Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fidget Cube

Yesterday I was at the Mall of America's Greater Good store, and I found this amazing little tidbit.  It's a cube that fidgeters can use instead of peeling or picking at nails or scabs like I do, or any other annoying only to others habits that us fidgeters do.

There are four sides, like a dice, and each side is unique to the movement of the fingers.  I found it helpful as I was waiting for my family to finish their shopping.  I don't always want to use my phone, especially when in public using an iffy wifi, or draining out the battery.  

And picking and peeling has been aggravating my old arm tendinitis, so I am hoping this this little doohickey will help.  

I  just mention this as there are lot of us out there, and even as adults, we still have bad habits that are near impossible to break.  So it is better to find a healthy alternative.

This will be available in early February, although I have seen knockoffs already on eBay and amazon.  I don't know how I got this one, and I don't have the box, I tossed it at the mall and went to work on it right away!  So maybe mine is a knock off too!

Nevertheless, I would like to make a New Years resolution to stop picking and peeling.  Maybe this will help.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Peace on Earth

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," during the Civil War, when his son was wounded, and his wife died.  Even though this song was written years ago, it still resonates with us, as we celebrate Christmas in a time of war.

Today I read in my Bible, "Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.  I am for peace;
    but when I speak, they are for war." (Ps. 120: 6-7) This seemed a fitting passage to relate to this song, in that even though most of us want peace, and strive for peace, there are the few that want war and work for war.  
But in this I have hope: that God is not dead, He doesn't sleep.  The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.  With peace on earth, good will to men.  

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they're singing (Peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir singing (Peace on Earth)
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep (Peace on Earth, peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they're singing (Peace on Earth)
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (Peace on Earth)
The life the angels singing (Peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (Peace on Earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Story of the Jews

On this past Sunday, I spent some of it watching this TV series on PBS.  I found it fascinating, learning more and more about the Jews, than I ever had before.  

I know that I wrote about how Israel belonged to the Jews because of the Holocaust.  And Schama stated that as well, reminding us that the governments of the world at that time wasted so much time, of which they could have saved so many more Jewish lives, if they had not waited so long.

Which is true.  I have heard the people were tired of war, after WWI, but even so, if we had not intervened, we would be speaking German right now.  

Whole Jewish communities were obliterated during the pogroms in Eastern Europe during and after WWI.  There were times and places where the Jews had relative peace, but eventually something bad would happen and the Jews would be scapegoated again.

The first ghetto was created in Venice for the Jews.  They were enslaved in Egypt during Moses' time.  They wee kicked out of Spain during the Inquisition.  They were conquered by multiple empires in Biblical times.

So much has happened to the Jews and yet they still exist.  As God promised, they cannot be completely wiped out.  Other people groups have come and gone, but the Jews have and will exist forever.

Nevertheless, after the Roman Empire, they never had a home.  The British Empire envisioned a home for them in the turn of the century, the Victorian Age.  But they also envisioned an independent Palestine for the Arabs at the same time.  Thus, it was inevitable that there would be war in Israel.

Even so, the Jews were willing to fight for it.  After WWII, when the Jews came home, they were still shuffled around by the British military.  They found resistance from the Palestinians.

Yet, they are a resilient people, not willing, not ready to give up.  

So I still say, after all they have suffered, the least we can do is let them have their home.    

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pearl Harbor

It will be 75 years ago when Pearl Harbor was attacked, the greatest generation's 9-11.  

This past weekend I watched some documentaries on the History channel and the National Geographic channel about WWII.  

I saw again the horrendous piles of the dead Jews in concentration camps.

I have seen these photos and videos numerous times over the years. But it never fails to affect me.

I am  in shock and wonder how such an atrocity could have happened for so long to so many.

To treat the Jews as if they were nothing, to take away all that made them human.  To treat them as garbage to be thrown into a pile.

Then I think of Israel, and all that is going on over there, through the years.  

No matter how Israel became a country in this century, it seems to me that it is the least that we can do for the Jews, to give them a place that they can call home.

They have had no home, no nation, for 2,000 years.  And although it was not the Palestinians that took their home, but the Romans, it is just a little strip of land.  Land that was considered the Promised Land that God gave to His people so long ago, before Islam.

