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Dearly Beloveds:
      A year of transitions. That’s how we’ll remember 2006. We’ve gone through some major milestones, some minor toe stubs, and some significant divergences in paths. Ahh, its fun getting old. (OLD??? Who said anything about old???) 
Well, we began the year celebrating our 25th anniversary—even if we’d gotten married really young,
we’d still be getting long in the tooth after 25 years. Anyway, we didn’t ACT old for this celebration. We went to Roma (la piu’ bella citta’ del mondo) (which David knows makes me very, very happy) and hung out for ten days. All on our own. It was heaven, even though the weather was about as bad as it gets for Roma –suffice to say we have some fabulous pictures of the sun breaking through the clouds, and most of our photos of each other are LESS than flattering, as befits the drowned cat bedraggled look. Still, our New Year’s celebration consisted of getting married AGAIN at St. Paul’s Within the Walls, and then snagging a place under cover and just outside the major rock and roll party set up in Piazza della Repubblica. At the appropriate hour (several hours and bottles of champagne later) we made our way to the middle of the piazza for a fabulous party with rain, fireworks, excellent music, champagne showers and gleeful people happy and kissing and singing all around us. It was the best New Year’s EVER. And a great start to our second 25 years together. We know we are incredibly blessed to be at this point in our lives and be able to spend such wonderful time together. We look forward to many more memories of times like these.

Came home from that extravaganza to start the grind all over again. It’s hard to do that when you aren’t all that interested in grinding….for me, the grind meant restarting the process to try to hire new folks for my office. The good news is that this time around, it worked! I now have a fully staffed office and absolutely fabulous people. For David, the grind was much more pervasive and soul sapping. The company reorganized and he faced new management, new responsibilities. Round about the beginning of March, he started thinking. And putting two and two together….but let him tell it in his own words (I believe in sharing this fun!) I "retired" from Visa after 26+ years to focus on my health (physical mostly, but assuredly mental and spiritual also) and well-being. I also began to consider more fully 'What's Next?' for me. … I've now embarked on a new journey to find and pursue a purpose-driven life to serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and hopefully minister, only by God's grace, to any and all people in any way I can… I believe God is now moving me, in mind, body and spirit, to discover my new place to minister. I don't yet know where or how, but I do know WHY.
 
Yep, he quit (officially retired at the tender age of 47!). For the interim, he is an independent contractor working for our friend who runs Alexandria Pet Care. Walking dogs is a great way to get exercise, bond with your clients and be outdoors. It is NOT, however, what he wants to be doing long term. He is also an active Stephen Minister, offering pastoral care support to others, which is part of his exploration for his future. So, please, keep David in your prayers as he continues to investigate what God wants for him.

This was our biggest transition…needless to say. But it forced us to look at a number of things and change some of our ways…ultimately, this has been great for our finances, our health, our love…this process has given us opportunities to tell each other what is important, what we want, but, well, here again, let him tell it: I love my wife, Chrissie. … As many family and friends have heard before, we both feel that God called us to share in the Vocation of Holy Matrimony. Our marriage, our sacrament of being married to one another, means we have to work on our relationship to keep it alive with open and honest communication between the two of us. "Anything worth having is worth working for".
 
By the way, I’m stealing from the onlinejournal that David just started…if you want more of this, email him and he’ll give you the link.
 
I have been so proud of David’s attitude to recognize that he needed to make the change. He is much less stressed and certainly healthier and happier. It is fun for us to contemplate the future as the present. I confess to being jealous that I “must” wait a few more years until I can retire and get on with my life. But then, I am NOT quite sure what I will be doing either…so I’m not in a great hurry. Besides, I have these great folk that I work with and I like my job!

Our lives continue. In March, my best friend from college called and asked would we be available to go to Roma with her, her husband and their daughter (one of our goddaughters) for a week in June. We decided that money is only money and friends are more important, and since I’d been trying to get Pam to Roma for, oh, thirty years, how could we not go? So we went, stayed in an apartment behind the Imperial Fora, and did as much as we dared with newbies to the city, which was a lot! We had a fabulous time (very different from the rain of January—the weather was much better this time around). I like helping people learn about (and hopefully fall in love with) Roma.
 
