Imprisoned

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Yesterday, we took a tour of SCORE in Kent, Washington. We wanted to see how the facility was designed and get some ideas for our jail expansion project. The jail is located near the airport and surrounded by acres of forest.

The jail itself is immaculately landscaped. Trees dot the entryway, which is comprised entirely of windows. The lobby feels like an airport gate. Bench seating – aka chairs linked together – clump together here and there in the lobby. The receptionists sit behind glass and ask for your cell phone and ID. More skylights give the soaring ceilings an airy feel.

Once behind the locked doors, it’s different. Everything is white. High-ceilinged corridors funnel you to the control room. Like air traffic control, officers sit in an observation tower of sorts, overlooking 6 different prisoner living spaces. The men and women, segregated, milled around. Some read books from a mobile library of sorts, paperbacks on a cart. Some watched TV. Some stared into space. It seemed like the longest time-out ever. So boring.

The prisoners wore the black-and-white pajamas. Well, more like black and gray. They had socks and rubber shoes on, too. I kept thinking we were inside a Betty Boop cartoon. I didn’t realize prisoners actually wore those outfits. I expected them to be dragging a ball and chain, too.

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“The ones in yellow tops are the ward leaders. They watch the rest and help out in the kitchen or laundry,” the facility manager told us.

I moved over to another observation area.

“The ones in the red-and-white striped suits are high security offenders. Warning! Like, look out,” he joked.

I gulped.

I only saw one. She was on the phone. I silently thanked God for two-way mirrors.

We entered a holding area. Cells lined the back walls, inmates watching us from their rooms. The men’s eyes behind the window held curiosity about us. We couldn’t talk to them, nor they to us. This separation is mandated by law, and likely for a good reason. Loneliness and fear wafted out from under the doors. As we wandered the labyrinth of corridors and mechanical rooms, I thanked God I was on the outside. I had the freedom to leave this place.

For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. – 1 Thessalonians 4:14

When we die, there will be a separation. It will be short. Then we’re together again for all eternity. No more sorrow, or loneliness, or fear. We will break free of our self-made prisons of torment and pain. Thanks be to God.

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Sloughing off

Warning: This post is going to sound vain. I don’t mean it to, but there it is. I’m still a girl at the end of the day.

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I haven’t been happy with my skin for awhile. My face breaks out more than I’d like. I have combination skin, some parts oily, some parts dry. I’ve been on the lookout for products to help calm it. When I worked out more, all that sweating helped it stay clearer and more vibrant. I also used to use Pro Activ products. I said goodbye to those tools a few years back. I find as I age, the gentler the product, the better.

So right now, after months of sun exposure on a near-daily basis (even with sunscreen) I have some sunspots. I also have some acne scars. Seems so unfair this late in life, frankly.

I saw a blog post about Korean skin care items. I’m not one to blow up the budget with expensive lotions and potions. I’d rather buy a pair of cute boots or something else that I can wear/use for a long time. It turns out I haven’t been exfoliating enough. Could it be that simple? Well, if it walks like a duck… I thought I would start there. We have all these layers to our skin. We have 5 layers within the epidermis, which is the top layer. I figure I can shed a few and get to the brighter, non-splotchy skin underneath.

Shedding our “skin” of shame, past disappointments and unrealized expectations is something God wants us to do. We have to leave behind the past.  It takes applying the word to our situation – There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9), if anyone is  in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As I shed dead skin, I think about shedding the old way of living, of thinking, of being. I don’t have to be that person whose thoughts orbit in a negative pattern. I don’t have to beat myself up for failing. I rinse off the gunk and let it flow down the drain. I reveal a new woman, cleansed from her shame. I can believe for a brighter future because my hope isn’t in myself, but in Christ.

Friday Round-Up

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Howdy, partners! Happy Friday to you all. This week has felt interminably long due to the fact that it was actually 5 (five) working days. Who came up with this?!

Most of you know I started the job with Thurston County back in August. What you may not know – and what I didn’t know when I took the position – is that the project needed to be approved by the new Board of Commissioners before it could actually go forward. Yeah. Anyway, the Board approved the jail expansion and the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for an architect/engineer hit the papers today. Woo hoo! Now we’re getting somewhere.

