2018 Epiphany Letter

Last year, which felt like a decade shoved into 365 days, wasn’t all bad. We share our highlights, below. At the end of the post, find a slide show of a few of our favorite pictures from 2017.


On December 2, we adopted Sam-the-Dog. About 18-months old, he’s a full-grown, 54-pound adolescent. A likely mix of Shepherd, Rottweiler and Husky, Sam is a herder, not a guard dog. He rarely barks, preferring to vocalize, sounding a bit like a whale. He was a stray, so we don’t know his back story. It took a couple of days for Sam to be comfortable with soft things: carpet, dog beds, his designated couch, and toys. Audrey—the family friend and vet who brought Hank-the-Dog to Annie and Sean—watched the videos of Sam meeting all of us, including Hank, and liked what she saw. Her advice and counsel during these first weeks of transition have made all the difference. Sam starts obedience classes on 1/10. Right now, Sam assumes the answer to any request is “sit.”

The Resistance

We participated in Decorah’s Women’s March, March for Science, Immigration rights rally, a pop-up demonstration for healthcare, and a candlelight vigil after the madness of Charlottesville. Paul leads the Indivisible Northeast Iowa Immigration & Refugees issue group and serves as ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod Chair of AMMPARO, advocating for migrant minors and their families. Sue participated in a powerful six-week, faith-based, community reflection on White Privilege. Before key votes, we participate in the futile exercise of contacting our representatives.


Festivities abound, including Laura [Ingalls Wilder] Days in nearby Burr Oak, Decorah’s Nordic Fest, Luther College festival worship services during Homecoming weekend and for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the Christmas at Luther concert. We attended the wedding of Annamarie Murphy Andrews, our goddaughter, and Ross Hellenbrand. Enjoyed visits from Laurel Hensel, Craig and Gina Edison and their girls, Keith and Nancy Edison and Chuck and Ruth Werth. This summer, Menzi, a Luther Student from Swaziland, stayed with us for a month. Five Luther students joined us for Thanksgiving. Such fun. Often, even ordinary days feel celebratory. One magical summer night, we sat on the front porch with Walter and Sally, eating ice cream cones and watching fireflies. Such goodness.

Church and Song

Sue sings in the choir at First Lutheran and Paul records Sunday worship for a weekly cable broadcast. Sue is also a member of Northern Lights, a 63-member women’s choral group.


 We referred to our lower level as the Family Suite, as it includes a bedroom set up with twin beds, a bathroom and a sitting area with a fold-out couch. Sally came up with a better name: Family Sweetness. With the Edison-Albrights in Decorah, we have a lot of family sweetness. We have a standing date for Sunday Brunch. Walter (6, in Kindergarten), Sally (4, in pre-K) and Hank enjoy short and extended stays with us. We’ve fully claimed the joys and responsibilities of being Umma & Baba.


 This year marks Paul’s 30th anniversary at the ELCA Churchwide Office. Wow. Sue is doing freelance and contract work. In 2017, she served six weeks as part-time, interim administrative-assistant for Luther College Ministries. Eighteen years after her last Triennial as a Women of the ELCA staff person, Sue was happy for the contract to help with communication during the Triennial Convention and Gathering in Minneapolis. It.was.awesome.


We get by with a lot of help from dear ones like you. Wishing you and yours every good thing.

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2 Responses to 2018 Epiphany Letter

  1. Julie Aageson says:

    It’s so satisfying to hear your voices here! All good things to both of you as we begin a new year. We–all of us–are battered and bruised from the past year and so ready for accountability, truth-telling, and a new start. Loves to all!

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