Archive for October, 2016

Project 52 – 19 and Joyfully Silly

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 19!


19 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, since a year has 52 weeks, I decided to post each week for the next year about one year of my life. I’m having a lot of fun remembering and thinking about where God has brought me.

When I thought about writing this post, what looms large is this is the year I met my ex-husband, Steve Eklund. I was telling some work friends that this was coming up, so I was thinking a lot about it. They asked why I would do this. So let me give some reasons. Here are some things that come to mind:

1) We were SO YOUNG when we met!

2) I really did spend a lot of my life with Steve.

3) I said all along, all during the divorce process, that Steve was a very good husband for a very long time. THIS IS TRUE!

4) Remembering the happy times is a way to reclaim those years. Yet I’ve come far enough in the healing process that on the one hand I can remember the happy times, but on the other hand I don’t want to remarry Steve again.

5) But I am very thankful for the happy times. And they lasted a long time.

6) This is *my* story. There’s something valuable about telling my story. Steve was part of that story for many years, and I’m not going to throw away those years or that part of my story just because the marriage ended badly.

7) Have I mentioned how much fun I’m having doing Project 52? I’m hoping this is a transition time in my life. (Hoping, because I would like, some day, to marry again, and that would start a new phase.) And it strikes me now that the year I was 19 was a similar time in my life to the time I’m going through now, at 52.

I didn’t really meet Steve (to talk to) until the end of the year. So my junior year at Biola was the one year I was a teenager and didn’t have a crush on anyone.

That summer, I lived back at my parents’ house and worked full time at Biola University Data Systems as a programmer. I didn’t commute with Becky, because she was married. But the summer before, Becky and I had moved out into one half of the duplex behind my parents’ house. They finally decided that they needed to let the little kids have those bedrooms! We’d had renters in the duplex for years, but the summer of 1982, they finally had Rick move to one side and Becky and me to the other. Then I moved into the dorm and Becky got married — but that summer before my junior year I lived in the duplex — and that was the very last time I lived at my parents’ house in Wilmington.

And my Dad got me, cheap, a 1969 Fiat Spider convertible! It was bright green, and it made me happy to live in Southern California! Almost every day I could drive with the top down. Driving in to work was a whole lot of fun with that car — which I only had for 6 months. (More on that…)

That summer, Becky started working at Data Systems as a data entry operator, so we often had lunch together.

I also went backpacking with the college group at church. I especially had fun with Marian and Jill on that trip.

Here’s the group:


And here I’m having a meal with Jill and Lance and college pastor John Shumate:


That summer, having lunches with Becky, was when we started the S.I.K. Club with sisters Jill and Gina Mammano, who were also around Biola that summer. I won’t reveal what S.I.K. stands for except to say that it was about embracing silliness and living life with joy.

We felt sorry for August, because it doesn’t have any holidays — so we made our own August Silly Holidays Calendar and thought up ways to celebrate them. We had days like August Sillies’ Day (instead of April Fool’s Day) and Hog’s Day (instead of Ground Hog Day) and Narnian Independence Day and Footloose and Fancy Free Day.

That was about the time I developed the Sparkle Theory. My Sparkle Theory goes something like this: Every human being desperately needs Sparkles. An easy way to find those sparkles, for girls, is to find them by thinking about some guy. When there’s not a guy in your life (Remember, this was my one year without a crush on anyone.), you need to consciously look for Sparkles.

And I’ll confess, I was trying to keep myself from imagining something where there didn’t really need to be anything. I did go on quite a lot of dates that year. Usually not with the same guy twice, though.

But that summer, we ate lunches fairly often with a guy named Dane who was my year at Biola and worked as an Electrician. I was somewhat tempted to let myself get a crush on him. We were good friends, and Dane later took me on two or three dates. The ones I remember were an outing playing Disc Golf at La Mirada Park and a trip to Magic Mountain. The trip to Magic Mountain was fun! And the physical proximity of going on rides did turn my head.

But — Dane was taking other girls on dates as well. And I can’t complain. We girls at Biola were old-fashioned enough not to ask guys out ourselves. And we’d complain that we wanted guys to ask us out. So Dane, at least, was doing that. In practice? Well, looking back, I remember my friendship with Dane fondly — and those dates. (And I’m not sure there wasn’t another date or two that I don’t remember!)

One of the most clever times I’ve been asked out was when somebody got on the mainframe computer when I was at work and sent me messages from an unidentified person — and asked me out. It was a math major a year ahead of me, Mark Debonis, and he asked me to go to a movie with him.

The movie was Yentl, about a highly intelligent woman not being feminine enough to attract her best friend, a man she loves deeply and truly. (Ouch!) And — also at the movie on a weeknight in a practically empty theater was Dane and another girl. Okay. (Good thing I didn’t really have a crush on him. But it sure distracted me from my date with Mark.)

But I’m getting out of sequence! The year started, of course, with Chorale activities like the yearly trip to Yosemite.


