Tuesday, December 16, 2014


In October, Andy and I found out that we are going to have a baby. You know how these things go... first you see a plus sign. Then, a heartbeat flickering rapidly somewhere in the midst of a black and white blob on a screen. Then, it's tiny nubs that are becoming ears and balled up fists that are millimeters big. For me, a woman who never did get the "baby bug"- grasping the significance of this has all been very gradual. Had I not felt like a small boulder of molten lava was lodged underneath my rib cage during the month of November, I would have completely forgotten about the whole thing- and, to be honest, even with the molten lava, sometimes I still did.

But today, I think, was a turning point. Yesterday was a big day. Not only did Andy and I see, for the first time, the millimeter fists and the two tiny lobes where thoughts will form and memories will be stored, but I also told my children- the ones who have their own mothers, but who are, in a sense, just a tiny bit mine, too. It was significant to tell them- those children of mine, the ones who changed my life before this new life was started.

Because I'm a Biology teacher, and a sucker for a good test question, I decided to break the news by asking a bonus question on an AP Biology test about cell division. The timing could not have been more perfect because I'd just taught my Juniors and Seniors about meiosis, the cell division process by which eggs and sperm are made. I realize that this is not cutesy and probably is a little gross to some people, but for we science geeks, this played out beautifully. So the question read- "Speaking of meiosis, Mrs. Wermel is expecting a baby in June 2015. In your opinion, is the baby- a. XY or b. XX." Before I gave the test to my AP Biology class, I took a photo of the question and texted it to my class of 2014 kiddos, many of whom are finishing up exams from their first college semester. The response, as this news trickled through the veins of the Hill Country Christian School community, was one of the more precious things I've ever experienced. As students would get to the bonus question, they would look up at me and mouth "congratulations!" or squeal silently at each other. One student, who is on crutches because of a recent surgery, hobbled his way up to my desk just to say, "Is this question real? Congratulations!!" This student's been through a rough patch lately- his happy face was like the poverty-stricken woman who offered her last coin at the temple. To share joy with others while experiencing your own pain is a tremendous gift. Another student received the news while on the fourth floor and ran- fast as he could- down three flights of stairs, down the sidewalk to my portable so that he could wish me a huffing and puffing congratulations and then hug me repeatedly. And finally, another student, who is truly a precious friend, instinctively reached out his hand to my belly- patting ever so lightly. Gentle. Happy. Wonder.

Watching my students process helped me process. Watching them get excited made me excited, too. Joy is contagious. So today, when I got a phone call from my doctor's office with the results of the chromosome blood test that I had done two weeks ago, a new reality was birthed. We have a daughter.

This new reality brought with it a beautiful gravity that made me crave worship. Those first, fleeting glimpses- of heartbeats and baby websites and joy-tears shed by a new grand mom- were getting me ready for this. I'd been praying- who can not about something like this?- but today, the need to worship fell over me like a winter frost. Solemn, pure and beautiful. Why? Because of the truth that this tiny life is a daughter- not my daughter- His daughter. And the weight of that makes me shudder with holy fear- the good kind. The kind that leads to wisdom.

I am blessed to know so many daughters. Every day, I not only watch, but also get to take part of the process that changes them from girls into young women, springing both out and away from their homes and childhoods in messy beauty- rooted, yet free, daring, but timid. They are beautiful, wild things. And so different. These daughters have names- given to them by their mothers who were once like me- and those names are the ones that run across my mind while I think of this tiny daughter who is yet to be. They assure me of one thing- these daughters are treasured, not only by their parents, but by the King himself. I know so many who know Him, who are blossoming underneath His light, becoming like Him- precious in His sight. And I know one thing- she is not mine. She is, but she isn't. And this makes me worship. Not only that- this makes me need to speak truth- to proclaim it over her- I don't even think she has ears to hear it yet- but, still, if I don't say it, won't the rocks cry out? I need her to know that there is Someone she needs to know. Someone who is the Way. The Way back. Because she'll come out precious, but she'll come out broken. Heart in shreds, not because of what she's done or what I'll do, but because of who we are and what we are a part of- a brokenness that was before us that we can't help but contribute to, even from our earliest days, and even with our best intentions. I have to start telling her the truth now. You're broken, little girl, but- and this is the important part- there is a Healer. As I speak these words over her, I call out to Him, too- joining the host of other praying mothers- I know so many- who cry out for their children to know Him. God on high, hear our prayer.

So worship, I must. Because I am a daughter too. Healed. Free. Precious in His sight. And committed to telling this truth to all of the daughters I know- from this tiny one whose ears might not yet hear it, to the hurting ones whose hearts so desperately need to know it, to the blossoming ones whose sweetness and cleverness and giftedness leave me awe-struck at what He is capable of. There is a Way back from the broken. How I pray that all of these daughters-and now one more- will learn to follow Him there.

