Streaker

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

I went out for a run yesterday morning, Memorial Day. By the time I got up, breakfasted and out the door, the sun was full on shining. I don’t usually run in full sun. I’m like the old timey film in the photographer’s camera. Low light only until fully developed. Anyway, it felt good to be out amongst the blossoms and bright light.

I realized something, though. I need to build up. I want to up the mileage. And I remembered the streak. No nudity required (thank God). You runners know what I’m talking about. You run at least a mile every day for a set period of time. So I’d like to bring back the Memorial Day to Independence Day streak. One mile a day – at least – from now until July 4. This might mean some very early morning miles. It might mean some late miles, just before sunset. I haven’t given myself permission or this goal in years. I got up this morning and put it into action, over to the post office and back. One mile. Done.

I’m finding I need something more in this life. I need more stamina, more mental toughness. Which means I need to just do it, stop overanalyzing and get it done. Thank you, Nike.

just do it

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Friday Flash

“Ruby, what are you doing?”

Our ten-year-old lounged on the couch, eating an orange. She’d spent the day home from school, lying on the couch, catching up on old shows. Allergies plugged her ears. She sneezed as if on cue and rubbed her eyes. The thermometer read normal but she felt lousy.

“I thought you wouldn’t be home until 8:00!” she squealed. She sat at attention.

Busted.

That was the plan. We’d asked her to take a shower and put herself to bed while we were at worship rehearsal. Zac, though conscientious with the -his-sister part, doesn’t do the “tuck in” ritual well. Ruby says so.

“You’re supposed to be in the shower now,” I said, with a dark mom glower on my face. The clock stood at 7:35 p.m.

“I forgot all about it,” Ruby squeaked.

Riiight. Parents, this is about the oldest excuse in the book, right next to “The dog ate my homework” and “The devil made me do it.”

Lately, Ruby’s had a hard time doing what’s asked of her with a good attitude. She grumps and pouts, slamming forks and knives and spoons on the table when asked to set it for dinner. Napkins go every which way. Looks like a bunch of squirrels played hockey there.

This morning was no different.

“What chore can I do?” Ruby asked. Our deal is you have to do a chore before you get to technology. This is after getting ready for the day, etc.

“You can take out the trash,” I said.

From the living room, I could hear her working. She lifted the bag out of the trash. She started to drag it to the back door.

“Don’t drag it,” Zac corrected. “You need to pick it up.”

“It’s too heavy,” she said. “I can’t lift it.”

“Like this,” I heard Zac say. He must have demonstrated how to carry the bag out the back door.

“I caaan’t!” Ruby whined. Somehow, she edged the bag into the trash.

I couldn’t stop laughing. So much drama. What’s next? Now she needs to put in a new bag. How will that go?

I heard her open the cabinet under the sink to pull out a new garbage bag.

“Seriously?” Ruby says. I can visualize red steam puffing out of her ears.

Jonathon’s cracking up with me now, safe in the living room.

See, the kitchen is under renovation. Jonathon will put new butcher block countertops in today. All the stuff that lived under the sink has temporarily relocated to the living room.

“In here, Ruby,” Jonathon called out to her.

Ruby stomped into the living room. I try not to look at her. She yanked straight up on the bag, pulling it free from his box. She walked back into the kitchen, gustily shaking the bag to get it to balloon out from sticking to itself.

Jonathon and I laughed. This early morning drama brought to you by your resident tween!

We will deal with Ruby’s attitude. But it’s so familiar, isn’t it? Those of us whose driver’s licenses prove adulthood status still struggle at times, exhibiting little tantrums over the small inconveniences of life. The too-long red light. The dirty socks in the middle of the floor – again. The empty coffee carafe no one bothered to refill at work. Will we lose our cool, or exercise self-control? Lord, help me remember to laugh and be part of the solution, not the problem.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – James 1:2

 

 

 

 

Persistence Pays

Persistence

Went out for a 3-mile run this morning. The overcast sky and cool breezes laden with the scent of honeysuckle made me want to do more, go farther. But I didn’t, because…time. Oh, and stamina. True confession: I want to be further along than this. I want to head out for 5 or 6-mile runs and get back, sweaty and content, to shower and down some breakfast. Three miles – with a bit of uphill struggle – seems piddly.