And even though the Israelites took it from the Canaanites, were the Canaanites the first people there?

I honestly don't know.  And I feel bad for the Palestinians who have lost their homes when Israel was created.

I wish that the two groups could peacefully co-exist, or that each group could have their own country.  But that doesn't seem to be an option for the few that create problems for the whole.

But I do know that no matter what, after seeing those piles of dead bodies like garbage, I am convinced that Israel belongs to the Jews.  It is the least that humanity can do.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

I don't normally like to swear but I love this movie, so I will break my rule and use this quote to introduce this week's blog post.

This is a funny yet sweet movie about going to a high school reunion, facing the bullies of yesteryear.  I have never been to any of my reunions, nor do I care to.  I hardly remember high school, much less want to face those people again.  The people who always got their way even they were terrible or mean.  The so-called actors who were always in the plays even though they couldn't act.  The athletes who always got attention because they were jocks.  I was one of the nameless masses, yearning to be recognized for any talent, instead of just my weaknesses.  

Why do people have to be so mean?  Don't they have feelings?  Don't they know the Golden Rule, to treat others as you would want to be treated?  Didn't their parents teach them any manners?  And if there was a reason to be jealous, why not appreciate what one has, instead of trying to deny what others have?  

We are all different.  We should be celebrating each other's successes that they earned, instead of trying to take it away.  No one has it all.  No one is without problems.  

Some people say it is because they are insecure.  I was insecure, yet I manged to not be a bully.  Some say they were abused.  Lots of people are abused, they are not all bullies.  There has to be more.  

There is still bullying going on today.  I hear of schools trying all these new programs to combat bullying.  Are they working?  Why is it still happening then?

And it doesn't end after school.  I was bullied in college and in the workplace.  

There was no help for me there.  Of course, by then, I had learned that no one was going to help me, that I was on my own.  So by then I stopped asking for help.  I didn't have a safe place to go to to get away from it.  Just in my own mind.  Just in my own thoughts.  

I could say this made me strong.  But it still bothers me to this day.  It is hard to forgive a bully.  It helps me to forgive if I can understand.  But I can't understand a bully.  Maybe I am too logical. Some things just make no sense to me. 

But I also realize that those bullies, whoever they are, have to answer for themselves someday.  Maybe they will feel guilty, maybe they won't.  But it is not my problem.  It is not something I can fix.

All I can do is be myself, use what talents I have, and stop wasting my time wishing for what I don't have.  Be thankful for each day.  For each day is a gift, a chance to try again.  A chance to be me.

Monday, November 21, 2016


I will be unoriginal and write what I am thankful for:

I am thankful that:
 I am an American, a woman, and a Christian.

I am a sister, daughter, and aunt.

I have a great family and great friends.

I live in Anoka, Minnesota.

I have food, clothing, and shelter.

I have freedom of speech and religion.

I can believe what I want.

I can say what I want.

I can do what I want.

I am only limited by my imagination.

I can read and write.

I can learn and study.

I am smart and funny.

I can eat well and exercise.

Besides my crooked spine, I look good.

Besides my crooked spine, I feel good.

God has given me strength and courage

to try, even if I fail.

I'll know I tried.

That is the measure of success.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Breakfast Club

This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Even now, when it has been 30 years since I graduated from high school, it still resonates with me, especially this quote, which I think we can all admit that we do, and we can all accuse others of.  It is actually a deep, thought-provoking quote, that lends credence to the fact that we don't give adolescents enough credit.

It seems easy to define people in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.  It takes too much time and investment to really get to know someone, so we quickly chalk them up to a group, based on gender, race, religion, or appearance.

But we sadly miss out on the opportunity to really get to know someone.  For we are much more than the bodies that the world sees.  That it is only the luggage that carries my soul in this life.

And we are so much more than the labels on our luggage.  Like the stickers, they only categorize us to the groups that we belong to.  But do we really belong to them?  Can't we be more than these groups?  Can't we think outside the box?

I may be more conservative, but I don't agree with everything they say or do.  I may be white, but I didn't choose that, along with having a disability, or a mental illness, or being an American.  We are given these labels from the start, and no matter what we do, we can't change them.  

But even though they are just labels, they get us things, or they take things away, depending on the label.  

