Under Construction

You may remember our road is getting a makeover. It’s been in a state of disrepair since June 2018. It’s now March 2019. It’s not done. In fact, the road is closed. It will be closed until April 1, which somehow seems appropriate. They completely barricaded the top of the road from C Street down. B Street, which splits off of Olympic Hwy. North, is torn up, too. There was a backhoe sitting in the middle of that street last I checked. The only way in or out is at the bottom of Olympic Hwy. North, past the erstwhile light at 7th. The construction company put out cones and a “Road Closed” sign. Just before Pine Street, there are 2 cones spaced slightly far enough apart to let a car drive through. That’s where we enter and exit. Beware, dear reader. Cops randomly patrol the street. Ask me how I know.

Every day, I drive up and down the street. It’s been graded and ground down, layered with gravel. The swale is dug out against the concrete curbs which were poured last summer. They smoothed the pedestrian path. Saturday morning, Dakota and I took a walk to explore. It was 20-something degrees.

Dakota photobombed many pictures, picking up random pieces of construction debris in her mouth. Birds sang above us. I couldn’t resist how lovely the sky looked, so snapped a few of it. I saw no one. As I crunched along the gravel, I observed the progress made so far. I thought about the rather large hassle this has been to everyone who uses this road or lives along it.

And then I considered that we as people are all under construction. We don’t wear signs on our forehead. But we really should, because we’re all in different stages of being remade. Frankly, it’s a hassle to engage with someone who is in the middle of a crisis. They drain your energy, time and good humor. They flake out. They cast about for anything or anyone stable to keep them from drowning in the moment. They have good days and bad days, sometimes seemingly put together and others like they fell into a well and barely escaped.

I resemble all of those. I’ve had good days and bad days, and that includes with hair. I’ve caused the people I love most to tap out emotionally. I’ve flaked out. I’m learning to extend more grace to others, but especially myself. Looking perfect and acting perfect when your heart resembles chewed-up asphalt is exhausting.

The street is going to be great when it’s all finished. So are we. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be a work in progress. In fact, as long as we’re alive, that’s the state we’re in. If we can hold on and trust the process to God, letting ourselves learn from mistakes and course corrections, we will eventually emerge as complete and finished. In time.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Curling Conundrum

curling iron.jpg

“Mom, can I get a curling iron?”

Ruby’s brown eyes roamed over me. As a poster child for naturally curly hair, I owned a curling iron in junior high. For feathering my hair, you understand, a la Farrah Fawcett et al. I also remember burning my forehead at least once.

“I thought you liked your hair straight,” I said.

It’s true. For years, she’s wanted her hair as straight as possible. For the most part, it’s obliged. As a toddler, it fluffed around her face in slight curls. When it got long – and it took years to get there – she had ringlets on the end of each tress. Her hair, a fine, shiny, dark blondish-caramel, was wonderful.

Fast forward to Ruby’s 10-year-old self, and it’s a darker caramel-with-honey-highlights color. It’s thicker now, with a bit of wave to it. I’d almost say beachy wave, but she wouldn’t like it. In fact, on several occasions before church, she’d ask me to straighten it. Usually five minutes before we needed to be onstage singing or playing, but you don’t need to know that.

“I don’t want curly hair like you or dad, Mom,” she’d tell me, eyeing herself in the mirror as I worked her way around her head with my $20 animal=print flatiron.

I nodded as I passed the baby-soft hair, slippery locks between the heated metal plates. But between Jonathon’s super tight curls he keeps under control by cutting it super short, and my S-bent mane, I’m not sure she has much of a prayer. Puberty will tell.

We spent some time last fall braiding it before school. Only it wouldn’t stay braided, it’s so slick. She had a headband season, too. But always, she went back to having it down.

“I like how it flies behind me when I run, sorta like a cape.” I could see the appeal of that.

You can see why the curling iron request stumped me.

Yet then I remembered. Ruby will be 11 in October. She’s a tween, as much as I hate to admit it. She’s starting to grow into a young lady and wonders what she would look like if she tried something new. She stares into the mirror, looking at her face, her hair, her body. She used to make funny faces. Okay, she still does that. But she’s growing up. I’ve had other signs, of course. She gave up princesses at least 3 years ago. Now she won’t order off the kids’ menu at restaurants.