Running fills up a deep part of me. I can’t explain it. One of my good friends pointed it out to me years ago. I feel better, more connected to myself, after a run. I feel pretty good after kettlebells and taking long walks, too (with or without a sunset or beach), but it isn’t the same.

I think it’s human nature to always want more, to push the limits and see what’s out there. I find it easy, considering all I used to be able to do, to fall back into discouragement. Discouragement waits for me, a cozy cocoon of confinement, to draw me into the trap of complacency, confusion and ultimately the conquered.

All this to say I’m keeping on. Maybe you feel like giving up in your life. Something you’ve tried for, time and again, still eludes you. But the goal is worth it. Don’t give up. Put in the work. Show up. Your blessing is coming.

 

Chocolate Deficit

chocolate pile heart

I’ve been thinking about my tagline today. I haven’t written about chocolate in a long time. The reason is that I’ve tried to give it up for 2016. So far, it’s held on. I seem to be over my inordinate love of cake, cookies, cupcakes and candy, as well as their kissing cousin treats like donuts and pie. But chocolate, that sweet seductress, lingers.

I’ve considered leaving it alone and keeping chocolate in the rotation. But I don’t seem to have boundaries with it. Today marks day 2 of the chocolate-free attempt #95 or possibly 96. Chocolate is a rock star. It looks good, glossy and dark. It tastes good. It has an emotional entrenchment, bringing comfort to those who imbibe. It’s also readily available, though I try to only eat dark. Dark chocolate has heart health benefits, or at least I tell myself that as I pick up just one more section.

I’ve lost about 5 lbs., resetting my base line weight to the lowest it’s been in awhile. Fruit tastes great, of sweetness and sometimes flowers. I enjoy most food more now. I feel really good most of the time. Do I still put sugar in my coffee? Yes. I can’t seem to get away from it unless I use half and half or full cream. It seems I need richness in my life somewhere.

Which brings me to my next topic. I’m in a strange place in a lot of areas in life. I need to be…more. More compassionate. More kind. More wise. More patient, on and on. God is saying, “Step up!” I don’t have it to give, at least not right now. I’ll have to grow into it. I need the richness of the Holy Spirit in my life, more and more. And maybe that means I spend time seeking the sweetness of His presence instead of a piece of the dark stuff.

How sweet your words taste to me;
    they are sweeter than honey. – Psalm 119:103

 

 

 

Shortfall

person-falling-down-stairs

I led worship yesterday, and somehow found myself on the receiving end of several compliments. I appreciate them, but I try not to let it go to my head. People’s opinions can prove fickle. For instance, in the past, I’ve been called:

  • Androgynous
  • Chubby
  • Fat
  • Invisible
  • Boring
  • Timid
  • Stubborn
  • Rigid
  • Religious
  • Teacher’s pet
  • Plain/ugly
  • Regimented
  • Terrible mom
  • Disloyal
  • Driven
  • Entitled
  • Fake
  • Caustic
  • Bitter
  • Oh, and a few more: manipulative, dismissive, and controlling.

In other words, my most bodacious personality left a shortfall in their expectation  between who I was and who they thought I should be.

short·fall
ˈSHôrtˌfôl/
noun
noun: shortfall; plural noun: shortfalls
  1. a deficit of something required or expected.
    “they are facing an expected $10 billion shortfall in revenue”

On the positive side, I’ve been called:

  • Cute
  • Stylish
  • Fit
  • Faithful
  • Smart
  • Pretty
  • Organized
  • Persistent
  • Conscientious
  • Bold
  • Competent
  • Talented
  • Great mom
  • Empathetic
  • Strong
  • Authentic
  • Administrative
  • Kind
  • Focused
  • Funny
  • Inspirational
  • Person of integrity
  • Wise (Uh…I’m afraid the jury’s still out on that one).

Well, and short most of all. That could fall in either category, I suppose, depending on the day. Kind of a neutral truth, I think. More like reality, as I search my closet for heels to wear with longer trousers on a regular basis and I drive my car with the seat pulled all the way forward.