What I am saying is that I am more than my suitcase.  I am more than my stickers.  I am Amy Jean Hetland.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Day and Veteran's Day

This week we will pick our new governmental representatives for the next few years.  It will also be veteran's day.  I find it odd that these two events are on the same week.  I am not looking forward to the day after tomorrow.  How ominous is that?  Half the country will be ecstatic and half will be madder than hell.  It seems that veteran's day gets lost in the chaos.  

I hope that we all appreciate the privilege we have to vote.  I know that American citizens have a right, but I think it is better to look at it as a privilege, like driving.  I remember having that hammered into my head in my drivers ed class in high school, that driving is a privilege.  Which it is.

We are all so obsessed with our rights that we get mixed up to what we really have a right to.  Yes, we have the right to vote, freedom of religion (not freedom from religion), freedom of speech (not freedom from speech), free to assemble, and free to express our grievances with the government.  We are free to bear arms, to protect ourselves against any foe.  

I mention this as we think we have a right to drive, right to work, right to be educated, right to marry, right to have children, right to have pets, etc.  We have the fundamental rights that I listed before because that is what our forefathers fought for.  But they didn't fight for those other things, things that we demand.  We are blessed to live in a country that provides those other things, but we still have to contribute to those things.  We still have to pay for an education, which helps us get work.  We still have to pass a test and have insurance to drive.  We still have to get a license and blood tests to get married.  

I hope that we can be united again as a country, and that it doesn't take something as horrible as 9-11 for that to happen. Why can't we be thankful that we have this opportunity to be a part of the political process?  Many other world citizens don't have that.  Why do we continue to fight against each other?  Can't we all agree that we are Americans, that America is the greatest country on earth?  Can't we agree that our military men, women, and families, make the greatest sacrifice for us, and be grateful that we have this military to protect us?  Can't we agree that we need to stop apologizing for being American?  Every time I have traveled to Europe, most people I have talked to complain about their country.  And they are impressed by how patriotic we are.  Can't we be be the one place that is different from the rest?  For we are the only nation that won against the great British Empire. 

We are a nation of rebels. :Let's not forget what our forefathers and our military continue to fight for, our freedom.  Let us not take it for granted, nor let it go.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Being Politically Uncorrect

Years ago when my grandpa was still alive, whenever he talked about someone who was Japanese, he said Jap.  I hurried to correct him, saying Japanese.  He never argued, but simply ignored me and went on.  

After a time, he started showing me his old scrapbook from when he was in the Navy, stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.  Within were pictures of the natives that he met, planes that the Air Force flew,  and the buildings bombed by the Japanese military.  He saw the destruction that the Japanese military wrought on the helpless tiny islands of the South Pacific, destroying the lives of many helpless natives, who had no military to call their own.  

Over the years I have watched documentaries and read books about WWII, some in the Pacific theater.  In every instance, our soldiers used the word Japs.  They explained that they saw them as the enemy, and when you are fighting an enemy, you can't see them as human.  For how can you kill a human?  They did not see us as human, therefore they thought they could kill us.

I feel so foolish now, trying to be so politically correct with my grandpa.  I felt like in my quest in teaching him to respect others, I disrespected the very one I was trying to teach.  It is so easy to try to correct others, without even trying to understand where they are coming from.  We all are influenced by our experiences, and in turn, these experiences affect our perceptions of people.  If we are quick to try to change people, we instead shut them down, and push them away.

I think it is better to teach respect by listening, and understanding.  To "climb into his skin and walk around in it."  Then, not only are we teaching it, we are modeling it.  Maybe then we can find some common ground and go on from there.  Otherwise, there will be no diplomacy.  As they say, we have two ears and one mouth.  Use accordingly.  

Monday, October 17, 2016


I don't like to write about politics, or post it on Facebook.  I fear I would wind up alienating half of my friends, or offending them.  I also fear I might be wrong.  Besides, I write on my blog to encourage, (except when I have my period, no holds barred), and I usually try post positive or funny things on Facebook, as there is too much negativity in the world.  I don't have any right to try to convince people they are wrong and I am right.  For all I know, I could be wrong!  That is what is so great about our country, we are free to choose.

Every week I pray for a specific ministry for Samaritan's Purse, as I get their Prayer Point booklet for specific prayer requests.  It always saddens me as I read about a group of people suffering in the world, and I am reminded of how good I have it.

