Voices live in every finite being,
Often undivined, near silence.
Hear them!
Hear them in you! in others!
They sense truth deep in all life;
They know the things true Pilgrims stand for.
Stand out!
Come to Him without the things the world brings;
Come to Him!
As a child and as a poor man.
He had all. He gave all.

~Charles Ives

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today is the Day

On our fourth anniversary, I would like to publicly declare how much I love Charlie Dey: very much.

Some reflections: Standing at this early milestone (I ask God to give us many more), I already have a heart-full of memories of survivals and failures, of love lost and won. I know that each event in our life together has given us a weapon - a tool, for those of you who prefer not to think of marriage as a war - with which we can better face the future. Everyone has their own story. I think ours is going to be a good one, and it is a unique and beautiful feeling.

Thank you family and friends who have spoken up to protect what we have sometimes forgotten was important. Your words of encouragement and rebuke are what enable me now to look hopefully and joyfully to the future. God is on our side "come what may."

Friday, June 25, 2010

My darling...

Helping Mom with Laundry

Thumb Sucker

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prized Possession

Several weeks ago Aldi sold, while supplies lasted, backyard pools of various shapes and sizes. From the moment I clapped eyes on the advertisement I had my heart set on the $20, 10` long, 6` wide, 2` deep-er. But life got busy and I found the added effort of a trip to the store more than I could handle. A week after we had seen the ad I asked Charlie to drop by one of the Aldi stores nearby to see if they still had one--a hopeless endeavor, I told myself, since Aldi is very popular here and cheap pools were bound to go quickly in the heat we had been experiencing. But maybe, just maybe God would give this small gift to me!

They were out. I was heart-broken. Heart-broken over a pool. My husband was concerned.

"It seems like there's a lot riding on this pool, Babe," he said with a confused and concerned look on his face.

He didn't understand! I was home alone all day long every day, and to be cooped up because of the heat added to the isolation I was starting to feel. This pool would solve all my problems! If I got this pool I would never need anything else to make me happy.

I knew, of course, that I was being irrational and rather silly. But then again, I had been reading a book in which the author argues that we ought to live our lives desiring what is good, even if, no, especially if those things have been denied us this side of Heaven. The author was likely not talking about backyard pools, but I couldn't help but think that my desire for the fun afternoons with my son and the refreshment of cool water on a hot day and the pool parties I envisioned with our friends and family were part of the redemptive story that we are to pursue. (Oh yes, I can inject theological significance into anything. Especially if the result lets me off the hook.)

I tried to talk myself out of my funk, but finally resolved to check one more Aldi store before I relegated my dream to the "not yet." I prayed the whole way there that God would teach me what He wanted me to learn. I told him how confused and ashamed I was by my strong feelings, and asked him to help me.

Perhaps someday I will live life without this intensity. But it's not likely, knowing my roots.

When I got to the store my heart pounded in fearful anticipation as I weaved my way through the aisles to the special items section. I looked and looked. My heart sank. I was too late. Wait! What's this big box with happy people pictured all over it? Could it be my pool?! Yes! It was! My dream was a reality.

Ever since we bought our pool our lives have been perfectly happy, and I have finally found complete satisfaction...well...perhaps I exaggerate. But despite the slopes of our patio that keep us from filling it all the way, and the annoying bugs and branches that fall into it, and the frequency of its need for clean water, and the lack of enthusiasm with which our son has approached it I'd say it has been a worthwhile investment and a lot of fun to have.

Here are a couple pictures to prove it:

Though it may come as a shock to you, this was not the first time Charlie enjoyed (ah-hem) our wading pool.

Our friends, the Fowler's, with their son Levi, who is only several months older than Charlie, were our first guests. Everyone but Charlie seemed to have a blast!

I included this one so that everyone could see the SPEEDO logo on the back of Charlie's swim trunks. So cute! But perhaps not as cute as Levi in this picture.

We're hoping one day Levi and Charlie will be friends. Apparently, Charlie's not sure what he thinks about that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Look Over the Shoulder

Before I begin to fill this space entirely with our present life and our goals for the future, I'd like to especially remember these past four years. Why four? On the 30th of this month Charlie and I will have been married four years, at the beginning of this month I concluded my short and varied career as bread-winner, and on May 21st Charlie became a Master of Divinity, sealing four years of hard work. In our larger family life we have welcomed two sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law; two nieces have been born and two nephews. They have been full and life-changing years. I must acknowledge them.

What follows is a brief, not at all comprehensive snapshot of the past four years in pictures.

This photo was taken before we were married. Behind us is Charlie's beloved 1964 Mustang. This prize possession was the first big sacrifice he made for us.

