Winds of Change

leaves blowing off trees

Last Saturday, it clouded over. The wind chilled and blew. Prematurely dead leaves rained down, pushed from their homes into a nomadic existence on the ground. Summer, it seems, had turned a corner. This weekend proved similar. I had both the front and back door open in the morning, but the back door kept slamming shut.

I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I pushed up the hill, the wind in my face. Once I turned right, the wind blew at my back. It pushed me along. Most of the time, though, it blew right at me, or sideways. At one point, my hat nearly blew off. I caught it in time, yet only just. It challenged me.

Fall is in the air. The sun put out its best show, pushing temps into the mid 90s last week. But school starts in 3 days. Ruby’s back to school supplies for 5th grade sit in a neglected pile for now, pink-and-gold binder, composition books and patterned pencils still in their original packaging. Not for long, though.

Anna’s Bay Chorale starts up again in a couple of weeks. Jonathon will be deep into rehearsals for their fall concert. Zac, sans school supplies until he gets a list from his individual teachers, will begin his senior year this week. Gulp.

I am ready for change. This has been a great summer, filled with sun and travel and good friends. We’ve eaten berries and watermelon. We’ve planted flowers and weeded in the yard. We’ve roasted marshmallows for s’mores. We’ve watched fireworks and looked for fireflies.

The wind symbolizes and summons change. Wind can cause a change in direction. Our thoughts turn to shirts with sleeves and long pants, as the wind propels. We start dreaming about rich stews and warm cookies. Each season has its own unique beauty. Fall isn’t my favorite, but it’s a good one. I plan to savor it.





Thursday Trust

“Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in relieving tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring.” – Jimmy Carter

Is it Friday yet?! This week has seemed to have some extra days between Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

I did my last 3-mile run of the week today. I’ll do my long run on Saturday. We’re topping 90 degrees again today, so the cool morning air was welcoming. A few stars twinkled in the sky next to a glowing half moon. I paced down city streets, with streetlights and porchlights to guide me. It made me think of this:

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105

I’ve been doing some more attitude work this week. Things haven’t gone according to plan. And by plan I mean *my* plan. I’ve struggled to remember I’m not in charge and I don’t have to solve everything. Running helps, but isn’t the cure. I can’t solve everything, in point of fact. Otherwise, why would I need Jesus?

Remembering this, as I pray minute by minute about things large and small, helps me to stay in the trusting place. My fallback is here:

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

What’s fascinating to me is that He speaks in so many ways. Yes, through the Bible – our standard for testing direction. But also through perfect strangers and our closest family members. We only need to listen and know that He will guide.

The Man On the Pink Bicycle

This encounter’s narrative was truncated for your protection.

pink cruiser bike


This afternoon, my mind numb from hours of wrangling with numbers, I took a walk. The sun shone and a fresh breeze blew. My tired brain welcomed the great outdoors.

I walked along, lost in my thoughts. Suddenly, a voice called out to me from the right.

“So…you look like someone who could use a bike.”

I turned to look. A large bearded man rode a pink cruiser-type bicycle next to me.

I kept walking. He kept pace with me. Seriously?

“A sophisticated lady such as yourself could get a lot of use out of this bike,” he said, smiling my direction.

“It’s very pink,” I commented. I kept walking.

A tight smile passed over his face.

“Some people – we call them rednecks – might comment and make snide remarks about me riding a pink bike. But I would punch them. I’m known around town as someone who can take care of himself.”

He looked satisfied. I laughed.

“I’m Rich, by the way. And you are…?”

“I’m Susan.”

“Well, Susan, I’d love to give you a screaming deal on this bike. See, I’m a philanthropist.”

Only he didn’t pronounce it that way. The context helped.

“I’m a humanitarian.” He rode to stay with me, looping a bit so he wouldn’t fall.

“I’m glad there are some here in town,” I quipped. I kept walking. He kept riding.

“There are three definitions to a philanthropist.” He held up 3 fingers, in case I got confused.

“One is volunteering your time. I volunteer my time with March of Dimes and old people.”

Old people? Pretty broad. Do parents count?

“Two is being self-supporting. I own my house free and clear. I’m an electrician, and I only have to work when I want to. It’s not like L.A., where it’d be much harder to make a living.”

I couldn’t argue with him there.

“And number three. I also put old things in museums. I have a patent on an engine. I found a Shelton tool and it sits in the museum with my name on it.”

