Everyone is posting their senior pictures, so I give you Simi Valley class of 1994, baby. Boom, I was pulled right back there while chatting with my cousin today from a very safe distance of several states. What a strange, wonderful and terrible year that was.
Class of 2020 seniors had no idea that their year would be upended, that life was about to change overnight. Upon closing our eyes for sleep on January 16, 1994, we didn't see it coming either. I woke much too early the next morning as the earth started rolling under me. Nothing remarkable, no biggie, I quite enjoyed the occasional trembler. Just try to get me out of bed!
I rolled over to go back to wait for it to pass and go back to sleep. You don't realize how long twenty seconds is until you hold a plank or ride out a shockwave. There was time to begin to stir and decide to go back to dreamland before realizing that this was no regular event that even I, the almighty slumberer, could sleep through. My room was shared with my mom and sister. My mother grabbed my wrist and began running with us out of the room. Shelves were falling in front of our exit and I had to force her hand off me to traverse them. No small feat in her panic death-grip state.
Looking out our window as I moved through the room, bursts of light were appearing everywhere. The speed at which thoughts form, trying to assess a surprise attack, makes it seem as if time has slowed to a crawl. I remember wondering if we were being bombed, if this was an act of man instead of nature. Later, I learned they were simply transformers blowing. No air raid. No World War Three, yet, but our community was devastated all the same. The quake had a magnitude of 6.7 along a fault that we didn't even know existed yet. No warning. No way to know what was in store.
We were fortunate to emerge relatively unscathed. A shelf full of trophies fell where we were sleeping and not one hit us. There was some damage to the house, but nothing like some others in the heart of the valley, others who would not wake up again. As we all stood outside without power, waiting for the morning light to finally break, there was an eerie silence. Neighbors staring at the sky, staring at each other, coming down from the adrenaline.
Access to power, water, gas, and groceries was cut off for quite some time. We maybe had one gallon left in our car and I used it to drive to my boyfriend's house. That THRILLED my mother, who was more worried about getting to places like the hospital she worked at. Imagine that. Moms, amirite? Life did not return to normal for quite a while. Sections of freeways collapsed, gas lines and water mains were damaged. Buildings caved. Aftershocks seemed to put us in a permanent state of worry and seasickness. Simi High was closed due to the damage it sustained. When we were finally able to return to school, I finished my senior year sharing a campus with rival Royal High School across town. Sitting in strange classrooms at strange times and feeling incredibly disoriented. It did not help with my attendance record nor my depression.
More little earthquakes were to come before graduation. In quick succession, I would lose an important friendship, have my heart smashed, quit singing, and experience the non-consensual taking of a piece of me-the aftershocks of which had far reaching ripples and sunk me further into a debilitating depression that lasted longer than twenty seconds.. You may not have seen it even up close, but the sustained damage wasn't even addressed until I invited a demo crew of counselors in twenty years later.
That was not the senior year I'd expected and never saw coming.
Don't lose heart dear reader, because the earthquakes that hit also revealed an abundance of gold deposits, priceless kindnesses from precious people. Just as neighbors who'd lived on the same street for years met each other for the first time on that early January morning, good things emerge from rubble. There were sweetnesses and friendships that I will always hold as treasures. They taught me how to love others. They sustained and prevented me from slipping completely over the side of self-destruction. Jeff, Robyn, Jenny, Tim, Amanda, this is why I will always love you even from far away. Those beautiful things last long after the memory of pain and inconveniences fade. Sandee and Arvid, the way you loved our little trio means so much more to me now as I wonder how on Earth you had three more people living in your home with a house full of teenagers. Could I do the same? I don't honestly know. Later that January, I would meet the man I would marry three years later, though I didn't know it. We would go on to have the most tender, funny, and handsome five sons I never knew I needed. I also gained the stepdad I absolutely did not want whose love I can't imagine life without now. As I'm sitting here in pandemic mode, watching my boys work on a truck together and build a 1400 piece Lego set, I am quite, QUITE thankful for 1994.
