Living and Learning

Can I just say TGIF? Had to put that out there, first of all.

I learned a few things this week. Be warned:  this list is entirely random.

First, teaching the K-5th class on Wednesday taught me that armpit farts cross all gender, racial and social classes. And if you draw a picture of a rhino pooping out roses, you’re due to get busted. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

Poop not available. Image by maggiemcneill.wordpress.com

Poop not available. Image by maggiemcneill.wordpress.com

The second thing happened at work. I was talking to one of our engineers and I used the word kerfuffle.

“Is that a word?” he looked at me, doubt all over his face.

I assured him it was. I love words. Some are just more fun to say than others, kerfuffle being one of them. And he learned himself something new.

I also picked up a new word:  anadromous.

a·nad·ro·mous
əˈnadrəməs/
  1. (of a fish, such as the salmon) migrating up rivers from the sea to spawn.
    salmon swimming upstream
Since so many of our local creeks have salmon in them, it figured prominently in reports I’ve been perusing. Now, I need to find a way to work it into conversation into normal conversation.  Like “Traffic today made me feel like I followed an anadromous route to work.” Bam!  Done.
The third thing is something I’ve noticed with work contracts.  The city asks for “camera-ready” plans and specifications.Hmm. Which always makes me think of this
Last, but certainly not least, in recent days I’ve been tasked to search for some “historical documents”. Which reminds me of this
Leonard Nimoy, of the original “Star Trek” cast, died today.  Rest in peace, Spock. You created a legacy of historical documents that influenced generations of Americans and people around the world.
To all my readers: Live long and prosper.
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Being There

cherry trees

Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen

“Mom, can you come to Lap Club today?”

I looked up at Ruby over my smoothie.  When I did Lap Club, lo before I had a full-time job, I only went on Tuesdays. Twice a week seemed overmuch to stand outside and punch little holes in colored cards for kids running around a dirt track.

Since I started work just over a month ago, I felt something had to give.  That something was Lap Club. Now, it’s 12:15 to 12:40. Smack dab in the middle of my lunch time, it makes for a hectic hour. I hated to miss seeing Ruby, but I didn’t see how I could make it work.

“Well…I have plans already,” I hedged.  “I will try, but I can’t promise anything.”

I don’t like changing plans.  I had a friend who would flake out about 80% of the time we’d carefully scheduled to do lunch together.  It drove me, the planner, nuts. It make her seem uncaring.  Not the case, yet I felt that way just the same.

I edged out of my plans, feeling like a crumb. My gracious friend told me to take advantage of this time.

“There may come a day when she doesn’t want you around,” she said.

True.  I’ve experienced it already with my other child. Always painful, I know it will happen someday.

“Soak it up for as long as you can.”

Before the kids escaped, I greeted Ruby in the lunchroom.

“I didn’t think you were coming!” she said.

I smiled. She smiled.

So I went to Lap Club. The outside air smelled like cherry blossoms.  The overcast sky, steely gray, threatened rain and stayed dry. I watched her run around the track, a pink and black speck in the middle distance. I realized I wasn’t actually with her for very long. Then I thought of all the years I’d played a part in Lap Club. Sometimes, just being there is enough.

Be Happy

Image by pinbackattack.com

       Image by pinbackattack.com

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
 – Philippians 4:6

I’ve written about worry lots of times. I’ve even blogged about this scripture before.

Yet again, this morning I found myself trapped in a gossamer cloud of worries.  Nothing large loomed, and yet spirit could not rise and my energy flagged. The worries dogged me, like invisible yippy Chihuahuas, devouring my joy by inches. What about this and what about that?  Are things really much worse than I think?

Why, oh why, do I fall into this rabbit hole over and over? I could slip into self-condemnation about it, but I won’t.  That will only make things worse.

Instead of staying worried and uptight, I talked to God about the little things weighing me down. I listed them all, as many as I could dredge up. Interactions at work. The progress of my job. Kids. A veritable cloud of buzzing mosquitoes, biting me at regular intervals.

