Wednesday, November 18, 2015


My friends,

How are you? Are you enjoying rainy days curled up by the fire place? Are you running around the workplace breathless and frantic? Are you chasing toddlers all over the house, or carting adolescents all over town? I hope you're well, whatever you're doing. And I hope next week's Thanksgiving holiday holds all sorts of rest and rejuvenation for you.

Many of you continue to pray for me and my health. Thank you. Little by little, my body is healing, although my healing process is still a two-steps-foward-one-step-backward dance. Some days are good, some are bad, and some are in-between. But I'm generally much better than I was a few months ago.

One of my doctors recently confirmed the presence of mykotoxins in my body (from mold exposure) so he's been systematically pulling those toxins out of me. It seems to be helping, and now I'm hovering around 30% of normal on my good days. We're still on the hunt for lyme disease as well as a few other hard-to-find potential culprits, so it could be awhile before we peel back all these layers of sickness. In the meantime, I'm thankful for continued healing. 

The Lord has also been doing some pretty significant renovations in my soul this fall. I had a feeling he would, now that I've had some physical and mental space to process the last year's events. For me, the season of healing after an intense bout of illness is always full of fear, anxiety, questions, and spiritual wrestling. I'm learning that these are the best moments to invite the Spirit of God to continue the good work he started when I gave my life to him, so many years ago.

As I anticipated this inner renovation, I'd hoped God could do some minor, feel-good work in me. I'm plumb tuckered out and am not feeling particularly up for a big renovation. So I thought perhaps he could hang new drapes in the library or freshen up the living room with some paint. But in typical God fashion, he did things a little differently than I would have. Instead of getting out his paint brush, he grabbed his demolition bar and started tearing down old walls, installing new windows, closing old doors, and opening new ones. My insides have been buzzing with unexpectedly loud construction noise, and I've spent much of my free time trying to make sense of all the chaos.

When it became clear that the fall would be full of internal construction, I asked God to give me breaks from the noise by filling my fall with unexpected gifts. Last fall I asked God for the same thing, although for different reasons, and he answered by giving me opportunities to go on several trips to beautiful places with people I love.

I'd hoped for a similar sort of fall this year, but I knew I wouldn't have stamina to take regular weekend trips, so I waited and wondered what God would come up with this time around. And oh, you guys, he's been so gracious to me. This has been the fall of connecting with old friends. I haven't tried to make it a season of reunions — I'd never have thought it would be possible to fill my fall with so many old friends; but God has graciously orchestrated unexpected reconnection after reconnection.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my time with my college friends, A and J and their baby, H. I've been in regular contact with them over the years, but since they live out in the desert, I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. This fall, though, I've seen them so much. It's such a treat.

And then, a few weeks ago, I flew up to my folks house in Washington for a long weekend. While I was there, my childhood friend, E, drove down from central Washington, and she, her sister, my sister, and I had a slumber party at my folks. The four of us have been dear friends for almost three decades, but it's not often that we're all together. Life keeps us busy in our different corners of the west coast. It's glorious when we can reunite.

Circa 2012

When we were kids, the four of us loved to dress up. We donned tangled wigs, zany glasses, and filmy dresses with sweeping trains. We wore satin shoes two sizes too big, and we carried beaded vintage purses. Sometimes we pulled our roller blades on and zipped around the neighborhood in our get-up; other times we slipped out the back door and over to our elderly neighbors' house to show her our costumes. We were always a sight to behold.

Our slumber party last month fell on Halloween. Naturally, we pulled out the old dress-up clothes and got to work fashioning costumes fit for our little kid selves. My sister moonlights as a make-up artist these days, so she lugged over her professional make-up kit and put the finishing touches on our looks.

She was a snow queen with pale, shimmering skin.

E was a black widow, complete with spindly spider legs.

Her costume wins the award for Most Innovative. You'd never know it, but she made her spider legs with an old stuffed horse. The horse had gangly black legs so she cut off the horse head and attached the legs to her back. But then she was left with a tricky question: whatever should she do with the leftover horse head? Everyone knows you can't just throw away a perfectly good horse head.

After a few minutes of pondering, E and her sister, A, had a brilliant idea: they'd mount the head to a stick and A would use it for her farmer costume!

I dressed up as one of my favorite things of all time: a fairy.

I wore my grandma's old dressing gown and a pair of Cinderella heels from my childhood, which were approximately three sizes too small.

Rocking my Cinderella's stepsister vibe

My sister gave me jewels to glue all over my face, which made me feel all sorts of magical. I tried to get a Pinterest-worthy photo of all our sparkly artwork, but this washed out photo was all I managed to snap.

My parents' church hosts an annual Harvest Carnival, and since my parents had dressed up and gone to the carnival, we gals decided to stop by and say hello.

It was fun to see folks from church, but since it was a rainy, blustery night, we were keen to return home to make chili and curl up by the fire.

The chili was some of the most magical I've had.

The next day, we enjoyed a window of dry weather, so we romped over dewy hills and through dappled glens.

Oh these girls. I love love love them.

Two weeks ago, an old track buddy, Pip, came into town and took me out to dinner.

