Remembering 9/11

You can’t help but remember.

You can’t help but be taken back to that day.

I was at the beach. On girls’ vacation. Far from my husband. Far from my family. Far from the “real world.”

But the real world came crashing in… all it took was one phone call.

Only a few of us were up when the first tower was hit. We hadn’t turned the television on yet. It was beautiful outside. Calm and quiet. We were planning to hit the beach as soon as everyone was up. Lounging on couches reading books we never had time to read at home occupied us until then.

The phone ringing that early in the morning surprised us. On the other end was one of the girls’ mom. She told us to turn the TV on right away. She was worried that a branch of her daughter’s office was still in one of the towers. Thankfully, that branch had moved several months prior. But it didn’t matter, we were now glued to the television.

We watched in horror with Matt Lauer as the second tower was hit. We sat in shock and fear as we realized (before the news people I might add) that they were targeting planes heading from the east coast to California. Did we know anyone flying today? Where was my brother (who was currently working in CA but often came east for business)? Who did we know in NYC? Was anyone we knew in danger? Where else would they hit.

We each took turns on the phone calling home and checking in with loved ones. I ached to be home with my Sweetie, but I had flown (ironic) in the day before and had to wait for a ride home with the girls. We decided to stay at the beach as we had already rented the house for the week.

The beautiful beach taunted us with it’s golden sands and rippling waves. Instead of enjoying it’s paradise, we sat on lumpy sofas watching the never-ending coverage of the days that changed world history. We went through boxes of tissues that week as we watched horrified yet entranced by the images that filled the screen.

Every once in awhile we would hear a jet and race outside to see what was happening. We quickly realized there was a naval base nearby and what we were hearing were fighter planes patrolling the skies. That sound both terrified us and made us feel safer all at the same time.

That vacation was one I will never forget. Not because of the memories created with my girlfriends, but because during that vacation the world as I knew it changed.

We will never be the same.

We can never forget those who died that day.

We can never forget the brave men and women who sacrificed themselves trying to save others.

We can never forget the ultimate sacrifice of family that our military forces give each and every day that they protect us near and far.

We can never forget….

So thankful for a God who never forgets, who reigns forever.


Things I Love Thursday: The Sisters

These are “The Sisters” – that’s what my Katie’s hubby, Scott, has dubbed us. We’re not biologically related, and we weren’t even great friends six months ago. But now, we are “The Sisters,” and we are tight.

How can three ladies, who all revolved around one person (my Katie) become close and sister-like in less than six months? Actually, I think it took less than forty-eight hours. It only takes one thing. It takes a tragedy. It takes a monumental event that pulls you out of the orbiting that you’ve been doing and straight into the heat of battle.

Before Katie passed, we all knew each other. We were all Katie’s friends. We were at some of the same gatherings. We’d made small talk and compared kid stats. But we didn’t have a strong relationship with one another.

Then, Katie went into hospice on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it was Valentine’s Day. And everything changed.

I was there as the chief BFF. (That’s what I always called myself. Katie called me sister by another mother.) I stood in the room and rushed to the nurse when needed and made sure Scott drank water and Katie’s mom had a coke. That was my role. To be there, bedside.

Angela was chief logistics coordinator. She and her husband had already started talking to the church about the Celebration Service. She was at the ready with funeral home and graveside service information. She was the connection to their current small group and the church. She was a vault of phone numbers. She is AMAZING in “go” mode.

Melanie was chief of childcare. She was and still is the one Katie’s kids turn to first for hugs and kisses. Katie’s kids had spent lots of time with her and her family. They felt safe and loved by them. It was Melanie who drove the kids to the hospice so they could say goodbye to their mother. It was Melanie who took their exhausted selves home to bed that night. She is a “baby angel” as Katie once called her.

The three of us and our husbands spent our Valentine’s Day night saying goodbye to our friend, Katie, and sitting with her husband, Scott. We all had childcare arrangements because it was Valentine’s Day. However, rather than going out, we ate Chick-fil-a and drank sweet tea while we sat in the hospice and talked and laughed and cried. When the hospice nurse asked if someone was coming from the church, Scott looked at the three couples sitting with him and said, “They’re already here.”

Our Katie went to dance with Jesus the next morning….

The next forty-eight hours found the three of us in the thick of caring for the family, disseminating information, organizing services, planning meals, and mourning ourselves. It was a whirlwind, but at the center was the family and us.

