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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Bookish Tag

Good morning, everyone!!!

After disappearing again for most of this month, I'm finally back with a tag! 

Libby @ Geoturtle tagged me in The Bookish Tag. Thanks so much, Libby!

Rules:
  • You must be honest
  • You must answer all of the questions
  • You must tag four other bloggers
And without further ado, let's dive headfirst into this tag!

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Hmm...I have a lot of books on my bookshelf that I don't remember not having. The Boxcar Children series is one I always remembering seeing on the shelf. ;)

2. What is your current read, last read, and next read?

The last book I read was A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren, the next book(s) I plan to read are the Blades of Acktar series. Currently, I don't have any books I'm reading *collective gasp* (scandalous!), but hoping to get into some soon!

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I honestly don't really know...I'm sure there's been one or two, but I can't think of any right now... XD Sorry, y'all.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Ummm... Well  there a couple of books I need to read for school, but I keep avoiding them (even though I actually sorta do want to read them. Don't ask XD). Although I have to read them eventualy, sooo...

5. What book are you saving for retirement?
I'm not exactly sure what this question is asking, but if there's a book I want to read, ain't no way I'm waiting until I retire to read it! XD

6. Last Page: read it first, or wait ’till the end?

I never skip to the last page (although I have been very tempted at times) unless I'm at the library or a bookstore and I find a book that looks potentially interesting, but not enough for me to ever want to read it. In such cases, I skim through the book.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

Definitely not a waste...Depending on the author, etc. depends on if I read it thoroughly or just skim it, but I almost always read it. ;)

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Oh goodness, there's too many. XD Excluding my own stories (ahem) I would say maybe Andi Carter from the Circle C books by Susan K. Marlow... Or the love interest of one of my favorite guy characters (don't judge, y'all. Guys in books are a million times better than real life guys XD).

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

Well, books that were written by friends always make me think of them. There are a couple of books by Nancy Rue that remind me of road trips, because I would drag them along with me a lot of times. :D

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Not sure if this qualifies as interesting, but my sister is friends with one of my favorite childhood authors, and she once sent me one of her full series, each book signed. That was pretty awesome!!!

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Hm, well I did once give my cousin a few books from Winnie the Horse Gentler series (which were my favorites at the time) because she loved horses. That's about all I can think of right now.

12. Which book has been with you most places?

Well, if journals count, then my journal. And as I mentioned earlier, many books from Nancy Rue have found their way along long road trips with me. ;)

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad later?

Eh, not that I can think of. I really don't have that much required reading.

14. Used or brand new?
Brand new! That new book smell is just so amazing!

15. Have you read any Dan Brown books?
Nope, don't think I've ever even heard of him...

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Not that I can think of...the book is usually better!!!

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Pretty much any cookbook makes me hungry! But there is one book in particular, The Pizza Mystery, which is a Boxcar Children book, that always, always made me want pizza so much! XD

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Hm, I would probably say Kate K. from Twin Thoughts. She and I have very similar tastes in books!

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

The Montana Rescue series surprised me, because I don't really like books based solely on romance (although I have been venturing into this genre a little more, and I don't hate it the way I used to! XD). There were some scenes that had me cringing (kissing, bleck!), but overall the stories were enjoyable (perhaps because they were also very adventure-y).

*~*~*~*

And that completes the tag! Thanks again for tagging me, Libby! I hope you all enjoyed reading my answers.

To close out, I'm going to cheat a little (when do I not when it comes to tagging others? XD) and say that if you have read in a book/story today, you are tagged!! (Let me know if you do the tag so I can read your answers!)

Have a wonderful day, y'all!

~Livi Jane

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11...A Day Never to be Forgotten

September 11, 2001.

What started out as any other day quickly turned into chaos when the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor occurred. (Read last year's post on 9/11 here.)