We curled up in a corner booth at the Mexican restaurant down the street and talked about our track days, caught up on our present day lives, and had some deep belly laughs. It was just the most delightful mid-week treat.

Circa 2005ish

Circa two weeks ago

And then, last week, my college roommate drove down from northern California to spend the weekend with me.

Fall has finally arrived in southern California, so the air is clean and crisp and the warmth is dry. It's the perfect weather for a trip to the beach.

The tide pools were teeming with flashy fish last weekend

We spent lots of the weekend adventuring together, but we also spent as much time as we could curled up in front of the fire with bowls of homemade soup. And of course, we stayed up late into the night playing the piano and singing together. Rachel is an amazingly talented vocalist, and since I am an amazingly untalented vocalist, I prefer to do the quiet harmonies when we sing together. Sometimes, though, she convinces me to sing the melody while she sings the harmony, and then my soul swells from how creative her harmonies are.

And finally — at least for now — a college friend who lives in Singapore is in town this week and took me out to dinner a few nights ago. He is a talented, thoughtful, hard-working, and creative entrepreneur who has been faithful to pray for me and encourage me over the years. It was great to re-connect.

Also, he gave me this head massager and IT IS THE BEST TOOL OF LIFE.

Oh sweet heavens, if you're looking for a good stocking stuffer for your loved ones, this is the ticket, folks.

Happy Wednesday, my friends. I'm praying this week would hold good things for you.

Cheering for you, Home Skillets.


© by scj

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Florida: the day after the wedding

I'm in Washington for the weekend and I've just asked my dad if starting projects, leaving them unfinished, and then returning to them months later is a Jackson trait. He said he thinks it's a human trait. And so, in typical human fashion, I am finally blogging some of the photos from our family's trip to Florida back in September.

After my baby brother done got hitched over labor day weekend, the rest of the Jackson clan merged travel plans with our old family friends, the Longs, and partied like it was 2003. Or 1999. Or 1995. Or 1989. We have known the Longs since we kids were wide-eyed, rolly polly little tykes. We've homeschooled, churched, played, hiked, carpentered, gardened, video gamed, pizza partied, and world traveled together as long as we've known each other. It was only natural to turn Marc's wedding into a Jackson/Long vacation. Our only regret was that our dear friends the D's couldn't join us.

The ever-growing Jackson/Long Crew, minus Marc and Jaime

Jake, the oldest of the Long kids, is a year younger than I. He and his wife, Kristin, are the first of our clan to have kids. Their daughter, Lucy, is an 18-month-old bundle of sweetness and spunk, and we absolutely delight in her. We spent the first few hours of our vacation gathered around her in a circle of adoration while she tried on sunglasses, played with stuffed animals, and did the stanky leg. There was also some nae nae-ing. And some whipping. Little Lucy is a daaaaancing machine.

The second of our clan to have kids is Simon, the third eldest in the Long family. He and his wife, Taylor, got married a few years back and then went and had the cutest little blue-eyed baby you've ever seen. Her name is Joanna but we call her Jo.

Our Florida trip was the first time our families have gathered from across the continent since the babies were born, so we adjusted our normal partying style. Normally, we sit around and eat cheap pizza while listening to spoken word poetry recitations, wrestling, solving the world's problems, and taping our noses up. We ALWAYS tape our noses up.

Our annual nose taping, circa 2012ish

In Florida, however, we were too busy playing with the babies to even consider pulling out the tape. No doubt some of the in-laws breathed a covert sigh of relief. 

 The first day of vacation a number of people from the wedding party and guest list partied with us. These are people with whom we've also traversed the years. It was so much fun having so many good friends squished under the same roof.

The whoooole crew

We spent a lot of our time outside chatting...

...and inside adoring the babies some more.

At one point the men got up and made us dinner,

 which was absolutely, 100% fine with us gals.

We managed to visit Florida smack dab in the middle of monsoon season, so the sky dumped buckets of water off and on throughout each day, but that didn't keep us from spending much of our time in the pool. When we tired of plain old swimming, we devised a rather complex game in which we had to toss a ball around the pool from person to person whilst jumping, spinning, etc. Dirk held Lucy's zebra inner tube at the far end of the pool, into which we had to eventually throw the ball. It was much tougher than we thought it would be to get the ball through our human circuit and into the hoop. We attempted it about 25 times, rotating people to different stations along the way, before we FINALLY Pam, the matriarch of the Long clan, captured our winning effort on camera, along with 200 other photos of every failed attempt.

For our winning attempt, Natasha (my brother Aaron's wife) threw  the ball to Brittany right as she jumped into the pool.

 Brittany (Dirk Long's wife) caught the ball and threw it to Jake...
...who caught it mid jump.
 Jake threw the ball to his sister, Jena...

...who threw the ball to the zebra hoop.
 My sister Rebecca and I were present near the hoop in case Jena's throw wasn't perfect.

Fortunately, it was perfect. Jena shot and SHE SCORED and the ball ended up snugly in Dirk's zebra hoop. 

Sweet, sweet victory.

For our second day of vacay we climbed out of the pool, packed up the babies, and headed to the beach. I hope to blog about our beach day soon. And by soon I mean sometime before January 2016.

Happy Saturday, home skillets.


© by scj