The Real Army Wives #1: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

I was supposed to get up at 7:30 to be at work at 8:30 that morning, but I overslept, such a typical college student I was…Instead, I woke up at 9:10am for my 10am Anatomy and Physiology class. I had put off my shower long enough that it was non-negotiable that morning.

You see, I was a junior at the University of Alabama, and I had the hard-earned privilege of a private room, thanks to my job as a resident assistant in the largest freshman dormitory on campus, Tutwiler Hall.

I had my radio on while I was getting ready. Before I got into the shower, the D.J. mentioned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center (north tower).

I paused in consternation. “What!? Weird.” That was puzzling, but I went ahead and took my shower.

The thing I will never forget is that moment when I got out of the shower, and I had my towel wrapped around me like a dress, and the man on the radio told us about the 2nd airplane hitting the other tower (south tower).

I immediately sat down.

“Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa. Wait. What? What is happening?”

I listened intently. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to turn on my t.v. to watch coverage of this. It’s like I was stuck in 1930, listening to my personal stereo. I suppose I was too shocked to think anything at all besides, “What is happening?? Are we at war? What will happen next??”

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

My Fall 2001 Journal.

They didn’t have much more information to give us that morning. What could they say? Unsure what else to do, I went about my normal routine.  I put my clothes on in a daze and walked the half-mile to my anatomy class, hoping to hear some reassuring words or just more information, from my professor.

Instead, I entered what felt like the Twilight Zone. Seemingly, no one in my class had any idea that it had happened. Probably they didn’t. The professor certainly didn’t know. He taught class as usual, and I absorbed absolutely nothing that Dr. Graham said.

Have you ever felt like you knew the world was ending, and no one around you had a clue?

And you start to wonder if you misunderstood? That one hour, on 9/11/01, I felt that way, which is funny because I was normally the one who was notorious for not being up on current events. Watching the news wasn’t my thing. I’ve always been more of a bookworm than a t.v. person.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I arrived to my 11am class, Psychology Research Methods, and the professor marched in and canceled class. Finally! I didn’t imagine all of this! I’m not crazy. This really did happen. Now I was free to talk about it.

There was a resident on my floor, named Stacy, who was from New York City. I had a burning urgency in my chest to get ahold of her. I left her notes on her door, I looked for her, I called her, and I prayed and hoped her parents didn’t work at the Towers.

She found me that afternoon and reassured me that all of her folks were present and accounted for. It wasn’t easy back then. This was 2001. Most of us did not have cell phones, and the regular lines were jammed with so many people calling that I heard reports that it was hard to get a call through.

Stacy told me this story:

“My parents are good. Everyone is fine. Even my aunt! This is incredible because this is the 2nd time my aunt has been rescued from harm in the towers. My aunt works in the WTC, but she had gone across the street to get coffee this morning. She saw the crash happen from a window and went straight home from there. My aunt is a faithful prayer warrior, and she says God has protected her, and it was not her time to go yet. She was spared once before, during the 1993 WTC bombing. She happened to be at home sick with the flu that day.”

Then Stacy went home to New York City to be with her people for the rest of that week. It was just as well. She didn’t miss anything.

The world stood still that week. 

Airplanes were grounded. Ball games were canceled. Tests were postponed. Candles were lit everywhere. You couldn’t walk a mile on campus without running across candles or a group of praying people.

I’ll never forget holding hands in a giant circle on the University of Alabama quad. There must have been 100 or more of us, both teachers and students. There were Jews, Christians, and agnostics all standing there praying together, between classes. We sang hymns too, though I don’t recall which ones. It was an empowering thing to be a part of.

In my journal that day, I wrote that “What worries me is–what if more awaits for tomorrow–or next week.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

My actual journal entry. Yes, you can laugh at me about the Pentagon bomb, but it was early, and I didn’t have all the facts straight yet.

I was only 20 years old at the time. I was a full-time student with 2 part-time jobs. Alan was just a guy in a group of friends that I ate lunch with on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

After 9/11, I looked at Alan differently.