Here’s a picture from the annual bike ride in Yosemite Valley:


That year, my roommate was Coral Nightingale, a nursing major from Florence, Oregon. We lived in Sigma Chi dorm on the third floor. I found it was really fun to blow bubbles out the window of my dorm room and duck if anyone came by to notice them. (Bubbles really dance around if you blow them from the third floor. Hmm. I should try that from my balcony some day.)

Coral had a boyfriend, Jo Suzuki (whom she later married), so she didn’t mind that I was busy with work and Chorale folks. That year, I started getting to know my fellow math majors better — mostly guys — and started mostly eating my meals in the cafeteria with them.

It was when Coral was my roommate that I looked in her nursing books and realized that the headaches I’d had most of my life were migraines. I was taking a lot of Excedrin at that time, though it usually did the trick.

I started taking upper division math classes that year. Those were mainly only offered every two years — so most of the Senior math majors were in the classes with us Juniors. I took two of my favorites, Probability and Statistics, that year.

Another class that sticks in my mind was Creative Writing. My friend from commuter lounge days and fellow S.I.K., Jill Mammano, was in that class. The teacher, Doc Saunders, encouraged us to think about getting published. I’m still thinking about it! (And have taken steps toward it. And have gotten short pieces published.)

I remember that early on they asked us to write a short piece about an emotional experience. I wrote about the joy of driving my convertible. I’d named my little Fiat “Ebenezer,” which means, “Stone of Help,” from the verse in I Samuel, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped.” It was my reminder of God’s love and how far He had brought me.

The teacher had me read it aloud and remarked that I was the only person in the class who wrote about a positive emotional experience.

[I mentioned that there are parallels between that year and my life now? Well, the S.I.K.s really focused on Joy and finding Sparkles. And now my small group is going through a study on Joy. I do think that Joy is excellent for getting you through a time of singleness.]

But about that car. I think it was in December that I was driving to my parents’ house. I was on Eubank Avenue, waiting to cross Pacific Coast Highway, just before Banning Park. A truck was having trouble making the turn ahead of me, and used up almost the entire green light. It turned yellow before I even got to go — but I was tired of waiting, so I went through.

It’s a long intersection. PCH has six lanes at that point. Most of the cars did wait for me to cross the intersection. But somebody was driving in the right lane — the furthest lane from me as I went across the intersection. That car didn’t see me crossing the intersection, because the cars that were waiting for me blocked his view. My convertible was a very small car. (That was part of what I loved about it. It fit me!) But the cars that were waiting for me were all bigger — the guy driving in the right lane surely didn’t see me. And he hit my car at the front right corner. And then we sort of bounced and he hit the back right corner as well.



Sigh. I felt terrible for going through the yellow, so said it was my fault at the scene. (Don’t do that! Oh well.)

I felt fine at the scene. But my car didn’t have a shoulder belt, only a lap belt. I hit that belt so hard, the skin was broken under my pants. My sunglasses flew to the right corner of the car.

The next day when I woke up — I felt AWFUL. I don’t know how my feet and legs and arms got bruised, but they did. (Hit the pedals? The steering wheel?) I went to the health clinic and they told me to see a doctor, but I never did work that out.

That Saturday (a couple days later) was the big Putnam Exam — a math test competition all math majors took. And I was leaving the test early to audition for the Wizard of Oz. Well, I didn’t get the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I could hardly move, let alone dance. I think I did get the highest score on the math test (since Mark Shimozono had graduated). But I mostly remember riding to a pizza place in Dr. Thurber’s car that evening — and thinking he was starting and stopping horribly abruptly — because every little stress on my neck hurt.

So anyway, I was back to getting rides from friends. But it was fun while it lasted.

Chorale Tour that year was to Arizona. I hiked around the rim of the Grand Canyon with some others.


Notable in that picture is Sam Powell, standing at the back. Sam had been my assigned dancing partner for Third Half, the “variety show” the Chorale did every year. I wasn’t thrilled by the assignment — Sam seemed pretty odd. But as I got to know him, I discovered he’s actually a really intelligent and thoughtful person with a quirky sense of humor. Sam was in my West & the World class as well. And Sam had a roommate named Steve Eklund, who was also a year behind me and new in Chorale that year.

I think I first noticed Steve on Chorale Tour to Arizona, because Steve was from Arizona. (Well, really from upstate New York, but he’d lived in Arizona since high school.) We had a free day at the Grand Canyon — and Steve spent it hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back. I was slightly envious. I also remember Heidi Ridenour telling me she’d had a good talk with Steve. She said that he doesn’t talk much, but when he does, he has good things to say. I took note.

And I said that I went on more dates that year? I remember because of this picture that I went to Spring Banquet with Curt Schoellerman, a math major who was a year ahead of me.


Curt had been engaged most of the time I’d known him, but the engagement had recently been broken off. Which was awkward for me. Curt was super nice — I thought of him as too nice, which doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, it was nice to have a nice date to Spring Banquet.

