Thursday, March 27, 2014

Santa Bah-bah-ra Town

This is my friend Laura celebrating her 31st birthday last weekend:

Let me tell you a story about Laura.

Three years ago, a month before I was supposed to get married, I was suddenly without a place to live as a result of canceling my wedding and subsequent plans to live with a husband. I was devastated, numb, and sicker than words can say but desperate for a place to live, so I plowed through the search process.

The week I scoured the internet for housing, Laura and her roommates advertised their open, ready-to-rent room. I contacted Laura, met her, and really liked her, but realized soon after that I was sick too sick to live with roommates. I needed the silence of solitude.

A year later I was still sick and desperately lonely. It is hard to make friends in a new town when you can hardly leave your house. So I decided I'd muster up every last ounce of energy to go out with friends once a month. But how in tarnation I was supposed to make friends to go out with when I was too sick to go out more than once a month was beyond me.

So I begged God to give me friends. I pointed him to pictures I'd stumbled upon on Facebook of single Christians having fun together, and asked God if I could please please please meet these people.  

The days slipped by, my prayers piled up and no friends magically showed up at my door.

One day my begging turned to ragged sobs. "God," I cried, "you have to bring me friends. You just have to."

A few hours later, I forced myself out of bed to go teach one of my two mornings at Biola, and I ran into Laura. "Hey, we know each other!" she said. We chatted, and then she invited me to her house the next day to watch Anne of Green Gables with some other girls. I think I may have cried right then and there.

From then on, Laura included me. She introduced me to her friends and invited me to events. And when I had to turn her down most of the time because of my illness, she didn't forget about me like most people do. She remembered, and reached out, until years later, I had a community — the same single Christians I'd seen in the pictures on Facebook.

Laura is special. She is an others-centered includer and her friendship has changed my life. I'm so thankful for her, and am glad God's given her 31 years of gracing his green earth.

To celebrate Laura's birthday, a small group of us girls went to Santa Barbara for the day. It was a glorious day full of sea breezes, cascading bougainvillea, and rolling hills.

Our first stop was downtown Santa Barbara, where we wandered through the Mediterranean-style buildings people-watching and taking pictures.

After we'd whet our appetites for street musicians, shopping, and people-watching, we walked to the pier. It was a very silvery scene:

Silvery sky...

...and silvery sea. Can you see the silvery tide racing across the sky trying to beat the ocean's tide to the sand in the picture below?

If I were a rock n' roll star, this would be my signature move:

After we'd taken jumping pictures to our hearts' content, we drove up out of the clouds and into the sunny hills to go wine tasting. The winery was beautiful. I felt as if I'd been transported to France.

Side note: Once, when driving through France with my family, we stopped in the middle of the night at a truck stop so my dad, who was driving, could take a nap. The car was so full of luggage that there was no room for any sort of lounging, so my brother and I hopped out of the car and slept on the sidewalk in front of the bathrooms. It was the best night of sleep I got on the road, and remains one of my favorite memories of France.

Our goal was to beat the sun to the beach after wine tasting so we could have a sunset picnic, so when the sun began to sink we raced back down the hill to the sand where we enjoyed a quiet dinner.

On the way home later that night, I marveled that my body had made it through the day. I'd hesitated to RSVP to the outing because I didn't know if my body would be able to handle the festivities of an all-day affair, but I've felt so healthy the last several weeks that I decided to take the risk and go. And I made it without relapsing during or afterwards. It's a crazy thing, this healthy feeling. I'm not clinging to it or counting on it lasting, but just enjoying the right now that feels so good. I love it.

My health and this birthday trip: they were the perfect way to kickstart spring.

© by scj


  1. How beautiful to be relentlessly pursued by a friend. Everyone needs a Laura!

    1. Everyone does need a Laura, Julianna! There are few things in the world better than being relentlessly pursued....