or distracted or driven away.

Parents came to remember lost children. Children came to remember lost parents. Others came to remember the sacrifice of all those strangers, the workers in the towers, the first responders who tried to save them, the passengers and crew members on the plane, even the soldiers who wound up fighting wars that essentially began right here.

They stood and prayed and acknowledged the moment the first tower was hit, then the second, then the Pentagon in Virginia and the field in Pennsylvania, then the collapsing of one building, then the next. Each moment seemingly more haunting than the last.

From sea to shining sea, the song goes, and here was this sea of shining people, American people, all races and creeds, all colors and classes, all ages and allegiances. Some with family ties that date back centuries and some who didn't even land on these great shores until Sept. 11, 2001, had already played out.

"The world stopped that day," said Johnny Frisk, who flew from Sweden, his first visit to the States, just to attend the service. "I felt it was important to be here, to show we're a family."

Here were fire and police teams from everywhere: Cleveland, Long Beach, Germany. They just showed up, without fanfare, black bands over badges because they couldn't imagine not. "I couldn't be here 10 years ago to help," offered J.R. Easton, a firefighter from Surrey, British Columbia.

This certainly isn't how anyone who took over a plane that day designed it.

Here was the full spectrum of human emotions. Lines of the somber yet strong, patiently waiting through heavy security. Even soft laughter, at appropriate times.

Here were the families, arriving with little American flags and clutched pictures of their loved ones. Portraits, family poses, or just images of them in full form -- finishing marathons, beaming at weddings, one out on a fishing boat. They kept coming and coming, block after city block, from the shadows and into the morning sun.

Here was New York; here was America; here, indeed, was the world at its strongest, at its most unified, at its most respectful. Here was the best rising out of the worst, people showing strength by filling streets where ash once rained down.

Here was a chance to steal back something from this place, to make sure that for one morning at least the spot where their loved ones died was alive with the spirits of how they had lived.

"Never forget," it said on so many shirts. 

And no one forgot. The politicians spoke with eloquence but it was the people who took the place back.

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