And then the big event of the end of the year was when I got the President’s Award. It’s a full-tuition scholarship offered to one Senior. They interviewed some of us in the running for it, so I knew I was being considered.

I remember that the Sunday before the announcement, we had a Chorale concert and I talked with Steve Eklund some, but I was very distracted, thinking about the announcement the next day. He even called me pulchritudinous, and I thought I knew what it meant — but took it as an insult instead of a compliment. Oops!

The next day, the class before chapel (when they would announce), I was jumping out of my skin. Anyway, they announced that I’d won.

A couple days later, there was some sort of banquet for alumni, and the Chorale was singing, so they made an official announcement and invited my parents and took pictures. In this picture is Biola President Dr. Clyde Cook. (The one at the top of the page includes Biola Chorale director Loren Wiebe.)


It was about that time of year (the very last month of school) that I started getting to know Steve. He and Sam and I were all “non-Europe” people. The Chorale was going on tour to Europe after school let out, but some of us couldn’t quite bring ourselves to ask our parents to let us go. (I may have asked and gotten a No.) Anyway, Mr. Wiebe dismissed the Non-Europe people early, so I’d have lunch with Sam and Steve and a few others on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

And May 17, my dorm was having an Open House. I invited Steve to come, and told him we’d be reading from Winnie-the-Pooh.

Steve came and Sam came. Steve brought a couple of friends from band, Ann and Len. And we read from Winnie-the-Pooh. And when they left, I realized that I had just fallen for Steve Eklund. (What can I say? He does a really great Eeyore voice.)

Now, Steve had brought a girl (and a guy) to my Open House. (Don’t do that when a girl invites you to her open house.) My radar told me she liked him. But she and I never did really hit it off. (And remember: I had a history of guys I liked liking someone else better.)

That was May 17, 1984. The next week was Finals Week. I’d finished a Final exam on Thursday and came across Steve and Ann and a few others hanging out in front of the music building. (Steve was a music major and much more enthusiastic about band than he was about Chorale. That was the only year he was in Chorale.)

Steve had a postcard from his sister. I think it was a picture of her graduating. He said, “I bet you can’t guess what school this is. I’ll buy you lunch if you do — either one of you.” (Speaking to Ann and me.)

Well, that was silly — I had no idea what school it was. So he said “I’ll give you three yes-or-no questions.”

We established that it was a Christian college on the East Coast, but I didn’t actually know of any such schools. Then Nate Lewis (from the Chorale) walked up to us and saw the post card and said, “Oh that’s Gordon College! My sister went there.”

So I immediately asked my third Yes-or-no question, “Is it Gordon College?” (This was fair. I mean, Ann could have asked the same question. I was quickest.)

Steve wasn’t terribly gracious about me getting it right, given my dubious method. He said he’d show my meal ticket at the cafeteria. But when we got to the cafeteria line, he had left his own meal ticket in his room. By the time he got back, we were already in the cafeteria.

So — we made a date for him to take me to lunch the next day, May 24, 1984.

When it came up, his car was in the shop, so we walked to the Mongolian Barbecue, up next to La Mirada Park.

And had a wonderful time.

That night, as it happened, I had a dinner date with Curt to Bobby McGees. That was a super nice (and expensive) place, where the waiters dress up as characters. And the whole time, I was thinking about what a good time I’d had at lunch with Steve.

I decided it’s not very nice to your date to spend it thinking about someone else, and that you really shouldn’t go out with two different guys on the same day.

And then the school year ended, and I wasn’t going to see Steve again for awhile. Would he answer letters….?

And that year my sister Becky graduated:


And so did the Math Brothers who were a year ahead of me. This one’s of Mark (not a math major), Travis, Mark, and Nathan:


And this one’s of Curt, Dale, Dr. Thurber, and Jim:


Did I mention how much I enjoyed being one of only a few women in my classes? It may have messed things up a little that I mostly got higher grades than they did, but my Math Brothers meant a whole lot to me. (And the ones pictured were just the Seniors. I still had some good friends left in my year.)

So… I’d had a footloose and fancy-free junior year, and then let my heart get snagged right at the end of the year. Alas, but my junior year was also my last year in Chorale. The following year, they’d scheduled an important upper division math class right during Chorale. For the summer, I arranged to share a room in a house on Biola Avenue. So my days of living in my parents’ house were over.

I was ready to leave my teens behind.

Project 52 – 18 and Living in the Dorm

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 18


18 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to post each week this year about one year of my life. I’m doing this for myself — reflecting my life and writing my story, giving each year one week to ponder over it.

This year we’re covering the year I was 18, from June 1982 to June 1983. I’ve been thinking about the year I was 18 for more than a week. How to summarize that year? Well, it was an emotional year — both very good emotions and very bad ones. And in the lowest times, God helped me through.

One thing that makes me extra nostalgic for that year is that the two people I spent the most time with that year (and only that year — they both left Biola the following year) have since passed away. My roommate Colleen Jenks died of a brain tumor on March 18, 1998. And just a few years ago I was pointed to an online obituary of my friend Bob Guentherman.

