Tasting

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Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

This psalm came up in my Bible reading plan today.  I’m going through the psalms for a second time now.  What does it mean to “taste and see”?  I’ve heard this scripture quoted often over the years. David wrote this psalm after he had faked insanity in front of Abimelech.  David’s acting skills saved him from death twice – from King Abimelech, who wanted to kill David while he fled from King Saul, and from King Saul himself. “And the Oscar for lead actor this year goes to…David, of the tribe of Judah!”

David escaped death many times. Praising God for His faithfulness became second nature to him.  Many of the songs he composed reside in the book of Psalms. He wrestled with God, there, too.  Look at Psalm 22.  “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  The fullness of David’s character, his flaws and fortitude, come to light in the pages of the Old Testament.  God called him “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

I think David fully tasted of God’s goodness. He sought and found God in minding the family’s sheep. He learned to trust God in the great seasons and the trials.  That meant surrender.  That meant honest faith – or lack thereof. God’s not afraid or put off by our emotions or quaking.  He is love.  He’s bigger than all of our circumstances and pain. He can meet us where we are, right now, today.

Taste and see.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

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I woke up this morning filled with glee.  I didn’t have to hie myself to work.  I slept in until after 6:00 a.m.  That’s sleeping in for me, people.

I savored my coffee while watching the sun rise.  The bitter cold morning revealed a cloudless sky.  The sky turned sapphire, then pale azure, then golden. It was like being inside an icy jewelry box, with a lone sparkly star as the featured diamond.  My phone told me the outside temperature stood at 21 degrees.

I had to get out in it.  I pulled on my fleece hat and braved the chill.  The tundra landscape sparkled with a hard frost.  The last of the fall leaves crunched like yellow ice cubes underfoot.

As I ran, various smells accosted me.  Some early riser had a turkey roasting.  I smiled.  Then, bacon.  Then some other ambitious soul cooked up a green bean casserole.  I detected the aroma of the beans and its onion topping, getting golden brown in a toasty oven.

My frozen feet propelled me forward. The warm air in my lungs puffed out in front of me.  My hands, clenched from the cold, unfurled as the blood surged through my body and the sunshine hit my face.

I find myself filled with gratitude today.  I’m thankful to God for all the blessings he loads us with on a daily basis.  I’m thankful for family and friends, far and near.  Thank you, dear readers, for your interest.  You inspire me to continue. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Pressure Washer

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Yesterday, I got a text from Jonathon.  I’d stopped by home to pick up some food for a shop Thanksgiving potluck.

“What time did you leave home?” he asked.

“About 10:30 or 10:40”, I texted back.

“Hmm.  Somebody stole the old pressure washer out of the carport.  It was busted and rusted out anyway, but still.”

Then later.

“They cleared a path to it.  And they left the gun and the nozzle.  Good luck, buddy!  It won’t work.”

Even later.

“I know the pressure washer was just junk, but I feel kind of violated.”

Yes.

Jonathon and I love living in a small town for various reasons.  One of them happens to be that the crime rate is generally low.  Yet…someone stole my purse right out of our house a few years back.  And now this.

Why is it that even when someone takes something from us, something we stopped caring about long ago, it makes us feel bereft?  In the case of the stolen pressure washer, it encompasses several things.

First, a person trespassed onto our property.  Did they take the spare toilet my brother dropped off?  Nooo.  They took a piece of junk, way in the back of the carport.

Second, they had intent.  They bypassed Jonathon’s tricked out ten-speed.  They cast nary a glance at the extra desk or Ruby’s dirt bike.  They perused our stuff, planning to utilize their five-finger discount. They had their focus on scoring something specific.

Third, we don’t know who they are, or when/if they’ll return. They wheeled it straight down the driveway in broad daylight.  This leaves us with a sense of uneasiness.  It makes me, for the first time, fiercely desire a new category of pet.  Anyone know where Rottweiler World is?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

 

Seattle Junket

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I’m sitting here in our hotel room, looking out of the window.  Six stories up, I can see 4 construction cranes perched in the air.  I could also see the sunrise, if it wasn’t obscured by the fog creeping in over the city.

