Counting Gifts/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

What Have I Done To Deserve Love Like This?

Driving through Monterey, sunroof open, coastal air in our hair.

I’m nestled into the passenger seat of my Karen’s car.


It is one of my most favorite places in the world to be.

She brings a soft blanket and pillow for my head, just in case I am tired after my early morning flight.

She brings nourishment in a cooler, just in case I am hungry.


“What have I done to deserve love like this?”

{Push Play On Song, Maybe Listen While Reading?}


She is my beauty from ashes friend, and I cannot help but think how tangible that is, all throughout this 4th trip of mine to California.

All 4 trips have been a gift, plane tickets and more paid for.

We head from her home to Napa.

The air grows increasingly dense and skies grey. It looks like fog.

It is not. It is smoke.


We search google and learn there are fires.

I sit by my ‘beauty from ashes’ friend and wonder how close the fires really are.


I think about how we are both acquainted with fire—our friendship built on shared fire.

We found each other through this blog.


She was doing a search related to breast cancer, and God led us to each other.

She, too, was wading in the ashes cancer brings, drawn to my words as we both were determined to find the beauty in the fight.



She reached out, almost 7 years ago, and flew to Nebraska from California; the first of several times.

She became one of my closest heart friends, the miles between us made short by yearly trips and almost daily Voxers.


“What have I done to deserve love like this?

What have I done to deserve love like this?

I cannot earn what you so freely give

What have I done to deserve love like this?”


I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God, who reminds me how very much he loves and brings hope through my full of hope friend.



We drive a few hours the next day to stay for 3 days right next to the ocean.

My breath is taken, as it is every time, at the first glimpse of water.

I do a long exhale, my breath evens, slowed by the rhythmic sound of the waves.



We do yoga on the beach, inhaling, exhaling. Hope brought by her voice guiding me.

I shut my eyes trying to forget the haze in the distance.


I was up early the next morning before my friend, my body clock still on Nebraska time, reading about the fires.

I read and read. The stories feel personal and tangible– it is all so close.


“When I am a long night

You are the sunrise”


I look out our window and watch the sunrise, noticing how the smoky haze turns the sun into a persimmon color, it is breathtaking.

Beauty from ashes.



That evening we take photos outside our cottage, of trees wrapped in lights and a fire dancing, contained in a fire pit.

I feel guilty warming around fire contained when there is such devastation burning so close by.


“When I am a wasteland, you are the water”

“When I am the winter, you are the fire…that burns.”


Fire contained burns and brings warmth. Fire uncontained just burns.

Another evening we sit at a fire built into our seaside outdoor table.



We sip on soup and a cocktail, with blankets for our laps brought to us by our waiter. A culinary delight for our paletes, a dinner I will not forget.

Our view is an iconic cypress tree lit up in the middle of a golf course on Pebble Beach.

It can’t get much better.



After 3 days of ocean, sand, food, wine, lattes, fresh juice, and late night girl talk.

After 3 days of views, connection, and meditation on the beach while sitting on yoga mats, with worship words prayed aloud together in rhythm of ocean waves.

After 3 days of so much of what I feel is undeserved, we head back to her home, a 3-hour drive.


The drive is scenic and twists and turns through mountains, hills and valleys.

All is dry, so desert dry.


I see how a spark and wind can turn this vast land into choice kindling and shudder.

Still, I see beauty and delight constantly in cacti and all the things I don’t see in the midwest.


“When I am a desert

You are the river that turns

To find me

What have I done to deserve love like this?

What have I done to deserve love like this?”


She plays this very song “Love Like This” for me and tells me she wants to put it to worship yoga movement.

Oh, the heart of my sweet yogi friend!


I fall hard for the song and we play it again…and then again. It doesn’t escape me that it mentions fire.

It brings me to tears as windows are down and I am overwhelmed by emotion, the view, and His goodness freely given to me.



We stop at a roadside fruit stand and my Karen buys persimmons to share.

I pick up chili lime pistachios to take back home to my man, a small but meaningful effort to give back.


The air changes and the atmosphere is so so grey.

No blue sky in sight, just a low, dense, heavy grey.

It is eerie.


We stop an hour away from home.

I ask Siri about the fires and Google pulls up an image that makes sense of the heavy air.

Fires on each side of us, one only 12 miles off the road that we are traveling on.


We are safe, but surrounded by fire.

Safe but the air is stifling.

It is off-putting and makes me long for the safety of her home.


Isn’t that always what the ashes do?

Make us long for the relief of familiar and the soft landing place of where we belong?


The comfort of Home.


I long for home and think of those who have no home to go home to.

I pray they will find true comfort and lean into their ultimate Home as they rebuild.


We get closer and air gets heavier, I see it charted dark on the air quality scale— it is just about as bad as it can get. Maroon is past red and means beyond unhealthy air quality.

I wonder about breathing deep and try to push thoughts of those who have lost breath out of my head. So many people lost and loved ones gone.



We arrive home safely and her Brad man greets us with nourishment. His cooking just as delicious as the 5-star restaurants we ate at the past 3 days before.

I ask for recipes and he shares this one. An award-winning garlic soup, a “starter to warm up the palet” and yes, I am instantly warmed by his food and hug.


He has built a fire outside on the patio, but we stay inside.

I see the flames dancing just right outside the glass door and again, I am struck by the beauty of the contained flame and the devastation of the flame uncontained.


Brad’s actions remind me of our Creator, the One who welcomes us safely home, provides nourishment, and has planned and prepared loving warmth ahead of time.


He who knows what we need, who is with us in the ashes and helps us when air is hard to breathe.

I remember he is the God who brings beauty from ashes and has provided ultimate hope in our Forever Home.

I resolve to stay present in ashes to keep looking for treasures, knowing that in the search I am found.


{Push Play and Listen}


Your voice like a whisper

Breaking the silence

You say there’s a treasure

You’ll look ’til You find it

You search 

To find me

What have I done to deserve love like this?

What have I done to deserve love like this?




“Love Like This”

Lauren Daigle


I am home in Nebraska now but the deadliest of California fires still burn, death toll rising, hundreds still unaccounted for and thousands misplaced. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved and affected.

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