But back to that year. That summer was when I *finally* got my driver’s license. And June 1, 1982, I started working at Biola University Data Systems as a Student Programmer — doing computer programming for the university — programs for financial aid, class registration, car registration, chapel attendance, and the like.

The first month I worked there, my boss Sue Danielson was on vacation in Europe, so I spent most of my time reading manuals. But once she got back, the work began. I did love programming, and I was good at it. Figuring out puzzles of how to do what needs to be done given the language constraints is always fun. I continued to work there the rest of my years at Biola. When I started, it was going over COBOL programs, but before long we got Cognos products, Quiz and Quick and built reports and data entry screens with those.

I did make lasting friendships. Colin MacDougall was the other student programmer when I started, and after he graduated the others I worked with were Carolyn Rosscup, Tom Caylor, and Dave Young. My bosses Sue Danielson and John Veale were mentors to me as a college student.

I was still active in my church, now part of the college group. I went on a backpacking trip in the Sierras. I’m not sure if that year was the trip with Bob Sprague leading or if it was the year John Shumate led the trip and we watched a meteor shower out on a stargazing rock in the middle of the Sierras — but both years were wonderful experiences. And the only times I’ve gone backpacking in my life. But I did love it! (Though I pretty much decided I prefer day hikes — and drive to a place where you can see stars.)

And I moved on campus! Colleen Jenks and I were roommates. (Pronounced CO-Leen)


I’d had Intro to Computer Science with Colleen the year before, but since then she’d switched from being a math major to an English major. I knew Colleen was a kindred spirit from the time during Freshman year when she had let me rest in her dorm room and I saw Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf. Colleen was full of fun and a complete prankster at heart.

Here’s a picture of us late at night in our PJs in front of the library:


She was not, however, a Morning Person.


Colleen actually would let me play records and sing to music in the morning while I curled my hair — while she was still asleep! So I should never ever tease her about how she was able to still sleep while I was doing that. But, well, I still think the picture’s funny.

Once when she was sleeping, she said something to me in her sleep. I didn’t understand what she said, so I asked, “Pardon?” She clearly didn’t understand. She sat bolt upright and said, “PARDON?!?”

This, though, is just Colleen studying:


Now, at the end of my Freshman year, if you remember, I’d gotten quite a crush on Dan Daniels. He knew about that and didn’t return my feelings, though we wrote each other some during the summer. (That was the year I went backpacking with Bob Sprague’s group. I remember now that I wrote to him about the waterfall we saw when I went backpacking.)

I moved on campus early during Orientation week, and Colleen wasn’t there yet. But Dan Daniels had moved in. And he had a car. That first night, he drove me to dinner along with two friends of his. One was a friend he knew from Texas — Bob Guentherman, a transfer student a couple years older than me. The other was some guy I never saw again.

I think it was the second night I was on campus (during the day I was probably at work), Dan took me and my friend Debby Scott to the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles — just to walk around and to ride the glass elevators.

And there before my eyes I watched him fall for Debby. Not long after that, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Okay, that was hard. In no sense did Debby “steal” him from me. He already hadn’t fallen for me. It just happened. And I liked Debby. Remember that I was only 17 when I met Dan and looked 13. Debby seemed more beautiful and more girlfriend material. It felt like Dan made the right choice. And that was what was hard about it.

But meanwhile, guess who turned up in Chorale on the first day we met that year — Bob Guentherman! I was pleased to see him, and he seemed pleased to see me. I do remember that when we went to A & Vs Pizza, as we did every year at the start of the year, I was assigned to Bob’s car to drive over and felt very lucky.

For once, I didn’t fall for him over one exciting conversation. But it wasn’t long before my crush on Dan had been replaced by a crush on Bob. And a very good friendship with him, I must add. I ate a lot of meals in the cafeteria with him and his friend (my friend, too) Mark May, who was also new in Chorale that year.

Chorale did our traditional trip to Yosemite.


On the way to Yosemite that year, I got the people in the car I was riding in to read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud together, with each person taking a different character’s voice. Lots of fun! That was also about the time I first read A Wrinkle in Time, on Dan Daniels’ recommendation.

The Yosemite trip always finished up with a Communion service by the river.


So another great year began. I was working in Data Systems. I was in Chorale. I was living on campus.

I used to get a ride with Karla Waldahl, who lived in La Mirada, to church on Sundays and visit my family, then get a ride back home. I did decide that first year living in the dorm that I would live in my own home, thank you very much. So I never called my parents’ house “home” any more. When I went back to the dorm, then I was going home.

Oh! And another baby was born to our family in November. I remember singing Chorale songs about the newborn Jesus and thinking it was extra moving to sing those when there was a newborn in my life.

Marcy was Number 12, but I never did live with her. (That next summer being the only exception.)

Here are some pictures from Christmas at my parents’ house:


And Baby Marcy, about 6 weeks old:


Abby opening a gift:


Then, in January, I was in two weddings. First on January 4, Ruth got married to her high school sweetheart John Bridges.