And that brings us to the moment today, all these years later, that brightened my heart even as it made me cry. As my memories of that time are all an emotional haze, her memory made my day. I mean, I'm good with being remembered as a mother hen and a cool chick wrapped up in one to her and my sister during the crazy weeks, post-quake. Seriously, it touched my heart that she would take the time to tell me I had some kindnesses to give, as well. I love you and miss you, Jill, and can't wait to hug you in some place warm and tropical when this is over. Thanks for encouraging me today as I'm dealing with the little earthquakes of depression and anxiety as our "normal" life is once again shook. You were the giver of a priceless gift today.
God is good to give us each other. Sometimes he has to slow us down tor shake us up to look at our need of one another. Life will not always be on lockdown, but the way we love each other now and allow others to love us can last a lifetime.
Class of 2020, I am crushed for you. Feel your disappointments, they're yours. You don't need to rush into thankful mode, but look for the little treasures in the waiting.
In the mean time, here's a little more inspiration for today's post from my high school years and Tori Amos. Enjoy.
My memories are all in sound.
Pink Floyd's über classic, The Dark Side of the Moon, turned 45 yesterday. When it plays, I am always taken to our home when I was little. Sleeping family-slumber-party style in the living room. My dad put this record on. We just listened. The proper way. The only movement being sound waves.
These memories are a kindness. Small graces.
The connection with my dad was lost for a long time. Through that period, it was easy to hear everything, played backwards, as "Paul is dead." To let bitterness grow from sorrow. Muting any sweet sounds. Hearing only scratched records.
But I put on Pink Floyd or George Harrison and Eric Clapton, and I am taken back to the little listening parties. The father and daughter. The loving and tender moments. The two like-souls who have the same trouble with vocals. And I remember how much I love and need my dad. Even if I'm still a bit of a crummy daughter with old habits still to be broken.
So, I am thankful for a heart that's been tenderized. For my parents' love of music. For all the sad songs that say so much. For nights on the living room floor and breathing in the air. For sounds when words won't come. For patched connections.
For the remastering of our album. I love you, Dad.
I thought we would be together for much longer. I've thought about you all week. Wanting desperately to spend some time with you when I was at the end of my rope. To just step outside and pick up where we left off. You and I have been companions for over 35 years. I'm not sure who I am without you to step into. So much of whom I am is you. Insecurity could always be eased by a few more miles. One more challenge. One more race. Pushing a little more, a little more, a little more. When the world has fallen apart, we could always jump some hurdles, run a marathon, take on those earthly hills. I love you, running. What happens when I can't push anymore. When my limbs are rebelling against my drive. My joints are raging mad. When I've pushed them right to that edge.
I didn't think the Ragnar Relay would be my last distance running event. I thought it would be a fun way to keep my going as I chose to put all personal training down to take on the new role of homeschool mom. An efficient way to drop all of my sugar-seeking winter weight. I had it perfectly planned out. That's not the way it went. Unexpectedly sideways. I wasn't expecting shooting sciatic pain. A calf that frequently went numb. A lower back that just wouldn't cooperate. A hamstring that would not chill out. The new grinding in the hip from bearing the brunt of the compensating work from my bad knee. A leg that literally did not have full range of motion some days. I hit the wall of the 40+ in one fell swoop. Twice weekly chiropractic visits just to fix what I jacked up during those training runs. Just to make it to the start line. Palliative care. What the heck?
The first leg of my relay was pretty okay, even if I did get passed up ing a guy running in a full-on horse costume. The adrenaline carried me so much better than I was anticipating. That second leg, though. Hips to knees. It starts. Here comes the rust....and buckling and swelling. That small, teeny, little three mile third leg. I ran until the pain made me nauseous. Then I cried and yelled at my body and pushed to the brutal and beautiful finish. Then I had a good cry over what I didn't really think would come to stay. Limitations. Physical limitations. They're just obstacles to overcome, yes? All the time, right? Running has always been an escape, a release, a compensator for all of my lack. Disclosure. I'm not fast. I've never been fast or a super athlete. It's not like I'm even giving up something I'm any good at. Seriously. It's simply coming to terms with not being able to do something. A smidge of John Locke. "Don't tell me what I can't do!!" But even he had the island. I'm such a big baby. These are such small things. I know that. Some of you wondering what screw could be loose that I don't grab that excuse to not do these crazy things anymore.