“That’s for babies,” she says, a scowl on her heart-shaped face. “I want regular food, not just chicken strips, burgers or pizza.”

Alrighty, then. Would mademoiselle like the lobster bisque tonight?

Only, I’m not quite ready to let go. She’s my baby. She still tucks her small hand in mine when we take walks or hang out at the park. She leans into me when she’s unsure of a new situation or unfamiliar people. She loves physical affection, the comfort of touch. One of us reads to her almost every night, and we pray together, too.

She’s moving away, though, inch by inch. Today a curling iron, tomorrow makeup, driving, and…boys. I need to let it happen and be there as she grows up. I’m glad for the little girl she’s been. I look forward to the young lady she will become.

For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

The Dance

bride and groom

My shop coworker mentioned something the other day. He said he didn’t always like working for the city. The person he spoke with had a different take on it.

“I work for God,” he said.

I liked that. It made me wonder: am I working for God at my job?

But then I had another thought. What if it isn’t so much supervisor-employee, but more like a partnership? What if working for God looks more like working *with* God?

I picture working with God like a dance. We take God’s hands and we float across the floor, going here and there to accomplish His will in this earth through our lives. Saying one thing and not another, pursuing different paths as He directs. Twirls, dips, throws and catches intertwine with steps forward and retreating. Some steps bear repeating.

I think as we surrender our lives it turns into a dance. Wouldn’t you rather dance than work any day of the week? He leads and we follow. Though we are following, our part matters. Our hands and feet play into the choreography. The music changes as our life’s seasons change. Some of the dances resemble a waltz. Some might look like a quickstep. Some might look like simply being held. I recall Ecclesiastes

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

We pick up new steps to the new rhythm. The dance moves morph but the couple, you and me in Jesus’ arms , remains the same. How else will we know what to do as the Lord’s Bride at the end of time if we don’t start dancing with Him now?

 

 

First Flood

50 first dates(source)

Ever get tired of doing things for the first time? My job seems to be a continuous cycle of “first times”. Mind you, I’ve been at it for almost 18 months now. First time writing a logging RFQ. First time ordering a new car for the engineering department. First time writing a safety and accident prevention report for a site. I’m kinda over the first times.

Remember the scene in “50 First Dates” where Lucy (played by the darling Drew Barrymore) says  “Nothing beats a first kiss” over and over because of the loss of her memory? Yeah. I’m over it, like Henry (Adam Sandler’s character) is after 23 times of going in for the perceived first kiss.

Generally, I like firsts. They’re exciting. I think I’ve written about them before, too. So…not a first there. But sometimes the learning curve of firsts get me down. I want to feel competent and finish a task. At this point, I’d also like to know what I’m doing. Give me familiar. Hand me rote, ritual and routine. I’m ready to be in a rut.

Think of the beauty of your favorite jeans. I’m a jeans nut, probably from all the years of being a stay at home mom and living in a very casual small town. The treasured denim hugs you in all the right places and minimize any figure flaws, real or imagined. They’re the right length. Huzzah! They always fit, even straight out of the dryer. They’re comfortable. They’re safe and steadfast, there when you need them. You know you can pair them with whatever (hello, blank canvas!) and look good.

I’m continuing to run at least a mile every day. Ran a mile this morning on the treadmill due to the early morning rain, and walked a mile after it. I felt pretty good. I wanted to do more. But I didn’t dare. Kettlebells lurk on the horizon for tonight. Our instructor was out on Tuesday, which means tonight looks portentous for a beat down. Anyway, this kind of rut, running every day, comforts me. It’s a constant in a sea of change.

I know over time I will get the hang of all these firsts. Don’t get me wrong; this job has a lot of variety. I’m blessed to work with great people and that helps. I’m grateful for all of those things. Sometimes, though, it feels like too much. I find I need to extend grace to myself and others as I navigate even more firsts the remainder of this week. We will get it if we stick together.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Camp Beaver

Happy Friday!