Then on January 15, I was maid of honor when my sister Becky married Dave Friese.

Here are the bridesmaids:


Here’s the wedding party:


And here are my Grandma and Grandpa Bates with ALL of their grandkids — at least all the ones who had been born yet:


Biola takes the whole month of January off classes (during which time I worked full-time), but that year I was pretty busy with weddings, too.

And my friendship with Bob was still growing. I think he was around during Interterm in January. I still lived on campus that month. Somewhere along the way, Bob and I started meeting every night at 9:00 and going for a walk. Now that I think about it, we probably did it all during Interterm when neither of us had much homework.

We’d usually go across the street to La Mirada Park and walk around. As a girl, I couldn’t wander around at night — so it was nice to have a guy along.

When we first set it up, I thought for a bit that it meant I was getting a boyfriend. Well, that didn’t happen. But I *did* have a friend, and I enjoyed those walks and talks tremendously — and liked Bob more and more as we continued to do them.

Well, some time, probably early in second semester, Bob said it was time to stop. He said “nothing was happening” between us. So we were on very different wave lengths. I was falling for him harder and harder. But he didn’t feel that way about me.

And then he fell for Debby Scott.

When Bob and I started walking every night at 9:00, Debby and Dan were still dating. Well, they broke up. And then Bob and Debby got together. Bob was a lot nicer about it than Dan had been. And I am quite sure it happened after we had stopped meeting every night.

Again, I in no way, shape, or form blamed Debby for this. It just happened.

But WOW! It hurt!

Looking at it now — Three of my very best friends were already married. (I should add that they were all a year older than me.) And I’d never even had a boyfriend. And I had this friend I was crazy about who was spending time with me every night — and then he goes and falls for the same friend that my earlier crush fell for. The same beautiful, funny, clever, lovely person with the gorgeous voice. OUCH!

(And I’m still friends with Debby. She’s a wonderful, vibrant person with a sparkle in her eyes.)

However, I was taking a Psalms class with Dr. Ed Curtis. I was also memorizing the Psalms and having my quiet times in Psalms. And right around the time that Bob and Debby started dating, we covered Psalms 73 in class — and it was God’s word to me.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Yes, God helped me through that time — and laid the foundation for me to remember to turn to Him when I went through much deeper heartbreak years later.

God is faithful.

And the year finished off with Chorale Tour to the East Coast!

We started in Boston:


Here’s Dave Kennedy with a statue:


Then we went to New York. This is from the boat to the Statue of Liberty:



And here are my dear friends Bob and Mark with the Twin Towers behind them:


After that, we drove down to North Carolina. Now, my dear friend Kathe was living with her husband Joe in North Carolina at that time. We made a plan that she was going to come to our concert there, and then I would stay overnight with her. She would drive me up to Washington, DC, where the Chorale had a free day, and then I would join the Chorale again.

Well, on the day Kathe was going to drive to the concert to meet us — her car broke down.

It was another huge disappointment. I was crying in the bus the next day. And didn’t get much sympathy. It seemed such a stupid meaningless reason to not get to see my dear friend.

But — we were singing about trusting God and how Jesus is Lord. During the concert, I was deciding — would I get mad at God over this, or would I trust that He had a plan, that this didn’t sneak past Him. And, singing the songs, it’s pretty hard not to realize that I can trust Him.

So I was with the Chorale in North Carolina:


And in Williamsburg (Little did I know how often I would come here years later!):


And then we got to Washington, DC. Here’s the whole group singing “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I’m in the second row, sixth from the left.


In those days, you could walk around the Capitol:


Here’s Becky Geringer and Bill McIntosh:


And Bob (from Texas) at the Texas statue:


But best of all was that Kathe was able to meet me in DC — and I spent the rest of the day with her!

Here we are at the US Botanical Garden:


That was the very first time I visited the Botanical Gardens. It was Kathe’s idea. Just a couple weeks ago, I took my sister Becky there, and have been there with other friends, too. Kathe started it, in 1983.

And here I am on the plane back with my dear friends Elizabeth Daniels and Debbie Olson.


And when we got back, Bob broke up with Debby, who had not been able to go on the trip.

And after the year ended, Colleen transferred to Oregon State University. And Bob also switched schools. I only saw Bob one more time — He came at the start of the year the following year to withdraw.

I wrote to Bob many, many times over the years, and he never once wrote back. He had given me fair warning. When I first met him, he was surprised that Dan made the effort to look him up. Bob said that he just lets old friendships go. I said that I don’t do that at *all* — that I still have kept my best friends from third grade. So I guess I didn’t really listen to him saying he *didn’t* do that. I tried many times to get something from him — even one last time when Colleen died, because they were both from that same year of my life — but nothing.

And it turned out that Bob was gay. I figured that out somewhere along the way. I believe that was essentially why he broke up with Debby. And it is very likely why he was so able to resist my charms even when we went for walks every night!

