Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A letter to my children on the anniversary of 9/11

To Sophia and Harlan,

You are still a bit young to fully understand or appreciate the significance of September 11, so I write this knowing you will read this someday. I wanted to put down some of these thoughts as they came to me on this somber day or remembrance and reflection.  It should be for every American, although, I'm sure the number of people who stop, pause and think about the the lives lost on that September day and in defense of our nation since that time grows smaller each year. I hope you will always remember this day and the ones prior which challenged and ultimately built this nation. Dad and I intend to teach you about them and in this case, we hope you will always honor the memory of those innocent people who perished, remember the police, firefighters, and ordinary citizens, like Benjamin Clark or Todd Beamer (and many others), who helped others escape burning buildings and comforted each other in the aftermath. I don't like the idea of you knowing what kind of evil exists in the world and that there is an enemy out there that delights in harming our nation, its' people and spreading terror across the world. It is my prayer that you will, in those moments of realization, cling to the promise of Deuteronomy 31:8, fearing not and trusting in Him, knowing that your God goes before you and will never forsake you in any circumstance because you are His.

Believe it or not, your mommy had a front row seat on this day. You see, before I was "mom" I worked in our nation's capitol and was there on this day when along with the World Trade Center, the Pentagon was attacked. I wrote about my experience that day and those that followed, along with a few other historical events that took place while I was living and working in Washington. I will share that version with you too where I describe what it was like to be evacuated out of the city and witness our Pentagon burning across the river. I describe the feelings of shock and sadness that affected everyone, those of pride and resilience that came afterward and how as a nation, united, we moved forward after that day. Today, I just want to pull out a few personal pictures to show you. Believe it or not, we didn't have cameras on our phones then, so these are the "old timey" scanned photos.
A picture I snapped of the Pentagon
This is a picture of the Hart building where I worked. For months, flags hung from every member's office.

Flags hanging on the Capitol
What I do want you to know is that out of every tragedy, comes goodness too. God literally raised beauty out of those ashes in so many ways. There were stories of heroism, hope and love that came out of that immense loss. Your daddy and I met because 9/11 changed the direction of his life as he decided to go back into the Marines. That decision resulted in us meeting and marrying just more than a year later and now here you both are, going on to make your own special mark in the world. When you do, remember that it's our responsibility as citizens to study our history, learn from it and remember and honor the sacrifices of others who have gone before us.

I love and treasure you both.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Spontaneity, Meredith Style

Spontaneity has never been my thing. Don't get me wrong. I wish I was more this way, but I think being the oldest, responsible child, I could never quite achieve it. However, in the past few months, it's been my goal to relax a little more, plan less, and take life as it comes. The funny part is that I've been planning to do all of this with military precision. Ok, small steps. One of my inspirations in this department is my friend, Kylie. She is one of my fellow, truly awesome, Marine Corps spouses and I've always admired how easy going and generally content she is in her life. Perhaps she isn't, in which case, she can correct me in the comments. :) Our lives are very similar and our husbands have had the same jobs (and crazy demands) at the same times for the past ten plus years. So, I want to be the Meredith version of Kylie when I grow up.

One thing I did do, was see an opportunity on our calendar to get away for Labor Day weekend and in an instant decided to book a vacation rental in South Padre Island, Texas. Ok, it wasn't entirely spontaneous, since I booked it a month in advance, but in the moment it was. I called the Major up and said "hey, how about it? Do you like this place?", and I booked it. True to my new goal, I didn't put together a specific plan, nor did he, and we woke up and left when we felt like it, stopped when we felt like it, ate when we were get the idea.

We had the best time making our way casually down to the coast. We listened to some good music, discussed the politics of the day, had a few fun conversations with the kids and stopped in some interesting towns.

We stopped here, in Goliad, and took in some rich, Texas revolutionary movement history at the Presidio - La Bahia, and a good meal at The Hanging Tree. I'm always blown away by the kindness and politeness of the people here. The people here are also so genuine. After a few minutes, you feel like you actually have a good start on really knowing who they are and where they come from. By the way, the irony of meeting nice people in a place called The Hanging Tree was not lost on me. Hey, this is Texas.

I love old doors. In my dream house, all my doors might be old, historic doors like these.

The other thing I love here in Texas are these awesome Live Oak trees. They are the most magnificent climbing trees, don't you think? Ok, this one really was the hanging tree outside the courthouse, which is a little creepy, but they are still pretty fantastic for a tree house.

We spent the rest of the weekend taking in the Gulf of Mexico from the Texas shore. It was a great beach for kids with warm water and a gently, rolling tide. While the Pacific has a majestic and beautiful coast, we loved this beach for it's laid back nature (see a theme here?). Again, we ate when we were hungry, had dessert before dinner, slept when we were tired, watched was glorious.

No, we didn't make this, but these two sure are trying to take credit.

Sweet freedom

One of the kids' favorite stops was at the Sea Turtle Rescue. Isn't she a beauty?

Early morning shell search
This is me channeling Kylie, chillin' by the beach and taking in the glorious scenery of my loved ones and God's great creation.
On our way home, we stopped off in Kingsville, Texas to check out the King Ranch museum. This ranch girl loves to check out a good ranch, especially one of the largest and most famous in the world. Unfortunately, it was closed, but we met some really nice "folks" in Kingsville. No surprise. We will definitely have to check that amazing operation out again sometime in the future.

We headed home and talked about what a wonderful, laid back trip it was for our family. Mission accomplished. Thanks for the inspiration, Kylie.