On Wednesdays, the ROTC cadets wore their uniforms all day long, so the day after 9/11, I saw Alan in his uniform at lunch. Alan was the top ranking cadet at Alabama. He was an impressive looking young soon-to-be-officer in the United States Army, standing at 6 foot 3, 225 pounds, in his size 15 combat boots. Alan has a strong jaw line and an air of authority and strength about him, but once you get to know him you realize that he is also exceedingly kind, reasonable, disciplined, and even funny.

I asked him how he felt about all this.

Alan was so business-like and serious in his response to my question.  He said matter-of-factly, “We are always ready to go to war and defend this country, to keep Americans safe and defend our freedom. Always ready.”

“You’re not worried? This will affect you directly. You aren’t afraid?”

“No. This is what we train for. I can’t wait to go.”

Maybe that was the day I started to like him, though I didn’t know it at the time. At the very least, it was the day I began to deeply respect him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

a Crimson White clipping I saved from those days after 9/11


How September 11 would affect us

The already married military spouses knew they would soon be called upon to make humongous sacrifices.

As we watched all the sacrifices that the firemen, policemen, and rescue workers were making on 9/11 and the time following, we held our breath with them. We cried for them.

How could I know that someday my children and I would make sacrifices too, and that so many families would give all?

When you are enduring hardships for your country, like sending your husband overseas for months on end, over and over again, you need a good reason for that. 9/11 is always the reason I remind myself of.

When Daddy misses a whole year of birthdays….that’s for 9/11.

When I ate my 1 year anniversary wedding cake alone…..9/11.

When Christmas feels lonely……..9/11.

When I had to shepherd my son through the confusing and scary seizures and testing for epilepsy without my husband there to share the burden…….9/11.

And I remember what Alan said in 2001. It held true for all of these years, though no one ever wants war. War is a horrible thing, but on that day the terrorists attacked us first. They left us no choice.

“We are always ready to go to war and defend this country, to keep Americans safe and defend our freedom. Always ready,” and I am proud to be the flip-flops back home, supporting the boots on the ground overseas.

Every Monday: a new installment of The Real Army Wives blog series on

This is just the beginning of my series of The Real Army Wives, stories from the home front of the War on Terrorism. 

I hope you will join us next week, Monday, May 21, for the next installment, Marrying the Lieutenant.


Were you already a military spouse or have a compelling 9/11 story to tell? I’d love to share it on Please send your submission to Feel free to just send me your article or just your idea to see if it fits in with what I have planned. Thank you!



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What I’ve Been Reading and That Famous Niemoller Quote

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

I recently finished reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The funny thing is that I chose this book because I was confused. I was mixing Bonhoeffer up with Niemoller. I was so excited to learn more about the man who said this:

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

Martin Niemoller

I took that photo on our 2012 trip to Boston.

Bonhoeffer had a lot in common with Niemoller, except he was executed about 2 weeks before Hitler killed himself. Hitler personally selected Bonhoeffer to be killed because Bonhoeffer was part of a large conspiracy of German aristocrats to assassinate Hitler.

In fact, they tried to kill Hitler and failed several times without Hitler even knowing it, until that last time when the bomb actually did explode, right at Hitler’s feet, and the evil murderous man didn’t die.

You’ve heard of the Gestapo, but have you heard of the Abwehr? That was another German government intelligence agency. The Abwehr was full of guys who wanted to kill Hitler in order to save millions of lives and to save Germany. It was dissolved by the Nazis in 1945 when they realized it was full of conspirators.

Bonhoeffer was a part of that group. Niemoller was not. Niemoller had already been in prison since the beginning of the war.

Don’t let Niemoller fool you. He was humble. He spoke out so boldly against the Nazis, from his pulpit, as a Lutheran pastor, that he spent pretty much all of World War II locked in a German prison cell. His support for Hitler was extremely short-lived. When Hitler first rose to power, some people just thought “Yay! Not Communist!” It didn’t take too long for the gloves to come off.

Did you know that when Alan went to Iraq he learned that their whole middle eastern society was indoctrinated to believe that the Holocaust never happened? They all believe it was a giant myth. They say it was propaganda put out by the Jews, because there is such a strong hatred of Jews over there.

History tells the true story. There are survivor stories, photos, videos, piles of their hair, remaining buildings of their death camps, and first-hand journal accounts of what happened to the Jews and to anyone else who stood in the way of the Nazis.