I was sad that he never told me so. But to be fair, I was a young idealistic and Pharisaical evangelical — and when I realized Bob was gay, I thought it was a tragedy.

Still, somewhere years down the road, when my perspective had drastically and completely changed, it would have meant a lot to talk about it. Some day in heaven I’m going to spot my friend and tell him I’m so happy he got to have a 26-year relationship with his partner and sing in a choir and have a great life. And his friendship with me did brighten that year of my life. I look back at it with much more happiness than anguish.

Colleen and I did write letters. Often! And she and her parents came and visited me in Illinois a few months before I moved to Germany. It was after her first bout with cancer and before the bout that killed her. Colleen went on to become an English teacher at a high school — and she was a Fabulous one!

Whew! That was my Sophomore year at Biola University, the year I was 18. The year I learned about heartbreak, but that God really would take me through it. That was a lesson that would help years later.

Project 52 – Seventeen Going on Thirteen!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 17!


17 Weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life. I’m having lots of fun remembering and reflecting on where I’ve been — laying out one year each week.

It’s fun to give each year equal weight. As I’ve lived them, it seems like each year gets shorter!

I realized after I posted last week that I forgot to mention that the 11th child in our family, Robert, was born September 18, 1980 — at the beginning of my Senior year. I’m not sure all that this forgetting signifies. Maybe I was starting to be less excited about my Mom having kids so often? It also may not be a coincidence that there are no pictures of me during my Senior year of high school in our family photo album. But a new baby was born that year.

Anyway, there also weren’t many pictures of me taken my Freshman year of college. The summer before college, I did work at McDonalds, walking distance from our house, walking down the street and through the park. I still did not get my driver’s license that year, believe it or not.

I went to Biola University — the same place my older brother and sister went. I had played with ideas of applying to Cal Tech or Point Loma or Seattle Pacific College or somewhere on the East Coast. But when it came down to it, I applied to Biola and I lived at home.

None of my friends from Brethren went to Biola. Darlene and Jennifer went to Point Loma. (Though Darlene went to my church when she was in the area.) I think Ruth already got her own flower shop that year. Some friends did go to local schools like Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

I did have Rick and Becky at Biola, and Becky’s friend Jeryl, and even T.C.G.I.H.A.C.O. (though I got over that crush early in the year and became good friends with him). But I was a Math major and a Freshman, and none of them were, so I didn’t have the same classes.

So, that first year of Biola was a year of making new friends! I was a commuter without a driver’s license. Most often I got rides with Becky, but sometimes Rick and sometimes my Mom. But the big event that shaped my years at Biola happened right away — I was accepted into the Biola Chorale!

The Biola Chorale is their elite by-audition-only choir. That year, there were only 4 Freshmen in the Chorale, so I felt very lucky to make it! I will never forget the morning I found out I had made it. They were posting the list after Chapel. At chapel, being new, I met another new girl (though she was a transfer student and a bit older than me) named Elizabeth Daniels. It turned out that she had also auditioned for Chorale, so we went to look at the list together — and both got in!

I think that was also the first meeting of Chorale. Mr. Wiebe (the director) said that the group was so good that year (so few new people), we were strong enough singers that he had a seating arrangement *not* in vocal sections, but boy-girl-boy-girl. I was sitting next to Jeff Kreeger, one of the most handsome guys I’d ever met! (He had a girlfriend I soon learned. But very intimidating for a 17-year-old Freshman to sit next to!) And when he opened his mouth, he had one of the most meltingly beautiful tenor voices I’d ever heard. Fortunately, he was super nice, and so was Brian Adams on the other side of me. They passed out music in an intricate arrangement of “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” I barely made a sound and was just so afraid they’d figure out I didn’t belong there at ALL! Well, Brian leaned over and told me, “You should know we sing this song every year, so everyone else already knows it.” That really did help!

Fortunately, we had a piano at home, and I spent a *lot* of time going over my parts. Oh, and my brother Rick was also in Chorale that year — though sitting pretty far away from me. But he drove me to some Chorale things.

I also met Jill Mammano that year, as a fellow commuter student.

I was a Math major, but since I’d taken AP Calculus AB, they gave me one semester of credit for Calculus. But they didn’t offer second semester Calculus fall semester, so I had to sit out a semester. I did take Intro to Computer Science that semester with Dr. Woo and met some people who I’d later learn were my fellow math majors. People like Jeff Petersen and Kevin Penner, who later became my dear friends. But also in that class I met Colleen Jenks, who’d be my roommate the following year. She changed from a Math major to an English major after that semester, but I knew she was a kindred spirit when she let me rest in her room one day and I saw she had the Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf.

Of course, in Chorale I made many friends — Elizabeth Daniels (already mentioned), Debby Scott, Debbie Olson, and many others. It was an instant social group as well as a group that made wonderful music. Not being a music major, I didn’t have any illusions that mine was one of the better voices — it definitely wasn’t — but it was so wonderful to get to sing with so many beautiful voices. The Chorale had bonding social events at the start of the year like a trip to Yosemite and then many concerts. Our tour that year was to northern California.

