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Posts Tagged ‘World Events’

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An EF-5 tornado ripped through the town of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th in the afternoon. Twenty-three people died and hundreds were injured.  Another person died of something related to the tornado.  And as I started writing this, I read in the paper that a 25th person has now died due to injuries related to the tornado.  We are constantly reminded of the tragedies that occurred that day.

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Homes and schools were destroyed. But the town and the courage and resiliency of the people live on. Moore is like so many towns in the Midwest. The people are strong. Nothing will beat them down. I knew this from watching the news and seeing the people helping absolute strangers clear their property that had been destroyed by the tornado.  And I saw it in the eyes of the parents, struggling to comfort their children or the children of others as they awaited news of their own.  It was heart-wrenching.

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Watching the news reports, I felt that I needed to do something.  Yet, who am I?  I am just a single person…no organizations backing what I choose to do.  And I live over 8 hours away in south Texas.  Yet, I still felt I had to DO something.  I didn’t mean donating money.  I always wonder just how much is actually helping those who need help.  And how much is lining the pockets of those running the organizations.  So, I stewed over it and decided there WAS something I could do.  I could donate Pampered Chef products so the families can start making meals again.  Food is comfort.

So I spoke to my mother.  And she said a friend she has in Oklahoma City has a son who lost his home.  And they know other families who’ve lost everything.  I knew then that I was going to send packages to them.  And then it steamrolled!  My mother placed an order and so did I.  The packages arrived at the home of my mother’s friend and they were thrilled to hand over all the goodies inside to those families.  But then I mentioned to other Pampered Chef consultants I know that I was trying to help 3 families.  And they donated extra products they had…cookware, tools, plates, cookbooks…on and on.  And I remembered a full-size afghan I had.  It was thick and plush.  I donated that.  And I found more products in my cabinets.  Suddenly, I realized it was going to cost a fortune to mail all of that.

My sweet husband suggested we drive up on a Saturday and deliver it, spend the night in a hotel and drive back on Sunday.  He gave up his weekend of relaxation to hit the road with me.  We both felt humbled to be able to take all of the wonderful donations my friends had provided and deliver them to Moore.

On July 6th, we left early in the morning and drove all day.  My mother’s friend called us and asked us to come to dinner at her home.  Although I had never met these people, they made us feel so at home, treating us like family.  And after dinner, they took us on a tour of the devastation in Moore.  They showed us the path of the tornado and the freakish destruction.  Houses were demolished on one side of a street and almost fully intact on the other, with just a few shingles missing from the roof.  Businesses were destroyed.  Memorials to the lives lost were everywhere I looked.

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And then we visited the site of the Plaza Towers Elementary School.  My heart broke.

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The memorial grows and grows with each passing day.  And the townspeople of Moore will rebuild.  And their will remains strong.  God bless Moore and the families who were affected in so many ways.  I still feel the need to do more.  And I will.  It makes my heart feel just a tiny bit less broken.

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“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Unknown

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Recently, I read something interesting about a man who was discussing what had inspired him as a child. He was watching the first time man landed on the moon and it was then that he had an A-HA or “moon-landing” moment. He knew, at such a young age, that he wanted to be an engineer–so he could accomplish sending men to the moon or something equally as impressive.  And today, he has lived his dream. 

It made me think, what was my moon-landing moment?  What occurred in my childhood that made me think, “That is what I want to be!”  There were actually a couple of those.  The first moon-landing moment was watching (and listening to) the librarian read to my class the book Charlotte’s Web.  She read it with all of the different voices, the excitement and sadness the story needs, and it was then that I realized I wanted to be a librarian.  After all, in my little girl mind, I just KNEW she was so lucky!  She got to read for a living.  She spent her whole day reading books!  And I wanted to do that!  It was a few years later that I discovered that librarians do NOT read all day long. 

