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Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a shining star among cities in the heart of this country-loving girl. When I was a girl, our family obeyed the instructions on barn roof after barn roof which told us to “See Rock City,” an old tourist attraction in Chattanooga. In fact, Rock City is the scene of one of the only dreams I remember from my childhood: I met the three bears in its “Fairyland Cavern.”

As I’ve told you before, Ray and I spent our honeymoon at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. In our homeschooling years, we went on field trips to the Tennessee Aquarium. Just a few weeks ago, we were riding the carousel and playing in the fountain with three of our grandchildren at Coolidge Park. I told you about that, too. Actually, I checked to see how many times I have mentioned Chattanooga in these posts and came up with seven times.

Chattanooga was our destination again last Thursday. We were scheduled to meet Notgrass History staffers Michelle, Ethan, and Conner in Chattanooga to set up our booth for the Chattanooga-Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association curriculum fair last weekend.

Ray and I stopped to have lunch just a few minutes before arriving in Chattanooga when he noticed a story on the television that was on in the restaurant. When we figured out that military facilities in Chattanooga had been attacked, we immediately called Michelle, Ethan, and Conner to tell them to stop the van, turn around, and head away from Chattanooga a little way until we could find out more about what was going on. We certainly didn’t want them driving into harm’s way.

They had not heard anything about the trouble, but, as it turned out, they were on the very highway where one of the shootings had occurred. They immediately saw police cars ahead. While they spent the next hour and a half in a grocery store parking lot, they saw more police activity than usual.

News was coming in very slowly from the sources we could find on our phones. We called John in Missouri, so that he could search for information on his laptop. He also called the curriculum fair organizer who said things were safe there and that plans were going on as usual.

A restaurant staffer told us he wasn’t allowed to turn on the sound on the restaurant television. That seemed like a pretty silly rule under the circumstances in a sparsely-populated restaurant after the peak lunch hour. We  drove down the street to a hotel and went into the lobby. One of those lobby televisions that I usually find so annoying became a blessing that afternoon.

We watched a local television station while their news announcers gave the information they had. The announcers were waiting for a press conference that was to be held at 2:00 p.m. While we waited for the news conference, we learned about the deaths of the four Marines. Finally, the mayor, the chief of police, the U.S. district attorney, and the FBI agent responsible for the investigation held the news conference about 3:00 p.m. They gave a lot of information, answered questions, and assured the public that Chattanooga was in no more danger then that it had been before the shootings took place.

Michelle, Ethan, and Connor were scheduled to do that conference mainly by themselves after Ray and I helped them set up. We gave them the option of going home and forgetting the whole thing. They all wanted to stay. I drove down with a friend on Friday to spend several hours while Ray stayed at home with my Mother. The curriculum fair went along pretty much as always. Their attendance was down about 8% they said, but this conference fluctuates like that from year to year anyway. It was really a great fair, as it always is. I love visiting with you homeschooling mamas. It was an encouraging day.

When Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame) was a little boy, he and his mother talked about how to handle it when bad things happen. She told him to look for the heroes. I was very impressed with the Chattanooga police department. They arrived at the site of the second shooting not long after the killer and they stopped him from killing more people than he did.  I am humbled and amazed at how military personnel and police officers and fire fighters and rescue workers and ambulance drivers and many other public servants put their lives on the line for all the rest of us.

Tennessee State Patrol Honor Guard at Septemeber 11 First Responder Ceremony, 2012
Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard in Gainesboro Tennessee, at a 9/11 Service to Honor First Responders, September 2012

I like Mrs. Rogers’ advice (she’s the one who knitted all those sweaters Mr. Rogers took out of his closet) about looking for the heroes.

The greatest Hero Who ever lived was Jesus Who put His life on the line for everyone.

We know love by this,
that He laid down His life for us.
1 John 3:16


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  1. I have been overwhelmed by all the distressing signs so readily available to see and read about on social media. It’s encouraging and convicting to read that you were able to focus on the task at hand knowing what had just happened so nearby. I want that strength of mind. I do want to keep up with the important things that are happening in our world and nation. But I am discovering that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep my focus where it should be when my thoughts are constantly being interrupted with more bad news. It is good for ME to be reminded of this gentle advice and that I still have work to do and God wants my eyes firmly fixed on Him and what He is doing rather than on the circumstances around me. And that takes constant prayer and a proactive, conscious decision to keep asking, “Lord, what would you have me to next?” and then do it, and then ask again, wash, rinse, repeat! Trust and obey. It really is that simple.

    • You are so right, Dawn. Trust and obey really does sum it all up, but doing that does take moment by moment prayer and decision. Remember two things. 1) Trusting and obeying this time makes it a tad bit easier next time. 2) Even more important though, is this reality: God is the ultimate Good. He is the ultimate Reality. He has won and we are on the winning side. All we are seeing around us day by day is temporary. He is real and eternal. This seemed really bad on the day of the crucifixion, but all that was changed on Sunday morning. We are Sunday morning people!

  2. Thank you, Charlene, for another encouraging post, in a day when we all need encouragement! If you don’t mind my asking…how do you find time to write these posts every day, as busy as you are? Do you have set times that you work on them? I’m also always so impressed that you never seem to run out of material to write about!

    • You are welcome, Betsy. It means a lot to me to know that it was encouraging.

      How do I find time to write these posts every day? My goal is to have them written by 5:00 p.m. on the day before they go out, but I’m not very good at meeting that deadline. Frankly, I am just committed to writing these every day and I go ahead and write one no matter how late it gets. I have almost never written one in the morning — maybe once. Writing them on the afternoon or evening before they are sent out gets me in trouble sometimes, because I want them to sound like I am talking to you right now. Sometimes I get mixed up and say today when I mean to say yesterday and things like that. I’ve let a few of those get past the editing/correcting process!

      Sometimes I write a few ahead when I know I am going to be away from home with kids and grandkids for a few days and I don’t want to take time away from my family to write. Sometimes I write a few ahead so I can have some saved back for an especially hectic day, but, by far most of the time, I write a post one day and it goes out the next. I jot down ideas all the time — in stores, in the car, at church, while I am journaling (which I don’t do every day, but I want to), while I am reading my Bible, . . . . I keep a list of blog post ideas in the back of my journal and I often email ideas to myself while I am living my daily life. It isn’t unusual for an idea to come to me in the morning while I am getting ready for the day.

      Just today, I took down notes in a DressBarn on the little slip of paper Ray always keeps in his pocket. You’ll probably read about that experience soon.

      Writing posts all the time has made me even more aware of the people around me although that has always been part of my personality. I like to take everything in. Mother said that when I was very little, I didn’t want to miss anything. I still don’t.

      • Very interesting! I had wondered how you always had so much material. Of the subject but I think the job opening that you all have posted to we who homeschool is such a great gesture! That’s exactly the kind of thing I would LOVE to do, once I have my children raised and we’re finished with this season in our lives. I don’t want to rush it but I read it to my husband and told him I had wondered what I would do with myself when the kids (and I) grew up and maybe this would be something like what I could do at that point, to give back to the homeschool movement, encourage others and keep fresh and “in the loop”.

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