Go Right

 

go right poster.jpg

I saw this poster recently, and it’s stuck with me. I’m someone who thinks through scenarios in my head. I try to plan for contingencies. I’m a planner, part of the administrator in me.

I find myself getting extra plates and extra cups. I put out more utensils than we will need for a gathering. I bring extra money on a shopping trip, “just in case”. Okay. Well, clothes shopping isn’t really a contingency issue. Maybe a cute little spring dress will…call out to me. I must answer, right?!

Anyway.

This poster above is how optimists think. At least, looking at it from the realist/pessimism point of view, it seems that way. I see what is. I see the bad things and the shortcomings. I sense what could go wrong. But those Pollyanna folks see all the great outcomes. They see their kids, down the road in the future, serving God and bringing him glory. I see those same kids struggling right now to even attend church. It makes me gloomy, in point of fact. Glass-is-half full people figure out how to make the most of their money, deliberately building joy  and surprises into the mundane tasks of bill-paying and keeping house. Us glass-is-half-empty types only see that the month is 1/3 gone and the money is running out. We feel like indentured servants to our jobs. We see no hope.

I’ve painted stark pictures. These days, I tend to fall more in the mid-range on pessimism.  Jesus has worked on me. My husband has helped with this also. He’s a natural optimist. He’s a happy person. So is Ruby. They get happiness out of small things, like donuts on Friday and riding their bikes on sunny days. I admire them. There’s a beautiful contentment in this personality trait. In fact, it’s like Jesus said:  you need to become like a child to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:3). Some of us (ahem) are too sarcastic for our own good. It masks a fear to look forward to something too much, to hope and be let down. We have a history of painful experiences behind us. We don’t want to feel disappointment again or, even worse, fail. After all, we think smugly, we’d rather be right than happy. Which, now that I’ve written it, sounds rather pathetic.

But living in the negative scenario in your head doesn’t leave room for what could become a wonderful event. I’m not open to the great things – serendipitous things – that God can bring about. So I’ve decided to let this go. I want to focus on the good in situations and believe for the best. I’m discovering a new place to walk. Yes, wear the boots if it’s raining outside, yet also dress in layers, cause the sun could start shining again any minute now.

 

 

 

 

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Benefit of the Doubt

I ran outside, the sky lit by starshine and a gibbous moon. Birds still slept. The only sound I heard was the music pulsing in my ears and my feet hitting the street.

The town slumbered around me. I kept pushing repeat on this song.

It’s a beautiful day…Don’t let it get away…

True confession time:  I haven’t stayed faithful on my “no sweets” challenge. This, though it’s helped me lose 4 lbs. to date. To be completely honest, I’ve struggled quite a bit. Since February 13 – blame it on Valentine’s Day, if you wish – I’ve eaten some chocolate every day. I questioned whether I could do this at all. Chocolate, you delicious foxy minx. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

You’ve been all over…and it’s been all over you…

Anyway,  the sermon last night talked about doubt. When we start questioning what God has asked us to do, whether He did it in a big way or by a still, small voice, we pull back. We operate in fear instead of faith. We look at ourselves instead of up to God and His purpose. Guess who’s bigger, stronger and able in every way? It’s certainly not us. We need to press into Him and stop looking at ourselves and our circumstances.

What you don’t have, you don’t need it now..

I realized that yes, indeed, this is the mission for 2016. I’ve had a few victories. I’ve walked away from peanut butter cookies that I made. Ice cream and cake don’t pull on me like they used to. I still stumble on chocolate-studded baked goods and dark chocolate, period. Bridge mix still croons its siren song. I can’t have any of them in the house, at least not right now.

Teach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case…

I’m taking this time to realize only with the Lord can I keep my word. The benefit of the doubt is that I learn to trust Him more. So, I am an addict, albeit a recovering one. This means one day at a time. This means I will have good days and bad days. I believe desserts will lose their power over me, little by little. I can’t strong-arm this, exerting extreme control. This will take surrender of my wants and patience.  I need to stay the course and keep seeking God for strength and wisdom.

This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.– Psalm 118:24

 

Unanticipated Risks

risk

Over the weekend, Ruby handed me a permission slip. Seems her school would be making a trip to the capitol in Olympia in March. Since Shelton lies in the shadow of Washington’s state capitol, all the kids get to go, at least once.