The day after Katie passed, I was sitting in an Atlanta Bread Company working on the obituary. (Yes, sometimes it sucks to be “the writer.”) Angela called and wanted to run something by me. She was nearby so decided to come on over. Thirty minutes later, Melanie showed up to help us pick pictures for the Celebration Service. We sat there for three hours. We laughed. We cried. We felt. We hurt. We all knew how the other was feeling. We each understood the others’ pain. We became friends. We became “The Sisters.”

I love these ladies. I’ve become extremely intentional about nurturing my relationship with them and their families. They’ve suffered the same loss I have. They know what I’m feeling. They love Katies’ babies and her hubby as much as I do. They get me. For that, I am truly blessed.

Linked to Things I Love Thursday because they are awesome and I love them.

CD Review: Coming Alive

I had the privilege of attending Casey Darnell’s concert last Thursday night. Casey has been a worship leader at our church for many years and is one of my favorites. (Shhhh… don’t tell the other guys.) At his concert, he introduced us to all the songs on his new CD, Coming Alive. It was an amazing night, and I enjoyed every minute.

This CD is an amazing mix of worship music. There are songs like “When the Waters Rise” that reach your very soul and remind you that God is with you ALWAYS, even when you feel like you’re drowning. This is actually one of the Princess’s favorite songs. She listens to it every night before she goes to bed. It was one of my Katie’s favorite songs, and Casey was kind enough to sing it at her memorial service. This song speaks to me in so many ways and hearing Casey tell us the back story on Thursday confirmed that he too knows what it feels like to be overwhelmed with grief and clinging hard to our Father’s love.

Then, there are songs like the title song, Coming Alive, that just make you smile and want to jump for Jesus. It’s a song you can’t help but belt out as you drive through town. It makes your heart happy to celebrate that Jesus is indeed alive.

Coming Alive is available on iTunes today. I suggest you go get it. Now!

If you want a hard copy…I always like a hard copy, you can win one here at the House of Hills. Yep, I love it so much I’m giving a copy away.

To enter:

  • Go and listen to clips of Coming Alive. What song would you most like hear in it’s entirety?

Additional Entries:

  1. Like Casey Darnell on Facebook (and come back and comment)
  2. Follow Casey Darnell on Twitter (and come back and comment)
  3. Like House of Hills on Facebook (and come back and comment)

Contest closes Saturday, June 25th at noon so get your entries in!

Disclaimer: Opinions of Coming Alive are all my own. I was honored to get to serve at his concert and was provided with a CD to give away. I would have bought one to give away though. Love it that much.



Happy Father’s Day

I love this man who holds my daughter so tenderly, so lovingly, so daddily. I love this man who gave me amazing joy as a wife before he ever made me a mother and never forgets that I am his number one girl. I love this man who has shared his passions with his daughter to the point where they have become hers too. I love this man who has patience enough to play Lego Wii games when he knows they are never going to get every brick in the level.  I love this man who makes sure that Friday afternoons are reserved for his Princess. I love this man who takes his daughter on dates so she knows how a man should always treat her. I love this man who every day is an example of our heavenly Father’s love for us, teaching my girl that she is loved unconditionally. I love this man.

Happy Father’s Day to the love of my life whom I’m blessed to call husband and my girl is blessed to call Daddy.

Kids 4 MO : House of Hills

Have you read about Kids4MO and the Boxes of Hope? No? Well, you should!

This amazing organization is gathering boxes from around the country for children in Joplin, MO who lost EVERYTHING in the recent tornadoes. Similar to Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, these Boxes of Hope will bring love and grace to children who seriously need it.

The House of Hills is privileged to be a drop off location for Kids4MO. We will be collecting boxes on Saturday, June 25th to be mailed the next Monday. We would love to mail yours in our box. If you are in the North Metro Atlanta area, feel free to drop off your box with three dollars for shipping and we’ll get it to Joplin for you. Message me for our exact location.

The Princess and I will be packing boxes as will our entire Small Group. We’re so excited to SERVE those who need a little hope in their lives right now.

We hope you’ll join us.


The Phone Call I Didn’t Get

You know how certain events trigger memories? You walk into a room or hear a song, and a memory floods every pore of your body. You know those memories? The ones where the emotions overwhelm you and you are crippled by them once again, if only for a minute.

Orange Conference is one such event for me. Unfortunately, it’s one I can’t avoid. I work for the company that puts it on each year. It’s kinda important that I be there. Every year, I am overwhelmed. Not just with the workload, stress, and excitement of the conference. I’m overwhelmed with memories of past conferences. Memories of phone calls.

My first Orange Conference, I was working when I got a phone call from my Katie. I had to step outside from the chaos so I could understand her words even though I didn’t want to hear them. The cancer. It was back. We chatted awhile. Made a plan of attack. I went back inside, found a comforting co-worker and cried. My heart was breaking.

