Monthly Archives: May 2011

on this memorial day

On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of a thousand details—large and small—in preparation for our upcoming move. I’m awash in paperwork: medical records, passport forms, household goods itemizations, car transport documents, property management contracts, and the like. And yet, in the deep waters . . .

I’m thinking of Maya, widowed at 25, her husband the first SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006. I think of how beautiful and brave she is, and how beautiful and brave Marc was too.

I’m thinking of Steve. Yesterday, I put on my gold trident pin he gave me and wore it on my sweater to church because I was full of admiration and pride and because it was too easy to let the day pass–with all we’ve got going on–without stopping to remember.

Today, I want to say something to my husband, my silent warrior, who so amazingly coexists at the tip of the spear and the heart of our home:

Dear Steve,

Sometimes I forget that you are part of this elite brotherhood of SEALs. I see you changing diapers and making dinner and putting gas in my car and throwing the kids in the air in the front yard.

And then—all of a sudden, out of nowhere–and I’m reminded of how much you do that I never see and never know. I’m reminded of how hard you’ve been pushed and how much is demanded of you. I am aware that you are remarkable.

Thank you for choosing to do the difficult work of being a faithful father and husband while you, simultaneously, do the difficult work of freedom fighting. I will never know what this demands of you.

Thank you for going to work every day and for coming home, too—neither of which is easy.

Thank you for being all in, all the time.

Thank you for chasing adventure and for taking me along for the ride.

Thank you for loving me.

Today, I want you to know I believe in you. I believe in us. And I am so incredibly proud of you.

Fair winds and following seas, my Pirate,



the latest on the pirate and the gypsy

We got word last week that we will be able to move to the Middle East with the Pirate for his next tour.

If you’ve read my first book, Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places, you know that this region holds such deep soul significance to me. I cannot help but imagine what God may have for me there now, in this new season.

Additionally, last week something kind of extraordinary happened. I met with an agent (and his lovely wife) who is ready to represent me for book #2. This book will be deeply personal—the journey of emotional recovery that I have been on the last couple of years—and I am truly thankful to have found someone who believes in the story. It’s as if I’ve been in this tiny rowboat in the middle of the sea, and all of a sudden someone has stepped into the boat with me.

As soon as we are settled after the big move, I will turn my attention to spit-shining the proposal before it goes out to publishers. Pray for something amazing to happen. I’m trying to believe that the book might actually get picked up, and that I could actually write it, and that it might actually mean something to you.

I don’t truly feel any of this yet, of course.

What I do know is that I have some very difficult goodbyes to say in the foreseeable future, and I dread them. Every single one.

Yet, there is no greater prize than getting to be together as a family. I can give my kids no greater gift than following their crazy father around the world, so that he can come home to them every evening.

When I first started this blog, I agonized over what to call it. I got a lot of advice and input. Some solicited. Some not. Most of which I ignored, for better or worse. I decided to name it something I wanted to name it, something I loved. And I decided to give it a look I loved with henna and texture and aqua. All of this so that I would want to open it up and fill it full of my life. And now, the title – Gypsy Ink – seems so much more appropriate than I could have ever imagined.

This Gypsy is on her way. How wild.

I hope to be posting about our adventures regularly, though sometimes I may have to be a little obtuse for the sake of security.

As always, I hope that I will be faithful to give you a look into my soul . . . and by doing that, perhaps invite you to look into yours. What a beautiful journey we can make together. In that way, we are all gypsies, aren’t we. Soul travelers.



120IMG_1150 copyToday is the day the movers are coming to move Steve’s personal belongings to the Middle East. We’ve just emptied out his side of the closet, organized all his gear (which amounts to, like, six tons), and returned his car to the dealer.

Today is also the day when we are supposed to find out if we will be able to accompany him on this tour. As you know, we’ve been waiting, for what feels like a lifetime, to find out our fate. Will we spend the next year here in San Diego without Steve, or will we be packing up our home and heading to the Middle East for the next two years? I still don’t know. I’m hoping to get the email any minute.

Today is also a Monday. Five Mondays ago, I had the miscarriage. And every time Monday rolls around again, I think of that morning—exactly five weeks ago—when I started bleeding and I knew, in the pit of my stomach, what was about to happen. I wonder if Mondays will always hold a bit of sadness. Or if they will ever feel normal again?

Today, in the midst of all of this turmoil, Luke says to me, “Mommy, look, a rainbow. I want to hold it.” And I felt like I got injected with love and hope right there in that very moment, like life opened up a bit, just at the thought of my precious little boy reaching out toward the rainbow coming through his bedroom window.

Today—with all that it holds, with all that it doesn’t hold—makes me think of Ecclesiastes 3, which by now has become my life mantra. “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity . . . He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:1,11, NIV).