Then, I felt a peace. And I remembered to thank God for all He’s done.  It seemed to flow naturally, like the scripture lays out. I’m so grateful for family and friends. I live in a land of plenty and get to walk with Jesus every day. We have cars that run, at the turn of a key. Fabulous!

The worries melted away as I spoke out God’s goodness then worked up a sweat through a kettlebell card workout. As I took the issues to God, I realized I could pray ahead of time and know He would be in situations ahead of me and provide guidance in good time.

Worry simply isn’t worth it.

Plead the 55th

I’m marching through the book of Numbers now in my Bible reading.  Lately, it’s been the Psalm selections that have gotten to me.  Today was no exception.

David sets the scene in Psalm 55.  He’s scared.  His enemies surround him. He calls out to God.

Listen to my prayer, O God.
    Do not ignore my cry for help!
 Please listen and answer me,
    for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
My enemies shout at me,
    making loud and wicked threats.
They bring trouble on me
    and angrily hunt me down.

My heart pounds in my chest.
    The terror of death assaults me.
 Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
    and I can’t stop shaking.
 Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
    then I would fly away and rest!
 I would fly far away
    to the quiet of the wilderness.    Interlude
 How quickly I would escape—
    far from this wild storm of hatred. Ps. 55:1-8

Alas, no run-of-the-mill enemy taunts him. David outlines a much deeper betrayal.

It is not an enemy who taunts me—
    I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
    I could have hidden from them.
 Instead, it is you—my equal,
    my companion and close friend.
What good fellowship we once enjoyed
    as we walked together to the house of God. Ps. 55:13-14

David makes his plea.

But I will call on God,
    and the Lord will rescue me.
Morning, noon, and night
    I cry out in my distress,
    and the Lord hears my voice. Ps. 55:16-17

Yahweh had saved him from bears, lions *and* Goliath.  He turns to God now in what must have been extreme emotional turmoil. Not a new scene for David, to be sure, but for the warrior-king to say this

Give your burdens to the Lord,
    and he will take care of you.
    He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Ps. 55:22

David didn’t say, “Gird your loins for the battle.  Steel yourself for the enemy’s blows. Take it like a man!”

No.

He advised surrendering your burdens to God. What counts as a burden? All those things we lug around are too heavy for us. Condemnation, my pet project. Jealousy. Frustration. Anger. Bitterness. Regret. Unforgiveness.  Often, our feelings have merit.  Situations turned sour. People have hurt us.  They betrayed us. But we can’t fix it. That’s the meat of the matter. We need to let God do it. Even better, it’s not our responsibility. Our part is to forgive and extend kindness.

I submit if we steel ourselves, we end up with walled hearts.  Our attempts at self-preservation will shut others out. Now, back to to truth. People will hurt us. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes through misunderstandings. I can guarantee you that. But our hearts must remain open and tender. That, friends, takes real bravery. We can only do it as we trust in the Lord.

All Day Delight

12026012-shepherd-with-his-sheep-on-pasture

Today’s pre-service prayer included thinking about Jesus standing right next to us.  My good friend, who led the prayer time, read from the 23rd psalm.  What a great picture of God’s care for us, providing grass, refreshing water to drink and a place to rest.  He anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over…

Even more than that, the Lord impressed upon me how much He delights in us.  He made us.  He designed each one of us.  Our hair color, our eyes shape and tint, our height (or lack thereof).  He influenced all of that.  Yes, He used our parents’ genetic makeup to get a blueprint.  But even that, friends, was His plan.  He loves our laugh.  He adores our smiles.  We are, in short, the apple of His eye.

But do we believe it?  I’ve spent most of my conscious life living under condemnation.  I’ve written before about my especial affinity for self-flagellation.  I should have gotten a merit badge for it by now.  It’s that impressive.