Evidence of worth. Something to prove.
Still. Striving. Still. At 41. Still.
Fighting without my usual arsenal.
That's the latest challenge.
I could push past not being the intelligent one. Push past not being the creative one. Push past not being the pretty one. Push past not being the educated one. Push past not being the accomplished one. Push past not being............................Now what? How I am wrestling again with God. Relearning all the things I should know by now. All the truths and lies and nonsense. And asking if I believe all the things for me that I believe for others. And asking forgiveness for my ridiculousness. Because I know it's ridiculousness.
Still. When I can no longer push past. When my body says no more.
Who am I? And why do I always get stuck in this place? Stay tuned.
No, I'm not crying at Starbucks. You're the ridiculous one crying at Starbucks over running!
I'm the guy who sits next to you
And reads the newspaper over your shoulder
Don't turn the page
I'm not finished
Life is so uncertain
Ain't that the truth!
What to say? What to say? Will I have enough to say?
Will it be coherent? That's another thing, entirely.
It is not good for man to be alone. And yet, we so readily isolate. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I am a rock. I am an island. Well, not so. Not so.
I can be just self-sufficient enough to sink that island kingdom of self. Gah. The thing I've hated the most is admitted my need for others. Crazy! But not a rarity.
It's been a week. I thought we were safe from tornadoes here in Cali, but in fact, they just whip through looking a little different, sweeping y'all to Arizona.
God willing, I'll be home to speak at our Women's conference tomorrow. The theme?
Refuge, refuge, refuge. God's refuge in relationships. Coincidence? Well.............
I've been working on just what to say the last few weeks. What part of my testimony to share? Now, I need to edit furiously. Twenty minutes is just a warmup. Where do I even begin?
Too much too much too much.
In these last few stressful days, we have taken so much comfort in the refuge offered in this refuse heap. I may go bald from all the hair-pulling (for real, I don't have enough to begin with), but I've been helped to calm through those praying with us. Focusing on difficult decisions and conversations, because of the family looking out for our boys without a thought. Fellow trainers, stepping right up to cover, when I was supposed to be covering them. No question. Friends answering our annoying questions. Nurses putting up with our ignorance. God has bombarded me with examples of the importance of community. Being knit in. Being shored up in order to shore others up on our end. It's a might fantastic machine we've got boy. Forget the island, I already had a mountain of a witness to the story of OUR lives emerge from the last two years. Can we do a part two? Nah, no one needs to be subject to that much of my rambling.
Look out for each other. Run to each other. Don't hide away from one another. You may become your own Bikini Atoll. Bombs away. No safety there.
What Cornflakes are to Post Toasties,
What the clear blue sky is to the deep blue sea,
What Hank Williams is to Neil Armstrong, can you doubt we were made for each other?
Lyle Lovett- Here I Am
Now you've carried me 14,000 days
Isn't this the story of our lives
the violet burning - finest hour
What is this, even? Judas is prepping to speak on the vital importance of relationships? Loving our sisters? Being Christ for each other? It's nearly impossible to stroke the keys and bring forth words that don't autocorrect to hypocrisy.
Is this a test? A joke?
Or more grace?
The Lord keeps refocusing the selfish eyes outward. To the rest of the body. Those exemplary hands and feet. And to His work and continued faithful promise of refuge.
But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
As we ready to speak on God's refuge of relationships, pray for us. That the enemy would not bring division and condemnation. He is prowling, looking to devour. But the story of our lives is this - God has carried us. And he has gathered us together in those gracious hands of His. It is not MY life, but our lives. Woven together through many mercies into one body of Christ. It's His workmanship and you're all a vital part of it. You've grabbed the lost lambs and lead us through the dark night. Through those rocky crags.
