End of an Era

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Last night, our kettlebells instructor, Helga to you, taught her last class.

“Hi everyone. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I’m quitting.”

She set her bag down and explained. She told us about the near-constant searing pain in her shoulder. She’s battled it off and on for the last 2 years. She’s had massages, chiropractor treatments and cortisone shots. She’s had X-rays, too. Nothing seems to totally get rid of it, save possibly complete rest. She got a full-time job a few months back. Making it in to teach night class has become increasingly difficult as well.  She’s taught for 6 years.

While out on a run this morning, I thought back over the classes I attended. I remembered learning how to swing correctly. Trust me, that took more than a year. Morning classes I didn’t bother to put on makeup, except for maybe lipgloss or lipstick.  After breakfast and coffee, I threw on clean workout clothes and drove up the hill to the gym. Over time, I acquired callouses. They peeled. Sometimes they bled. I got bruises on my forearms and sometimes my legs, if I knocked myself with a bell. I took on larger weights as I mastered an exercise. Sweat ran into my eyes. We did innumerable jump squats, reaching for the sky like frogs on steroids. I found muscles I didn’t know I had. We passed large balls from outstretched legs to outstretched arms, like a band of Cirque du Soleil rejects. All of this set to the lilting background music of Ozzie, AC/DC and Guns N Roses.

And I loved every minute of it.

For now, us merry few who are regulars will take turns teaching the class. But it won’t be the same. Each of us came face to face with the limits of our inner resilience under her instruction. We pushed past them and found new levels to play on.

“You know,” Helga said to me with a smile as we stretched out at the close of class, “you guys are the reason I kept coming back.”

She’s the reason we kept coming back. She made us feel like we could take on the world. Thanks for everything. So long, sensei.

 

 

 

 

 

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Blame it on Martha

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Years ago, I used to watch Martha Stewart Living.

Laugh if you want to. It’s okay.

Anyway, I’m not a crafty person at all. I spider web with a hot glue gun. I cut holes in things I try to sew except for pillows. I made a mean pillow. I love to bake and I’m good at it. But things with crafts…nope. So for me, it felt like Martha had a certain domestic magic I lacked.

I also watched Martha’s show because I wanted to see how the other half lived. I watched Martha create gorgeous flower arrangements out of blooms from her impeccable grounds at Turkey Hill. I watched her sew napkins with maple leaves stenciled on them. I even watched her make her own flavor-infused vodka. No lie.

But what’s stuck with me all these years is watching her make ganache. Ganache is a silky smooth chocolate frosting. It can make anything taste amazing. It consists of melted chocolate and heavy whipping cream. It’s easy. Heat the cream just to bubbling. Take it off the heat. Add the chocolate and let the whole mess sit for 5 minutes. Stir it up and voila, you have ganache! You can pour it over your cake. You can whip it up into a thick, spreadable mass. You can eat it with a spoon, straight from the bowl. Not that I would know anything about that. This video is more recent, but contains the basics.

Back to Martha. She made the little special touches of homemaking seem effortless. Tablescapes? No problem. Height, fabric and accessories, done. Anyone could make a cute apron from a burlap sack or deftly fold a fitted sheet. True confession: still working on that skill. Martha gave us access to the well-appointed life. It seemed like we too could become lifestyle millionaires with entire paint and high thread count linen lines bearing our name. We could be fancy and still be ourselves, only better.

It’s a good thing.

Monday Oddments

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Ran 3 miles today. My legs churned the still air. It flowed over me like a river of pure growing things. Clouds in the sky burned orange and super-nova white. I breathed in the morning, refreshed by the coolness of a new day.

Today is our 24th anniversary. I can’t believe I’m we’re this old. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s so worth it to keep showing up and loving each other. It’s been a great goal of mine to make it to 50 years of marriage, or beyond. So little in this life is dependable, constant, sure. With God’s help, I want to be those things for my husband and kids.

Our house is listed online. It’s for sale, really and truly. It’s out on Redfin and should upload to Zillow and all the other sites today.

