Dawn Runnings

I got a late start on my run this morning. It rained during the night and I had planned a treadmill workout. But as I opened the door to let the cat out for the millionth time, all was calm. The fresh-washed air mixed with the scent of apple blossoms greeted me. I changed my mind.  Hey.  Women do that.

The dark sky held fading stars. The wind blew chilly out of the west, something we haven’t had much of lately as spring made an early appearance.

Things at work are in flux.  Someone quit and I might be picking up their job as well as my own. While I enjoy a challenge, it makes me apprehensive.  The work is complex and detailed.  Can I do it?

I pounded up the hill.  Too fast, again. I walked, breathing hard. The streetlights shone, reflecting off the wet asphalt. The funk sound of Mary Mary resounded in my ears.

As I turned around, I noticed the eastern sky lightening. The sky which had once been solidly dark now was teal at the bottom, running into deep turquoise. My skinny shadow leading the way, urged me forward. I’m no vampire, but I knew I needed to get home and clean up.

My Bible reading plan lead me into the rise of King David. He’s looked at as the model of how to submit to leaders even when they’re horrible (King Saul). Yet David’s path to the kingdom didn’t run smooth. He attracted rebels and malcontents. Some of them enacted revenge without his consent (Joab murdered Abner for killing Joab’s brother, Asahel). He dealt with human treachery in many forms during the extent of his reign.

Yet God’s will prevailed.  See, we have no control over how people act towards us or others. Things can change on a dime. Sometimes I wish we had ESP or telekinesis, something to stem the tide of uncertainty and stupidity. “Hey! Don’t do that!” It would be nice if once God told us His plan  – if being the operative word here – obstacles disappeared. But life happens. Will we continue to put our best effort forward and trust His timing? David did. He reigned in Hebron, Judah’s territory, for 7.5 years before the Israelites finally came to him and offered him the crown (2 Samuel 5:1-4).

I walked up my ever-brighter driveway and thought of this.  The light began to dawn. May I be strengthened and encouraged as work as unto the Lord, come what may. I pray the same for you.

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Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Photo by www.recipegirl.com

           Photo by http://www.recipegirl.com

This weekend passed in a blur of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. That’s the truth. Wow, Susan, I hear you say.  Thanks for the Monday morning downer.  I’m going somewhere with this.

Ruby told me earlier in the week, with tears in her eyes, that she missed me. She hasn’t liked my new full-time working mom schedule. We set a date for Saturday, to hit up a clothing swap and go out to lunch. We did the swap. She was bored. “Are we done yet?” dogged me at every turn. She wanted to go home. I took her home and did the food shopping I needed do do while Zac watched her.  Then I brought her a smothered burrifot. See, Ruby wanted to do something *fun*. The things I planned weren’t fun.

Skip ahead to yesterday. I made her favorite, chocolate chip pancakes. Then she plugged into the iPad and watched “My Little Pony” song videos. Realizing I couldn’t compete, I put in a short kettlebell workout and got a shower. Then she jacked into the Xbox. I read a magazine and tried not to get angry as the minutes preceding church ticked by.

See, actions speak louder than words ever will. When it came right down to it, her desire to be entertained overruled her need for me. She didn’t mean to ignore me; she simply forgot I was there.

Don’t we do the same with God?  How many times has he called to me and I’ve decided to run 5 miles instead. “Susan, I would like to spend some time with me.  I miss you.” But I didn’t need anything from Jesus.  So I went on my merry. How it must hurt His heart!

This morning, my heart felt like a crumpled piece of paper.  Worship at church had smoothed it out.  Making things up with Rubious had unruffled both of us. Yet I still had some tender spots. Guess what?  I needed the Lord’s presence again. In fact, in a desperate fashion. I dropped everything and put Him first. I called out to Him and He met me with peace.

Ruby and I need to find a new way to connect with our schedules. I get to discover what she likes now and we can find some common ground to spend time just being together.  It’s a transition, but one we’re going to benefit from and forge a closer bond. I won’t give up.

Oh Lord, let me remember Your love and goodness every day! I don’t want to take you for granted. Thanks for showing me what it means to give, unstintingly, day after day, never giving up on. Help me to taste the sweetness of this chocolate-chip pancake life you’ve given me.

