Thor’s Day

thors-day

Thursday is a weird word. I mean, the days of the week in general give me pause. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but their names and order stump me. Thursday, for example, is named after the Norse God Thor. Often seen like this:

thor-today

He bears a striking resemblance to Chris Hemsworth, don’t you think?

Anyway.

Thor, according to Wikipedia:

In Norse mythology, Thor (/θɔːr/; from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing and fertility.

Pretty broad list, methinks, and a bit random. Oak trees? Fertility? I like the protection of mankind part. Yet what I’ve read about gods in any culture show them to be fickle, with divided loyalties and wandering eyes.

What’s the takeaway? Make it your Thor’s Day. Today is the day to kick butt and take names. Hammer on, friends. Only one more day to go.

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Deer and Ax Heads

A lot of the guys are hunters. Currently, it’s high buck season in Washington. And that, for you great unwashed, is male deer. Yesterday, I overheard a conversation going on outside the office at the shop.

“I shot a buck on Saturday. Big guy. We trailed it until it ran into the lake,” Billy said.

“Uh oh. And then what?” asked Phil.

I scrubbed out the expletives for your reading pleasure.

“It swam out about 600 feet, then it drowned. It floated, though.”

Uh. Billy continued.

“I stripped down and dove in. I dragged it out and got it into the truck. The water was like ice.”

Da-vy, Davy Crock-ett…

Houston, we’re not in Portland anymore. Suffice it to say my coworkers never shared stories like this around the coffee carafes. What makes a dead deer float? Is it sheer life force, or simply air trapped in the stomach? One of life’s great mysteries.

“Sometimes they float, sometimes they don’t, ” my coworker said philosophically, shrugging his shoulders.

“That’s nothing. Listen to this one.” He related another story to me as we picked up a car from City Hall to do some work on it.

“John was hunting around the St. Helens area. A logging company worked nearby, using a crane to pull logs off the mountain. John shot an elk and knew he’d have to piece it out (read: quarter it) to cart it back to his truck. He went up to the guy operating the crane and asked how much it would cost for them to pick up his elk and drag it  to his truck, parked back in the woods.”

The coworker smiled at me.

“Guess what the guy said?”

I had no idea.

“‘An 18 pack of Coors Light’, they said. ‘Done!’ John said. They lifted the elk and placed it right in the bed of his truck.”

It made me think of the story of the floating axe head:

One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small.  Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.”

“All right,” he told them, “go ahead.”

“Please come with us,” someone suggested.

“I will,” he said.  So he went with them.

When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees.  But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!”

 “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface.  “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it. – 2 Kings 6:1-6

This story has always stumped me. Why is it in the Bible? Who cares about axes, unless you’re a lumberjack? I think it shows how God cares about even the little things in our lives. We run the risk of losing some things, despite our best efforts. God can help us recapture what we thought we lost. He cares.

 

 

 

Guiding Light

guiding-light

Not this soap opera.

I haven’t written much, but I have a good reason. Work has been rough. I can’t say much more, except that’s discouraged me. When I’m discouraged, I don’t write. I don’t eat much either, which can be a bonus in the weight department. Yet getting too skinny sabotages running. Now you know.

I planned a 5-mile run today, since yesterday’s run turned into a walk-run on the treadmill due to 3 hours’ sleep. I started a loop I know well. I ran past familiar landmarks in the pre-dawn darkness. I waited for the light to change at a main artery. I looked across the street. Ambient light from the corner spread about 50 yards onto the paved path. Then…nothing.

I considered taking a shorter, well-lit route. I thought, why isn’t this better lit?  It’s like the stretch got left out of the streetlight budget or something. But I remembered the path to be smooth and mostly flat, curving upwards towards the next intersection. No trees lined it to create root rumples in the asphalt.

I made  my decision. I ran across the street and into darkness. Stars gave pinpricks of light. The watery half moon lay somewhere over my left shoulder, useless for guidance. Cars rounded the curve up ahead. Their headlights shone onto the path, picking up slight divots and variations as they passed on my left. I breathed a prayer of thanks.

But sometimes, I ran by feel in the dark. And somehow, I had enough light and enough balance to keep going. Then it clicked. I can’t fix things in my life, much as I want to. All I can do is keep looking for the light and staying on the path set before me. Somehow, some way, God will show me – show us – how to keep moving, even when all around us grows dim.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. – John 1:5

The Decade

I stepped out into the early morning darkness. The sky, swirled with white clouds, glowed with light from a half moon and a few sparkly stars. The seasons are changing and the change is beautiful. I don’t know how many more dry mornings we’ll have, so I want to get out in them.

This month marks 10 years of living in Shelton for our family. Zac was 6 and Ruby not even 1 year old. Portland no longer feels like home, though I enjoy visiting. I like it here. Let me count the ways…

Traffic. There isn’t any.

I love how the seasons move and shift here. They change with a boldness I’ve not found anywhere else I live. Suddenly, it’s fall. Instantly, it’s spring. Bam! It’s summer. I like it. And always, come winter, the possibility of snow.

The ocean is all around us. Shelton sits on a peninsula.

olympic-peninsula-oct-2011

We’re down on the bottom of the map, towards the middle. You’ll be driving and come upon a finger of the ocean. You think it’s a lake, but the next time you drive by it’ll be low, muddy stretches showing through like the earth’s undergarments. You’ll see bald eagles, egrets, gulls, and all other kinds of wildlife.

You also might almost hit a deer on your way to work. In town.

The people amaze me. Friendly, interesting, open, unique. I could go on and on. If you meet someone who grew up here, and they accept you, you’re in. Because they’re related to or went to high school with most of the other people you’ve met. Now you’ve got connections. That never happened in Portland; it’s too large.