Niemoller and Bonhoeffer did know each other long before either of them were imprisoned. There was mutual respect there. They ran in the same circles. They knew many of the same people. They lead the Confessing Church movement, which pulled away from the German Church, blatantly disagreeing with Nazi policies.

It was so interesting to learn about WWII from more of a viewpoint on what was happening inside Germany.

No quote in the book beat Niemoller’s quote on apathy. There’s a reason it’s so famous, but here are a few quotes from the book on Bonhoeffer that I found interesting.

I loved what Bonhoeffer wrote in his Advent letter of 1938 to Confessing Church leaders. I love it because the fact is that good is not always winning. Sometimes evil is winning, but that doesn’t mean you should not do the right thing:

“And we simply cannot be constant with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be “unsuccessful”: and yet be on the right road. But this is where we find out whether we have begun in faith or in a burst of enthusiasm.”  (Bonhoeffer, p. 318)


Not every nation’s churches folded under the pressure of the government as Germany’s did.  Germany occupied Norway from 1940-1945, and their church leaders fought back, even if their government didn’t.

“In March Quisling overreached again, establishing a Norwegian version of the Hitler Youth. A thousand teachers immediately struck in protest……On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Berggrav, the heroic leader of the pastors’ resistance, was put under house arrest. So on Easter, April 5, every pastor in Norway did what their bishops did six weeks earlier and what Bonhoeffer had begged the German pastors to do in July 1933: they went on strike.”  (Metaxas, p. 395)



A different 9/11.

In Europe, they write dates with the day followed by the month and then the year, so 9/11 is November 9th. Germany’s 9/11 was in 1938. It is called Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. The Nazis beat up and killed Jews, destroyed their businesses, burned their synagogues, and destroyed and looted their homes. Broken glass was everywhere. The result thereof was only more terror.

Here is a little bit of what Bonhoeffer wrote in response to it. He read Psalm 74, the 2nd half of which reads “They burn all of God’s houses in the land.”

“This was when Bonhoeffer most clearly saw the connection: to lift one’s hand against the Jews was to lift one’s hand against God himself. The Nazis were attacking God by attacking his people. The Jews in Germany were not only not God’s enemies; they were his beloved children.” (Metaxas, p. 316)

Whether you agree with Bonhoeffer or not, he was a fascinating man who walked very closely with God. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more not only about him but about WWII Germany. If you can hang with the first half of the book, which is slower, you will be richly rewarded by the second half.

  $8.92?? What? I paid a lot more for it back at Christmas time. *sigh*
And here’s an Amazon affiliate link in case you want to read this book too. Just be forewarned. It’s like 600 pages, but you will learn a ton.

And for my next book, I have decided to read something quicker. I’m going with a Christian fiction novel involving some espionage and action. Excited to get into this one too.

What have you read lately that’s good? Leave me a note in the comments.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?



If someone asked you why you believe the Bible, would you know what to tell them?? This is important, y’all. Faith is paramount, but people need some reasons behind that faith. These days most people are not educated about the Bible.

I’m going to do the best I can to re-tell the excellent illustration that Pastor Craig Bowers used to show just how reliable the Bible is.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

Jar illustration: This shows how many separate ancient manuscripts exist of the Bible as opposed to the works of Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. And yet, which one do naysayers question?

Do you see those first few jars on the left? Those represent how many ancient writings we have found from Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. We have 10 remaining copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. That’s the 1st jar.

Plato had a handful of letters that remained. That’s the 2nd jar.

Aristotle has 49 copies remaining, and the oldest one of those was copied 1400 years after Aristotle died. 

Does anyone question these tiny jars of writings? No.

You see the 1 jar to the left of the Bible that is full of packing peanuts? That one represents Homer’s works. Most of these were recorded ages after Homer was long gone. But no one questions the validity of these documents. These are great stories. No problem.

Do you see those stacks and stacks of Sam’s size jars of packing peanuts to the right of the Bible?? Those represent how many ancient copies have been found of the Bible, in miraculous agreement with each other. There are over 24,000 copies. Over 24,000!!!

Over 5,000 ancient “Greek manuscripts from the New Testament alone still exist today.” (source 2, page 18)

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between 200 BC and 68 AD and are the same as the manuscripts we have today.

By 200 AD, the Bible was already translated into 7 different languages.