Today, I’m trying to believe that some sort of beauty will emerge from this moment in my story. I’m trying to trust that waiting and grieving, while difficult, are the raw materials of transformation. I’m trying to accept that there may be art-in-the-making, whether I can see it perfectly right now or not. I’m trying to hold in tension the reality that, as Ecclesiastes says, I cannot fathom what God does from beginning to end and yet, I am willing to wait and see.

In 1917, a guy in New York took a urinal and turned it on its side and called it “Fountain.” This is the kind of vision I need for today. The kind of eyes that see past the urinal to the fountain. The kind of perspective that allows for beauty to be present even when it is not readily visible on first glance.

I don’t know what you’re up against today. Perhaps you’re facing loss. Maybe transition. Saying goodbye. Re-entry. Trauma. Uncertainty. Waiting. Whatever it is, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. There’s a sisterhood all over this world, and there’s one sister here in San Diego, who understands.

Today, I will be praying that God will work some of his magic and produce a bit of beauty, a rainbow or a fountain, where all we are seeing is ashes. And while we’re waiting for the beauty to arrive, I will be praying that each and every one of us can just keep breathing.



And the day after that.

What is one difficult thing in your life right now? What is one beautiful thing?


Update, Part Two

diveintoflood-1.comAs I’ve shared previously, Steve and I have been in a season of waiting. Our next set of orders from the Navy (Steve is officially back on active duty) seemed to be a bit elusive. After a slew of possible options, we now have orders.

Steve will be leaving soon for the Middle East. As in, very soon.

Due to the recent unrest in the area, we are currently not able to go with him. However, this “stop movement” for dependents will be re-evaluated in the next couple of weeks. If we are able to go with him, we will move as soon as they are able to process our belongings—probably sometime this summer—and we’ll be back in the Middle East for the next two years.

If we’re not able to go with him, Steve will be overseas for the next year, and we’ll stay here in San Diego.

So, while we begin getting Steve ready to leave and tend to the never-ending list of details required for an overseas move, we also wait. Wait to see if we’ll be together or apart. Wait to see if we’ll be able to try to have another baby or if that will be put on hold indefinitely. Wait to see if we’ll be planting or uprooting.

Part of me longs for adventure. Part of me longs for permanence. It all feels complicated, to be sure. Sometimes it’s hard to see exactly how God is making things beautiful in its time (Ecc 3:11). What is best for my children? My husband? My marriage? My work? My soul?

Too soon, my husband will be gone. His side of the closet empty. His side of the bed empty. I can’t even feel how that will feel. I know it will seem as if he just evaporated. As I wrote yesterday, the waves roll in and out. Sometimes pooling. Sometimes crashing.

If you are looking for the beauty-in-the-making today—the found art—I am with you, holding a bit of space for the mystery to unfold . . . in all its promised beauty. Whatever that might mean.


Update, Part One

Three weeks ago today, I had a miscarriage. The day of our first ultrasound. I was waiting until that ultrasound to announce here that I was pregnant.

I was nine weeks, and somehow I had wrongly convinced myself that if you get past 6 or 7 weeks, you’re home free.

It seemed like things were going smoothly, but the morning of our first doctor’s appointment, I woke up and was bleeding. We went in, as scheduled, and found out that there was no heartbeat.

Every time I sit down and try to put words to it all, I feel silent. Like something inside me has been muted.

I still feel numb. I think of that Dickinson poem: “After great pain a formal feeling comes . . . the feet, mechanical, go round . . . this is the hour of lead/remembered if outlived,/as freezing persons recollect the snow–/first chill, then stupor, then the letting go.”

When I’m quiet those lines run through my head. And these from John Greenleaf Whittier: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.”

Grieving is the process of recognizing the loss of what might have been. Never more true than with a miscarriage.

I got back late last night from speaking at a retreat up in the Seattle area. I went back and forth about going, so soon after the miscarriage. I cancelled one speaking engagement the week it all happened, but I decided to just go ahead and do this one.

With very thinned resources, I had no idea what to expect. I shared these recent events from the stage, and I cried every single time I got up in front.

Throughout the weekend, I had woman after woman coming up to me and telling me their story of loss. So much unimaginable pain. I stood outside and cried with one woman whose story is so heartbreaking I can barely imagine how she is getting out of bed right now.

It was strangely comforting to talk to women in their sixties and seventies who had been through miscarriages years and years ago. When they told me their stories, they cried, all these years later. Somehow their tears validated the sense of loss I feel.

The bothersome thing about grief is that it rolls in, like a wave, and then rolls back out again. You never know when it’s going to hit. Some days it just pools around my feet. Some days it knocks me over, completely submerged.

The most inconvenient process.

Right now, there is a tremendous amount going on in our home. This loss, and so much more. Today, I will leave you with this bit of news. Tomorrow, I will bring you more.

If you are processing a loss today, I am with you, holding a bit of space for what might have been.