Veteran's Day, 2002. It was cold on the side of the street, but she gloried in the perfect view she had of her beloved mountains, the presence of her family and their almost tangible pride, the knowledge that her brother would soon be marching down the street she watched and the honor she felt in wearing her blue uniform. She’d chosen to wear the skirt and heels instead of the trousers, and had taken special care to make sure her ribbons and shiny metal insignia were all attached appropriately – this was Veteran’s day, and today she could stand as a member of the military wearing her uniform and be proud. That knowledge always made her want to laugh and smile and cry all at the same time… and confirmed for her the decision two years earlier to attend OTS and join the Air Force. She reached up to slightly adjust her blue flight cap, brushing her fingers over the small, hard-won gold bar on the left-hand side and sliding her hand down habitually to tuck her short blonde hair behind her ears. She smiled as she watched the parade go by – chrome-encrusted Chevrolettes and loud Harleys, many of them carrying those who had gone before her in the service of their country, men whom she had never met but who were all her brothers, fathers, uncles. She saluted each car she could, pleased that she could show this small measure of respect to the heroes passing before her.

“Excuse me, Lieutenant…”

She turned and found herself facing an old man with the whole story of his service and sacrifice emblazoned on his veteran’s hat and proclaimed by the pride in his stance and the set of his chin. Before she had time to open her mouth, the man snapped to attention and saluted her. Instinctively her fingertips flew up to her eyebrow and she returned his salute, still without words. His eyes locked with hers intently, as if he had something very important to say.

“Lieutenant, I served in Viet Nam.” Pointing at his cap he told her the name and location of his unit, then continued. “I was a POW for five years over there. When I came back they made me a First Lieutenant and I retired here as a Captain. If they’d let me, I’d put the uniform back on and do it all over again. I just wanted to thank you for your service, and for everything you’re doing. Thank you, Lieutenant; we’re proud of you.”

As soon as he finished speaking he saluted sharply again, and again she instinctively returned the salute, then as quickly as he had come he was gone. Her eyes filled with tears and she felt incredibly humbled and unworthy and honored and proud. Her mother’s smile caught her eye, and she realized that both her mother and father – veterans themselves – had tears in their eyes as well. She was doing the one thing she wanted to…needed to do: she was making a difference.

high school romance

Once, in 1952, a very nice young girl graduated high school and headed off to make her way in the world.

Perhaps she met a nice young man, and he fell in love with her charming manner . He somehow looked a little bit like a young Nicholas Cage, but since this was 1952, she didn't know that. He did have a delightful sense of humor.

Or perhaps it's 1956, and our heroine is a young girl who longs to meet a nice young man and settle down to raise a family. In a little house with a white picket fence. And flower boxes, of course.

Working afternoons at the drug store she meets a very nice young man, a returning war hero, who loves how her eyes sparkle and her hair curls. They make plans to be married at the courthouse, where she wears her gray suit and carries orange blossoms.

Or perhaps it's 1964 and she's a studious, ambitious girl who longs to earn her BA and become a teacher or a librarian. Something that will allow her long hours to read and learn.

This girl might meet a studious young man with ambitions of being a scientist, and engineer, an economist, or perhaps eventually even working in the new space program. The world is their oyster, as you can plainly see.

Or maybe it's 1966, when these two meet. She's clearly very devoted to hair volume and teasing, and he seems to be a big fan of Brylcreem. Obviously, this too is a match made in heaven.

Perhaps the two of them will go to the drive in, and he'll keep a comb in his back pocket, just in case. They'll watch the latest space invader or beach scene movie, and share Milk Duds and popcorn. Every so often, she'll borrow his comb.

Or it's 1968, and this sweet young girl meets an aspiring musician who reminds her of the Beatles. Her father isn't sure about his long hair, Volkswagon bus and guitar-playing, but he's a nice young man at heart, and the two of them are very happy.

Eventually, his band gets a few gigs up and down the east coast, and she spends her weekends on buses watching him play and telling all her friends that he's cuter than any other musician around.

Or it's 1974, and she spends an hour every morning ironing her hair. This young man doesn't spend much time on his hair at all, but he's a brilliant student and she has a feeling he's going to change the world someday.

He's interested in world events and diplomacy, and even dreams about becoming a Foreign Service officer himself someday. After college, of course. By their fourth class together, he always saves a seat for her and they study together.

Or it's 1976, and a case of opposites attract. They come from different groups - she's a cheerleader and member of the drama club, he's more of a rebel - but they walk home together most days, and she finds their conversations something she looks forward to more and more.