Once in a while I will get an email on my Klippel-Feil website from a parent of a child with KFS.  That saddens me too, especially when the family lives in the Middle East, as it seems that in at least parts of it, health care is limited, especially for children with disabilities.  And I am thankful that I live in a country and a time such as this.

So even though this election is horrible and I wonder who the heck to vote for, I have to remember that no matter what, I still live in the greatest country on God's green earth.  We are a republic, rule based on law.  This means that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights dictate what we do, not politicians.  And they can't change it, no matter how much they want to or try.  For it is by the people, for the people, of the people.  It is not ruled by the media, it is not ruled by politicians.  It is ruled by us.

I am a free woman.  I can vote for whom I want, I can believe in whom I want.  I can do what I want.  God gave us a free mind, He expects us to use it.  Yes, there are consequences, but freedom is most important.  We are the only truly free country.  Even free to be hateful and mean.  Not a good idea but too many people died to ensure our freedoms.  I don't want to throw that away.  And too many people are dying now for freedom.  I don't want to take for granted what others don't have.  

Because I am free.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lay Your ____ on the Altar

I read this book years ago about a woman whose son wound up in jail for a prolonged period.  She worried about him constantly, until she was reminded of the story in the Bible about how Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Issac, on the altar of God.  

I used to think this was a macabre story, which it still is.  But it also teaches me that I can't hold on to people or things that don't belong to me.  I can't fix people, I can't control what they say or do, although I very much want to.  But then again, I am not God, and I would make a very terrible one.  So I constantly have to choose to lay my worries on the altar of God, trusting that He knows what He is doing, trusting that He loves His creation more than I do, and I just have to let go.  It is so hard to let go.  But I know I can't hold on.  I can't do this life on my own. 

So I keep trying to remember that fateful day so long ago, when Abraham was about to make the toughest decision of his life, and try to be like him.  To trust God and let go.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Woe is my Period

I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what to write about this week.  I am feeling particularly crabby I suppose because my period is coming up, and as usual i opened my big fat mouth without thinking.  I hate that. My mouth moves faster than my mind.  

My birthday comes up next Monday, which is apparently the day we also celebrate Columbus Day.  Why do we celebrate Columbus Day?  I don't think he was ever in North America, was he?  As far as I know, he was just in central and South America.

And my birthday is in October, a time of year that I don't particularly like.  Halloween, like so many other holidays, have become so commercialized, hence the meme above.  Everywhere you go is pumpkin this and pumpkin that.  What if I don't like pumpkin.  Autumn also means the end of my favorite season, summer.  But I do like my birthstone, which is opal, so I guess it isn't a total wash.

I also think insurance is a scam.  It is basically a scheme to save money by paying someone else to do it.  I can save my own money very well thank you.  But to drive, I am forced to have car insurance.  And because of my health problems, I am forced to have health insurance.  My fees increased 25% last year.  I heard now that they will increase 50% this year.  Are they saying that I will be paying almost double what I started with?  What do I look like?  A bank?

I also get discouraged about our impending election.  No matter who gets in, half the country will be upset and threaten to cause all kinds of problems.  I don't like that we have strayed so far from the ideals set forth from the founding fathers when they created the Constitution.

I am sure that next week everything will be back to normal.  If you don't get a period, consider yourself lucky.  For some people it is not such a big deal,but for others, its a living hell.  Maybe I should check myself into a rubber room so I can be alone.  I feel like a Dr. Jekyll and  Mr. Hyde.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Let It Go

There have been some changes in my life lately.  One is that I started going to a new church. I had not gone to my previous church for about a year as they had cancelled Saturday night services.  After 20 years, one does not make such a drastic change!  Not only that, there was no more singles group, and no more women's group.  The one group I could go to alternated nights every six weeks.  It's hard to make a commitment when I am an ABE/ESL teacher and half the positions are at night.  I guess I was angry at the things I lost at this church, when I had been a member for  20 years.  

About a year ago, the empty K-mart next to the apartment complex I live in was bought by a church, Eagle Brook Church.  I had heard good things about this church for a while, yet never went as their locations were no closer to me than Open Door, and I was comfortable there.  But when all this happened, I decided I had to let it go.  Every time I thought those  words, I had that song stuck in my head, although I never could understand the rest of the words.

