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