By the end of the year, he's holding her hand and writing her poems, and sending her flowers on opening night of the school play.

Or it's 1984, and these two are the coolest kids in school. They're an item all through high school, and are on the homecoming court together. She wears his letter sweater as soon as it gets cold out, and he makes her mix tapes of all their favorite songs.

He talks about going into politics someday, and having her by his side. She dreams of success as an actress, or maybe a singer. But whatever they do, they promise it will be together.

Or it's 1994, and they go to rival high schools. He sees her at the football game, and spends the entire second half attempting to get her attention. Her friends giggle, but she smiles at him warmly and he finally sits down beside her. When her fingers get cold he buys her a cup of cider, and they are together from that point forward.

They are both accepted to the same college, and have big plans about their life ahead and where they will go.

I spent far, FAR too much time playing with all this this afternoon. Ah, well... laundry can wait, right?


We bought our first house! It's scary and exciting and so, so wonderful to think that we now own our own house... along with about half an acre, and twenty or so trees (including a beautiful magnolia off to the left). I found a patch of strawberries growing on the side of the house, and there's a chipmunk who lives in the backyard and likes to come say hello. How fun to get to know this house, and make friends with it.

We'll do the big move on Saturday, and have been doing a load or two in the car over every evening after work with smaller things like kitchen stuff, clothes, and pictures. I've also been painting the master bedroom... or rather, will paint now that I've finally gotten a good coat of primer over everything. The previous color was a gray/lavender purply color with darker purple trim... and since there is a lot of trim everywhere - floorboards, crown molding, around the window, door, bathroom door, and closet door - it's taken 2-3 coats to generally cover up the darker color. When I finish the walls will be a pale, sunshiny yellow called "spun honey," with very white paint on the trim. It's a smaller room, and I think that will make it feel warm, and peaceful. And most important, it will make it feel like ours! Karl doesn't quite get why we (I) need to paint at all, since the old paint was "perfectly good," but I think it's important for me to make this mine. And it's been fun... and so nice to be there in the quiet house by myself, praying over our lives in that room and that house.

I am VERY thankful that the thyroid medication seems to be helping, since I have a ton more energy than I did a month ago... I don't know how we'd do this if I still felt that tired (painting would probably be out, anyway). I go back to the doctor in two weeks to see where my numbers are, and we'll go from there... we're homeowners!

what life throws at us...

This is what happens when the weather advisory is saying things like "storms will produce strong damaging winds that may come on quickly" and someone left a random orange traffic cone in a neighboring parking lot. Life here is not boring.


For almost the past year, Karl and I have been trying to get pregnant, without success. In February and March, we had some tests done to see if we could figure out what was causing the problem, and a month ago we got the answer: I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, a form of hypothyroidism where my immune system has attacked my thyroid, and it has stopped producing enough thyroid hormone. Since the thyroid helps regulate metabolism, every cell in the body depends on those thyroid hormones to properly function. When there isn't enough, this causes all kinds of things like chronic fatigue, achiness, difficulty concentrating/memory problems (I've seen this described as "brain fog"; my mom calls it "chemo brain"), and increased susceptibility to getting sick because of a weakened immune system, as well as infertility. I had all those symptoms, but had just assumed it was because we were busy, or had a lot of stress in our lives, or I needed to get more sleep - so I was hugely relieved to have an answer for not only the infertility but all the rest, too! It's really, really exciting for me to think that I might not have to live this way, being tired all the time. It's sobering, since this is a chronic autoimmune disease that will require medication every day for the rest of my life. BUT, it's so very good to have a name for it, and hope for the way ahead.

They did some more bloodwork today, and on Monday or Tuesday I should be able to get the first prescription. It will most likely take several months to find the right dosage, so that means a date with me and a needle every 4-6 weeks until my blood levels are in the normal range. After that, I'll just need to be checked every 6-12 months to make sure the dosage is still working.

One unexpected blessing with all this is the fact that we haven't been able to get pregnant - untreated hypothyroidism can cause impaired cognitive development, greater risk of miscarriage, and other problems for the mother and the baby. Now that I've been diagnosed, we're waiting until my levels are normal before we start that process again, and once I do become pregnant they'll know to check my levels every month and adjust the meds as needed to make sure the baby and I are both healthy. For the last eleven months we've been praying so hard for a baby, and didn't understand why God seemed to be saying, "not yet..." Now it's clear that He was protecting us, and making sure everything was safe for our little one. Yet another example of why I need to remember to trust Him and His timing!

Thanks to everyone who's been praying for me, and for us... I'll keep you posted.