Stealing Shade

Definitely not them. Image by www.geekalerts.com

(Not these.)

The other morning, the sun shone in my eyes.  Temporarily blinded, I dug my sunglasses out of my purse and shoved them onto my face. There. Except they felt funny.  Too tight a bit heavier. But these were the same ugly white sunglasses Ruby picked out for me two summers ago, when I lost the two pairs previous to that.

I didn’t give it another thought. I only have a five minute commute. I tossed the glasses back into the leather cavern and got on with the day.

A few days later, I pulled them out again. And down in my purse I spied another pair of sunglasses:  mine.  Uh oh. I took a good look at the impostors in the light.  Metal medallions adorned the top of the arms instead of “rhinestones”. Then it hit me:  I’ve got somebody else’s shades.

Lest you think me a klepto, I have a little girl who likes to go through my purse.  She wears my glasses. She tries on lipstick and I keep a huge stash of gum for anyone who asks. It could be I picked up the glasses off the chairs at church, thinking they belonged to me, and Ruby had simply left them out after trying them on.

It made me wonder what else I “put on” because I think it belongs to me.  My washed-away sins? Grudges? Negative mindsets about people or situations or even myself? I don’t want to view life in shadow because a sick thing has been a part of me for so long.

So…anyone lose their sunnies?

Puffer Fish

https://vimeo.com/115237324

My aunt posted this video on Facebook recently. A male puffer fish made these crop circles on the bottom of the ocean. He hopes to win a female with his artistry. He works for 24 hours for a week straight, etching the sand more here, smoothing a bit there. Somehow, the undulating rays and circles create a pleasing picture to lure a possible love connection.

Sappy me, I cried when I saw the original video.  He’s just a little fish. He’s got purty iridescent scales but not much else to recommend him. Why would anyone want to hook up with him?

I think about how God draws us. He’s placed us on this Earth, His creation, for us to enjoy. His artistry shines forth in every flower; God even paints the insides and undersides.  Who does that?! Every day, the Lord woos us with His love. He longs for us. Why should the God of the universe even give a moment’s thought about us?

He wants to commune with us. He does everything in His power to win us over. Only unlike the puffer fish, he works nonstop at pouring out his affection. Every day He shows us in big ways (favor from a supervisor) and small ways (a glimpse of a winging goldfinch) how very much He cares.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1

Saul Sorrow

Photo from godcenteredmom.com

Photo from godcenteredmom.com

I went out for a short run in the early spring morning.  The air, fresh from yesterday’s downpours, smelled of apple blossoms and wet growing things. The trees dripped. The sky sparkled with a few far off star-gems set in a backdrop of black velvet.

Upon my return, I opened the basement door to get some supplies. As I came back up the stairs, Rex ran down them.  I sighed. Every time someone goes down there, at least one of the cats rushes into the cavern. Cats remain trapped there for hours sometimes. Chloe spent a night down there once.  You’d think they’d learn after the first few times.  But they don’t.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we sometimes get what we want but it isn’t what we expected. Or hoped for. I read in 1 Samuel today, chapters 9-12. Samuel, the boy who grew up dedicated to the service of God, is tasked to find a king. God doesn’t like this.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ – 1 Samuel 10:18-10

The Israelites wanted to be like other nations. They wanted a strong national leader. God wasn’t the ticket – elusive, intangible, seemingly remote. No. They wanted to be like the cool kids.

Samuel’s farewell address says it all. The children of Israel still act like, well, children.

“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.  Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.

 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.  But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”  – 1 Samuel 12:20-25

So, God gave them a king. Saul started out well. He listened to Samuel’s counsel. Then it goes off the rails.  Read on for more details.  Sometimes God answers our prayers, reluctantly, dragging his feet as it were. Perhaps a more accurate word is He allows things to happen because we hold fast to them in a white-knuckled grip.

I’m advocating surrender. When we feel underwhelmed at God’s answer to our petitions, it’s time to reevaluate. Do we trust that what the Lord has done for us this far is enough?  Enough to show He cares and will always take care of us? He has our best interests at heart, even when we can’t yet see it.

