Fallen But Never Forgotten

It’s been 14 years since I began my senior year of high school, and it’s also been 14 years since one of the most traumatic national events in my lifetime – September 11, 2001.

I still remember that day very well. I was in the locker commons laughing and talking with friends when we saw the coverage on the TV of the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers. It was a surreal moment, and I don’t think I really understood what the repercussions of the terrorist attacks truly were. Looking back I realize that I had such a limited view on the world and so much still to learn.

It’s been 14 years since I had the privilege of going to New York City and serving only weeks after the tragedy. I was there to share hope with the hopeless and joy with the depressed and strength with the weak. What a learning experience and a defining time in my life.

I still remember the somber feeling being at Ground Zero overlooking the hole of dirt and ashes where two prominent buildings were no longer standing. I still remember passing by the fire stations and seeing the array of flowers and cards followed by the pictures of firefighters who gave their lives trying to save others. It was breathtaking and gut wrenching.

Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote shortly after being in New York that was published in the Anoka County Union. It will bring to light some of the emotion that I saw and felt while there just after the attack:

“As I got off the subway at Ground Zero, a distinct stench from the ruins overwhelmed me. This smell I will never forget as well as the faces of many. The expressions on the policemen’s and the firefighters’ faces will forever be imprinted in my mind. The usually busy and loud city is silent at Ground Zero and full of melancholy. Everyone just stares in awe at the rubble where the two tallest World Trade Center buildings once stood. The dust-covered walls of nearby buildings are blanketed with poems and messages dedicated to loved ones who lost their lives in the recent tragedy. The thousands of posters with piercing images of missing loved ones only made me realize even more the reality of the tragedy.

“I noticed in many cases a mask initially covers the pain. But as I started up conversations with people and showed sincerity, compassion and understanding, that mask covering their emotions lifted, and they longed to have their stories heard and their hearts consoled …

 “So here we are in Anoka, where the events of Sept. 11 seem distant in space and time from our everyday lives. We can’t fully comprehend the discomfort and longing they have for everything to be the same as it once was, but being there, I was able to grasp how much people just want to have someone listen to them. They want someone to offer hope for their grief, anger, depression and fear. Hope that there is a God who knows their pain. Hope that there is a God who loves them and wants to have a relationship with them.

“You’ve heard the Sept. 11 story of New York on television. What I saw was the story within that story, a story of hope instead of fear.”

In the midst of the tragedy, we still serve a big God who flooded the streets with love and hope. We came together to help each other out and relied on each other to get through the pain.

Those who sacrificed their lives protecting others they didn’t even know is symbolic of Jesus sacrificing His life to save me – at that time a stranger to Him. There’s a message of hope in the midst of tragedy. I only wish as a nation we could get back to that place where we step up and take care of each other. More tragedies will come – that’s life – but if we don’t figure out how to work together and unite now, then the next tragedy may not have hope attached to it, and our nation may not have the ability to recover. Division is a tool of the devil to keep us from a stronger purpose. We cannot allow him to have a stronghold on our lives.

Today, remember the brave who went before you and sacrificed for those they didn’t even know. Today, be thankful for the small challenges because they make us stronger. Today, step out in faith and serve someone you don’t know. In turn, you will feel blessed and full of hope for the future. Together we are strong. Together there is greatness ahead. The Twin Towers may have fallen, but they will never go forgotten.

Walking in Love,

Gabe

9-11 Article

Advertisements

Quiet the Noise

I had a bad day. Everyone has them, those sneaky moments of weakness that if you don’t control your emotions can lead you down a spiral of negativity. I’ve been going deeper in my faith, learning how to trust, but sometimes I am tested to see how strong I really am. This was one of those days …

Quieting the noise in my head seems near impossible. I can’t even describe what it is. How did it get so loud? How did it get so uncontrollable? Where did I steer wrong? I was going strong. I was having breakthrough after breakthrough. My confidence was soaring. My faith was getting stronger.

It’s almost as if, out of nowhere, a giant blockade ended up in my brain and made everything go black, regressing all my hard work. Then I heard myself start questioning God. Why is this happening? Why does my next breakthrough seem so far away? What do I have to do to get past this? Why this struggle?