I started going a few weekends ago.  I was amazed at how big this place is.  They have six locations, and most have two services both Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  Not only that, they have tons of groups.  They even have a group finder online to help you find one that meets your needs.  

I loved the music.  The sermons were good too, but to me, no one would ever be as good as Dave Johnson, the pastor at Open Door.  But he only spoke half the times, if even that.  We were quite spoiled by Dave. Again, things were changing that I didn't like and that I couldn't have control over.

That's the beauty? of this life.  Sometimes things change that we don't like.  Sometimes things never change, and you have to let it go.  You have to decide are you going to stick with it or are you going to part your separate ways?  

There are no easy answers in life.  Sometimes it's just a matter of waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more.  Maybe with all that waiting, God worked in my heart and mind more and more each day until I was ready to make the change.  Until then, I just had to be mad and grieve the loss of something that mattered a great deal to me.

But in the end, I had to let go.  I had to close that door and open a new one.  Like a year ago when I quit writing and started going to college to learn how to be an ABE/ESL teacher, of which I will done end of October.  And two years ago when I had to let go of my Chocolate, my cat, my best friend of 18 years.  

I guess there have been a lot of losses in my life these last two years.  But I also gained some things, a new career, a new church, and a deeper relationship with God.  

I hate to say it, but it seems that time heals all wounds.  I prayed and prayed and prayed, but I guess I had to be ready to let go, and embrace new things.  My stubborn mind and heart wanted to hold on for so long, until I was tired of holding on to something that was no longer there.  

I had to let it go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Truman and the A Bomb

I just finished a great book from Bill O'Reilly called, "Killing the Rising Sun," about WWII with Japan.  I knew little about this part of the War, unlike the War in Europe.  All I knew was that my grandpa Bill was in the navy then, stationed in the South Pacific, as a mechanic on the ships.  He spoke little about it, but he did show me his scrapbook of pictures that him and a buddy took while they were there.  

Within those pages were pictures of half-naked natives, bombed-out buildings, and war planes.  He also had some Japanese money and postcards that he got off a dead Japanese soldier.  As  a child, I didn't understand why he called them Japs, but now as an adult, I realize that he was not the only one.

Many people of that era did.  Their Pearl Harbor was like our 9-11.  They saw them as the enemy, and most agreed with the need to use the A-bomb.  I wasn't sure about anything.  All I could remember was the picture of a naked girl on a magazine, the mushroom cloud in the sky.  I guess I never wondered if it was a good idea or not.

A few years ago, "Unbroken" was a popular book and movie, a true story about a man who survived such horrendous atrocities in a POW camp.  I have also read "China Dolls" by Lisa See about the Rape of Nanking.  But I wanted to read this latest book, as I have read all of O'Reilly's other Killing books, and found them to be honest and informational, as well as interesting reading.  I don't know which military was worse, the Nazis or the Japanese.  I cried, felt sick, and wondered how people could do such horrible things to others.  It seems, like the Nazis, that the Japanese military and its leaders, saw all others as inferior.  They even saw their emperor as their god, and this attitude trickled down through the civilians.  Even after all the destruction of their cities due to Allied bombing, and all the starving and dying, they still saw their empower as their god.  How sad to see such a horrible and brutal man, one puny, little man, as a god.  All he cared about was himself.  This was evident when he was willing to surrender but wanted a promise that he would not be convicted along with others for war crimes.  And it took 2 A-bombs to do it!  It boggles the mind to think of one so selfish and so evil.  But then again, there have been many dictators before and since.  

"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans." 

Harry Truman had a difficult decision to make. It is not something that he, nor anyone else, enjoyed, but found it was out of necessity.  Sometimes diplomacy just doesn't work.  Japan had laid a swath of destruction through China and the South Pacific.  It wasn't going to end. There was no other choice to be made.  
We can live in our ivory towers and pretend that all people are basically good and just want peace.  But that is not reality.  One only needs to look to history to see that, and even now, how there are still dictators out there destroying their own people, because they can.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

I'm Weird

I was looking at my YouTube last night and saw that there was a collection of trailers for Miss Peregrine's House for Peculiar Children.  I read all of these books and loved them, so I am excited for this movie to come out!  I enjoyed them so much because I was a peculiar child.  Although I had no superpowers like they did, I was weird, and am still.  I am part of the minority.