Friday, September 19, 2014


It has been such a hard week this week. I found this song on Need to Breath's album and wanted to share it. The album, with songs named, "The Heart", "Oh, Carolina," "Multiplied" and this song, "Wastelend" was a gift to me today. Thank you, Lord, for words and music that speak to my heart and help me speak my heart back to You.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Mountains are Calling

It's a quiet afternoon on Dijon Drive. Gatsby is asleep on his patch-work dog bed at my feet, Daisy is staring out the living room window hoping to see a bird or a squirrel. Sunlight streams through the skylight. Laundry rumbles. And I'm hear clicking away on this laptop, trying to capture moments. This is my last summer afternoon. Over the next few days, I'll be busy- preparing for school- which starts next Thursday. Saying last good-byes to those children I love, the ones who are too grown up now to be called children anymore, before they pack their bags for the four-year adventure called college. But today is for remembering and recording.

I'm usually not sad to say good-bye to summer. I love autumn. It is, as Lacy says, "my season." But, this summer has been filled with so much blessing that I am a little sad to see it close. But, oh, how it closed.

As if I hadn't already had enough fun traveling this summer- first to North Carolina to see my family and friends. I enjoyed all the summer standards- a family cookout, time lounging around with my brother, shopping trips to outlet malls with my mom, sitting outside reading with my dad, sun-bathing on the Carolina coast- as well as some special occasions- seeing two sweet baby girls Christened, visiting with Rosemary who was (at that time) glowing with pregnancy, sweating it out at the gym with Hannah. Then there was Europe. No need to write another word about that. I traveled like I was thirty and then wrote it down before it faded into the background of another busy school year. But there was still one more adventure on the horizon. This one was Robin's idea. She had a family wedding to attend in Redstone, Colorado, and since she has traveled as much if not more than I have this summer, she asked if Andy & I wanted to come along, so that we could all road-trip, have one last adventure, and cut down on cost. We were in.

So Thursday evening, after Andy got home from work, the three of us, plus the two black-and-white dogs piled into Robin's Honda, camping equipment stuffed in the trunk for us and pretty dresses and scarves fit for an August wedding draped over the backseat for Robin. We drove through the night, which is never easy, but, for me, always worth it, and got to Redstone around 1PM on Friday. We dopped Robin off at the Redstone Inn, where the wedding would take place, and then Andy and I headed out in search of a camping site.

It's good to be married to an Eagle Scout. 

Getting cozy at McClure Campsite #6

These two 31 bags, gifts from my mom, were super helpful when it came to packing up our kitchen utensils and food during the trip. Also super helpful was the Coleman mini-cooler she gave us for Christmas this past year. Had to take pics to say thanks to my Momma! 

Does it get any better than this? 

Don't let him fool you. That dog is his favorite. 
Our campsite neighbor

So this happened...

So did this. Bacon makes everything better. :) 

Early on Friday evening, we stopped into the Redwood General Store for a few supplies (See above picture) and also picked up a local newspaper about local events this summer and helpful hints about the region. One of the pages listed some must-see attractions and we were intrigued by the mention of the Crystal Mill. Apparently it is one of the most photographed locations in Colorado. This is apparently true, if you Google "Crystal Mill Colorado" right now, you'll see what I mean. Andy and I didn't have internet access, so we had to go old school and try to see it with our own two eyes. So, Saturday morning, we drove into Marble, a small town about six miles from Redstone. When we got there, we found the tiny town surprisingly bustling. We'd stumbled upon "MarbleFest" a once-a-year music festival. A smattering of tents selling food and t-shirts were set up around the perimeter, encompassing a small stage that had been decorated with containers filled with flowers. A window hung in the background, making the whole thing look like you were standing on someone's front porch. We were in it for the trip to the mill, though, so we asked some of the volunteer firemen. Eyeing Robin's Honda they said, "You'll never make it in that car." We told them we intended to hike, which they sort of shook their heads at (I now know why) but pointed us in the general direction anyway. We decided that if we were going to have a long hike, we'd better eat some lunch first, so we made our way over to the Marble Community Church's tent where bowls of green chili were being served by local church men and women. It was at the church tent that we met a man named Robert, a retired Marine, who saw Andy from thirty paces and knew there was hope for an afternoon full of adventure. Within thirty minutes, Robert had volunteered to take us up to Crystal Mill in a  borrowed Jeep Wrangler. Before I knew it, Andy and I were following the pastor and Robert up to the parsonage (the borrowed Jeep belonged to the pastor's wife) and climbing in, even though I had read in the newspaper that you should only go up the trail in a vehicle with someone you trust (seriously, it actually said that) and even though we had not known Robert for an hour. It all turned out to be great, though. Robert was an expert driver, he had spent some years doing Jeep tours in Marble for visitors just like ourselves. He told us all about the local history and even took us on a little-known hiking trail. Before the afternoon was over, he felt like someone we'd known for years. Here are some pictures from our epic adventure in Marble, Colorado. 