Never Forget "I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
*From Pinterest

I wrote a short story a while back based on the happenings of September 11, 2001. While the story and characters are fictitious, the attacks of 9/11 were not. Join me today in remembering those whose lives were lost on that horrific day. <3

One Nation, Under God 
By Livi Jane

"Whee-ooh, whee-ooh, vroom vroom!"
Ashley Guttery glanced up and sighed. "Noah, honey, please keep your voice down. It's still early."
"But Mommy, I'm a fireman, just like Dad is!" The little boy skidded to a stop in front of the couch where his mom sat. The toy fire helmet he wore slid downward, covering his eyes. "I just put out the biggest fire ever!"
Ashley smiled down at her four-year-old and adjusted the helmet so he could see. "That's awesome, Noah!" she exclaimed, playing along with the young boy.
He grinned. "And Marley is helping!"
On cue, a squealing girl with blonde pigtails came careening around the corner. "Fire!" she exclaimed.
Ashley smiled. "Are you helping big brother put out the fires?"
Marley nodded rapidly, fingers in her mouth. "Daddy put out fire?"
"Yes, Daddy's at work," Ashley answered with a nod.
A sudden ringing from the next room reached their ears.
"Phone!" Marley exclaimed, pointing toward the sound.
The woman stood and hurried to answer. "Hello?"
"Ash?"
"Mia?"
Worry crept into Ashley at the sound of her sister's shocked, tear-filled voice. "Is something wrong?"
"Turn on the TV, now," Mia said on the other end. A sob followed the words.
Ashley's heart thumped. She reached for the remote control. "What is it, Mia?" She switched the television on. Something was definitely wrong.
"Somebody--they think a plane--there was--"
"Momma?"
"Not now, Marley." Ashley ignored the tug on her jeans. "Mia? You there?"
"There's been an explosion at the World Trade Center Tower!" Her sister's words blew out in one big breath. A fresh wave of tears followed.
As soon as the words were spoken, the towers appeared on Ashley's TV screen. Billows of smoke rose from one.
"What's happening?" Ashley felt frozen.
"I don't know," Mia choked out. "I think they're saying a plane flew into the tower. Ben called and told me as soon as he heard about it."
Ashley felt another tug on her leg.
This time she reached down and picked up her youngest, her eyes still fully locked on the television.
She pressed the phone to her ear with her free hand, her mind reeling.
"Listen, Ash, I'd better go. I need to get in touch with Scott and Mom. I'll call you back as soon as I can."
Ashley jumped, refocusing on her call. "Yeah, of course. Thanks for calling, Mia."
No sooner had she ended the phone call than a commotion erupted on the news. Ashley let out a cry and pressed a hand to mouth as she watched a ball of fire erupt from the second tower. The news anchors, trying to stay calm, replayed the tape. It looked like a plane had flown right into the tower. Ashley gaped. How could this be happening? It didn't seem real.
Oh, please, Jesus, she prayed silently, don't let it be real.
The camera angle switched, and she could see people racing around the scene like a disturbed anthill. Police, civilians, firefighters--
Firefighters."Oh my gosh, Jude!"
Marley jerked and covered her ears at the outburst. Ashley hardly noticed.
Her husband had to be there. His station was one of the closest to the WTC. People were pouring out of the towers in a panicked rush.
Jude could be in either one of those towers. Her mind raced.
She stood staring at the TV for so long she felt Marley squirm to get down. She and Noah ran out the room together.
Ashley barely noticed. Her focus was solely on the tragedy unfolding before her eyes. The minutes ticked by.
"Mom, are you okay?" From out of nowhere, Ashley's oldest appeared, Noah and Marley in tow. The eight-year-old stopped and stared at the television. "What's that?"
Ashley could barely answer; her thoughts were flying every which way. Harper moved next to her mother and put an arm around her. Noah scooted closer, and Marley reached up for her mom.
"Oh, please," Ashley whispered in a desperate prayer, "Let Jude be okay."
"Mom, is Dad there?" Harper's voice rose in panic.
Ashley couldn't answer right away. She blinked once, still in utter and complete shock at the tragedy unfolding so close to home. "I...honey, I don't know. All we can do is pray he's safe."