But one of the biggest events of the year happened in January, when Kathe married Joe Barsotti in Virginia — and they bought me a ticket to come out and visit and be Kathe’s Maid of Honor! (I should add that Kathe is a year older than me, so she was 18.)

It was the first time I’d ever been on an airplane. And since I was born in Washington, DC, I was extra excited to get to see Washington, DC.

I had a wonderful week with Kathe before her wedding! It turns out I did take pictures during that trip.

Here’s Happy Kathe:


This was the Rehearsal Dinner:


And the reception:


Second semester, the big event was that I got to be in Biola’s production of The Sound of Music!

The role I hoped for was Liesl, of course. Since I actually was 17 years old, I thought I could perfectly play “16, Going on 17.” Well, the part I got was Louisa, the 13-year-old. And, yes, I looked 13 years old. (I put my hair into ponytails, and that was all it took.)

It turned out to be hugely fun. Louisa only has 9 lines, but she is in fully half the songs and is on stage for half the scenes. She even has solo lines such as, “I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly.”

Rick was a Drama major by that time, and he was Assistant Stage Manager for that production, so he gave me rides to many of the rehearsals.

At one point, Rick tried to arrange a game of Diplomacy that he was moderating. He let me play, and the rest were a bunch of guys. I think the game petered out, but some time around that time I met Dan Daniels at the music building. He wasn’t a music major, but had been talking with his roommate Mark Oglesby who played the organ and Mark’s girlfriend Coral Nightingale — who was later to become my roommate. Anyway, one night while I was waiting for my ride, I got to talking with Dan, who had been in the Diplomacy game. We had a great conversation, and I fell hard for him.

Dan never did fall for me back. But he remained a good friend. And especially notable was a day at the end of the year after I pulled my very first all-nighter.

It was because of a term paper. I stayed up to write it and type it — and ended up staying up all night. I think that was the paper on Jane Austen. I’d had plenty of time to write it — and I ended up using the time to read all her novels. Then I wrote the paper the night before — and finished typing it just before we needed to leave to go to Biola.

Well, I had a Calculus test that morning.

I mentioned that I only got one semester credit for AP Calculus? Well, most of second semester Calculus was stuff I’d learned in high school — and had studied super hard in order to pass the AP Test. So I knew it very well. (The only new thing was infinite sums and infinite series, which we hadn’t gotten to at the time of this test.)

But that test — after staying up all night — was by far the hardest math test I’ve ever taken. I went over and over and over the problems. I just couldn’t think straight! I did end up getting a 90 on the test — but that was the lowest score I’d ever gotten on a math test up to that time. And I didn’t know I managed even that at the time.

After the test, I think it was Jeff Petersen who said something like, “I bet that wasn’t any trouble for you!” — and I burst into tears!

So, yeah, I was a basket case! I turned in the paper in English class. But I still had to wait around until Becky was done so I could go home. And that was where Dan Daniels proved to be a True Friend. I called him up. He heard the distress in my voice, and he came to the food place in the Student Union, and he recited a chapter from Winnie-the-Pooh from the Expotition to the North Pole where Tigger bounces Eeyore into the water!

It was exactly the right response. Though it did make me fall all the harder for him. (I mean, how perfect is that? He recited Winnie-the-Pooh! From memory!) But above all, it was kind. By that time, he may have known I had a crush on him — but he was willing to come out and cheer me up anyway.

(I will insert right here that Dan went on to marry young and last I heard had 9 kids. I’m happy for him. But I’m so, so, so glad that he didn’t fall for me back and didn’t marry me. I’ve spent enough of my life taking care of lots of kids. But anyway, he was a wonderful friend to me that day.)

Oh, another thing that happened my Freshman year was that my GPA already got messed up, which was a relief. I had a 1-credit P.E. class and got a B. So in college I never ever was trying to maintain a 4.0.

I had English 101 Criticism & Composition with Mr. MacDougall — who my brother and sister had recommended. I also got an A- in that class. (Same effect on GPA as a B in a 1-unit class.) I thought that my scores must have been beaten by Betsy Bauman. I found out years later that she’d gotten a B in that class, so my A- must have been the highest score. Which seems like overly hard grading, but he was a great teacher.

And that’s all I can think of to say about my Freshman year at Biola. Except that some time during that year I begged and begged — and my parents eventually agreed to let me move into the dorm my Sophomore year, and I was going to room with Colleen Jenks!

Project 52 – Sweet Sixteen and a Senior!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 16!


16 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life. I’m enjoying it a lot — a chance to look back and reflect on where God has brought me.

Tonight I’m covering the year I was 16 and a Senior in high school at Brethren High School in Paramount, California — June 14, 1980 to June 14, 1981.

The picture above was the only one I could find from that year with me in it. (Though if I looked in my yearbook I could find more.) That’s taken at Hume Lake during the summer — I’m in the front left corner of the front “human chariot.” My friend Darlene is on the front right corner, and Jennifer’s right behind me.