Andy and Robert looking out over Lizard Lake on the way from Marble to Crystal. 

Treacherous view from the passenger's side window. 

Four paws gone four wheeling. 
After a harrowing hour and half in the Jeep we finally made it to the mill. It is really picturesque.

Fireweed. Robert told us that when it stops blooming, summer is over. 


This car seems to have lost track of the road. It wasn't the only abandoned car we saw on the way to Crystal. Robert had some stories to tell about cars going off the road and drivers who jumped and made it and passengers who didn't jump and didn't. 

Hints of fall 

Cabins in Crystal, once a mining town, not just a smattering of summer cottages. Andy and I thought they were pretty neat- no electricity or plumbing. Simplicity. 

The home of retired school teacher and author Roger Neal. Roger's family bought this house and the four lots around it for $50 back in the late 1940's. He has been coming every summer since. He's written several books about the history and tall tales of the Crystal River region. We bought Volume 1 of Creepy Crystal tales for some campfire reading material. 
This sign is just down the road from Crystal and apparently applies to the rest of the road, not the stretch that we were on. Robert really wanted to take us, but I thought the dogs might lose their minds. Maybe another time. 

On the return trip, Lizard Lake was smooth and reflective. 

Before we got back down to Marble, Robert took us on a quick hike to see these beautiful falls. He said that if this waterfall was anywhere else, there'd be paved pathways with railings to get you there. But this is Marble, and so pavement there was not. what there was, was a slate footpath, what Robert called a goat trail. I have no idea if he meant this literally or not. You be the judge. Check out the pics below. But the view was worth the peril and that there was no pavement anywhere in sight made it all the better. 

Robert leading the way. 

Look at Gats and Daisy- no fear! 
Well, we almost made it out of Marble unscathed. Until.. we got locked in jail. 

These cells were built in the 1800's in St. Louis and transferred to Marble. Robert told us a story of an Italian who was locked up one Friday night during Prohibition for drunkenness. But his mother made him a long pasta straw, long enough for him to sip from a bottle of Chianti placed just outside the jail's window. When they came back to let him out on Sunday, he was drunker than at the beginning of the weekend! What a tale. 

The jail from the outside.
Well, we made it out of Marble in one piece. The next morning, we wanted a good hike, so we headed for Avalanche Creek Trail. 

Gatsby has now hiked three mountain ranges- the Appalachians, the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies. 

Andy showing me how to get the sweet stuff out of Indian Paintbrush. 

 After our hike, I wanted to drive over to Aspen, which is about a 40 minute drive from the Redstone area. My family went to skiing in Aspen/Snowmass a decade ago, and while I was there, I bought Gatsby a sweater at a nice pet shop. I wanted to take him back there, just for nostalgia's sake. But this time, to Gatsby's great relief, I did not buy him a sweater. Two tennis balls were purchased to help the Aspen Humane Society and a photo was snapped. Then Andy and I wandered around town, chatting with passersby and enjoying people-watching. Finally we stopped for a bite to eat and a drink at Hops before heading back to camp.

Ten years ago, I NEVER would have thought that I would get to bring my buddy to Aspen with me. God is so good! 

Andy posing with the 10th Mountain Division statue at the base of Ajax Mountain. 

I rode up this gondola ten years ago, and would have loved to have gone again, but we got there a little too late in the day. They were bringing people back down, but not letting anyone else go up. Such a shame, because the doggies could have ridden too! 

But we did get this fun family photo on this bench made out of a ski lift. How cheesy! I couldn't stop laughing! 
Well, that's a wrap. This season of adventure has come to an end. The summer afternoon when I started writing this blog faded into evening, dinner plans and chores to complete in dusty twilight took over. It's now mid-day the following day, less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2014-2015 school year, and the to-do list stretches out a mile before me. As I think back upon this summer, I am overflowing with gratitude. Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts,  taught me how to practice a life-style of eucharisteo, a lifestyle of thanks. In her words, "We only enter into the full life when our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept his free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever he gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our 'Yes!' to his grace." Following Ann's lead, I started a gratitude journal this summer, and I've been counting the gifts, paying more attention to the Giver, drinking in the freedom of receiving grace. It's getting fuller and fuller, and, sure enough, so is my heart- swelling with gratitude for his love, his goodness, his gentleness, his faithfulness- to even me. What a summer. What an adventure this life is. Thank you, God, for these moments. Thank you