Eek!

I’m learning more and more to let go of control. I need to do the best with what I have at the moment. Heck, I’d love to learn to *live* in the moment. But I think for me, it’s a life-long education.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

Friday Sandwich

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I ran 3 miles this morning in the cool yet humid air. The sky threatened rain at any moment. I tried to talk myself out of the distance but did it anyway. I’m working towards a mileage goal for the week. Two miles tomorrow, and I’ll have it.

I’ve been meditating on this scripture lately – Proverbs 10:22. A good friend of mine gave it to me months ago when I asked her to pray about us moving and all.

Proverbs 10:22 – The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

I had lunch with a different friend and I mentioned it. I told her about the scripture.

“You know, the one from Proverbs that says ‘The blessing of the Lord….'” I trailed off. And I completely blanked. I shook my head. Really? Granted, often I find Proverbs a dusty book, but still.

She looked at me, waiting, her lips quirked up.

“The blessing of the Lord…blah blah blah…?” she queried. Her eyes sparkled with mirth.

I had to laugh. Someone had taken the time to give me confirmation of our dreams and I hadn’t taken the time to actually *look* up the reference. Sigh.

I can see God’s blessing on our lives. We’ve got a couple of great kids and live in a nice town. Our church lets us serve in ways we love. Jonathon and I have good jobs with great people. Financially, we’re doing well. We have limited debt. We can live within our means. We can give as opportunities arise. We’re already rich in so many ways.

This verse out of Proverbs has helped me stay the course. Living in the middle of renovation and working full-tilt throughout makes for weary folks. I’ll admit,  I questioned all of this. I couldn’t see the end. Would we recoup our investment? Did we do the right thing? Would it ever end?

Yes, it will. Because God planned this from start to finish. He never leaves us halfway.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. –  Philippians 1:6

Those two verses together make something that resembles a faith sandwich. The blessing of the Lord initiated this work, and the Lord will finish it. The verses apply to the house circumstances as well as running. Can’t give up now. I need to take a big bite out of that reality today.

Inclusionary

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I taught in the schoolagers class at church last night. Suddenly, a flood of tiny people approached me. They looked way too small to be in regular school.

“How old are you?” I asked one little girl.

She held up 4 fingers.

“Uh…you need to be in the preschool class.” Turns out several of the new little ones wandered down to the wrong room. My super assistant escorted the rogues to the correct location.

Yet one stayed behind.

“I don’t wanna go!” one little boy protested. He stood no more than 3 feet high in his baggy t-shirt and shorts

“You’re not in school. You’re only five,” his big brother reminded him, smirking a bit.

“I’m five!” the boy told me, tiny hand held up with all fingers in view.

I hesitated. He seemed like he’d be a handful. I wondered if I wanted to deal with behavioral issues. His bottom lip quivered. He desperately wanted to be big. Little Jimmy needed to be included with the big kids. His older brother would have liked nothing better than for Joey to get gone. I’d missed something, though. It’s summer. I’d forgotten kids get promoted to the next grade after the school year ends.

I leaned down to Jimmy. “How about we try it tonight?”

Jimmy nodded, his face lit with anticipation.

I flashed back to earlier in the week. I called a meeting to talk about purchasing procedures at the city. We’ve had some conflicting policies, and I wanted to hash it out with all my bosses in the room. We discussed what the state laws dictate and what the city allows. Granted, we got off on a tangent about sidewalks and asphalt and how best to repair them, but that’s beside the point. We acknowledged the problem and came up with some solutions. Then…

“We need to get the attorney involved. She’ll know just what the thresholds are for purchasing and projects. I’d like the three of us there,” said the director.

I was not among the Big Three. Those included my immediate boss, the superintendent and the director himself. I felt a little left out, since I’d called the meeting, brought up the problem and provided some solutions. I wanted in on that discussion. It affects how I do my job. I don’t like getting pertinent information second hand. It can get diluted along the way.

