September 11, 2011

So They Will Know

Last night, we sat our children down and talked to them about what life was like before September 11, 2001. I wondered if that is how Adam and Eve felt talking with their children. We try to explain a world without terror and they tried to explain a world without sin. Just a thought.

Allen and I grew up during the cold war and watched the Berlin wall come down.  As young adults we were lured into a false sense of world peace and unity.  Even as our friends joined the military and our country went to war in Iraq we never felt the threat here on our soil.  But all that changed on 9/11.  

We told them how air travel was fun and dropping someone off at the airport or picking them up was a celebration.  They can't comprehend a time when you didn't have to worry about getting through security gates or when you didn't look at your fellow travelers for hints that one of them might be a terrorist.

We told them how the worst day in our country's history started out as the most beautiful day we have ever seen.  How there was not even one cloud in the sky.  Much like our parents told us about their steps the day President Kennedy was shot, we recounted for our children the events of that day.

And even now, ten years later, I was struck by how a day can start out business as normal... making the carrot juice, finding the girls ballet shoes, starting our school lessons for the day... and in a moment with no warning the world is changed forever.

The children wanted to know if it impacted us more because we were in the triangle of the three sights.  An astute question, but one I could never answer.  It was a day our entire nation was left breathless... violated... and speechless.  To me, it felt as if life, time and the world stood still and quiet for days.

We told them about the frightening silence that surrounded us.  As planes stopped flying and people went inside to hold their families or to cry and yes, even to pray.  The only sound we heard for days was the hourly patrol of the F16s flying over Camp David and circling around to the White House.

And then there was the eerie sight of tanks paroling the army base near our home 24/7.

And the story of how Pop pop, after all planes were landed, rented one of the last cars available with three strangers so he could make the long drive back home.

My sister was also supposed to be flying that day.  And my brother was working so close to the Pentagon that they could feel the explosion in his office.

As we waited for word that our loved ones were okay, I wanted desperately for my husband to be at home holding me.  But no calls could go through.  No cars could get through.  And so we waited and we watched over and over again the horrific sight of that morning.

Emma was the baby and we were expecting Nathaniel.  We wanted to get in a little trip before he was born.  That was the first year we took our vacation in the fall.  For no other reason than it happened to be when our friends beach house was available.  We decided to go on as planned and loaded the family into the van the following Friday morning.

Last night we talked about the flags.  On that trip, we drove four hours and every single bridge we drove under had the American flag hanging from it.  My big girls don't remember, but they counted them the whole way.  We compared the flags that flew that day and in the weeks to follow to the flags carried to battle during the Civil War.  We recently learned that the troops never repaired their bullet riddled flags, because those holes represented a fight bravely fought.  

We barely passed another car in all those hours.  And how the three days we spent with our family in that beach house felt like being wrapped in a cocoon.  Just grateful that we were all together when so many were hurting and mourning their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children...

That is the only time I can remember our family having the television on for any length of time.  I don't think we turned it off the three days we were there.

We found so much comfort in the simple every day tasks.  Hours and hours were spent sitting at the kitchen table coloring and waiting with the rest of the world for news of someone, anyone, being rescued from the rubble.

When we drove to town for groceries, we saw candles.  Candles in homes.  Candles in shops.  People lining streets with burning candles.  One little way this town came together to mourn and grasp for some emblem of hope in a time that seemed hopeless.

Allen showed the children some footage on the internet so they could truly appreciate the horror of it all.  Ten years later, it gripped my heart just as it did that day.  Before  the video was over, even my boys were weeping.

We remembered so that they will know...

...There was once a world without terrorists.
...Men and Women freely have given their lives in the pursuit of a freedom we will never truly know again.
...God is judging our nation for turning their back on Him.
...We need to work even harder to share the Word with the lost and dying world.
...Because we never know when it will be too late.
...And we must pray as we've never prayed before for those we love.
...And for those we don't.

Allen and I shared what we had taken away from that day.  The importance of not letting a minute slip away.  Making sure we have things taken care of.  Most importantly knowing that we are ready to face eternity.

Indeed, we remembered so that they will know.  And then we challenged them.  Now that they know... what are they going to do with it?  How will they let this tragedy change them?

And the Lord blessed our time.

As we asked each one, are they ready for eternity, Nathaniel admitted he didn't know.  This didn't come as a surprise, because he is the only one of our children who has never had a clear testimony.  He  would tell us he knew he was saved but could not tell us when or how.  I have prayed a long time for the Lord to convict his heart or confirm His salvation for us.

The girls and I put the other boys to bed and went to my bedroom so Allen and Nathaniel could talk.  For what seemed like an hour, we hugged each other and wept and called on the Lord to save this son and brother we love so much.  We prayed for the terrorists who lived with no hope.  We prayed for a 91 year old man who is preparing to die and doesn't know where he will spend eternity.  We prayed for you, my dear readers, who have not put their trust in Jesus.  And still we cried.  And then we sang, "It is Well."

Shortly after we finished that song, Nathaniel came in to tell us that now he knows, he has put his trust in Jesus and given his life over to God.  He is ready to face eternity.  We cried some more.

Shortly after the tragedy in 2001, Kaitlin made the decision to turn to Jesus.  Since then I have prayed that she would come forward for Baptism.  Allen and I were blessed to see her ask for church membership in our service today.

After church today, our children asked if we could go soul winning instead of going out to lunch as we typically do.

And tonight, as we were eating dinner, Samuel and Elisabeth put down their sandwiches, took my hands (we hold hands in a circle when we pray as a family) and asked if we could please pray for the Muslims, "Because we need to get the Gospel to them."

The events of 9/11 changed you and me and the world for ever.  This weekend, because we remembered, those events have changed our children's lives forever, too.

I was trying to decide which video I wanted to include here.  Our Pastor shared this one today.  I knew immediately it was the one I wanted everyone to see.  Even though, it is about 15 minutes, it is worth every minute.  Show it to your children, your friends, your parents... it is an amazing story and Mr. Sheibner paints a beautiful picture of Jesus from his experience.


  1. Great post! I love the clip, what a moving story.


  2. Amazing post. We remembered 9-11 by attending the memorial ceremony that our city does every year. :) It was really beautiful and I cried.
    Excellent post!

  3. We sat with our girls on Sunday too and talked about what they remembered.
    It still feels like it was yesterday at times.
    Remembering those effected in our prayers.