You've spoken words of life. And medicinal rebuke. Gentle encouragements. Hedges of protection. Healing salve for the injured.
The loudest sound in my heart is a happy cry of relief and gratitude for the safety He's provided though His family.
Continue to seek each other's good.
And our Father will bring us all home together.
Breathe and weep
With our lights out
This is the way home
This is the way home
It was the loudest sound
In my heart
This is the way home."
the violet burning - the loudest sound in my heart
Listen here or purchase here
There aren't enough days
Enough weights to even out the scale.
Not enough good in me to clear the evil done. Ever.
Not a single deed is done that doesn't confirm it. Ever.
Walking with whispers of anxiety and ruby red cheeks betraying shame of the footprints I've left.
Stepping outside is a daily discipline of breathing in the Lord's forgiveness. Turned out in a cloak of humility under His armor of strength. Ready to be seen through, to be recognized for what I am. Every footfall is effort. Every click-clack of my heels. And still, He pushes me on. A nudge out the door with a recitation of His promises and graces already given.
And He tells me who He is.
He is grace, itself. He is patience. He is kindness. He is relentless.
He is beginning and end.
He is home. He is near.
He is justice with mercy. He is the strength for weak knees and weak hearts.
The hand offered in frightful places.
The washing of my feet.
Of my soul.
The gospel that guides my tread.
The calming voice:
It's okay, daughter. We're crossing the threshhold together.
Your works are not penance, but my own love to you. Step outside and see what beauty I have in store today.
Remember the road we've already walked. Remember.
And thanksgiving propels me forward. Past fear. Through the unknown. Because He is known to me. And He leads with love, my friends.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
"I struggle to fly now."
sia- bird set free
The air is electric with fear, making it hard to leave the cage. The chill of exposure to the outside ruffles the feathers. Concentrate on breathing, calming the adrenaline.
All the possible scenarios playing on a loop through my brain.
Heart is racing. Eyes are watery.
Fear of failing.
Fear of succeeding.
Fear of all the little voices of regret that follow me around....the things that lurk around the next corner.
Walking on high alert for fear of the unknown.
. Trying to stay a step ahead of my own gasoline fire that nips at my high heels.
Excitement and terror are sitting on my wings.
"All smiles, I know what it takes to fool this town
I'll do it 'til the sun goes down and all through the night time...
...I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am
I put my armor on, I'll show you that I am"
All the power pieces come down from their perch in the closet. I look to these soft and weak things to armor me up. Ready me for work again.
Blowing off the dust from my breastplate of blouse and pencil skirt My "Edgar" suit; the costume of another, sharper girl. One who is impenetrable; whose heart is safe. It's called a power suit for a reason, right?
Doesn't it impart super-strength; make me Wonder Woman?
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,*
Placing those black leather heels on as weapons to crush sticks and stones.
Ready for expected battle.
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.*
Perhaps this cage is where I ought to stay with fear as my protector. Hiding behind motherhood and domesticity. I can pretend to be smart and wise and clever from back here.
No one ever need be the wiser.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one*
Those arrows gonna fly right past if I can act the part. Be tougher than tough.
Fiercer than Sasha.
Ready to take it all on my own strength.
Hair is coiffed, Mac is charged.
Good to go.
Out of the way. I've got this.
Ignore my shaky arms and nervous eyebrow twitches.
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.*
help me not to rely on these flimsy things
give me peace and wisdom and strength to face these fears
'cuz it's terrifying and i like to pretend I'm not scared
help me work as unto you
and walk in your grace
with diligence and integrity as my go-to pieces
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.*
Hey, Hurley, have we traded places today? The cursed numbers are back and threatening. They keep tick tick ticking up. That should be encouraging, right? We're going in the right direction, up, up, up as we build back a hollowed shell. Strength upon strength. But, my mind says, "stop! that's quite enough now. are you kidding, me?! What are you doing?"