I am single and childless, and never been asked on a date, unless you count the homeless guy.  I don't have to work, but I want a career.  I live in an apartment, for I don't have the desire, time, or money to own my own home.  I am over educated and underemployed (OK, I guess that's pretty common these days). I was born with a rare genetic disorder.  I have anxiety and depression (that's not so weird either).  I know a lot of trivia crap.  I like to say I know a lot about a little and a little about a lot.  I'm not a girly girl, but hate sports.  I am a clean and organized freak.  I am an introvert.  I love healthy food and hate junk food.  I have IBS but not constipation.  I collect Barbies.  I hate romantic books and movies. I love Star Wars and Justice League.  I am a creature of habit.

I also have an aversion to  odd numbers, fuzz, lint, yarn , string, and thread.  I am fussy about my socks and underwear.  Although I live in MN and have been here all my life and don't plan to move, I hate winter.  Although I live in the Halloween capital of the world (Anoka), I hate Halloween.  I am not a morning person, so I prefer to go to church at night.  I hate pumpkin!

I ask questions about why everyone and everything has to be the same.  Why do all the stores and restaurants have pumpkin crap in the fall?  What about apple?  Why do most churches not have singles groups or evening services?  Why do people assume everyone has dated and had their first love?  Why do people use sports analogies, as if we all know what they are talking about?

I guess when these things happen, I am reminded that I am weird, that I am different.  I can't help but be who I am.  It took me about 40 years to finally like myself, I don't want to go back to hating myself or my life.  

Why?  Because life it is a gift that can be taken away at an instant.  And I just don't want to be like everyone else now. I like being different.  I like using my brain and deciding for myself what I believe, feel, or think.  I respect differences and weirdness.  My whole family is that way, so I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  As I used to tell my niece who would laugh and say, "You're so weird!"  I responded, "Well, at least I'm not boring!"

So even though I am constantly reminded that I am different and don't quite fit in with the general public, I like me.  

Monday, September 5, 2016


Yesterday I watched, "United 93," a historical fiction about the flight that landed in the Pennsylvania fields.  It is based on fact, but with some artistic license as we don't know all the details.  Nevertheless, we know more about this doomed flight than any other of that day.

I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.  But get ready to yell and and cry.  As the terrorists kept praying to their god, I kept saying, "You're going straight to hell."  I guess that was the only comfort of that day, that the terrorists would go "straight to hell."

It has been 15 years since this happened.  And yet it seems like yesterday I was in Paris, coming back from an excursion to Versailles, to see on the hotel lobby TV the planes flying into the world trade towers.  I spent that day and night trying to contact my mom.  All I wanted was my mommy.  I felt a world away and despaired of ever getting home.

Our travel companions shared their grief with us, people from around the world.  Our tour guides encouraged us to try to enjoy our trip, as we couldn't leave anyways.  So we did.  

In fact, the tragedy almost seemed to enhance our journey through Europe.  We laughed so much and had great times with each other.  Even in the midst of the not knowing, we could only live one day, one moment at a time.  

This is our generation's Pearl Harbor.   I'm sure my grandparents remembered where they were when that happened.  Now we remember where we were when this happened.  

And it is interesting to me how through the many memoirs I have read since then, almost everyone was affected by 9-11, even those far away from New York and DC, even those who didn't know anyone there.  

It affected all of us Americans.  And for a short while, it united us.  I really don't want to go through that trauma again.  Do you?  What does it have to take to unite us again?

I am learning through some trials of my own these days that I have to let things go.  It is amazingly difficult to do so sometimes, but in the whole scheme of things, do those things really matter.  I have my health, such as it is, my family, my friends, my country, and my God.  I have everything I need.  It is easy to forget sometimes.  But then when I think of 9-11, I remember, and I am thankful for the gift of life.  

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where is Heritage Square?

A few years ago, the eggheads at the MN State Fair decided to raze Heritage Square.  At first I thought it was a good idea, as it was old and had steep and crooked steps up into it.  But now it is West End Market, where we also pick up the bus in and out of the fair.  The old and  had gone, and only new was left.  