Somehow, I think he got a little mixed up. Anyway, back to the bike.

“You could be riding this bike instead of walking. You could get places so much quicker.”

He stopped, after almost running into me. I stopped, too. How to get on with my walk?! He stood over 6 feet tall. He wore a navy blue T-shirt and dark greenish gray sweat pants. His dark curly hair grayed at the temples. He looked  like he could pass for Mark Ruffalo’s younger brother.


He adjusted the seat for me, lowering it considerably. He mopped his forehead. Too hot, really, for sweatpants today.

“You can hop on right now and give it a try.”

Wearing a dress and having no interest in the two-wheeled wonder, I declined. I wasn’t even tempted. Bikes and I do not get along well. However, I admired his persistence.

“This bike would go for $170, easy.”

“Well, Rich, if you put it on craigslist, I bet you could sell it in a minute.” I meant it as encouragement.

“Besides, I’m just out for a walk on a break,” I said.

“Where do you work?”

“I work for the city.”

Then I got an earful about how the city spends money, or doesn’t spend it.

“Where does the money go?!” he wondered aloud. I sometimes wonder the same thing.

“Rich, it’s been a pleasure,” I said, shaking his hand and trying to wrap up our encounter. My break was over.

“Don’t you want to try the bike?”

“I don’t. Thanks, though.” I mentioned crashing on the volcano at Haleakala. Not my best biking memory.

He thought for a moment.

“With my house as collateral, I guarantee you will never crash on volcanoes while in Shelton.”

There! Sold!

Or not.

I turned around and started walking back to work. He rode alongside, chatting more. He followed me all the way to the main intersection. He had all kinds of strategies for figuring out what cities should spend on roads, sewers, etc.

“I’ll probably see you around,” he said, as he soared off.

You probably will, Rich, I thought, smiling to myself.



Pretty Passage


Ran 5 miles before the sun rose on Saturday. Watched the sky turn pale opalescent shades of fuchsia, violet and navy. Then a soft glow of pink, like God doing a magic trick. “Look! I do this every morning, and each one is different!” What a show off.

I’ve been pondering the finite nature of our lives. Time is the most precious commodity we have. I don’t know how much I truly have. I spend some every day, not knowing if this is the last day I’ll have on this planet.

It hit me hard yesterday. The kids are growing up. Zac has one more year with us, then he’s off to college. He towers over me and grows more manly by the day.

Ruby’s not a tiny girl anymore. We got pedicures together on Saturday, her first ever.

“She’s a pretty girl,” the nail tech said. She proceeded to paint tiny flowers on Ruby’s big toes, complete with a teensy gem in the center of each.

Ruby didn’t know what to do with the compliment, in part because of the tech’s accent. She’s at the very beginning of having her own identity outside of Zac’s little sister and one of our family. But Ruby doesn’t think of herself primarily as pretty. She’s an artist, an animal lover and funny girl who makes up her own songs and graphic stories.

She’s always been pretty. She was a cherubic baby and a tiny, strong, cheeky little mite. No awkward adolescence looms  in her future, as far as I can see. No prolonged geeky stage, with frizzy hair, hillbilly teeth and chunky glasses like me. No gawky, lanky limbs, refusing to stay covered by sleeves or pants like others I know who actually achieved height. Other than some unfortunate self-imposed haircuts, she’s dodged the bullet of physical weirdness. If she and I had been classmates, I would have envied her natural beauty and funky sense of style. She looks good in everything. Of course, she hasn’t tried on red overalls, my go-to outfit of 6th grade.

But what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to not have arrived yet. Time passes, yes, but it can make us better. We can change. We can grow into what’s next for us; we’re in a constant state of becoming. We don’t have to like it. However, change is inevitable, like the passage of day to night. Nothing stays the same. One day, the world won’t consider Ruby pretty any longer. Her inner, God-given qualities will remain. Let’s make the most of it all.





Amber Faith

The moon glowed in the sky, putting the street lights to shame. A few stars twinkled in the black. I eased my tired frame onto the road. What am I doing out here? I should be sleeping, I thought. But only fleetingly.

Because I knew what I was doing. I needed to get ready for a new day. I needed to put on a fresh attitude. For me, running or exercising is part and parcel of the morning. I won’t say it has the same level of importance as Bible reading and prayer, but the combination proves dynamic. Getting the spirit ready for this chunk of time matters as much as getting the body ready.