We’re in Seattle.  We arrived on Sunday.  I took notes for the Microsoft fall PAC on Monday and Tuesday, and edited them while here as well.  I wanted to blog, but needed a break from the small screen.

Down below us is a transit station area.  A lone golden tree sheds its leaves at random all over the street, whenever the wind blows.  Traffic piles up and pulls out on the on-ramp and highways just past the transit center.

City life hums along at breakneck speed.  An entire block got demolished since last we visited in April.  Now, it’s under construction.   I got a massage yesterday.  Unique restaurants make dining fun.  We’ve met some great people while staying here.

Every morning, because the coffee our timeshare provides is simply vile, one of us goes down to Cafe Lardo (not its real name) and pick up our daily allotment of caffeine.

The times I’ve made the one-block trek, I’m struck anew by all the foot traffic.  People commute to Seattle to go to work.  Computer techs.  Designers.  Retail workers.  And on and on.  The gals wear leggings, boots and hooded coats.  The guys wear skinny pants, dress shoes and button-down shirts.  Most of them have backpacks, too.  Almost all wear earbuds.

Nobody looks happy.  Nobody.  Everyone has their “hurry-up” on.

Thursday, the sun shone down on us, a rare treat in November.  We walked around downtown Seattle, peeking at architecture and window shopping a bit.  We played tourist for awhile, since I completed my work.  Walking downhill, then uphill, we heard Mandarin, French, German and possibly Hindi.  The kaleidoscope of skin colors dazzled.  So many good-looking, stylish people all in one place.

But it didn’t feel like a community.  Nobody seemed content.  In fact, the only truly happy people we encountered either worked in the service industry or lived on the street.

Now Susan, I hear you say, city people act differently.  They’re leery of strangers.  Don’t you remember working in downtown Portland and how often you got hit up for spare change?  I get it.  How could I forget?  I had more pocket link than spare change.

I look out the window again.  The fog remnants obscure only the tops of the tallest buildings now.  Traffic moves along at a good clip.  I’ve had my fill of the thrum and rush of big city life.  I’m ready to go home.

And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. – Ecclesiastes 3:13

 

 

Friday Faith

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This week, I realized I’m working 3 half-time jobs.  I had meetings and reports and all sorts of things going on.  Oh, plus church.  Did I tell you we’re ramping up for our Christmas program?  Yeah.  So, I’m feeling the finiteness of my being keenly this week.  Not enough Susan to go around, folks.

I sometimes reminisce with great fondness of my old life of chores, church, working out and visiting with friends.  Seems so long ago now.  I don’t anticipate things slowing down any time soon. My limited human capabilities remain. But I remembered this:  Jesus said, in Matthew 28:20, in his closing instructions to the apostles:  “And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Bam!  Now peace can flood in.  Because no matter what life throws at you, be it a drenched, windy Friday, or a sunny Monday, Jesus remains at your side.  You don’t have to worry; He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.  The twists and turns of outrageous fortune don’t faze Him. Jesus said it in Hebrews 13:5, but God said it way back in Deuteronomy, too.  Stuff happens.  Life isn’t fair.  But Jesus.  He will make a way.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

Locked Out

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I walked down the stairs and out of the shop garage.  I opened the heavy metal door to a glorious 4:30 p.m. sunset.  Pale blue sky held gray clouds tinged with coral.  I breathed in the fresh air and crossed the lot.  I reached the back door knob of the main office and turned it.  Locked.  Huh.  I walked around to the front door.  I jiggled the knob, which was also locked.

I finally looked up and suddenly realized the silence I stood in.  No trucks moved.  Nobody walked around, hosing down a garbage can.  Not a single voice or soul.  I existed in a ghost town, very temporarily.  Everyone else had gone home for the day.

Now what?