The panic has been manageable so far, but today....today, my throat is tightening. I almost cried this morning when my trainer said, post-workout, I still needed more fuel. Red alert. All the panic buttons are sounding. But he's right. My body was shaking from depletion, which I could barely believe possible.
I'm eating #allthefood. And #alltheproteinshakes. And #alltheenjoycupcakes.
At least, it feels that way to a gal whose thinking has always been counter to this.
For the record, I didn't cry. C'mon, I'm tougher than that. Well, I pretend to be anyway.
The mental/spiritual exercise is more exhausting than the rigorous training I'm putting my body through.
My calves cry, "eat more." My energy level says, "even more, girl." My trainer says, "now, some more." Habits are so hard to shed as I try to see the nutritional information as a positive; a force for good. Does it have enough of what I need?...instead of desperately calculating the day's calories-numbers as the enemy.
Too much, too much, always too much.
Now, struggling to put in enough, to keep up with demand. My mind is having a hard time keeping up. But, that's a big part of taking up this physical challenge. A push to break destructive habits. Laying the anxiety down at Christ's feet; asking Him, "Take this please. Run with me though this." The putting on of nourishment to the putting off of restriction, spiritually and physically. The numbers are not my master. Not my curse.
God, keep my focus on your grace and kill their hold on me.
Help me run this race well....
oh, and that marathon, too.
I just went back to winter camp at thirty-nine as the supposed adult, if you can believe that. In the spirit of Rainy Day Woman, I snowshoed back in time, remembering God's provision for a teenager scrambling to be at home somewhere.
Quiet for an anxious, trembling heart.
A little stability, a space to take a breath in belonging.
Some relief from a mad, mad world.
I went up the mountain.
Now, I do not recommend Jane's Addiction as a conduit for worshipping God, but Comin' Down the Mountain is a lyric of thanks for me. It's a memory of friendship born of music. Because remembrances are everywhere-especially in my ears. It's Wayne Everett singing while hanging out post-worship service, as we had a little band named the Prayer Chain that we'd recently begun following, as our musicians at winter camp. I know, don't hate. But that moment stands out as a symbol of God banding together a rag tag bunch of youngsters as a sort of family unit. At least that's what is was for me. Driving some awesome vehicles-Chinook, anyone- to rock shows every weekend and playing our own music (#truth- I only had a minuscule chickbackupsinger role-probably out of pity). It helped push back the tide of overwhelming loneliness that this then fifteen-year-old girl had been drowning under.
Those years were a life raft; they kept me afloat.
I couldn't have vocalized my squall of insecurity; my gawky demeanor of nerves, flitting around looking for calm.
But God is good and He knew.
And still does.
That year, I went up a mountain and came back down with some brothers and a sister for life (looking at you, Robyn).
And a new nickname.
And God has given me a heart for youth, because I remember.
With great affection I salute you, Sgt. Wormwood as I battle in the flesh against that bitter root that always wants to pop up-with remembering His grace in seemingly random playlists of Bob Dylan, Jane's Addiction, and the Prayer Chain. Going back last summer for a meet and greet with my Fab Four was not a simple act of fandom, it was overwhelming thanks to God for my future, because His hand held me in that past.
When the encourager becomes the knife-wielder,
How can I love you or I'm sorry ever leave these lips?
Doesn't a strip of duct tape come with violating the terms of agreement?
These hands that have stripped others raw,
How can they hold another's in distress?
That's a gift too precious to be entrusted to such as these.
There are so many question marks in your use of weak vessels, Lord.
In your use of this one. It would feel more appropriate to find a rock to hide under.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
You are that rock. Into my unending weakness, you pour your strength. You speak wisdom into my foolishness. You make sense of my fumbling words. You calm the racing, anxious heart. You clothe my ugliness; covered with the light of your righteousness. You tell me, "Walk child. I'm leading. Just walk." You endured all my knife wounds with love. Repaid evil with good. In your grace, you allow what should be refuse to be useful.
Strengthen what's been broken.
God, comfort those I cannot.