Yet what a waste of time.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.Romans 8:1-2

Why do we keep living like God is going to swoop down with a heavenly fly swatter and give us a thunderous smackdown?  “Take that, mangy human!” Jesus took all those for us, on the cross.  If we repent, God forgives us.  It takes very little – only surrender – to get back on track. At times, we may need to make restitution to those we’ve wronged, sure.

We, who are weak and sinful, know how to give our kids good gifts.  We got Zac a new phone a couple years back.  He was blown away.  We got Ruby a sewing machine for Christmas.  The kids felt blessed that we knew them enough to get them things they like and would put to use.  Isn’t God so much more intimately acquainted with our needs and desires?  Doesn’t it tickle Him to paint a technicolor sunrise each morning and send rain when its needed?  Doesn’t He surprise us with friends dropping by when we need a lift?  Or maybe a piece of really rich, dark chocolate to soothe our spirits?

If He is more than able to bless and load us with benefits on a daily basis, why don’t we trust His goodness?  Perhaps our earthly fathers were, shall we say, less than patient with us.  Maybe they yelled a lot.  Maybe they withheld approval when it could have done the most good for our spirits.

God isn’t like that.  He withholds no good thing.  He has our best in mind each day, all the time. Let’s trust He will continue His good and perfect will for our lives.

Friday Feeling

Happy Friday!

I decree a dance party today.  Enjoy.

I’m realizing more and more how much I need the Lord’s presence.  Heck, how much *we* need His presence.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

I’m seeing God’s grace in situations where it simply shouldn’t be there. Without Him, well, it’d be a lost cause.  People coming back from aneurisms.  Others getting up from sickbeds. Friendships restored and hearts healed.

I’m overwhelmed by His mercy and kindness.

Go forth today, and be excellent to each other.  That is all.

Dump Your Gifts

I managed a 2-mile run today.  It felt so good to get out and run.  I knew I could put those donuts to good use.

So today, I got another random surprise.

Our receptionist/permitting guru came to my cube.

“Your dad’s here,” she said with a smile.

I felt alarm at first.  Was he alright?  What happened?

I got up fast and walked the short distance to the front of the office.

“Susan!” he greeted me.

And then I remembered:  I haven’t seen anyone from my original family since I got sick, last Thursday. He stopped by to check on me.  It was very sweet. I showed him my cubicle. He admired its spacious quality.  The skylights in the office do let in a lot of natural light. I didn’t mention the baby spider encounter of last week.  Nor will I.

“Dad, I’d like you to meet my boss, Jenny (not her real name),” I said.

“Pleased to meet you, Dad,” my boss said to Dad.

Dad, much to my great embarrassment, praised me to the skies.

“Susan has great abilities.  She’s used them in Portland and she’s using them again now,” he told Jenny.

“Well, we’re glad to have Susan.” Jenny smiled at me. Jenny’s already convinced I’m the best woman for the job. I smiled back, but wished I could sink into the floor. I didn’t invite my dad back into the thick of things so he could talk me up as my personal PR agent.

Dad met my first boss, from when I worked on the shelter.

“Pleased to meet you, Dan,” Dad said.  “Great to put a name with a face,”

They chatted about Shelton Point Park, as Dad had spotted the concept board outside Dan’s office. It’s a new roadside park to be completed this summer, out Highway 3 towards Allyn. They discussed city planning. I realized anew how many subjects Dad has knowledge of.

After a few minutes, he turned back to me.

“Well, Susan.  I’d better get back to work.  Time for you to dump out your gifts,” he said. His hazel eyes twinkled behind his glasses.

It hit the three of us as kind of a funny expression. We all chuckled and said our goodbyes.

But the more I think about it, he’s right. Dad has spoken some great gems over the years, but this is my current favorite. At first, the thought of dumping anything sounds haphazard.  Even unethical, as in illegal dumping. I hear about it all the time at work now. But dumping out your gifts, pouring them on where they’re most needed, is our duty to those around us. We don’t need to hold back when we know what God has made us to do. We can’t hoard them, doubtful we have anything good to share. We just need to unload as much as we can. Then God can breathe on it and give it life.