"Mom!" Harper's horrified voice drew her attention to what was going on. The air rushed from her lungs when the first tower seemed to give way and melt in on itself. An explosion of dust and smoke filled the air. Ash clapped a hand over her mouth.
Jude could be in that tower!
Her heart ached at the thought of all the people dying at this very instant. People who went to work just like every day, expecting the same routine.
Jude. Had she kissed him last evening before he headed out for his shift? Did she remember to tell him she loved him?
By this point, both Ashley and Harper had tears flowing down their cheeks. Noah and Marley, unsure of what was happening, began to realize something wasn't right.
"Fire?" Marley pointed at the television screen. A haze of smoke covered the camera's view.
"Yes, baby, there is a fire." Ashley tried to keep her voice calm, but inside, she was screaming. My Jude could be in that building! Why, oh, why, Lord, did he have to be a first responder?
Ashley knew when she married Jude that it would be hard. She knew other women who were wives to cops, soldiers, and firemen. They warned her that it would be a difficult life, not knowing at any given moment that her husband was safe.  
But this... Ash bit back another sob.  This was the last thing she expected to see happen on what started out as any other Tuesday.
"Mom, look!" Harper's screech jerked her attention to the unfolding horror. "The other tower!"
"It's falling down!" Noah piped up. He didn't seem to grasp what was really going on.
The remainder of Ashley's already-low hopes fell with the second tower. Why? her mind cried out again.
There was a chance, though. A chance that somehow, her husband had not been in either building when they went down. She could only hope and pray that it was so.
But Jude was the kind of man who didn't leave anyone behind. It didn't matter how impossible the situation seemed. If there was the slightest chance someone could be saved, he took it. He was the one who went back in the burning house for the family dog, the man who comforted the terrified child stuck who-knows-where. Yes, Jude would plunge headlong into a dangerous situation if it meant possibly saving a life. She remembered him explaining to her the reason why.
"I know where I'll go if I don't make it through," he told her, brushing his calloused fingers against her cheek. "But the ones I'm saving--I don't know where they stand with the Lord. And I want them to have another chance."
"Yuck! Wet!"
Ashley was brought back to the present by Marley's complaint. She realized her tears had dripped down onto her youngest daughter.
"I'm sorry, Mar," she apologized. The same sight of smoke greeted her eyes when she looked back at the television.
Her legs suddenly felt wobbly, and she stepped over to the couch, Marley still in her arms. The other children scuttled onto the cushions next to her.
"Mom, is Daddy gonna be okay?" Harper's trembling voice met Ash's ears.
Ashley hugged her oldest to her side. "We're going to pray that he is fine, all right?"
Harper nodded, but Ashley could tell she understood that her beloved father might not be coming home.
They bowed their heads, and Harper was quick to start the prayer. "Dear God, please watch over my daddy. Let him be okay so that he can help others. I love him and don't want him to die. Please, please, keep him safe. And protect everybody else that is there. Amen."
Ashley couldn't find the words to speak after her young daughter's prayer. It was as if they were trapped in her throat.
"Mommy, there's so much smoke!" Noah announced, his eyes fixed on the screen.
"I know." Ashley glanced at her kids. "Harper, why don't you take your brother and sister and go play upstairs?" She wasn't sure how much of this awful attack she wanted them to see.
Harper nodded solemnly. "C'mon, Noah and Marley." She jumped up from the couch. "Let's go play!"
The younger two Gutterys seemed glad to not have to worry about what was going on around them any longer. They hurried after their sister.
Now alone, Ashley found the remote and flipped through the channels, hoping that maybe it was all a big misunderstanding or a prank of some sort. But each news station had the same, horrendous footage. It was real.
Ash closed her eyes. Oh Lord, please be with our nation.