My second moon-landing moment was watching, and learning from, my fifth grade teacher.  She was wonderful!  Ms. Blumquist was everything I wanted to be…kind, gentle, caring, beautiful, patient, and she worked so hard to teach us.  But when she took the time to teach me how to hold my left hand when I wrote, so I wouldn’t twist my wrist around in an awkward way, I knew she was amazing.  She taught me to write in a mirror image of what right-handed people do.  Just like my dad taught me to bowl.  She cared about how I would progress past that one year in her class.  I wanted to be her!  As the years passed and other teachers also influenced me, I knew that I had not been wrong about that second moon-landing moment.  I wanted to teach people and impact their future. I hope that’s what I accomplished.  I feel like I did land on the moon with my time as a teacher.

What, in your life, was a moon-landing moment?  Did you reach the moon?  Or did you even overshoot and reach the stars?  I look forward to your stories.

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant, there is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” ~ Johann Gottfried Von Herder

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I was reading an article in one of my favorite magazines…Taste of Home.  Yep, I love to cook and subscribe to several magazines that have recipes in them.  But Taste of Home beats them all…a magazine dedicated to cooking!  Love it!

This particular article, though, struck another love.  I love our soldiers who give up so much to do their duty.  And they appreciate any little thing.  What makes me sad is that some of our soldiers don’t get much mail…or any mail.  Well, this article in Taste of Home was such an inspiration, that I wanted to spread the word.  There is a woman who blogs about baking (Susan’s blog) and she asked some of her followers to send goodie packages to her cousin who had deployed to Iraq.  She was amazed to find out he didn’t get the 4-5 packages she thought would arrive.  He received SIXTY boxes!  On that day, Operation Baking GALS (Give a Little Support) was born.  She created a new website called bakinggals.com and people can search through the list of soldiers who are waiting for baked goodies.

Please spread the word.  Our soldiers still need our support.  We cannot forget them, because time has passed since the beginning of this war.  Please think of our soldiers and find ways to thank them.  If you can’t bake, find someone who can and help them by donating the packaging and time going to the post office. 

And thanks to Susan for starting such a wonderful thing.

“Look up, and not down; Out and not in; Forward and not back; And lend a hand.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

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Yesterday

Yesterday, people were so caught up in their lives and things going on around them that I didn’t hear anyone reference 9/11. It was sad. Already, so many are forgetting. I wonder how long it will be before they also no longer place signs on the front of their businesses and no longer appreciate our soldiers. Then it makes me wonder what those people who survived Pearl Harbor felt when passing time put that day in history not quite in the forefront of people’s thoughts. And what about the people who survived catastrophic weather? Whole towns were obliterated. When did people forget to remember the lives lost?

As a population, we need to keep remembering. Because otherwise, we are doomed to repeat history. We need to remember our horror as we watched the towers collapse. We need to remember our fears as we saw the plumes of smoke rise from the Pentagon. We need to remember our tears as we heard the recorded messages to 9-1-1 on 9/11 from those in the twin towers or the Pentagon or on that plane crashing into a field to stop the terrorists’ plan.  We need to remember the loss of life from the responders who gave it all to try to save those who had survived.

It should be a daily honoring of those who were lost. Their contributions to our future are gone. The potential leaders who could have been born to them, the potential healers, the potential teachers, the shear loss of all of that potential. It’s gone. We can’t get it back. And I cry for our loss. I grieve for those families…not just on 9/11, but through the year as I see reminders. When I see an injured soldier, when I see our flag fluttering in the breeze, when I hear the National Anthem.