Fast forward two years to 2010. We’d been through multiple chemo options, each one worse on her than the previous. We thought we were getting a handle on it. It was time for the Orange Conference again. I got another phone call. I was standing in practically the same place as I had been two years before. This one wasn’t good either. Everything we’d been doing wasn’t working at all. It was growing. It just wasn’t good. My heart was breaking again.

Fast forward to this year. I’d given the eulogy at my Katie’s Celebration Service two and a half months previous. I’d mourned. I’d cried. I’d rejoiced. I’d even gone almost entire days without feeling sad.

But, I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t thought about how overwhelming the memory rush would be when I walked into the conference center. I’d considered it briefly during preparations for the conference. But, I wasn’t prepared.

I stood in my same spot that I stand every year. I remembered each phone call. I remembered the heartbreak. I remembered the pain. I let it wash over me. I even cried a little. Because I knew I wouldn’t get a phone call this year. I couldn’t.

Then, I heard a little whisper. I felt a little voice. And, I knew she was there with me even as I was overcome with sadness. I remembered that where she is, has no pain. Where she is, has no suffering. Where she is, there is nothing but joy. Where she is, I can’t wait to be.

I thank my readers who are walking through this mourning period with me. I thank you for continuing to read even as I work through this pain. Writing these posts has helped my mourning process and let me shed many tears that might otherwise be repressed. I can honestly say I can’t predict when they will pop up or how long they will last, but I appreciate your graciousness while I heal.

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Party for the first time, and I’m kinda nervous about it! What do I tell those who are coming to visit me for the first time? How do I let you know ALL about me in just one post? Oh the pressure!

Then, it came to me…my tagline…I’ll explain my tagline.

Live, Love, Serve

It’s what we do at the House of Hills! And just an FYI – the house – it’s in the process of moving, so things have been a bit spotty around here. I’m getting back to it though. Truly I am!!

So let’s get to it…


The House of Hills is a GREAT place to live. We are a family that likes to plan. We menu plan. We try to be prepared no matter where we go. The Princess and I enjoy cooking together. We LOVE to go to Disney. We enjoy living each day to the fullest, and enjoy sharing it with you!


Here at the House of Hills, we love each other VERY MUCH. My Princess and My Sweetie and I have an amazing life and are so very blessed to have each other. I love to watch My Princess love others in her life. I love spending one on one time with her. I love watching her grow and change. I love being her mom and My Sweetie’s wife. Truly my biggest joy.


We love to serve others here at the House of Hills. I always have a freezer full of meals to give away to those who need one. Last November we participated in the 30 Day Give, and the entire family got into making sure we gave something every day. We are already planning for my next Birthday Party where we will pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We are always looking for new and fun ways to serve those around us.

I love sharing the happenings at the House of Hills with my readers and learning new things from them. Be sure to come back and visit again!

Oh, and my regular readers… did I leave something out? You know me best.

It’s been ONE Month

One month ago my best friend went to dance with Jesus. In some ways it’s gone fast and in others slow. I’ve counted the days, each and every one. Each morning they are marked in my brain. Two days ago, she was gone. A week ago we said good-bye to her earthly body. Three weeks ago I gave the eulogy at my best friend’s celebration service.

Giving the eulogy at your best friend’s celebration service is NOT something you should do before you’re forty. (Yes, I have a few more months before I’m forty people!) What’s worse, she was only thirty-five. For thirty-five years she lived on this earth. For thirty-five years she shone God’s light to all who encountered her. Many were blessed to know her. I was honored to call her my BFF.

Do I miss her? OH YES I miss her. But, I don’t miss the her that died a month ago. I miss the her that cancer took away from us months before that. I miss my BFF. I miss the lady who made me laugh and then cried with me when I was sad. I miss the woman whose babies I fed and who cackled when her son peed all over me. I miss my friend who made the best banana puddin’ around. I SO MISS her.

While I miss her, I rejoice that she is no longer here…suffering and in pain. She is finally healed. For that, I dance and I sing…. even while I cry…

For those that have requested, you can read my eulogy on her Caring Bridge Page on the March 4th Journal entry.

If you have a moment, pray for those of us who are grieving for Katie today, especially her husband and two children.

Praying for Japan

I was going to post today about going to Disney World.

That seems a bit trivial after the images I’ve seen today.

Instead, I ask you to take a minute. Stop. Lift your voice. Pray for those in Japan, the surrounding islands, and all in the path of a possible tsunami.

Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray for miracles to happen. Pray for lives to be saved.

Just pray.