*~*~*~*

The musical ringtone of Ashley's phone startled her awake. She glanced at the clock. Nearly five. She vaguely remembered feeding the kids lunch--though she couldn't bring herself to eat anything--and sending them to play outdoors with their neighborhood friends. Now they were upstairs, watching a video.
The news was still on, the volume turned down low. Ashley stood and reached for her phone, a feeling of dread settling over her like a damp sheet. She didn't recognize the number, and hoped it wasn't the news she thought it might be.
Hands shaking, she pressed talk.
"Hello?"
"Ash? It's me, Ash. I'm okay, I'm okay."
A cry exploded from Ashley, and her knees gave way. She slid to the ground. She thought she had already used all her tears this morning, but apparently not. They poured down her cheeks in a rush.
"Ash, babe, are you okay?" The deep, concerned voice on the other end only made Ash's tears fall faster.
"Oh, Jude!" she sobbed into the phone. "You're alive!"
She could almost see him grin as he answered. "'Course I am, sugar." His voice dropped back to a sober tone. "It's been a long day."
Ashley could tell he was worn out. Tears were pouring down her face, and the young woman didn't bother to keep them back. “Oh, Jude, I can't believe you're alive,” she whispered over and over.
“I know, babe, but I promise I'm fine.”
"Will you be home anytime soon?" she asked hopefully, attempting to brush away tears. She knew she was being selfish, wanting her husband home instead of just being grateful he was still alive, but--
"I hope so. Some of us will be heading back to the station within the next hour or two, and I’m hoping to slip away for the night." He released a shuddering sigh. "It's bad out here, Ash."
Ashley bit back more tears. "I've had the news on nearly all day. We were so--worried." She choked on the last word. "I can't imagine how much more awful it is to be there in person."
Jude's silence on the other end told Ashley that her words rang true.
"I'm sorry, Jude. I guess I--"
"It's all right, Ash. Things have just been...hectic. It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is actually happening." His voice was thick.
Ash sniffed. "I know. I keep hoping I'll just wake up and it'll all be a bad dream." She heard voices shouting in the background on her husband's end.
"Listen, Ash, I gotta go. But I promise I'll get in touch with you just as soon as I can."
"Okay," Ashley consented, unwilling to have to end their conversation. “I'll call everyone and let them know you're safe.”
Oh, thank you Lord that he's safe.
"All right, babe. Love you."
"I love you, too. See you soon."
"And Ash?"
"Yes?"
"Pray."
The weariness in Jude's voice--the evidence that he had seen some heartbreaking sights all day--broke Ash's heart for him. "I will, babe."
The line went dead, and Ashley sighed. She was relieved beyond words that her husband was alive and seemingly well. So many had family members who wouldn't be coming home at all...
Ashley closed her eyes and began to pray.

