Posts by Carly Dryden

Because He is my Refuge

Over the last week or so, I have been in observation of the Lent season in preparation for Easter Sunday in April.

Lent was something I always grew up around, but I more saw as a time to maybe shed a few pounds before the summer if I gave up sugar, gluten, or some other type of food that is considered to be “bad” for you. Lent, as of recent years, has become much more to me. It is a time to be present with the Lord, to grow in my prayer, and to be in relation with Him as I prepare my heart for Easter.

This year, I decided to take it a step further and I purchased myself a $1.99 daily devotional on iBooks to do in preparation for Easter Sunday. I am currently on day six of this devotional (written on Monday, March 11) titled Lasting Hope: Devotions for Lent 2019. We have begun this devotional by reading scripture from Psalm, one of my favorite books in the Bible.

The scripture for today’s devotion was Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, no evil will befall you, not shall affliction come near your dwelling.”

What He Says of 2019

As what happens at the close of every year, we begin to look back on the 365 days we lived and we reflect on what that year held.

We think about the highs, the lows, the mountains, and the valleys. And in more recent years, our social media accounts, which begin to reflect those things as well. Our Facebook accounts pull up memories from three years prior. Our Instagram show us our “top nine” photos of the year. Spotify tells us our most streamed genres, artists, and songs.

I personally enjoy seeing these year-end round-ups; my Instagram top nine included photos of my 21st birthday, my transformation photo after losing thirty pounds, and photos when my best friend from Boston came to visit me after the tragic loss of twelve lives in our hometown. It truly showed some wonderful mountains and some really low and dark valleys, but in the end, it reminded me of some wonderful milestones that 2018 held for me and made me excited for what is to come in 2019.

My Spotify account reflected a similar round-up: a mix of songs that got me through some serious waves of grief, a tough break up, and a multitude of other events of 2018.

You Say

I was not surprised to see my top song of 2018 was “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.

If you haven’t heard this song, drop everything right now and listen to it. I discovered this song in August when I began my senior year of college, a year that I truly did not think I would make it to, after the hardships that 2017 and 2018 brought to me and my family. As I went through the first semester of my senior year, I was constantly bombarded with questions, doubts, and anxieties about things in daily life, things from the past, and the unknown of the future.

Facing Grief and Looking Toward Thankfulness

Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday growing up. I have endless memories of times with family; cooking and watching football all day, to then gather around the table and say Grace: thanking God for another holiday together, another year of good health and good times.

No matter what that year held, nothing compared to this moment of Thanksgiving Day.

I spent Thanksgiving of 2017 in California, as usual. I remember being thankful that year, for Tacoma truly felt like home. I was thankful for my sorority sisters, my Young Life family, my classmates, my professors, and of course, my church. Discovery rooted me in Tacoma in more ways than I ever fathomed to be possible.

I left my home in Ventura after that holiday weekend and I didn’t know that when I walked out of that front door that Sunday morning to travel to Tacoma that it would be the last time I would step out of my home. We lost our home in the Thomas Fire just a few weeks later. My entire neighborhood, my entire town, even the whole county was demolished by flame. We lost everything that day and any sense of normalcy. This season of my life was a true test of my faith. I felt so vulnerable, so alone, and so unstable that I truly did not see how it was possible to wake up each day and continue on. But I did. Truly, by the Grace of God.

It took a while, but I eventually found my way back to Ventura this summer even when I thought it was the last place I wanted to be. Truth be told, it was exactly where I needed to be. It was hard coming back to an empty lot that once held my home and to the burnt hillsides that once held so much Ventura pride, but it was so good to come home to my family, friends, and my community. It was so good to go back to my home church, to my work place, and to  Borderline: my line dancing hall.

Borderline is a special place in Ventura county. It is not just a place to dance, it is a second home. It is where my best friend met her fiancé. It is where I went to dance and escape my reality of grief and sorrow for a few hours a night, a few nights a week. My Borderline family and I were there three nights a week, every single week, without a doubt.

Borderline was home while home was being rebuilt.

Grieving in Grace

There is one thing at Discovery that everyone I have crossed paths knows about me: I am in love with my hometown. My hometown being a small surfing, ranching, and rodeo community (yes, we do have an annual event every summer called “Surf Rodeo”) by the name of Ventura, California.

I left Ventura in the summer of 2015 to attend college up here in Tacoma. I was ready to be out of Ventura after living there for almost twelve of my eighteen years. I thought I was going to leave forever when I got on a plane to SEATAC that August day.

But Ventura called me back sooner, rather than later. I fell more in love with my hometown the longer I stayed away. I didn’t realize how unique, special, and wonderful Ventura is until I left. I took every opportunity I could those first few years to go home and be in my beloved community.

One of my favorite places in my hometown (as it is for most residents of Ventura) is Grant Park. Grant Park sits on the second highest hill in Ventura and has a gorgeous view of the entire city of Ventura, beach and countryside both. The Cross sits in Grant Park, which represents The Cross placed in Ventura by Father Serra when he founded Mission San Buenaventura. The Cross is a holy place in Ventura. I have seen weddings, funerals, graduation photos, and family reunions all take place there. I have driven to The Cross when I feel the need to cry, have a moment to myself, or to take in the view as I eat my Corrales burrito.

The Cross tells us that we are home when we see it. It’s truly a sanctuary to so many people.