Lately, I seem to be stuck in a limbo state in several areas. Like this.

frog in amber.jpeg


Training for the half marathon in October progresses on schedule. Work simply is, most days similar to the ones adjacent. Selling the house plods along. Summer, as much as I love it, seems endless and very, very hot. The kids are restless and so are we. I’m grateful for the lack of drama and crises, and yet long for more.

Inside, I look like this



I’m like the little kid who can’t quite see the top of the counter. I stretch myself as tall as I can (don’t laugh), reach up and pat around. What’s there? Oooh, what’s this thing? Anything good? I want to see!

Seasons don’t last forever. Each night, a cool breeze comes up as the sun goes down. Our house sits in shadow and the sweet summer air blows through the building, easing the stuffiness. I’m waiting for the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to stir things up. We’re right on the cusp of a new season of life. I’m holding on the counter of faith to see it.

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

Home Sweet Home?

home on lake superior.jpg

This is *not* our house. Don’t even think about it.

I got out and ran 3 miles today. The merciful marine layer, a downy cloud of cooling goodness, blanketed the sky. High temps on tap for the next few days. Running in the early morning seems even more special now.

I ran up the hill. The scent of sweet blackberries, trapped in the still air, greeted me. The street lights shed their mighty light to guide me.

I concentrated on being in the moment. I ran through the overspray of sidewalk sprinklers. I contemplated just breathing in and out. I felt my heart smile. I needed that run because…read on.

We’ve had 3 house showings this week, two alone on Monday. It’s only Wednesday, I know, but we rarely have any weekend traffic. We finally got some feedback from our realtor today. It went something like this:

“Well, the first was a single lady. She realized she didn’t need so much house.”

Okay. I get that.

“The second was a young couple, just starting out. This is their first home buying experience.”

Great! I thought. I would love to be a part of that experience.

“But the age of the home concerns them. They’re not sure how they’d handle the inevitable repairs.”

OK. Fair enough. Sigh.

“And the last was an older lady. She didn’t want stairs.”

Holy photos, Batman! What’s the point of posting pictures of a place if nobody looks at them?!

Will the future buyer of our house please stand up?


Bat Man

Last night, while Jonathon and I watched one of our favorite old sports movies, something circled overhead.

For those who have read this blog for awhile, you know what it was.

A bat.


We ducked as it lapped the family room, circling lower and lower. We scooted out of the room pronto.

“Seriously?” Jonathon said, frustration in his voice.  “How did the bat even get in?”

No idea. Well, we had a couple of ideas, but did it really matter? No.

Zac, startled from his video game by our rush into the living room, helped us out by Googling how to get bats out of your living space.

“Open all the doors and windows. Bats have excellent echo-location and should be able to find the exits. Or put on heavy gloves and trap them in a tupperware container.”

I looked at Jonathon. He shook his head, face grim.

“You can also cover them with a blanket. Remember, bats have delicate wings and they break easily, ” Zac went on, reading off his phone.

“They will fight back if cornered.”

Great. Didn’t mention the carrying rabies part. Yes, I know bats eat insects and do good things for the environment. I just don’t want to share a living space with them.

We sat and contemplated our navels for awhile, chatting about this and that. Then, since we couldn’t find the bat after searching the family room again, we resumed our movie.

But it wasn’t gone. It surfaced from the curtains and flew around the room again. Like a bad movie, we ran out again.

Now what?

We wanted to finish our movie and go to bed. By this time, it was way after 10:00 p.m. I had practically turned into a pumpkin. Emboldened by the late hour and the need to evict the visitor, we started banging on things and peeking behind furniture. No winged mammal.

“I see him!”

Jonathon found the critter on the back of the curtains. He lifted the 10-foot curtain rod off its holder gently. He eased it up and out of the room. I spotted the bat, tiny now in repose, clinging for life to the back of the curtain. Jonathon tossed the curtains, rod and all, out in the carport. The bat unfurled its claws and crawled away.

I only noticed  bats the other night, looking up into a blueberry sky as the daylight faded. What looked like large insects flew back and forth from the laurel hedge on the edge of our property. I told Ruby about them.

“Oooh! Everything has its cute face,” she said.

I felt a little sorry for the bat, despite the creepy factor. It got lost, somehow, and soared into another creature’s home. It got confused. The bat didn’t know the way out. We all get lost sometimes, wandering into places we truly shouldn’t go. Hopefully, some kindly stranger will help us find the nearest exit.