Some of these personal descriptors have been said to my face. Some behind my back. Some simply whispered in my ear by the devil himself. I like compliments; not gonna lie. But I know they can be exhilarating stuff, like adhering to a strict diet of cotton candy. No real substance there. I understand the need for balance. But really, looking at the two lists, do they even describe the same person? How can I be both faithful and disloyal? Pretty and plain? Fit and fat? Timid and bold? Because different people, in unique circumstances, sometimes decades apart, said these things. Beauty – or not – is in the eye of the beholder. I bear no ill will to my naysayers. Often at the time they spoke truth, and it helped to spur change and course correction. I find myself grateful for their words now, their once-powerful sting long gone. However, I’m also not the person I was even a few years ago.

What I’ve found is that all of these  – even the good traits – fall short of who God says I am. I’m in the beloved. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), I’m a new creation in Christ and getting remade all the time. I’m the head and not the tail. I’m more than a conqueror. I’m part of the Bride of Christ. I’m forgiven. I’ve been set free. God continues to shape and mold me into the image he planned from the foundation of the world. Yet, I will continue to fall short of His will in my life as long as I’m walking this earth. It’s a fact. I’m not perfect. But I’m changing from glory to glory. I can continue to work on excellence and being the best Susan I can be. Jesus will make up the difference and guide me into all truth.

Let’s Go, Trucks!

For the past 7 months now, I’ve worked in the EMR department. EMR is short for Equipment Maintenance and Repair. My coworker is the head mechanic, and he repairs and services all the equipment and vehicles the City owns, minus police cars. I’m in this department half of every working day. Kind of like the world of Let’s Go, Trucks!

let's go, trucks

One of Jonathon’s favorite childhood books, it migrated into our married life and captured the imaginations of both of our kids. We have several Little Golden Books we brought into our union, like – Saggy Baggy Elephant  and The Tawny Scrawny Lion (me) , The Poky Little Puppy and We Help Daddy (Jonathon), which incidentally has helped us with parenting a time or two. “Hey! We’re helping Daddy now. Not drawing on the wall.”

This book, however, made Zac happy for years. We read it at least once a day.

let's go, trucks_armored car

I never had much interest in trucks. I still don’t. This little book educated me on all they do, with colorful pictures to illustrate the point. Frankly, the little book’s lessons didn’t stick with me. But now I can see trucks’ merit for myself, since I work around 50+ of them every day. They take shop employees out to read meters, stripe roads, put up signs, and clear catchbasins, just to name a few duties.

catchbasinA catchbasin, out of its natural habitat. It lives under the street, at the end of a pipe. Its sole purpose is to hold onto street debris. It literally *is* a basin that catches stuff. Cool, no?

I have close encounters with trucks daily. City employees drive their department trucks while on the job. I process work orders and purchase orders to get them fixed. We receive deliveries from vendors, like Napa and Aramark, who drive trucks. We even get new tires brought to us. The huge APP fuel truck comes twice a month to top off our unleaded and diesel tanks. Think of the trucks that drive cross country to deliver goods to department and big box stores. Think of how we get groceries from farmlands to the different coasts. Trucks, baby, and lots of ’em.

If you know a trucker, give them a hug. They help keep this country running. I know Beyoncé says Girls Run the World. But I don’t agree. It’s trucks, and has been for years. But keep it on the down low. Don’t want Bey finding out.

keep on truckin'

(source)

Three Mile Morning

daisy

I ran today. The sun hadn’t stepped onstage yet, the eastern sky a pale blue. Candy-colored clouds dotted the skyline. The air was still.

I headed up the hill, separated from the traffic by a concrete median. Good thing, too, because my pants kept falling down. I even had them on right side out. Thanks for asking. But somehow I’d forgotten to tie them. Even then, they didn’t want to stay up, drifting down as if pulled by some super gravity. Had to tuck my shirt in. The adjustments delayed but didn’t stop me.

Funny, I kept waiting for the pain to kick in. Come on, I thought. Where are you, my old enemy? I’m waiting. I’m hunting you. A slight ache in my right shoulder remained, the only remnant from last night’s weighted squat with presses as well as the cleans of kettlebell class. My footfalls mounted the incline. I walked a little and admired the sweet morning, daisy faces shining at me from the roadside. I felt a slight twinge in my left foot. Nope. Keep moving.

The pain never found me. Somehow, by the grace of God, I’d outrun it. I couldn’t stop smiling. Now, my endurance is another story. But I can work on that. I know the drill. I will put in the time.

But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
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 43:18-19