By 500 AD–13 languages

By 900–17 languages

By 1400–28 languages

And remember, this is all long before the invention of the printing press in 1440.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

The Bible itself was written by eye-witness accounts, eye-witness accounts who had other witnesses to hold them accountable for telling the truth.

This was so real to these apostles that 10 out of 12 of them died a martyr’s death for this cause. What were they killed for? Simply for preaching the gospel. Jesus saves. Trust in Jesus. They never hurt a soul. In fact, they healed many people.

The Bible doesn’t have a leg to stand on, it has at least 24,000 legs to stand on. The evidence is overwhelming. 

And that’s not all!! There are countless other writings and archaeological finds from antiquity that support the stories in the Bible. There are stories of the flood, stories of the Exodus, and the list goes on and on.

People don’t disbelieve the Bible because the evidence isn’t there. The evidence is everywhere. People disbelieve because either they are ignorant or because their hearts are hardened to the truth.

As believers, it is also our responsibility to know WHY we believe. I hope you found reassurance in these facts today.

13This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ 14In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.…    Matthew 13:13-14

For God so loved the world he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16



1.) Sermon notes from Craig Bowers, Jan. 15, 2017. You can follow him on this recently launched YouTube channel.

2.) Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines, 2015, pages 10-11, 48-49

3.) 25 Fascinating Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls 

4.) The Holy Bible, NIV

5.) The Holy Bible, KJV


A Letter from the Civil War


We have managed to maintain a couple of old letters from the Civil War. Alan’s family has at least one, and my family does too. Yes, they are both confederate letters because our ancestors lived in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama mostly.

I came across this one the other day. This letter was written by a confederate soldier on Alan’s side.

War letters offer serious historical value. I thought I’d share this letter for any of you who may be as interested in all things history as we are.

And here’s the challenge. Can you guess which battle happened right after this letter? This letter was written from the site of that famous battle. Look for context clues. Now, if you are family, and you’ve already read this and know the background, you may not guess.

Good luck!


Dear Brother,                                                                            April the 4th, 1863

After my best respects this will inform you that I am able to be up and about but not very well.  I am very hoarse and have been for over a month. I cannot speak above a whisper though I do hope nothing very serious that matters. And I do hope that this will find you and family enjoying good health.

I have nothing of interest to communicate to you. Our company is in very good health at this time, though some of the boys are complaining but all able to be up. We are moving about 5 miles above town in order to get a drill pound and they say better water.

I cannot tell you anything about war matters. At this place every thing seems quiet at this time though a short time since there was cannon thundering occasionally and sometimes tolerable heavy. Also, it was reported that the yankees were landing above here, but I have not heard anything about it since. I am slow to believe the report, for I do not think they will land. We are very well fortified at this place. And if we have to fight them, I had rather fight here than any place I have seen.

We are doing tolerably well at this time about eatables. We get plenty to do very well on though it has been a little scant. But if we continue to get as much as we have been getting we will not suffer bad.

We had a terrible storm here last Saturday night, the hardest that I ever experienced. There was one man in our Regiment that got his leg broke and 4 or 5 others hurt, but not serious. Also one man’s neck broke in the 36th Regt. Garsls. in the Tennessee Rgt. I suppose there was eight or ten killed by the timber.

Brother, I want you to write as often as convenient. I am very glad to get a letter from my friend or relative. Give my love and best respects to the ladies. Also, to all inquiring friends I will close hoping to hear from you soon.  Receive my respects. I am your most obedient and humble brother.

L.H. Brown Esqr.



He had beautiful handwriting. I’ll have to upload a photo of my photo-copy of the actual letter. Ha! To see the photo, check out my instagram page. I’ll get it up here soon too.

But for now, I’m off to go pick up the boys from school. They get upset if I’m late…

Oh! And if you know what battle it was, leave me a comment! Thanks! I’ll let you know if you got it right!

School Planning Time! Story of the World History plans are in the works.

Photo on 7-13-15 at 1.36 PM

It is 2:30. Nobody mess this up. JD is sleeping. Dan is voluntarily in his room building something with Lego blocks, Caleb is building a stunt course out of train tracks down stairs, and Joshua is in the Lego closet building something too. I have to make sure no one sees or hears me. If I am seen, this wonderful moment will be spoiled, and they will start asking me questions…

Caleb is majorly into building things. JD is obsessed with cars.