After the last census in 2015, Shelton crested 10,000 people. We now fit into a category called a code city, according to municipality governing standards, which beats the heck out of a second class city. Huzzah!

In Shelton, we have time to get to know people and offer our gifts to a community and our church. We’ve made some great friends and now belong. Moving up here, we had no idea what copious blessings awaited us. I thank God for this town and I’m grateful.

The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! – Psalm 16:6

 

 

 

Believe the Hype

I got up for a long run this morning. Outside, I heard rain. Great. Not a fan of running in the rain. But what if it rains all morning of race day? Gotta do it.

It was only a light drip when I started, the temperature at 57 degrees. I found my pace quickly and got into a groove. I tried to convince myself, due to the humidity and relative warmth, that I was running on Maui.

maui-rainforest

It didn’t work. With only evergreens for company, I moved on.

The day was just starting to dawn as I hit mile 3. Down past the hospital, I came across two deer grazing in a swale. They froze when they saw me. Then they darted into the woods. I never would have seen them if I slept in.

Around mile 4, my hip got a little cranky. I walked a bit, figuring I was already wet and a few more minutes wouldn’t matter. I dodged puddles but eventually hit one. My shoes soaked up water. At mile 6ish, the rain started coming down with a purpose. I smiled. Water oozed out of my shoes with every footfall. Squish, squish.

As I entered the 9th mile, I realized I felt pretty good. Sure, my clothes all together probably weighed 5 extra pounds due to water absorption, but I realized something.

I’m doing something right. For years, dear readers, I’ve been kind of rebellious when it comes to running training. True confession time: I wanted to do it *my* way. I didn’t want to have rest days. I didn’t want to carb load. It made me lethargic and bloated. Plus, it seemed dumb.

Ahem. I stand corrected.

I ate breakfast on mornings when I ran more than 6 miles. But when I finally started taking rest days and eating bread and pizza the day before long runs, something magical happened. I had stamina. I could do long runs without turning into a slug for the rest of the day. Yes, I get tired. I’ll probably need a nap later today, plus I’ll be rather ravenous.

Setbacks happen. I’ve experienced several injuries over the last few years. Yet something is working. Having a teachable spirit can reap great benefits. Old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m starting to get excited about the race next month.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Wednesday Basil

Warning: 80s music ahead.

I had no idea what to write about, so I looked at Facebook. Toni Basil was trending. She’s 72 and she’s still got moves.

But I remember her like this.

“Hey Ruby,” I called. “Wanna hear a song that was popular when I was your age?”

Ruby was game. I pulled up “Hey Mickey” for her. She watched the video and listened to the song for a few minutes. Then she pushed the pause button.

“It’s awful, Mom.”

Whaaat? Awful? No. It’s a classic. Compared to what’s popular now…

Or this…

Any words? No? Okay.

I know there are many other genres in play right now. But I didn’t feel like putting a soft porn video on my blog.

Songs aren’t just words sung to a beat – or notes alone. They have memories and a feeling attached to them, a fourth dimension. They can bring us back to who we used to be quicker than any jet. They remind us of where we came from. If they’re from our teen years, they hold a hope of what we thought we could be. Our old dreams remain inside them, trapped in time. Listening to our oldies often reminds us of a simpler era. We can’t stay there, of course, but it’s fun to visit.

Today, I’ll take Toni.

 

 

 

 

Because everyone needs a dose of Toni Basil now and then.

 

17% Streetwise

After last week’s close call, I reconsidered pepper spray. Kudos to my mom, who gave some to me probably 4 years ago. I remember laughing at her.

“It’s Shelton. I’ll never need this, Mom!” I shook my head and shoved it in the glove box.

Well, never has arrived.

I pulled out the clear containment unit.

pepper-spray

In case you can’t read the label, it says “17% Streetwise”. I thought it odd. I don’t want to be only 17% streetwise. What about the other 83%? I need to be 100% streetwise. Hence the spray with cayenne pepper in it.

The directions stated to fire it at least every six months if not in use regularly. D’oh! I turned the red nozzle a quarter turn.

“Even works on drug addicts!” the page yelled.

Great.

I pointed it away from me and sprayed on the insert. Watery, bright orange goo spurted out of the bottle. Guess it still works.

This morning, I picked up the vial. It felt light and compact in my hand for such a strong deterrent. Where to put it? Would I be quick enough on the draw if I placed it in my left coat pocket? I opted for the right, mp3 player on the left.

I opened the back door. The dark morning was cold. Stars glittered above me and temps hovered at 40 degrees. Rex followed me down the driveway to say goodbye.

I ran along by streetlight. But I couldn’t relax. I listened. What was that? Any and every strange sound made me jump. I passed the first bench-and-garbage can combo on my route. The lights showed me nobody there. Good.

I pressed on to the next pairing. This was where it happened last week. The two objects sat side by side in shadow. Nothing moved. No sound. Cars passed on my right, beyond the median. I kept going. It, too, was empty. I breathed a sigh of relief. The entire 3-mile run passed without incident.

I thought about fear. It’s so crippling. FDR once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Fear holds a wealth of deadly imagination within it, a potential frightening world within our day to day reality. But we don’t need to live there.

I want to make the most of this life, every bit. I don’t want to live hoping nothing bad happens. I want to live, looking for good to happen. I have to believe, should anyone ever approach me, that God would be with me. I have to know that He would direct me and protect me in critical moments. He does it now. I only have to pay attention. In that, maybe I can be more than 83% Godwise.

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