So I felt Jimmy. Everyone wants to be included, to be part of the group. And you know what? Jimmy did just fine. He threw rocks once, which I discouraged. He tried to take balls from other kids. Discouraged that, too. He ran around and chased balls instead. He rode down the slide. He fell face down in the pea gravel once.

“Somebody watch me! Teacher, watch me!”

“I’m watching!” I called.

Jimmy spun around a pole. I smiled. I see you, mister. We all have to start somewhere. We can make mistakes and learn from them. You’re going to be just fine, picking yourself up and growing along the way. So am I.

 

Run Through

I ran 4 miles this morning. Probably not a big deal to most people, but it is to me. I haven’t run that distance in a long time. At least, not continuously. I’m trying to get my base miles up. This streak is supposed to help with that. Theoretically.

I got to bed late last night and I wondered if I could even get up to do four miles. But I decided to do it. I talk a lot about the power of the mind. I need to preach to myself more! I hold myself back more than I should. I cringe at the thought of getting hurt again. I don’t believe in myself like I should. I find it easier to believe in other people and encourage them than to apply it to myself.

So while on the run, I started doing it. I remembered funny things the kids did and I smiled. I reminded myself I’ve run this same route dozens of times and that it was in me to do it again. I watched the marvelous mackerel sky, clouds lit with silver tips as the sun rose. I thought back to last night’s kettlebell class. We did the 10-10-10 series 3 times, after we did the cycle of two-handed swings and figure 8s three times for 45 seconds each. The 10-10-10 series consists of 10 one-armed swings, 10 cleans and 10 high pulls all on one side. Then you switch to the other side. Somewhere in there, my grip started to go. My forearm felt like one long numb lump. One of the calluses on my right hand broke open and oozed clear fluid. Kinda icky, yet better than blood. But I kept on. I’m an athletic girl, er…woman. I need to push myself or most of the time workouts feels worthless. I know this and I’m learning to work with it instead of pushing it down. I finished the run in good time, sweaty and satisfied that I gave my all.

This week has been a continuous battle with discouragement in several areas. I know where it’s coming from, and why, so I stayed the course. I got into my Bible. I prayed more and sang more. Because God stays the same. Every day. Every minute. Every hour. Circumstances in this life don’t change His goodness or His mercy. Not even a little bit. I’m learning to say the right words, even as the Lord said them over me ages ago.

Father of All Projects

This morning dawned bright and breezy. A large moon lurked in the sky, unwilling to give up its place despite the sun’s rising. I wandered down our driveway towards the main road. My thoughts swirled around, eddying around this one rock: God’s faithfulness.

See, all this work we’ve put into our house lately has been to get it ready to sell. There. Now you know.

This weekend, we worked on the house. Jonathon and I shoveled at least a cubic yard of bark dust onto the yard. We planted flowers. We weeded. We tidied up the house more, moving excess furniture into a nearby garage.

We’ve had a contractor come in and install new carpet throughout and new linoleum in the kitchen. Jonathon put in new butcher block countertops and a glass tile backsplash. Oh, and he painted the kitchen, too, a pale dove gray. The new deep white ceramic sink replaced the shallow stainless steel one we had. He repainted the hallway, the family room and Ruby’s bedroom. He touched up paint in the living and dining room. He’s had a plumber come in and fix a leak in the basement. I’m sure this is only a partial list of all he’s done. I’ve been toiling away at work, putting in my 40 hours at the offices. He’s borne the brunt of the work. Good thing he has a flexible work schedule.

Our realtor walked through yesterday. Wowed by all Jonathon had done, he said it was move-in ready. We can sell it for a good price. This entire process – even getting us to consider the prospect of moving, from way back last summer – has been God’s doing, 100%.

Today, the realtor comes back to take photos. Here are a couple for you.

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Today, we’re taking a breath. We’re standing on top of the mountain. The fresh mountain breeze restores us. We made it. However, the next peak hovers on the horizon. Conquering that crag entails the winding, upward climb of selling our home, packing up, moving and doing it all before school starts again in September.

I know our Father has it all well in hand.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31