Life in Iraq as an Army Dentist

I wanted to update you a little on Michael and ask you to pray for his safety during his last days in Iraq…and for a smooth transition home.

(This picture may be a BIT of a joke…)

Here are some excerpts from his last army news report:

“We are continually mortified and exasperated to find that each new day is in fact Monday again.”

“It is with frightening rarity that something different happens.”

We did have our first thunderstorm in which it actually rained for about 30 seconds. This brings our total rainfall since May to 0.001inches.

“CPT Armstrong celebrated his 33rd birthday this month,”

(This cake was a total and very special surprise from the kitchen staff, who love Michael because of all he’s done for them)

“which for us, has been completely over-shadowed in the frenzy of our count-down to Larry King’s 77th Birthday on the 19th of November. For you single females out there who believe that a man improves with age like fine wine, I understand he is available yet again.”

For professional development this month we toured Task Force Thunder’s Motor Pool, with a special “hands-on” experience with the ***. It felt like a real-life video game to sit in the commander’s chair and operate the *** viewing systems and aim the giant *** gun. We got up to the gunner’s turret of the *** and got a detailed tour of the ***.

(This is Michael having fun “breathing out” fire…have to keep themselves entertained somehow!)

The stressed-out *** Combat Stress Control has once and for all been extricated from theater after a tense extra couple of days “snowed” in at our base during a dust storm. We welcomed the *** from Boston, MA in exchange and continue to have a close relationship with them.

(Michael raced 10 miles in the desert heat; “fun and games”?? to keep up morale. Luckily, he didn’t have a heart attack. I think most of the troops are teens or young twenties!)

(Michael doing a special yoga move…)

SGT *** of the CSC may, in fact, take over my Power Yoga class as I transition out.

“As we PROFIS docs prepare to say our good-byes, remember everyone: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

May the Lord be so kind as to deliver him safely back to his family by Thanksgiving!

Thanks for your prayers!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fort Wilderness Campground…Disney’s Best!

Alan and I just got back from a wonderful week of camping at Fort Wilderness.

We “camped” in our motor home. Not only do we love the quiet and beauty of the great out of doors, we really enjoy being able to fix our own food: lots of fresh fruits and veggies, grilled meat, and no need to ever overeat!

During the days, Alan worked on some continuing medical education courses on pain management and risk management, while I worked on my writing.

Interspersed throughout the day, we’d take little breaks to swim or walk.

And on Wednesday we took the whole day off and went to Epcot.

It was their 15th year of having an International Food Festival in the fall, so we “ate our way around the world” that day, tasting marvelous ethnic cuisine from dozens of countries.

The landscaping at Epcot makes it a pleasure just to meander around the park-like settings, although we did take in a few of our favorite rides and travelogues at the World Showcase.

The evening always ends with a fantastic “Illuminations” fireworks, music, and laser show and a rather nostalgic trip home past the giant “golf ball” while somewhere epic music is being broadcast: “Moving on…through the good times and the bad.” This year, it was particularly poignant for us.

We drove down and back alone for the first time since our honeymoon, but it still only took 24 hours down and 25.5 going back. We talked constantly the whole way (when we weren’t napping) and felt very restored and refreshed by our week of golden, sunny days and revival. What a blessing!

Surprise, Surprise!

God is full of wonderful surprises, like the dew on the garden this morning

and the beauty of royal purple asters unfolding in the morning sunshine.

I used to think nothing could compare to the beauty of nature, but I now find that the beauty of a friend’s spirit is even more compelling to me! Here are my birthday club friends, who threw me a TOTALLY surprising birthday party last night!They billed it as a supper and hymn sing for a few close friends…and it was (if 30 is a few)…

We ate…

Had lots of yummy specialty coffee drinks

(sorry about these last few pictures; I don’t know why they’re so small!  😦  )

Played games


And generally had a marvelous time of fellowship and joy.

What an encouragement to me. I am constantly amazed at how God chooses to comfort and bless us.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” (Psalm 68:19)

Living Through the Sixties…All Over Again!

In 1960 I turned 10. In 2010, I turned 60.

Living through the 60’s was—I think—the best and worst decade of my life so far. My prayer is that the second time around will be even better…but I sincerely hope not worse!

The fun started on Friday, when “the birthday club” swooped me up for a trip to Grand Haven. Here I am with Cindi (above) and Susan (below)

The girls showered me with gifts. It felt like Christmas.

“Well, you only turn 60 once!” they explained, as they loaded me with extravagant gifts like a sweater, a scarf, etc. etc. Here is one of the gifts: flowers, herbs, and spices to make scented water. How fun…and yummy!

We also enjoyed lunch at “Snug Harbor.” Also fun and yummy! 🙂

Over the weekend, my family really spoiled me. It started with breakfast at Arnie’s with the three youngest (who were the only ones available then)

And then some games of “Pump it Up”

Dan is the reigning champ…I think he got over 1,000,000 points one game. (As a comparison…I’m at maybe 1,600 or something…)

Then…on to putt putt golf

and a walk at Holland State Park

It was a beautiful, but cold and windy day on October 2!

All that fun gave us great appetites, so we ended up with a delicious country-style meal at the Cracker Barrel

which tided us over until Carl and Kathy could make it for tea and cake.

After church on Sunday, I got royally spoiled again with a wonderful dinner and lots of presents and cake. I guess maybe turning 60 isn’t so bad. But still, I pray with the psalmist, Lord—”teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).