All that superhero/sci fi stuff may not be so far off after all... at least that's what this article says. So, anyone for teleportation?

compulsive behavior

Several months ago Karl was introduced to, the gigantic online yard sale searchable by item or category or even words like "conversation piece" or "vintage." He immediately began checking for computer games, and we spent multiple evenings after work finding an address where he would trade $20 for a box or bag full of treasures. He thoroughly enjoys the whole process, from finding a good set of games and negotiating a price to exploring different neighborhoods to actually pulling out the games and playing with them. I teased him a lot about his Craigslist addiction... until, with this whole house thing, I got hooked too.

At least once I day I seem to find myself searching for sofas and armchairs, desks, tables, a guest room bed, dining room set, patio chairs, rugs... it's so fun to plan out the different ways I could arrange the new rooms, to think about our life there and the feeling it will have. I usually keep the tabs open for all the pieces I particularly like, leaving them in a row across the top of the screen so I can take them all in at one glance. I like to see what I could buy for $500, or $1,000 - budgeting whether this chair is worth the price, or if it would be better to get that cheaper one and pay more for a bedroom set. I think what's really so great about the whole thing is the sense of possibility, of creativity and treasures waiting to be found. It has been mostly imaginary so far (there is very little room for additional furniture in this apartment) but there is a new coffee table in our living room, and a rug and bench on the porch, and a plant in the dining room.

Karl watches all this and laughs, teasing me when he sees my neat row of finds sitting there on the laptop; but then we both look at each other and smile, understanding.

a marriage of heart and mind

Falling in love with a house is, I think, a lot like falling in love with a person - there's something there that immediately catches your attention, makes you come in for a closer look. Maybe the appearance, or the character, or just how open and friendly they seem... imperfections or flaws can be endearing, or a welcome challenge. As you get to know them a little better, it's really all the possibilities you see that pull you in. With Karl, it was the way I could imagine him spending time with my family, and interacting with people at a party, and playing with our kids, and working with me on a project... my imagined life with him just fit, and the reality has proved even better.

We're now in the negotiations phase of our house hunting process - a phase made slightly more difficult by the fact that I've fallen in love with this house (more info when - if! - we actually have a contract). Karl loves it too, but in a more rational, thought-out way; mine is an instinct-driven, impression-based, emotional, visceral, powerful love. At this point, not only is it hard for me to imagine us in any other house (certainly not any of the others we've seen), it's also painful for me to imagine anyone else in this one. And that doesn't exactly make for a hard-nosed negotiating position. Karl keeps whispering "poker face, poker face!" to me under his breath whenever we're interacting with our realtor, or having anything to do with the sellers, and I do try... not for nothing was I an actress! We've both been praying over this decision, and the house that we do eventually get, quite a bit - and I really do believe that God has His hand on this process for us. I also know, though, that He needs me to be willing to give up this house if it's not the one for us... and most of the time, I know I can.

My parents used to get very worried whenever I'd get my heart firmly and unshakeably set on something as inevitably there would be disappointment, and tears. One Christmas when I was about three, my answer to the "what do you want for Christmas?" question was invariably "A candy cane!" My parents, knowing already the force of my stubborn will, went out and found the biggest candy cane they could - it was a solid stick probably as big around as my little arm. I was absolutely delighted Christmas morning, until I got the wrapping off and took a lick - somehow I'd had an idea in my head of what a candy cane would taste like, and this was NOT it! I have gotten better with this, and do try to check myself, but my first tendency is always to let my emotions run away with me, to immediately start imagining whatever situation playing out perfectly, perhaps with a delightful surprise or two, and maybe a little underlying music swelling up at key moments, as if I lived in a movie (which happened to be another dream of mine. A musical, of course). Mom and Dad used to dread birthdays and Christmases, since the picture in my head would rarely be matched by the actual day. Karl's learned this lesson too, and his calm, collected rational logic goes a long way in balancing my soaring, hopeful dreams.

For now, I'm just hoping that this is OUR house, and that some of those dreams of mine can become reality there. If not, well... Karl may need to deal with the tears, that's all.


Karl and I are currently in the middle of the whole "house-hunting/becoming-home-owners/achieving-the-American-Dream" process. It's been alternatively exciting and discouraging, stressful and fun, and a new perspective on the many differences between the two of us and how we do things. Karl likes to have all the facts laid out first: price, exact location, miles to work, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, parking, etc. Then and ONLY then does he look at aesthetics, and he never, ever considers how the house "makes him feel." My technique tends to start with the feeling a place gives me, moving immediately on to mentally arranging all my furniture, painting walls and hanging pictures. Then I re-evaluate how my menally decorated house makes me feel, and imagine daily life there. Karl just shakes his head when he sees me doing this, and worries that my mental furniture arranging means I've fallen in love with a particular house and will be heartbroken if we don't end up buying it. In reality, though, it's just my way of measuring the livability of a place, and getting the most fun possible out of this process.