Next week, a group of us from the County will take a work field trip to a local jail to score some design ideas for our project. The jail is called SCORE (South Correctional Entity). Get it? Score? Anyway. It houses inmates for 7 member cities and several other contract cities, with over 800 beds. It’s a glamorous life.

A friend and I went to lunch at King Solomon’s Reef yesterday. I never knew King Solomon *had* a reef until this week. Kind of a dive, but great diner-style food. Not too pricey, and right in downtown Olympia. The people watching aspect was excellent as well. It made me less homesick for Portland.

The walking/running plan is moving along. I’m making sure to stretch and walk a lot during each day. Our stellar weather streak continues, and is only now starting to cool off with a high of mid-70s during the day. Just about perfect.

How has your week been?

 

 

 

Starting Over

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I made a decision the other day. Unfortunately, I keep getting injured while running. I’m going to take running all the way back to the starting line. So, swallowing my pride (which tastes nothing like chicken), I’m returning to the intervals of walking/running of yore, circa 2007. Just rolled back a decade, folks. You’re welcome.

The plan is simple in concept. First, you start by walking 20 minutes a day for 8 days. Then you walk 30 minutes a day, without stopping. Then, and only then, you start interspersing running intervals. The first week is 2 minutes of running alternating with 4 minutes of walking. Do that cycle 5 times, which adds up to 30 minutes of activity. Ta-da!

I stepped out into the morning. I walked up the hill to a flat residential neighborhood with relatively good lighting. I ran for 2 minutes. It felt hard, which made me realize how much fitness I’d lost over the last 6 weeks or so. The other sessions didn’t seem as tough. But two minutes is hardly enough time to get into a rhythm. I suppose, thinking back, I didn’t know that as a very beginning beginner. My mindset needs to change as well. I need to find the gratefulness and grit to try again.

My right calf didn’t get locked up. Huzzah! I want this to be the program that babies me back into longer runs. Somehow, just resting it completely didn’t seem like the best way to get back into running distances. Suddenly stressing it I found illogical. I’m going to do the first week for 2 weeks, for safety’s sake. And s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Maybe some of you want to join me? The plan I’m using can be found here: http://www.kfvs12.com/story/14246936/beginning-runners-10-week-training-plan-5kfvs

To be completely honest, I hate starting all over. Such a loss of time and effort. Or is it?

I’m realizing something as I walk through some of the toughest emotional seasons I’ve ever encountered, roadblocks lurking everywhere. Life breaks us down sometimes. Your body will betray you. People will turn on you, without warning. Solid ground you stood on will split open beneath you. What you thought you knew can crumble into ruins. And yet…life goes on. The world doesn’t stop. You don’t have to stay flattened. God doesn’t love you any less because bad things happened to you. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. His love remains. Let Him help you get back up again. Forgive. Get back to loving and living. Pick up the good gems – any valuable lessons –  from the rubble and start moving forward. Trust Jesus to restore all that you lost, in due time. None of it is wasted.

“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” – Job 23:10

Where We Are

Mt. Rainier sunriseIt’s Tuesday. I got up this morning and read my Bible for the day. I fed and watered Dakota and the cats. Afterwards, Dakota wanted to play. Who am I kidding? She wants to chase a ball all day, every day.

I found a ball and switched on the outside light. It buzzed to life, flickering and humming as it warmed up. The wan light allowed me to walk into the driveway.

I hucked the dirty, pine needle-covered ball as far as I could. My right shoulder is tricky and doesn’t always serve me well. I figured Dakota wouldn’t mind.

She raced after the yellow orb. It bounced around, dodging her mouth. I looked up at the sky. A half moon shone down on us. A few bright stars glowed through patches in the tree canopy.

Life goes by fast.

Heck, sometimes I move too fast. I took a deep breath. I threw the ball a few more times. It skittered off into the grass. Dakota retrieved it and I found the other ball to toss for her. I walked up and down, the real fetcher.

I don’t want to miss the beauty all around us. The picture at the top of this post someone else took. I can see the same view from our bedroom, but didn’t stop to snap a photo. The season is changing. The days are slowly cooling down as fall looms. Our kids are growing up into young adults. I know I’ve said this before, yet I think it bears repeating. Lord, help me not to be so busy I miss the beauty of this moment.