Close Encounters

Photo by pixar.wikia.com

                 Photo by pixar.wikia.com

After several late nights due to a conference at church, Ruby came down with a cold. She lay on the couch like a lump.

“Can I stay in my pajamas today?” she asked, hope in her voice.

Yes, girlie. Somebody needed to get her strength back.  We included Zac in the home crew and he was jubilant.

“Finally!’ he fist pumped.  Home on a Sunday.  No church. He stopped just short of dancing a jig.

I felt kinda bad.  The service promised to be a good one. However, with the crick in my back and overall weariness myself from being at church for 4 consecutive days and singing onstage for 3 of them, I needed a rest, too. Back to work tomorrow.

I did manage to sneak out for a short run with Zac at the helm.

Like most runners, I find pounding the pavement creates clarity. I surely needed some today. Plus, running during daylight hours is always a plus.

I stuck to the flat parts of the city.  The dark day stayed cool, in the 40s. Rain threatened at any moment.  I slipped past the courthouse and down the main drag. I wove in and out of streets, a usual route creating a meditation of sorts. As I crossed over the creek again, I spied some kids in the next block.  Five or six were outside, playing. They seemed about elementary school age, maybe 7-9 years old, boys and girls.  A girl rode a skateboard, her long blonde hair flowing down her back.  I smiled at the sight.

As I turned the corner, a young man with reddish brown hair, beard and baseball cap was crossing the street.  He caught my smile and smiled back.

“Hey,” he said.

Uh oh.

“Hey,” I said, still smiling.  Might as well stay happy.

He started running alongside me.

“Sure,” I encouraged, “join me.”

I mean, he was already there, right?  And only a block from the police station.

He had some small talk to share.

“Out for a run, huh?”

Really?

“Yeah,” I said.

“Are you having a good day?” he asked.

Uh. Weird question.

“It’s getting better.  Running makes everything better,” I said.

True story.

“You’re setting a pretty good pace here,” he panted.

We’d almost reached the corner.

“I’m going this way,” I said and took off to the left.  He went straight ahead to get his car, I think.

“Have a good day!” he called.

“See ya,” I said, waving over my shoulder.

I looked at my Garmin.  Yeah, I was going fast. Oops. My bad.

Watch your back, Portland.  Shelton just got weirder.

Dreamworld

“Last night I had the strangest dream…”

Picasso's "Le Reve".

Picasso’s “Le Reve”.

Ever have those dreams where you start in the middle of a story?  You can’t remember how you got there or what you were doing before.  Suddenly, people and sometimes animals swirl around you. You feel a sense of deja-vu, but can’t quite summon the backstory.

Last night, I dreamed myself into Scotland.  I sat in the booth of a coffee shop, looking out over the sea.  The suns sparkled on the choppy blue waves.

The coffee shop belonged to me.

I won it with my mad rollerskating skillz.

And I’ve been there before, in a previous dream.

I picked up mid-conversation last night.

A tall lady with brown hair, tightly permed, addressed the motley crew in the shop.

“Oh, remember when Susan won this place?  Angus was so upset!”

A white-haired man with glasses and a cap nodded.

“Oh, he was.  Who knew she could skate like that?  And a Yank to boot!”

Murmurs filled the room.  Nothing of interest had happened in this sleepy little place since, oh, the 1600s.

I’m afraid I had nothing to add to this conversation.  I still have no knowledge of how to run a business.  I am no barista. I can barely make correct change. I looked out at the beautiful water and listened to all the discussions going on around me.

I woke up thinking, What? I like roller skating.  I do okay.  Still can’t skate backwards or any tricks.  I’m a bit more wary about any of that now that I’m past 9 years old. I would like to avoid broken bones, if possible. I’ve never been to Scotland, though my family is Scottish. I have a good relationship with coffee and can make it in a drip machine just fine.

This dream, though based on fantasy only, fascinates me. Is it prophetic?  Is it fallout from all the times I watched “Xanadu”, longing to be Olivia Newton-John? Or maybe it’s too much coffee during the day.

What do you dream about?