I've always loved open houses, home tours, visiting someone's house for the first time, or just looking in lighted windows at night to catch a glimpse of a room. I have stacks of pictures and ideas clipped from home decorating magazines starting from when I was ten or so, and somewhere a pile of graph paper with painstakingly drawn house plans (usually with at least five bedrooms, a "theater room," a library, and a guest house). Growing up, I'd rearrange the furniture in my room about every six months or so; usually starting, for some unknown reason, late at night. For me, all these possibilities are almost as exciting as the idea of actually finding our first home. I've been spending some time on craigslist seeing how much furniture I could buy for $500 or less, and trying out various arrangments in my head. There's a lot of no-nonsense practicality in it, too - from the lists of "must-haves" and "would likes" I wrote out for our realtor to my need to know that a house is livable.

We've been looking in DC itself (around the Capitol Hill area), and in a few little communities just outside the District. Karl grew up in the middle of the city in Philadelphia, so he's very comfortable with the row homes, tiny (or non-existent) yards, walking and urban feel. I've never really lived in a city, so there's a lot for me to wrap my brain around when we consider those options. Houses outside the city give Karl more to think about, especially the idea of lawn care and what that entails. We're not sure where we'll end up yet, but we're both really excited about all the possibilities... and the idea that we'll be in our own house in another two months or so. Owning a house - it feels like such a big, grown-up step to take! And it's just a short mental step from there for me to imagine babies, and family visiting, and parties with our friends, and a garden, and a dog... I think I see exactly why home-ownership has always been such a big part of the "American Dream."

kindred spirits

You know when you meet someone and immediately "click" with them? As if you've known them for years, even if you've only just said hello. Something in you recognizes something in them, and your very soul rises up to meet theirs? L.M. Montgomery called these people "kindred spirits," and finding one is a true joy. I've written before about how difficult it can be for me to make friends - this is something I've struggled with all my life, questioning whether there isn't a flaw in my own character that makes it so difficult for me to really connect with people. This is difficult for me, an odd mixture of shyness, a desperate need to be liked and that basic extroverted demand for social contact to recharge me. In marriage, I have found a best friend and playmate who meets so many of those needs, but I still find myself longing for girlfriends and other social interaction.

Since Karl and I moved to DC, we've spent a lot of time looking for a church home - trying each church for several months before ultimately deciding it wasn't the right place for us, and moving to the next. Both of us have been frustrated with this, and wanting greatly to find where God wanted us to be. Within the last two months, we've found ourselves suddenly a part of a "church plant" in the local area, currently made up of about twenty folks.  Sundays have become one long playtime, with lunch together and church services and often boardgames or talking until late at night.  All of a sudden, we have friends to share with, talk to, cry with, and plan outings and activities with... it is exactly what I believe was meant in Acts 2, and what Christian community should look like.

I struggle occasionally with doubt and despair, and with the weight of my burdens every day - having kindred spirits surrounding me now gives me strength, and peace, and hope for where we are now and where God is taking us. Even being so far from family now doesn't hurt quite as sharply as it did just eight weeks ago. Thank God for answered prayers!

*As a side note, I am writing this from just outside LA where I'm putting on a conference for work, and one of the attendees - whom I'd never met before - just struck up a conversation with me that sequed seamlessly into a discussion of Christ in marriage, church planting, and spiritual growth. Neither of us know each other, neither of us said anything outright to indicate our spiritual state, but somehow... we just knew. Family, recognizing family. I just LOVE that.


Something I need to be reminded of:
God built rest into the very rhythm of creation. Keeping a day of rest made
His top-10 list. And believe it or not, rest serves a purpose -- a divine
purpose. It reminds us that God is in control. What happens when you cannot
finish everything that you think you need to get done and your body is
telling you, "you have to go to sleep"? You are thrown into a situation
in which you must depend on God.

Rest reminds us that there is Someone we can rest in. And our need for
rest is a daily reminder that we are finite creatures and must trust in an
infinite God.

- Mark Earley, Breakpoint 1.16.08

I've always been, as Karl says, a "champion sleeper." If I let my body dictate things, I'd be sleeping for 9 or 10 hours a night... and if I go for too long on less than 7 hours a night, I start to get really grumpy. It's definitely not fun (for me or those around me!).