Gone was the circus train car crammed full of state fair memorabilia from over the years.  Gone was the old gas station, and the old silversmith.  The press was moved to another place where it is little noticed, and the little house you see in the upper right hand corner is still there, but you can't go through it. The circus train car is there too, but alas, you can't go through that either.  And all the state fair memorabilia is in an air-conditioned modern building, with a very small portion of what used to be on display.  

I was shocked that these old buildings were gone.  What happened to them? At my old age I had finally began to appreciate the history in these old buildings, and now they are gone.  My dad used to drag us through them when my sister and I were young.  I found it very boring.  But now I miss them.  I even miss the old, steep, and crooked steps.  

It is so easy to take for granted what we have.  We don't miss it until it's gone.  When it is, we finally realize how much it meant to us.  I wonder if that's how my dad's generation feels about machinery hill.  About how there are fewer farm implements and just more junk.  My dad used to take what seemed forever there, now he hardly takes a glance.  

I wonder if this is how the elderly feel.  Time seems to have passed them by, and forgotten whatever contributions they ever made.  Now they are having to ask their kids how to do things, things I am sure they never imagined would come about.  My parents were born before TV, and look now how much it has changed.  You can watch TV on your phone.  

We forget history.  And you know what they say, we are doomed to repeat it if we don't learn from it.  
I want my Heritage Square back, crooked steps and all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Summer Reading

 This is a book about a different way of looking at the Second Coming.  It is a hopeful book in that it is not scary, but instead encouraging, at least for me.  It posits that the earth and heaven will be reunited and resurrected, kind of like the Garden of Eden before the fall.  Meaning that all that is good will be redeemed, while all that is bad will pass away.  Wright is not the only one to think this way.  Randy Alcorn also did in his book, "Heaven."

I have read other Ortberg books, but I loved this one.  Like Dinesh D'Souza's story about how America changed the world, this is about how Jesus changed the world and how we all benefit from it, even if we don't believe in Him.  It is thought-provoking, and his writing style is smooth and funny.  He is pastor of Menlo Park church in CA.

  This book is about how to develop your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  He provides examples of how to do this through scripture reading and prayer.  I know you and I have probably read tons of these types of books, but this was most helpful to me.  He has written many books and and has spoken at my church, Church of the Open Door.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


I watched the Olympics when it started and last week when my parents had company, my mom was recovering from her knee surgery, and I had last Tuesday night off of volunteering to watch the USA win the women's gymnastics team finals (GO FINAL 5!) 

What I realized that I was missing and that I really didn't miss, was politics.  And no terrorists attacks, as far as I know.  I didn't worry about who to vote for, or about terrorists committing another atrocity.  Instead I cheered for athletes.  I cheered when they won, I cried when they cried.  I felt like a part of something bigger.  I felt united with the world, which I had not felt for a long time.

Is this the secret?  Giving politicians and terrorists a game to play, instead of a battle to fight?  I saw images of sportsmanship, like when the 2 female runners fell and helped each other up, losing any chance at a medal.  I saw people cry as their anthems played, hug and congratulate each other.  I saw people celebrating with others around the world at the opening ceremony. I saw the refugee team, and cried.  

The Olympics gives us a chance to see that we are not enemies.  We are human, a part of the great race, made in the image of God.  Too often we don't reflect His glory.  But for these 2 short weeks, every other year, we can see the best of humanity.  We can see that we are not so different.  Most of us just want to live our lives, love our families, and be at peace.  That doesn't seem like much to ask for, but it becomes impossible to gain.  I suppose that after all we are human. It is easier to fight and hate than it is to love and be at peace.

I wish it was easier to love and be at peace.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Vieux Lyon

Old Lyon is the largest Renaissance district in Lyon.  Along with its many other artistic and architectural treasures, are the traboules (corridors, top) and the courtyards (bottom).  They date from the 4th century, and the French used them to to escape from the enemy during the French Revolution and WWII.  

They were originally used to transport silk from the factories to the silk merchants without the merchandise getting damaged from inclement weather.  The villagers used these passageways to get water from the river.