Perhaps seeing the mustang go wasn't as hard as it could have been. We both comforted ourselves with the thrill, and of course the economy and practicality, of our lovely BMW F650 GS. I have wonderful memories riding behind Charlie in the city and out on country roads.

Sofie, our extroverted, energetic, protective and beautiful little pooch joined us in January '07. While Charlie worked night or evening hours at UPS I couldn't have asked for better company. Charlie and I both felt her presence at home added so much to our family life.

Then there was the house. As you can see here, our backyard was a mess. Overgrown, water-collecting and mosquito-breading, something had to be done.

We still have the mosquito problem, but Charlie's back-breaking, mind-stretching work finally produced the patio, the landscaped (yes, Babe, I think I can use that word) lawn, and the fence. The flower bed came later, thanks to Mom. Charlie and I have both thoroughly enjoyed the many "Befores" and "Afters" we've experienced living in our house.

Meanwhile, the first two years of our married life I studied opera at Washington University while Charlie began his seminary career. These years are significant to me for the personal development they afforded. I had the almost daily opportunity to stretch myself artistically.

It was also at Wash U that God gave me friendships that would challenge my faith and engage me in open, often blunt conversation about what I believed. I wrestled with seeming incompatibilities between my faith and my art.

Through learning roles in fully-staged produc-
tions like "Lizzie Borden" and through fooling around on stage singing scenes from Wagner's "Die Walkure," I had the opportunity to explore my humanity on and off stage. I studied both musical and self-expression.

But the greatest challenge and the most rewarding work of my master's degree was the design, preparation and performance of my recital. I fell in love with singing all over again, and "felt God's pleasure" like Eric Liddle did when he ran. I will look back on that achievement with gratitude for the rest of my life.

After my graduation I did what any self-respecting musician does; I got a job in a research laboratory. The Lord unexpectedly provided for us through this job, and gave me the added blessing of exposure to the beautiful and interesting world of scientific research. I count that experience as one of the great blessings of my life, and wonder if I will ever be called on to use the skills and knowledge I acquired through that job.

Following these challenging but rewarding years came the most difficult and dark period of my life so far.

In August, 2008 Charlie's grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer. On October 20, of that year his father died after 69 years of battling diabetes and all the many complications that resulted from it. These two losses so close on each others heals brought us down. They caught us off guard and hurt us. But we weren't stunned nor did we despair until we lost our niece and nephew on April 4, 2009, to premature delivery.

No one but those who have grieved an infant death can know the sorrow and helplessness we felt. Even now the wound is fresh and painful. For the first time in my life I questioned God's goodness and didn't even try to control my anger against Him. He tested me and I failed. But He did not fail me.

At a much slower pace I have been learning what my sister wrote on her blog about a year ago: "I cannot preserve my life. I cannot fulfill my desires. I cannot bring about joy in my heart. I cannot make myself like Jesus. I have nothing: no virtue, no power, no strength. I do not know what my future holds. And if I did know I could do nothing to change it or to bring it about. God alone gives and God alone takes away. God alone gives life and sustains it and then ends it when it is time...But then, if it is God alone who has the power then I know where my hope is. My hope for the preservation of my faith; my hope for strength each day and my hope for the future." Praise Him for His faithfulness!

By the end of that summer, we knew we were expecting. We planned for me to work full time up until the birth, getting us mostly through Charlie's last semester at Covenant Seminary. God and our son had other plans. He was born 5 weeks early right before mid-terms.

I quit work and we sold our bike. As much as I loved it and grieved its loss, I love being home with Charlito so much more.

And as it happens, Charlie managed to graduate all the same. I am so proud of the work he put into that degree, and the man it has helped him to become.

So, here we are. Back to the present. Charlie interns as a chaplain this summer, and I enjoy home life. Here's a picture from yesterday just for fun:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Beginning

I've reached a moment in my life when I have time almost daily to read and reflect. Since this moment also intimately connects with a life just beginning, a life finding new purpose, and a life pursuing new occupation, I find ample muse-worthy material, and plenty of information interesting enough, at least to those that love me, to make public. Voila, the impetus for this blog. I have no other agenda than simply sharing and documenting our family life, nor have I deluded myself with unrealistic expectations of post-regularity or comprehensiveness. Readers must, alas, content themselves with what I can manage.

Having explained and defended myself to my satisfaction, I ask you now, dear reader, to recognize me and my family for who we are: imperfect pilgrims en route to a new world. My life goal is heretofore to enjoy the daily grind that brings us one slow step at a time nearer our destination, no matter the dirt or the tears (or the spit-up, for that matter). I hope to make this space a look-out of sorts, from which I can stand back and glimpse our progress.