I read recently about a sleep study done where participants were told to get lots of exposure to natural light, use no artificial means of waking up (i.e. alarm clocks, etc.), and go to sleep and get up as their body demands. The average person ended up sleeping something like 10-11 hours a night for almost three weeks while their body recovered, then they fell into a natural rhythm of 7-8 hours a night. We're just so driven today, and since most of us spend all day in our houses or offices or stores or restaurants or driving from one to the other, we're just not used to matching that day/night rhythm.

In my head I know I should go to bed earlier - the getting up part is pretty inflexible, since I have a job to be at by a certain time - but by the time we're both home from work, dinner is made and eaten and the dishes cleaned up, the time seems so precious. We need that time to either spend together watching a movie or talking, or in "de-stress" mode (him at the computer, me with my book), and after an hour or two it's past ten and time to start the pre-bed rituals. It's hard to find ways to get the sleep we need without shortening that time together too much, or totally ignoring all the little things that pile up around the house to do.

Perhaps thinking about it in terms of trusting God rather than "just a little later" will help... it does put it into perspective.


"When we lack proper time for the simple pleasures of life, for the enjoyment of
eating, drinking, playing, creating, visiting friends, and watching children at
play, then we have missed the purpose of life. Not on bread alone do we live,
but on all these human and heart-hungry luxuries." - Ed Hayes

I like this quote. I've been thinking a lot lately about priorities, where my time goes, and what really matters, and I've come to exactly the same conclusions as Mr. Hayes. It's so easy to get caught up in schedules and goals and projects... or even lose track of the days in laundry and errands and watching TV. "Heart-hungry" is exactly what I feel right now - hungry for dear friends to sit and talk with, hungry for more of a connection to the passing of the seasons than I feel now in my city apartment, hungry for children.

Growing up as an Army brat I've gotten used to moving every few years, and there are many things about that lifestyle I love, like the chance to rearrange furniture and the necessity of regularly purging things you don't want to pack. But the best part was exploring a new place with my family - my brother, Peter, especially was my comrade , and our family ambassador to all the neighbors. (He used to walk house to house to knock on doors and introduce himself, "Hi, my name is Peter and I'm five years old. I just moved into that house over there. Do you have any kids here to play with?" and report back to me where likely playmates lived. My parents were usually known as "Peter's parents" for several weeks before they made their own inroads.) No matter how uncertain the changes were, or how unfamiliar the community, we always had each other. My parents were great about making family the top priority for us, and it affected how I handled each move.

In the Air Force myself, I moved alone - and that was harder. Each new location meant starting completely over again to develop some kind of support network or social group. It helped that I could get involved with a local Bible study, but I still usually had about six months where I ached for someone who really knew me, and loved me. Karl and I lived in separate states for nearly all of our courtship and engagement, and the first four months of our marriage, so he wasn't there to make the moves any easier then. What did help was regular trips home to Colorado, where I could be with family and people who did love me. I went home whenever I could schedule the vacation time.

Married life has given me a best friend to move with, an immediate partner to go to the movies, or out to dinner, or just exploring. Karl is wonderful for this, and I am so glad we were best friends before we fell in love. And being on the east coast has also meant that we're only a couple hours from Karl's family. That's been really wonderful - to be able to drive up to Pennsylvania for the weekend to see his brother, Eric, and his wife Meala, or his mom. We were there when our niece Macey was born last month, and are excited about being able to be close to her as she grows. But as close as we are now to my in-laws, we're farther than I've ever been from my family. And now there's a pull in another direction for holidays or vacations.

I'm not sure yet how I bring back more of a sense of balance to my life... but I know I need to find out. I'm heart-hungry for balance, for those "simple pleasures," for renewed creativity, for a sense of peace and contentment.

"Not on bread alone..." Maybe I'll start in where that phrase began.

Happy 2008!

Well Happy New Year, everyone. I can't believe how fast the time flies between Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Eve - of course, a few work trips, the birth of our new niece Macey, various social and work obligations and parties didn't slow things down any, either.

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to write more often, and I'm hoping this blog will provide an easy way for me to do that. So keep me honest, please.

More to come... for now, I'll leave you with the thought-provoking tidbit that my darling husband has informed me his name can be rearranged to spell several interesting word combinations - his favorites are "Dark Truck Howl" and "Wrath Luck Dork." Hmm. What ever did I do without him?

Happy 2008 - may this next year bring peace, laughter, time with family and friends, emotional, spiritual and physical growth and both long-awaited and unexpected blessings.