*~*~*~*

Ashley awoke in a cold sweat, her heart pounding.
What an awful dream, she thought to herself, flipping on the bedside lamp. She shivered and glanced across the bed where her husband should be.
Ash hadn't heard from him since their phone call in the evening, almost eight hours ago now. She had hoped he would be able to get away for a while, but apparently his services were needed.
She sighed and lay back against her fluffy pillow, her mind running through the events of the previous day.  
The sound of the front door creaking open startled her, and Ashley climbed out bed.
She cautiously reached for the bedroom door handle and opened it to see a tall, muscular figure in front of her.
"Jude!"
She melted into his arms, ignoring the dust coating his body. He was here. He was okay. He was home.
She felt his arms tighten around her waist, as if drawing comfort from her.
"Oh, Jude..." Ashley wasn't sure how she still had any tears left, but they came pouring down her cheeks yet again.
"Ash." He whispered the name, exhaling a deep sigh.
They stood in the dark doorway, intertwined in each other's arms, unable to speak, until they heard a little voice behind them. "Dad?"
The hall light flipped on, and Harper squinted up at them, her dirty blonde hair in a tangled mess hanging over her eyes. "Dad, you're home!" She flung her arms around her father in a hug.
Jude pulled his daughter to his chest, squeezing her tight. "Hey, Harper."
"Oh, Daddy, we saw on the news--"
"There was a fire!"
Noah appeared from his bedroom, a stuffed teddy bear firmly in his grasp. "You put out the fire, Dad?"
Jude tossed a half-smile his way. "I tried. C'mere, buddy." He pulled Noah into his big arms.
Ashley smiled, wondering how long it would be before their youngest joined the group.
Sure enough, little Marley came wandering from her room only moments later. "Daddy!" she squealing, running down the hall in her socked feet. She threw herself into the group hug, and Ashley couldn't help but chuckle. It felt good to be able to laugh after a day full of sorrow and tears.
"All right, kiddos, Daddy is all dirty. He needs to take a shower." Ashley watched as all three kids finally pulled themselves out of the dog-pile they'd become and allowed Jude to stand.
"Go ahead, baby," she told him. "I'll get the kids back to bed."
"Thanks." He smiled and kissed his wife on the cheek. "I showered and got a couple hours nap in at the station, but they had us back out there again most of the evening."
By the time all three siblings were calmed down enough to go back to sleep and Ashley headed back to her own room, Jude was finished with his shower.
"I was thinking they'd keep you at the station all night," Ashley observed as she watched him pull a t-shirt over his head.
"A couple of us who had been there all day were sent back out. Randy finally told us to go home. So I did." He fell into bed. "And boy, am I glad he let us."
"I wanted to see you so bad, wanted to make sure you were all right." Ashley smiled sheepishly. When Jude didn't answer, she added, "Are you?"
He sighed and closed his eyes. "Ash, I don't think I can talk about it. Not now."
She swallowed. She couldn't even imagine seeing half of what he saw on a regular basis, and so much less what he had probably seen today. "Were you...in either tower?"
He nodded, his eyes still closed. "The first one that was hit. Made it out as it was falling."
Ashley's gasp was barely audible. She brought her hands to her mouth. Her husband had been so close to death. She realized even more why he didn't tell her what sort of things went on during calls. She couldn't handle it.
"Baby..."
"Prayer, Ash. God is the only reason I got out alive. I...we knew the tower was falling. You could hear the floors slamming down on top of one another." He sighed. "And I went back for Sam. He had tripped on our way down the stairs; we lost him in the rush of people. I ran back to help him out, but I knew...I knew there was next to no chance we'd make it out and away from the flying rubbish." He fell silent for a moment. Ashley waited, frozen, for him to speak again.
"Then I felt, I don't know, like Something pushed us. I can't describe the way it felt. The next thing I remember is standing in a cloud of dust and smoke, near one of the emergency vehicles. Sam and I were completely uninjured." He drew a deep breath, and the room fell into silence.
"God protected you, Jude," Ash said finally said, her voice quiet but matter-of-fact. "He works in mysterious ways."
"Amen to that," Jude agreed. "But there were so many people who...who didn't make it out."
Ashley opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by the sound of the door opening. "Momma? Daddy?"
All three of the Guttery children stood in the doorway, peering into the room. "Can we sleep with you tonight?" Harper begged. "Please?"
"Sleep here!" Marley added for good measure.
Ash glanced at her husband. He smiled. "C'mon, kiddos.” He motioned them in with his hand.
"Yippee!" They rushed toward the bed as one, all clambering up and under the covers.
"I don't know if we can all fit," Ashley joked, scooting over to make room. She was silently thankful the kids had decided to join them. They had the whole family together now.
"There's room," Noah said confidently. He wriggled down to the foot of the bed, still squeezing his stuffed bear.
The kids and Jude drifted off to sleep quickly, and Ashley was left to herself. She listened to her family's even breathing and thanked God for them.
Let me never take any of these moments for granted, she prayed. Because one day, they could be taken from her. Just like that.
She prayed for the families of the victims that day, for strength and comfort.
It would be a long road, but America would make it through this rough patch. The people would unite.
They would come back stronger.

*~*~*~*

911 memorial quotes - Google Search

*~*~*~*

I hope you enjoyed the story, but more importantly, I hope you remember that thousands of people died that day, more than four-hundred of them being first responders, who were desperately trying to save others. We will never forget them, nor any of the victims of such a terrible tragedy.

In fact, to honor the firefighters and LEOs who gave their lives on 9/11, my sister and I are doing a type of  "challenge" thought up by a friend. We will be doing one burpee for every emergency worker/first responder that sacrificed their lives on 9/11 (which totals to 412, if I remember correctly). Anyone who wants to is more than welcome to join in! You can do push-ups, sit-ups, or whatever you choose if you'd rather. Let's honor those amazing men and women! <3

Most of all, let's never forget those who died on that tragic day.

~Livi Jane