Fashioned in Paradise

On the nights when the dark last a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker. Where could I run to?
Where could I go?Even when it feels like my world is shaken
Even when I’ve had all that I can take
I know
You never let me go,
And even when the waters won’t stop rising
Even when I’m caught in the dead of a night
I know
No matter how it ends
You’re with me even then. . . Micah Tyler
I heard this song days before the campfire, the day of the campfire and the days after the campfire which exemplifies our daily living and most importantly knowing that Jesus is with us and walks before us. Thankful for the power of music and thankful for the good memories that I have of my hometown of Paradise, California. Yesterday was a rough day for so many as it marked one year of the Campfire. Later on in the day, sadly, I also received news that an extended family member of ours passed away. It was most definitely a day of deep reflection in knowing my scope to LOVE requires that it’s completely necessary to mourn and to allow the grieving process to interrupt into my daily way of living and having to face pain and loss. In the past, I was so use to shutting down and removing myself from people that I love the most when something bad happens that I don’t feel the need to talk about it. I would withdraw myself from the world and I would create this wall. A wall that I wouldn’t want anyone to climb over. A wall where I wouldn’t have to show or reveal to anyone my deepest pain, scars, bruises and wounds. I found comfort in wanting to just suffer alone. To feel heavy and numb. To feel angry. Fear was my constant companion and I chose to stay in that dark place in not wanting to move forward spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I was so dead inside. In the past, I wanted to rush the pain to heal, only to learn you can’t rush the mourning, grieving and healing process. Being near water is my source of joy and healing because it resembles LIFE! In this life, I am still learning that I can still push through these life stings, by facing it all head on. Regardless of how tired, heavy or numb I feel in these painful moments from these life’s stings, I know I need to keep going. No matter how much I want to get angry. No matter how much I want to fight it off, it’s comepletely healthy to allow my tears to flow down my cheeks. Tears are a form a mourning, grieving but also healing.

Family is very important to me and so is Paradise which was twenty-three years of my life and I have to be honest, in this past year, I didn’t think it was my place to share or say anything about Paradise because I wasn’t living there at the time when the campfire happened. I felt it wasn’t my story to tell at the time. But being raised there for most of my life I know accounts for something which leads to how we all heal and cope differently. When I first heard about the campfire, I was in shock. I mourned with you and I grieved with you. Now Paradise growing up, I have some bad and traumatic memories, but then there is that blanket full of good memories that I have that covers those bad and painful ones. From getting gas at Fasttrip and AMPM. To hitting up Foster’s Freeze with my momma and getting chocolate dipped cones. To hitting up Kalico Kitchen with my family and Ace Hardware with my pops. Going to La Comida on my lunches in high school to hitting up that lil Mexican joint next door with my momma. Those precious days when I was a tiny tot and going to Billie Park and the duck pond with my lil bro. I LOVED being a Darlenes girl and serving yogurt, ice cream and food to our community for over five years and working with some amazing people. I LOVED going into Kmart growing up with my family and getting excited about hitting up the clothes section and being infatuated with the different colors and patterns and going to the shoes. To cheering on my lil bro at Paradise High School Football games and his year round sports, I am such a proud sister and celebrating our wins and even our losses at Round Table or Mountain Mike’s Pizza….The list just goes on. Even still trying to fight through these knots in my stomach by reflecting on such good memories of visiting my great uncle in the bay area who is now in heaven to switching gears and transitioning back and forth of my memories of my hometown which has been a roller coaster of emotions. Here we are, many of us all grown up with families of our own, which one day I look forward to. Many of you are embracing new changes and a new way of living and carrying such traumatic events and images in your minds and in your hearts from the campfire, but still resonating such beautiful strength through it all, you all are truly the epitome of PARADISE STRONG.

This morning I just kept reflecting on these lyrics over and over again by Jeremy Camp, “In the morning when I rise. In the morning when I rise. In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus” which gave me peace, comfort and rest. I know my dad and so many of our family members and people who knew my great uncle are hurting right now. Others who have also lost loved ones recently and others who are mourning the loss of loved ones over the years are also hurting. I know so many family members, friends and others who were affected by the campfire are also hurting from their losses, but who are also rising from the ashes which is such a beautiful and pure testamant of community and perfect display of Paradise Strong. Yesterday was a day to mourn, remember and reflect. Today is a brand new day. I know we all grieve, mourn and heal differently, but if it’s one thing, I hate to see my family, friends and others suffering. My heart hurts when others hurt. Life can be so hard and painful sometimes. It’s so easy to mentally lift your hands up and say “I give up.” “Life is too hard to go on”, as I’ve had my fair share of those moments, especially over these past three years of my life, but I’m gonna keep my head up and continue to draw my strength from the Lord to keep pressing forward into the unknown and to fall into HIS arms of comfort when life is just too hard.

Covering my family, my extended family, my community of Paradise and others in my thoughts and prayers. Through this heaviness and waves of emotions, I have a grateful heart for this painful but also beautiful gift of life that so many of us (including myself) take for granted. Forgive quickly. Link arms and encourage each other. Show mercy and compassion. Serve others by carrying one anothers burdens when we can. Weep and rejoice with one another. Extend kindness, grace and LOVE to others. Chase those dreams. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Keep the memories alive and strong with your family, friends and in your communities. One day at a time, keep the FAITH ya’ll! #givethanks

💜👚Fashioned in Paradise Blouse – I bought this purple blouse shown in the picture above in Paradise at a thrift store that was located in the K-Mart shopping center. Something I LOVE to do each time I would go and visit my family and friends in Paradise is supporting my local hometown businesses and hitting up childhood hot spots. Everytime I put this blouse on, it’s like having a piece of home, a piece of Paradise wrapped around me and reminding me where my roots lie. I LOVE how fashion garments can tell a story.

There will be a day with no more tears. No more pain. No more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more, will see Jesus face-to-face. But until that day, we’ll hold onto you always…Jeremy Camp🎶

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