Uh-oh. They are all together again, but at least they are getting along.

What am I doing? Well, I have spent all afternoon making COPIES!!! Last year, I did not have a chance to make the year’s school work copies in advance. I’m sure more work will still arise in the school year, but it feels INCREDIBLE to already have the 1st nine weeks’ history and math lessons torn out, printed out, and separated out by weeks in my files, and ready to GO!

In order to match up Story of the World lessons with CC Cycle 1 memory work, I turned to this fabulous lady: She has already done a lot of that for me, so I’m now online scouring that site!

I found this extremely helpful in setting up my history lessons. It also provides resource lists for science:

Story of the World Chapter Match-ups for CC Cycle 1

If there’s one thing I dislike about lesson planning, it’s not having a make-it-simple guide. Give me a guide, for sure! I do not want to have to dream up engaging activities, and my children NEED engaging activities. They need to be involved in the learning in order for it to stick.

That’s why I forked over the money and bought the Story of the World Activity Book. We also bought the Story of the World book. It’s history in a story format. They make an audio version. My kids hate it. (I just wanted to let you know, lest you feel tempted to assume it’s theatrical. It’s not.) I either read it out loud, or I let the older boys read it to themselves. They like it just fine if I’m doing the reading. I have to confess, I didn’t actually have to spend money on this. Technically, I told my mother-in-law I wanted it for Christmas, and she forked over the money. She was even able to find some of them on eBay!

The Activity Book has a printable or 2 or 3 for every single chapter of the history stories. And just like that, I feel like my planning is done. No scouring the internet for freebie printables. Do you know what bothers me the most about freebies? Some of them download other stuff onto your computer, along with the history crossword, or whatever, like malware that slows my computer down.

I like it all easily laid out for me in a book. I’m old-fashioned like that.

Here’s a peak inside the lesson plans. If you prefer crafts and such to crossword puzzles, maps, and color sheets, there are plenty of suggestions in here for all of that.


Sample of lesson plans, from chapter 27, The Rise of Rome


a close up view: I printed out all of these review cards, mentioned at the top of this page, for the boys to color them, read them, and cut them out and glue them in their books in order. Very hands on.

The Roman Empire is just one of our topics this year. Sounds like a fun year, doesn’t it?


These are a few other books we plan to read:

If you can’t tell, we love those “You Wouldn’t Want” books here!

I also figure we’ll watch The Night at the Smithsonian movies, especially the first one. The boys and I will be learning about Attila the Hun this year! Do you remember him in the first Museum movie?

Here’s a little outline of what we will be learning, to include a few Brain Pop Jr. match-ups!

I and II. The Ten Commandments  I love that this is included.

III. Greek and Roman Gods

IV. 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

V. Split of Roman Empire   (Brain Pop Jr. FREE Video on Ancient Rome)

VI. Fall of Rome


VIII. Age of Imperialism

IV. Confucius      (Brain Pop Jr. Video on Ancient China)

X. Heian Empire

XI. Byzantine Empire

XII. Muslim Empire

XIII. Kush

XIV. Songhai

XV. Henry the Navigator

XVI. Mesoamerican Civilizations   (B. Pop Jr. Maya Civilization)

XVII. Aztecs

XVIII. Mound Builders

XIX. Anasazi     (Brain Pop Jr.)

XX. Mexican Revolution    (B. Pop Jr. Mexico)

XXI. Exploration of Canada

XXII. British North American Act

XXIII. Liberation of South America

XXIV. Napoleon

These topics are meaty history lessons! I may need to up my Brain Pop subscription to include Brain Pop, not just Junior. Anyone want to go in with me, as a home school group? Just send me a message if you’re interested:

I’ve hesitated to post about home schooling in the past because most of my readers aren’t actually home schoolers. If any of you are interested in more education posts, please let me know.

I’d love to hear what you’re excited about doing in history this year. I’d especially like field trip ideas. That is our favorite kind of learning. Does anyone know any history-related field trips, here in central-ish California? Please share!!

Happy learning! My house is unusually quiet. I’m off to check on the munchkins. (Don’t worry. The two smallest are napping.)




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