As I filled in the blanks about Ruby’s particulars – name, rank, serial number – the phrase “unanticipated risks” jumped out at me. The elementary school wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t hold them liable if anything should happen to my child.

Unanticipated risks encompasses a lot of territory. Frankly, just getting up in the morning entails a certain amount of risk. You could stub your toe getting out of bed. The eggs lurking in your fridge could provide a nasty case of food poisoning. Your best friend could decide they like someone else a little bit better than you, and drop you like a hot rock. You might get downsized at work or hit by a bus when you stepped off a curb during lunch break.

So many things could go wrong in the course of a day, and even more in the course of a lifetime. While I can appreciate the school’s concern, I want to focus on all that can go right. What if Ruby learns about government and has a great time doing it? What if I stumble upon a new and delicious way to cook eggs? What if my best friends and I grow a little bit closer, God willing and the creek don’t rise? What if I get a promotion and the bus that could have hit me stops and picks me up instead?

Ultimately, my best insurance policy is trusting in God’s goodness and faithfulness. After all:  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

 

February Thanksgiving

TGIF, people. I thought I’d write about what I’m grateful for today. I know it’s February. It seemed like the best time to meditate on good things, since the dreary weather continues.

Let’s start with this peaceful pond, out in back of the Public Works shop main office. Two very ugly ducks live here. But so do salmon, a woodpecker and who knows what else. Living in Shelton reminds me that we’ve only eked out this space from the woods. We’re blessed to have it, as long as the wilderness allows us.

Feb duck pond

As many of you know, I work half the day down at the Public Works shop. I am the only woman working at this facility. We have a restroom the guys and I share. It has a lock on it now (hurrah!), but some things still remind me it’s mostly a men’s bathroom. On the floor this morning, a hunting magazine lay open to a page like this:

Ikes-CO-Buck-14

Could be worse, I guess. I’m thankful for how they have welcomed me and allowed me to be part of their team. I don’t know anyone very well, nor do I interact much with those who ride the equipment and fix things outside the garage. I hope, given time, to remedy that.

I got on the treadmill this morning for a short run. Well, Susan, you *are* short, consequently, all your runs are short! Haha. Very funny, inner comedienne. Anyway, it felt good. Got to sweat off some irritation. I needed that. The head mechanic here, also a runner, reminded me yesterday about how much his runs help him with his attitude. Nuff said.

Zac, bless his heart, got the same flu Ruby and I had about 10 days back. I thought for sure he’d dodged it, ensconced at his computer. He’s been home from school all week.

“May I implore you to make me some tea?” he asked the other morning, very early, around a cough. Shocking, since he never drinks tea.

I had to chuckle. No need to implore, sweet boy. I miss taking care of you, now that you’re nearly grown. I will do it with pleasure. He’s shown up chipper all week long, albeit tired, coughing and feverish. I don’t think he’s missed school for one minute. So, I’m not thankful Zac got sick, but glad to be able to spend a little more time with him and help him where I can.

I apologize that this photo is rather graphic, but I’m happy about cats that work hard so we don’t have to:

Rex rat

This used to be a rat, and a fat one, too. Not sure what the decapitation is about. Extreme prejudice, perhaps?

And last, but not least…

Crocus_speciosus_clump2

Amen. Come quickly, spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do It Scared

stud earrings

We told Ruby when she got to the halfway point between her and her cousin/BFF’s birthdays, she could get her ears pierced. She got excited. Us moms and daughters went to the mall to do it this past Saturday.

We gazed at the display of stud choices. I almost choked when I heard the man made birthstone ones were $55. What?! We gently steered the girls towards the lower-priced options. Still sparkly, just less out of our wallets.

My niece Joy, a brave girl with darling dimples, sat on the raised purple stool. The clerk, a girl sporting a blonde bob with pink highlights, marked her ears’ future holes with a purple pen. Joy smiled out at us.

The clerk clipped one ear, leaving behind a glittery cross. A cloud passed over Joy’s face, then the sun shone again. The clerk finished her work and stepped back.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Joy said.

Ruby’s turn. She sat in the chair and shivered. The clerk tried to dot Ruby’s ears. Ruby hunched her shoulders, protecting herself.

“Hon, you need to sit still.” The clerk did her best to corral Ruby. Ruby wasn’t having any of it. She flailed. She panicked. She slipped out of the chair, dejected.