I did go to church camp at Hume Lake that year, but didn’t participate in Summer Servants again. I think I might have begun working at McDonalds that summer, which would have explained why I didn’t have time for Summer Servants.

My mind has drawn a veil over working at McDonalds, so I won’t talk much about that! My Mom used to say that her Dad used to say that you should start with a bad job to learn to appreciate good ones later, and at least McDonalds makes me appreciate every other job I’ve ever had. I started there the same time my sister Becky did, though we didn’t usually work the same shifts.

I remember my Senior year as being pretty wonderful. At last I was at the top of the heap! No brothers and sisters went to the same high school with me. Now Rick and Becky were both attending Biola University — still living at home, but commuting out to La Mirada.

I love my brother and sister, but did have a tendency to feel overshadowed. So being a Senior myself was a big deal.

Also, that year T.G.I.H.A.C.O. had graduated and was gone — I had to get over him. The Church Guy I Had a Crush On still went to my church and was going to Biola, so I saw him occasionally, but had to put my focus elsewhere, and that was a good thing.

Looking back, I was too busy having a great time to pine over guys that year. In fact, there were a few guys in my circle of friends and the people I hung out with. I did get a date to the Junior/Senior Banquet (and I had the year before, too), so that was something — but not the boyfriend I wanted. But looking back, okay, I didn’t find someone who loved me romantically — but I had a large wonderful group of people who loved me and cared about me as a friend. Hmmm. That’s kind of like my life today.

I do think that having a large circle of close friends and acquaintances you care about is a side effect of going to the same Christian school for six years. Many of my classmates from Brethren are my Facebook friends today — Our graduating class had about 85 people, and we got to know one another well.

Let’s see… my Senior year had so many good things. For academic classes, the highlight was AP Calculus — the only AP class that Brethren offered. There were five of us in the class — myself, Christine Van Aalst, Alan Purucker, Casildo Guerrera, and Gabriel Hui. I started listening in Math Class that year! The wonderful and quirky Miss Royer was our teacher — and she got married after we graduated. She was older, so this was a big deal. Her name thenceforth was Mrs. Smith. But I did love Calculus class and got a 5 on my AP exam. The seeds of the math major I was to become were sown.

My other achievements in math were getting the top score on the MAA exam for my high school for the third year in a row — and winning a silver pin. I’d been on the Math Team all four years of high school. That year I did a chalk talk on De Moivre’s Theorem. I didn’t win an award at the Math Field Day that year, but I had the year before on the Binomial Theorem, and I did progress to the finals. Oh, and I won all three of the pencil-games tournaments at the end of the year — Five-in-a-row Tic Tac Toe, 3D Tic Tac Toe, and Hex.

And it wasn’t just about doing well in math — Math was fun! I do think that taking Calculus over a whole year in high school rather than a semester in college (or Trigonometry… or Algebra II) gives you more time to really enjoy it, see how awesome and fun it is.

And I was in Choir again, and the ensemble Ecclesia. I was still taking voice lessons. When our choir sang at my church, I got to sing a solo, and I sang a solo at the choir festival in the springtime. I was never a star — but I did enjoy that. And I’ve always loved singing in choirs, especially choirs that sing to the Lord.

My Senior year I also took Drama class. I was in two plays that year, and in both got the second-best female part — the best going both times to Debbie Carmichael, who totally deserved them and who is still acting today. The Drama class did a version of Pilgrim’s Progress written by our drama teacher, and I was Hopeful. The choir did our annual “May Festival” — with acting and singing — and I was the mad scientist Dr. Kreps, which was a silly and fun role.

Here’s a picture from choir tour to San Francisco:


The friends in the picture are Kristen Harris, Darlene Sasaki, Ruth Douglas, Lorie Gibson, and John Roussopulos. This is the first picture I’ve come across of Kristen — she was one of my best friends that year. We had P.E. together that year (some of the only Seniors in that class) and we used to sing 2nd Chapter of Acts duets in the locker room — much to the annoyance of everyone else. We used to have a lot of fun debating which of us was the most beautiful and which was the most humble. We were so superlative in both, it was hard to decide!

Next are a couple of pictures from Senior Ditch Day at the end of the year to Laguna Beach:



Seeing Dan Deguisne in the first picture (third from the left), I’m reminded that he drove us to school that year. He probably drove his brother Terry and my sister Wendy (8th grade) as well, but I don’t remember that so much! I still did not have my driver’s license.

Baccalaureate that year (a church service honoring graduates) happened on my birthday, so I was actually 17 and a few days when I graduated. I was co-valedictorian with Gail Karber and Marty Rindahl. I gave a speech where I referenced Psalm 84 (I was memorizing in Psalms that year):

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
When they pass through the Valley of Trouble,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.”

And I have to say that, looking back on the pilgrimage of my life, God has made each Valley of Trouble a place of springs and has brought me from strength to strength. Little did I know then what I was in for! But God has been faithful.

However, looking back on that year: What great friends I had! (And still have! Those friendships lasted.)