Trying to find joy in the midst of my circumstances is overwhelming. I keep telling myself it could be worse and that it won’t matter five years from now, but those reassurances just don’t seem to help. I wallow in my pain when I should take my eyes off my circumstances and look outward. I struggle to find joy when I have so many blessings around me. I so badly want to get back to that place I was at — that place of peace. I want it more than anything right now. I was a better wife, mother, friend, and person. How do I get back there?

I need the noise in my head to go away. I need to quiet the noise so I can hear God’s whisper saying, “Hold on a little longer. I’m right here, and I have big plans for you. I need you to trust me and walk with me, so I can lead you to the promised land. I never said it would be easy, but I am right beside you and won’t let you fall.”

 

The noise in my head is unbearable;

It’s overpowering my thoughts

It won’t quiet down or stop;

It’s making my brain go blank.

 

The noise in my head tells me

I’m not worthy;

The noise in my head says

To quit where I’m at

The noise in my head gives me

Every reason to give up on myself.

 

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can hear God’s gentle whisper

I need to quiet the noise,

So God can work in my life

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can love who I am

And who I was created to be.

 

When I try and quiet it,

The noise just gets louder

The noise screams in my ear,

You’ll never be good enough!

You’ll never amount to anything!

 

The noise tells me not to trust anyone,

That I have to do it on my own

The noise tells me that others don’t care

Or understand What I’m going through,

So why bother them with my feelings

My feelings don’t matter

 

Then I hear the gentle whisper

That says to me I don’t have to be good enough

I don’t have to have it all together

I only have to be willing,

And trust in what is good and right and true.

 

I slowly rise and get back up

I brush the dirt off my legs

I tell the noise it has to stop

Because the only voice I will listen to

Is God’s quiet, gentle whisper of truth.

 

Am I alone in these feelings? I don’t think so. I think others have had this same mind/body struggle. It’s hard to put into words the deep emotions that arise when I let the lies overpower the truth. So I had a bad day, and maybe you did too, but we have to remember that God is good all the time. He wants what is best for us, but we have to keep the noise out. We have to be willing to trust. We have to be willing to listen for the whisper. Because of this, I will brush myself off and get back up. Tomorrow will be a new day, and it will be a good one because I choose for it to be.

The Gift

I was having a bad day. Things were not falling into place the way I thought they should. Things were not going my way. Because of this, I started getting a “why me?” attitude and had a pity party with only one invite – ME.

My mind started wandering about why things weren’t going right. Maybe I am not good with people. Maybe I said something wrong. Maybe I’m not worthy. All kinds of thoughts flooded my mind, and none of them positive. This started me on a downward spiral of negativity and complaining. I started making excuses for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I did eventually snap out of it and replaced my thoughts with positive words. My attitude turned around when I decided that the circumstances didn’t matter because God is no respecter of persons. He wasn’t tormenting me and making me have a bad day. I simply chose to focus on the negative rather than to stand on my faith and the promises of God. I chose a bad day.

May 2014 110That night at a business meeting, I was sitting next to a young woman I didn’t know. Conversation started when I complimented her beautiful, black and white, beaded necklace with a mesh flower attached on the side. We got to talking about our families and found a lot of commonalities. In the midst of a hard day, I had managed to make a new friend.

The thing that struck me the most was that at the end of the evening, she turned to me, took off her stunning necklace, put it in my hands and said, “This is a gift from one mom to another.” At that moment, I realized it didn’t matter how my day went. It didn’t matter what was going on in my life. What mattered most was that I took my eyes off me and my problems and moved them onto serving others selflessly. The way to stay joyful in the midst of trials is to do something for someone else knowing I am making a difference in her life whether it benefits me or not. Happiness is a choice.

My new friend blessed me that day. She didn’t know what challenges I was facing. She didn’t know I had a not-so-great day. She didn’t even know how I would respond to her kind gesture. But what she gave me was a gift that said, “You matter.” It was God speaking to me through her saying, “I’m here. I haven’t forgotten about you, sweet child of Mine.” It was God speaking to me through her telling me that He’s still in control and everything is going to be OK. What a heartfelt, impromptu gift of encouragement from one mom to another.