My boss, the public works superintendent, had a meeting downtown. I considered waiting around.  But the last words he said to me rang in my ears: “When I get back around 4:00, we’ll go over those numbers again.”  When I left the enclave, the clock stood at 4:23. I didn’t know for sure if he’d return, since the meeting ran long.

I considered leaving a note, yet I had no pen and only the bills I planned to drop off clutched in my hand. Nothing for it but to walk.  My car keys, coat and phone sat safe and sound inside shop office. I could have gone home – I’m that close – but the best solution would be to get into the office again to reach my car keys, etc.

Fortunately, Shelton doesn’t take up much real estate.  The golden light infused the walk with a certain magic.  I picked up the pace, gazing at the sky as I went. I held onto the bills. The temperature had dropped into the 40s with the sun’s departure. I reached the coffee shop and interrupted the casual meeting.

“I’m locked out.  Sorry!” I said as I stepped into the warm room

“We just talked about getting you a key today.  I’m sorry about that,” the super said. He got up.  He directed me to where I could get a key myself.

“Wait, did you walk over here?”

He looked incredulous.

“Sure.  It’s beautiful out,” I said. C’mon, man! I wanted to say.  I’m from Portland.  I used to walk 10 blocks to deposit my paycheck.

Now I knew I had the keys to get in.  It gave me a sense of security. I strode back, glad for the new knowledge and fortuitous stretching of my legs.

It reminds me of how I’m doing with NaNoWriMo.  I’ve got 3100 words so far on what’s supposed to be a 50,000-word novel.  At that rate, the website informs me, I’ll finish in March 2016.  Thanks much. The plot of my novel, it seems, is temporarily locked up.  I can’t seem to quite reach it and tell the next part of the story.

No reason to get discouraged. All I need are the keys.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Game Changer

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So I realized today that I don’t need exercise.

Hold on a minute, I hear you say.  You run.  You work out with kettlebells.  You jump rope sometimes, and walk when you can.

Yes.  I do all those things.  I love them.  I feel good when I exercise.  My thinking clears up and I sweat out some bad attitudes and negative junk.

But I don’t need to exercise to fit into my clothes.

See, I’ve gotten injured several times over the last handful of years.  I hurt my back.  I hurt my calf.  And now, my foot.  You learn to modify your exercise, take it down a couple of notches.  You stretch. You rest. You might even pray, if the pain gets too excruciating or prolonged.  You discover right quick that you can’t eat the volume of food you devoured while including 2 hour-long kettlebells sessions and running 25+ miles in your weekly schedule.

Blessedly, long ago, I’d heard about Weigh Down Workshop and later Thin Within. I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. Thin Within is WDW without the condemnation. Much more palatable and grace-filled.  Thin Within’s structure states that you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.  You start by cutting your portions in half.  You eat slowly and deliberately, eliminating distractions. What I love is that no food is taboo.  You might need to eat less of it, listening to your body’s cues, but you can still have pecan pie. Food loses its power over you. The program contains much more valuable information, but I’ve given you the basic gist.

I don’t practice it perfectly, but I’ve eaten this way of eating for almost 20 years now. At this point in life, I can’t run as much as I’d like.  Yet swinging kettlebells every day bores me to tears.  Besides, exercise can never burn off as much food as you eat.  A piece of pizza can contain anywhere from 300-500 calories and up per slice.  Running a mile burns somewhere around 100 calories. If you eat 2 pieces of pizza, will you run 10 miles?  Not me. Okay, maybe me if I’m training for something.

Running, lifting weights, swimming, etc. can help you get toned, improve cardiovascular health, mental acuity and extend your life.  Exercise has its own rewards, like building muscle mass to enable your body to burn more calories when at rest. But despite popular shows like “Biggest Loser”, it’s not the main factor in weight loss. We need to eat less, period.

So let me encourage you as I encourage myself.  Exercise is not the magic bullet, only an enhancer.  If you’re physically unable to move much, you can still lose weight. And you can keep weight off by obeying hunger and fullness. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139). You have everything you need to get lean.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12