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

 

 

Nothing Stays the Same

2017 oregon wildfire

The smoke from all the regional wildfires has lingered in the air for weeks now. A haze, not our customary marine layer, hovers over us. The sun rises, a fiery salmon ball in the sky. The moon sets, an orange eye in the charcoal dawn. Is this what it means that the “moon will turn into blood” out of the book of Revelation (6:12)?

Ash falls from the sky. It’s light, lighter than snowflakes descending. But it coats everything. Hills and buildings in the middle distance seem fogged in. Our lack of rain most of the summer has confused the trees. They’re turning red and yellow. Leaves drift down. Shelton and surrounding areas have an air quality alert. People suffering respiratory problems and small children should stay indoors as much as possible.

I hate to think of the acres of forests and surrounding residential neighborhoods burning uncontrollably. So much beauty destroyed in moments. So many brave men and women risking their lives to keep us all safe. This, in the wake of massive Hurricane Harvey and the impending devastation of Hurricane Irma right behind for Florida. I could blame climate change. I could say we did this to ourselves. It’s probably at least partially true. But I know it’s Biblical as well. Isaiah says the earth shall wear out like a garment. Does this mean we don’t take care of those who weathered significant loss from the storms and fires? Of course not. We grieve with and for them, and send whatever help we can. But we need to get ready for more. We can’t stand around, confused and asking why. We need to be prepared, like Boy Scouts. We must band together and plan ahead, not point fingers. We need each other now more than ever.

The Pacific Northwest is poised for a massive earthquake anytime now. We’re overdue, in fact. We seem somewhat removed, at times, from horrible acts of God. We live in a bucolic world of mountains, forests and nearby sea. Yet what lies beneath can change everything. In big and small ways, the only constant is change. 

I started writing this yesterday, which was Thursday. Now it’s Friday.  It started raining a little last night. Showers fall now, off and on. It’s wonderful. The air smells green and alive, even though it’s muggy. I put on closed-toe shoes to wear to work for the first time since the end of May. It feels strange.

August 1, I started driving to Thurston County for my new job. The drive takes about 25-30 minutes. As I cruise along 101, keeping a steady pace as best I can, people inevitably push me up the road. Trucks. Sedans. Motorcycles. You might think I drive like a grandma (no offense to grandmas out there). I do not. All I can think is, why are you in a hurry to get to work? It’s not going anywhere. It will wait for you.

I got my last paycheck from the City today. It’s all done. Finished. Nothing left to see here, folks. This makes the last of the major transitions in my life. For now.

Now I’m ready. God has been faithful through it all. Help me to be ready for whatever comes next. 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  – John 16:33

Baby Bird

Today is Ruby’s first day of 6th grade. I’m still in shock.

Ruby 6th grade

This, despite talking about it all summer, getting the needed inoculation, her 4-hour (!) orientation to the new multi-classroom schedule in a new building, and back-to-school shopping.

She wound her hair into a single long caramel-colored braid. Can I say that’s something my hair never did unless under stringent circumstances, like brushing it within an inch of its life? She put on some of her new duds. She came down in a long-sleeved ruffled dark floral top, black leggings and boots. Never mind the temperature today should soar above 80 degrees, in spite of all the wildfire smoke clouding the sky.

“Mom, do you have to take a picture of me?” she asked. Her brown eyes pleaded for a way out. Sorry, baby. I do need to take a picture. I want to remember this moment. Time moves swiftly, like a bandit, stealing memories all day long, every minute of every hour.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe time only adds hours, which become days and years in a blink, building up like countless colored beads on an abacus. You can’t subtract the beads and go back. You can only enjoy the present, what is.

She really is a pre-teen. She stood against the wall, unsmiling. I didn’t want a mug shot. I asked her to smile. She smiled perfunctorily. That’s the best I’m gonna get, I thought. I snapped the photo.

Ruby hoisted her emoji backpack onto her shoulder. I saw her packing it up Monday afternoon. If I peeked inside, I would see her enormous pink binder. It’s stuffed with glue sticks, colored pencils, erasers and lined paper. Her mp3 player rests in a zippered pouch. No doubt she has a bottle of water aboard, too. Harder to see, but still there in the pockets and zippered crevices, would be her dreams. They shimmer like watercolors and sparkle like fairy dust. The future, they whisper, is unwritten.

Ruby girl, I pray you have a fabulous school year. We know you will uncover new worlds and new friends. We look forward to hearing all about it. Fly over your new territory, little bird. Get to know it all. I love you.