We took a walk around the mall. Ruby kept her head down, frown on her face. Ruby never got the guts to sit back in the chair. I didn’t want to pressure her into it. Getting your ears pierced is optional, as far as I know. I didn’t do it until I was 13.

I asked Ruby how she was doing. I wanted to know how I could help. I’d encouraged, talked about not psyching herself out by thinking about it too much, etc. I’d prayed, too.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” she said. Her eyes mirrored her sadness.

Ah. That’s the worst feeling. I told her about how I’ve run races and not done well. I’ve stood up to play flute solos and sat down again, unhappy with my performance. But you get up and do it anyway. You don’t give up. You think about how pleased you’ll feel once you accomplish your goal. You push through.

“In fact,” I said, “you do it scared. I used to tremble all over when I played. So much so that my lips would quiver. Then I would get mad. You can’t play well if your lips are moving all over the place. But you keep on and do your best. It’s alright to be afraid. That’s what bravery is.”

She considered this.

So when we went to the mall two days later, she sat in the chair. For a minute. Yes, we took another trip around the stores to help her gather courage, this time with purple dots on her ears as a precursor of things to come. Did it help that a 4-month-old baby got her ears pierced right in front of Ruby? No. Really didn’t. But Ruby did it. She sat there, tears falling down her cheeks, but she got the piercing.

“Did it hurt?” I asked as she wiped her eyes.

“Yes,” she said.

The hurt fades, in time. Yet the satisfaction of looking your fear in the eye and staring it down remains. We never outgrow the need to fight some kind of fear. I put on my running shoes this morning and ran outside for the first time in two weeks. My foot feels better. It’s time to move on. I have to stare down my fear, too. Let the satisfaction of besting fear fuel the next dream.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10

 

 

 

 

Flu Trust

thermometer

Happy Tuesday! Long time, no blog. There’s a reason for it. You may have guessed it, dear readers:  I contracted Ruby’s ick. She and I were sick buddies, home together for most of last week. We hacked our way through kids’ movies. We endured fevers up over 102 degrees. We sneezed and sniffled and napped. It was the worst of times. Yet sorta sweet, as we snuggled on the couch, comatose and nearly appetite-free.

I kept getting up, thinking, “Well, if I just medicate myself enough, I could go in. It’s not so bad.” Then I would try. Everything ached. The thought of showering and shuffling towards a presentable appearance seemed monumental at best. I had no energy or brain power. I would crawl back under the covers. The flu had me.

My conscience, however, worked overtime. I felt guilty. If I’d just been more careful with sterilizing things after Ruby touched them. If I’d eaten better, gotten enough sleep, and on and on. If, if, if. Then, I tried to keep the flu confined to just Ruby and I. I didn’t want the boys to get it. And they haven’t.

It’s okay if you get sick. It’s not the end of the world. Rest. Read or watch TV. Eat and drink, if you can. Pray, if your brain will crank out a coherent thought. If not, don’t. Feeling guilty won’t get you healed any faster. I had to let it all go. I put myself completely in God’s hands. Which, it turns out, is where I was supposed to be all along.

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

 

 

Grappling with Groundhogs

We’ve been battling sickness at Casa Isham. Ruby got the ick on Sunday. It started out with a cough, then progressed into a debilitating fever. She’s watched Shark Boy and Lava Girl, Free Willy, Book of Kells and countless episodes of Avatar (animated series) and Martha Speaks (PBS animated series). Most of these shows I can’t stand. Book of Kells had spectacular animation. Avatar is imbecilic at best. Martha Speaks I love for the wordplay and vocab lessons. Shark Boy and Lava Girl have good…hair. I know all this because I stayed home from work with her yesterday afternoon.

My turn to keep healthy now. I started coughing yesterday and spiked a small temperature. However, things at work are hopping. I couldn’t – can’t – afford to be ill right at this moment. New responsibilities are breaking open, like springtime buds. Relationships and establishing reliability sit on the brink at this point.

So, I’m self-medicating with OTC drugs. I’m chugging cough drops like they’re going out of style. I’m drinking water and lots of it.

While we’re at it, Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today.

punx phil

He thinks we’ll have an early spring. I’m ready. I’m praying that spring is on its way, both in the natural and in other aspects of our lives as well. I want to see new growth bust out of the cold, unforgiving ground and our circumstances. Who couldn’t use some bright and cheerful crocuses right about now?!

But even if winter lasts 6 more long weeks, I know who has it all worked out.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 1:6