Finally, Lyon is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There is much more to see and do here that the one day we had was not enough.  I especially think it would be cool to be here during the Festival of Lights from December 6 to 9, every year.  It started as a thanks to Saint Mary for saving the city from the plague in the 17th century.  Every year the buildings are lit up.  Mere words cannot seem to describe it:

Thursday, August 4, 2016


famous Lyon writers
famous Lyon gastronomy
Lyon was the last city we visited on our Vikings river cruise.  It sits at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers in France.  It was the biggest city we visited, the second largest after Paris.  And the only one with a Starbucks!  But no delicious desserts like in Paris.  And the bathroom was on the second floor.  My mom and I trudged up some narrow stairs to only reach the top and find that it had a lock combination!  So we trudged down and back up again, my mom's knees killing her and me out of breath.  And to find no toilet paper or soap!  Fortuitously, my mom had wet wipes so we were saved.

Basilica de Notre Dame de Fourvie
The three pictures are painted walls.  There are many in this city, and they are like murals that cover the whole building.  They actually look real, and are well done.

The church was built in thanks to Saint Mary for the eradication of the plague and in prevention of an invasion by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vienne and wine tasting

Roman theater
temple of Augustus and Livia
cathedral of St.  Maurice
chapel of Notre-Dame de Pipet

At the Chateau de Piereeclos near Macon, we did a wine tasting. I was not too impressed as I have done other tastings and they tasted much better and had food with it.  This wine tasted like cough syrup, the old kind we had to take when we were kids before they sweetened it.  The only one I liked was at the end, a very sweet cordial.  The highlight of the trip was the farm dog that burst into our tasting.  She was very friendly and just wanted some loving!  It probably didn't help that I was starting to get sick, and starting to get my period.  Ah, mamma mia!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Viviers and Tournon

Viviers coat of arms.
Viviers plane trees.
Both these medieval towns are part of the Ardeche region, between Lyon and Avignon on the Rhone River.  I don't remember much about them, except that the plane trees are everywhere, not just in Viviers.  In Viviers we saw an elderly man feeding three cats. They sat in front of his door waiting.  Then he came out
Tournon war memorial.

Tournon on Rhone River.

with food for them.  I don't know if they were stray cats or not, but that was what I was interested in.  There is so much history and so many medieval towns like this everywhere in France.  I suppose they were built along the rivers, like our towns were built.  Maybe if I had written all this stuff down I could have remembered.  Not even wikipedia has much info about them.  Oh, well.  They were still pretty and quaint little towns to visit.  But I wouldn't want to live there, so far away from any big city.  Yikes.   

Monday, July 11, 2016


 These pictures do not do it justice, but Avignon is known for the palace of the Popes.  From what I understand, during the 1300s, the pope at the Vatican was French, and he wanted to move the head of the papacy to his home country, especially as  the Roman Empire was crumbling by this time.  So for about a century,  

 the papacy was in Avignon.  Here they built a huge palace for the Pope, to rival the Vatican.  There was even a wall around the city, of which still is present today.  But the people wanted the Roman pope to be in Rome, so he moved back, and this palace is now a museum.  The town is 

somewhat now preserved as a medieval city, with some modern shops and restaurants.  Here my mom and I found the best biscuits, so we were happy to finally do some shopping, as in the day before in Arles, the shops and restaurants were closed.  I have no idea why.  They just seem to close up shop whenever they feel like it, and rue the poor tourist who is hungry!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Independence Day

I picked these because they speak of what we, as a country, have forgotten.  We have forgotten that we have rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution.  We have forgotten that we are not the savior of the world, and that we are all responsible to keep up this great experiment called America.  We have forgotten that we can destroy ourselves because we gave up our freedoms to be who we were made to be, yet not allowing others to be who they were made to be.  Finally, we have forgotten that someone paid the ultimate price for our freedoms as Americans.

We are a unique nation  for a reason.  We came here to escape tyranny.  Yet now we experience tyranny here from within.  When are we going to stop?  When will we let people be and stop trying to govern every aspect of their lives?  When are we going to be honest and work together instead of bullying and lying?  When are we going to say, "enough is enough."  We have forgotten the sacrifices that too many have made so we could be free.  We are spitting on their graves.

Let us remember that we live in the greatest nation on God's green earth.  It's not perfect, no nation is. But we are unique.  We have freedoms that no other nation has.  We love our country.  We love our military.  We love our flag.  And we love our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  No other nation with such freedoms are as patriotic as ours.  We are Americans, home of the free, because of the brave!

God bless America!