The rest of our travel was domestic: David and I flew out to Wyoming for a friend’s ordination to the priesthood, and then went to Vermont for a wedding. We’d never been to either state before—actually three states, because we did a day’s sightseeing in Salt Lake City and drove into Wyoming from Utah. It’s a very mountainous area; interesting in its own way. Burlington, by contrast, is a fun little city on a big lake—we got to play golf there too! We stopped by to see David’s dad in New Hampshire, on the way home and we are happy to report he is doing very well.

We’ve seen quite bit of my parents this year—they’ve come north twice (and we didn’t have snow either time!) and I went to help make my father behave after he had hip replacement surgery in the summer. Right now, we seem to be not facing any more major surgery anytime soon, which would be just fine with all of us. And on the subject of my family, our niece, Shannon, is in college and living on campus. I was going to tell you that she hasn’t had…but wait, she doesn’t want me to jinx her! During the summer she had a brand new kind of therapy and is learning to use her right hand/arm all over again. We continue to be amazed at her spirit and her tenacity and determination! (Thanks for all the prayers.)

We did an Engaged Encounter—just one—but we are not sure how many more we will be part of. This ministry might be a victim of the split that the Episcopal Church is facing, and of the issues that cause today’s couples to be busier than ever. Not that our ministry to engaged couples goes away--David and I are looking to start a similar but slightly different ministry to engaged couples for local use…we have a great outline ready, and think it will be beneficial and give us some satisfaction. But we are still wondering what will become of EEE and are not quite willing to put it down.

Another thing that took up a bunch of time and made note of the passing years, was David’s participation on his high school’s 30th Reunion Committee. It is very noticeable that not everyone ages at the same rate when you have these kinds of functions. We, for example, are convinced we are still young and go to rock concerts to prove it. We went to the first Virgin Fest…it’s not what you think…which was an all day affair and totally awesome. At least the teenagers are impressed…
 
The summer was spent with our new baseball team in its second year. The Nationals did not play as well as they did the first year, but some of us remained fans. Our goddaughter Morgan is quite possibly their BIGGEST fan. We shared season tickets with friends and Morgan…she managed to attend more games than the rest of us combined! And, as I’ve noted, baseball passes the time during the summer before meaningful football begins.

On the cultural side, we managed to squeeze in some plays and musicals, although not as many as we would like. Someday, like with golf, we’ll be able to do all the things we want, when we want. HOW WELL remains to be seen. My sister, Diane, and I also took Shannon up to New York for a day at the Museum of Modern Art. We had a wonderful time seeing terrific art (I was thrilled to finally lay my own eyes on Starry Night by van Gogh!) and some bizarre stuff that almost defied description or understanding (a huge canvas painted blue, framed in white….we were flummoxed) Shannon, who is painting in oils, found the impressionists the most fun….which was why we went to MOMA. I didn’t think she’d really groove on the old old masters!

Speaking of age, our “puppies” are both still with us, although Tobias is 16 ½ and should be going to heaven soon. I am convinced he will live just to spite us (I know, I’ve said that numerous times before!), although the older he gets, the gentler and less trouble he is. Go figure. We just tell him that he can go anytime and it must be before Mulligan does! “You have to live with the dog(s) you have, not the dog(s) you wish you had.”
 
Meanwhile, we continue to be involved with youth, sing in the choir, and do assorted other jobs that need to be done at church. I’ve taken a couple of courses on discerning God’s will (begun before David left his job...how’s that for God’s timing???) and still work with my amazing spiritual director to maintain my sanity.
 
So, here we are, on the threshold of the rest of our lives and excited about all the opportunities we see. Both of us feel incredibly blessed in our love, our families, our friends and we know that whatever comes, we will be able to rely on these to guide us and support us. And we know that God will be with us, even through the rough times and the hard decisions…gosh, even during those terrible Redskins games…. (and that’s all I’m going to say about that). 
 
So we can run the races put before us and tackle the jobs that we may or may not want, and hold the hands of those less fortunate, and pray for all of you and for the world that is in such turmoil these days. It is the ministry we’ve been called to together. As David says: Take the Mundane and Make It Holy. We do that in the daily grist of our life together. Only through God's Grace. We are also called to do that in the places we go, work, play, or live. In this year of transition, we rely on the Holy to keep us focused. May you too, see the Holy in your world, and know the Holy in your heart.

Merry Christmas! Rejoice in our blessed Saviour’s birth.
 
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