“Of joys departed, not to return, how painful the remembrance” ~ Robert Blair

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Yesterday was strange…I woke up to news that was dominated with remembrances and reflecting on where we were five years ago. I look back at that and my life has changed so much in those five years. On September 11, 2001, I was single and working for a financial planning company in Kansas City. Our parent company’s US offices were at 1 Liberty Square. My supervisor and 3 other people from our offices were at the World Trade Center for a meeting at those offices at 1 Liberty Square. I was on my way up the elevator of our building in Kansas City to go to work and someone else asked if I heard the announcement on the radio that a plane had hit one of the Towers in the World Trade Center. I was floored. When I got off the elevator, I went straight to the tv in the conference room and turned to the news. It was about 7:55 and the news was showing clips of the plumes of smoke and I watched, numb. I couldn’t imagine how a plane had hit that huge building. As I listened to the reports and talked to others from our company who were also congregating in the conference room, I started to think, I need to get to my desk and get started on my work. And then, as I glanced again at the tv, I watched another plane hit the second tower. The initial numbness I had felt at the first report rushed through me and I stood in horror as the realization came over me that this was no accident. As the morning progressed, I couldn’t believe that people could continue to work and go through the day as if nothing had happened. I was shattered that all of those people were dead and then the news came that another plane had hit the Pentagon. I was so numb the tears weren’t coming. I was frightened for my boss, the other co-workers and for all of those people trapped in burning or collapsing buildings. The entire morning was consumed with these thoughts. And then the phone calls started rolling in. My boss’ wife, son and daughter were calling from their homes, wanting to know if I had heard from him. He had been so close to the towers, staying at a hotel across the street and heading to an early morning meeting. After trying to reach him through his cell phone and pager most of the day, I finally got an email from his pager in mid- to late afternoon. He and the other three Sr. VPs were alive and okay. Joy flooded through me and I knew that we were so fortunate to get that news. The reports of all the financial businesses that had been in the Towers were coming over the wire and we were beginning to realize that so many of the people we did business with were dead or injured. I spent the next three days, evening after evening, doing what most Americans were doing…watching the news. I was absorbed by the reports, repetitive as they were. I could think of nothing else. It was mind-numbing and yet it was like my mind was racing at the same time. I seemed to sleep, eat and breathe news on the attacks. New heroes filled my daily thoughts. Todd Beamer, unnamed firefighters, amazing citizens of the world who came forward to denounce the attacks, volunteers who dug and dug and dug through the debris to find the last survivors and pull them to safety…and then dug and dug and dug some more to bring the grieving relatives anything they could find to bury. I still cry over these images that race through my mind after five years. I don’t think they’ll ever diminish. And I wonder how people in the U.S. and the rest of the world can let this become so inconsequential. We lost the future of almost 3000 beautiful people that day. The impact those lives would have made through the next century and beyond is gone. I have a hollow feeling in me, knowing that our world is diminished by this horrid act. And then I think how fortunate I am that I didn’t lose anyone I knew personally in this attack…but we all lost. We lost our security, our arrogance that we were untouchable, our innocence…

And then my life went on. In the months after 9/11, I got engaged, married, moved to Germany and started a whole new life, a life being with someone who I admired from high school and then disappeared from my world for 25 years. We reconnected, fell in love and married during this turmoil in the world. And we spent 9 months in Germany before moving to Texas. Now, I’ve been married 4 1/2 years and I’m working for a medical device company that specializes in wound healing devices. Strangely, one of their products was used to heal the first victim of 9/11 who entered the hospital (and she was also the last to leave the hospital). Her terrible wounds were healed and she lives! So, in a way, I have made a full circle back to that time. The soldiers who fight in Afghanistan and Iraq against terrorism and for the rights of a suppressed population also benefit from the medical devices of this company. So, I feel better knowing that in some very, very small way, I am working to help those who are trying to make sure that this type of thing never happens again.

Five years ago…a whole world away…another lifetime.

“The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords, in such a just and charitable war.” ~ William Shakespeare

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“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children?
Or working on some stage in LA?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor?
Or did you just sit down and cry?”Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?

“Did you burst out with pride
For the red white and blue
And the heroes who died just doing what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters

“I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, Hope and Love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is Love

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Teaching a class full of innocent children?
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty cause you’re a survivor?
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?
Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened?
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages?
Speak with some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow?
Go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent home movie you’re watching
And turn on “I Love Lucy” reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers?
Stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family?
Thank God you had somebody to love

“I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, Hope and Love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is Love

“I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, Hope and Love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is Love

“And the greatest is Love
And the greatest is Love

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?”

 

 

~ Alan Jackson

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