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I took this photo yesterday. Today, it’s even more flooded, with wave patterns and practically its own weather system. The guys’ trucks plow through 6-8 inches of water at the deepest place. It’s been raining and raining. We’ve logged nearly 10 inches of rain for January.

Did you know Shelton has beavers? I didn’t, though in hindsight it makes sense. Growing up in “the beaver state” (Oregon), beavers got a lot of press. Especially OSU Beavers. Though salmon reached a near-saintly status beavers could never hope to attain.

beaver

Meet Hazel the beaver, of Point Defiance Zoo.

The reason I mention beavers is that we have at least one beaver who blocks the Shelton Creek culverts. He dams them. I guess the idea is to slow down the water’s flow and have a little quiet pond to call home. He can build his lodge there and his abode won’t wash away.

Unfortunately, this beaver activity stopped up the drains in the Shop parking lot. It’s made the pond out back, a salmon-bearing, duck-paddling, woodpecker-drawing pond, nearly overflow its banks. The beaver has made other wildlife – and not so wild creatures – lives a bit unbearable.

One can’t really fault the beaver. He – or she – is only doing what they know to do to protect themselves. But it makes me think about how we camp on things, like a job, or a church, or relationship, that maybe we should move on from. It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. Trying to preserve circumstances causes us to miss out on other great things that might be just down river, if we let the current of God’s direction carry us to new adventures.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

 

For Your Consideration

At work, the small mechanic’s office where I spend half of each day is under renovation.  The former head mechanic, a kind and gracious man, retired at the end of October.  The new head mechanic and I felt the space, last updated circa 1980, needed some love. Our supervisors agreed. The floor, chipped and worn and stained, would be replaced.  The yellowing walls would get a fresh coat of paint.  The desk, circa 1960, stained and cramped and ultra masculine would prove a nice donation to the local community garden office.

In short, a total makeover.

Working together, the head mechanic (R.) and I discussed paint colors.

“What color would you like?” I asked.

“Whatever you want,” he replied.

Great.

Can I just say here that I have no real aesthetic?  I like certain things and I dislike others.  I have no idea what my style is.  I like free stuff.  Does that count?  I like comfortable furniture that invites conversation and intimacy.  I don’t like modern stuff with clean lines and sharp edges.  Too sterile.

I found a nice shade of near-sky blue.  I figured it wouldn’t offend.  Aptly named “Pool Party”, it might even foster fun. The guy doing the painting and reflooring, K., had me deciding on outlet covers, molding, flooring and new overhead lighting.

“What you have now is pretty industrial,” he said, pointing to the ceiling where two trays of fluorescent lighting sans covers cast a bright but pale glow over the 9 x 15 office.

True enough.

We scrolled through the choices on the Home Depot website.  Can lights.  Track lights.  Pendant lights.  Aaagh! Too.Many.Choices.

Finally, we tracked down a swoopy sort of track lighting.

“What about an area rug?  My wife suggested it.  It would could really warm up the space.”

Right.

“Ooh!  Look!  Here are some animal print ones!” I said to the mechanic, checking out the website again.

He looked over my shoulder at the computer screen, trying to oblige.

“No,” R. said, with a hint of prejudice.

Fabulous.

Did I mention Home Depot has more than 20 pages of indoor/outdoor area rugs?  Yeah. I narrowed the criteria down to:  dark, with a pattern, but no flowers. I whittled that down to 7 options. We found one we could both live with.

This office sharing, like most of life, is a balancing act.  R.’s going to be coming in and out, with greasy hands and oil on his work boots.  I want him to feel comfortable in the space.  Yet I don’t want to be grossed out every time I walk in the door.  That tanks my morale. We must work together to forge a solution we both can live with. If we pool our ideas, we can come up with something even better than we could on our own. Heck, it might even be magnificent.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
 – Ecclesiastes 4:9

 

 

Fun Remix

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 8:15

coffee artAs I sit here nursing another half cup of coffee, I consider Solomon’s wisdom. Somewhere along the way, Solomon realized that all work and no play makes for unhappy people. I’m slowly learning the value of fun. I’m understanding that it needs to be part of my life like fiber and exercise.

Kids understand this.  They routinely goof off.  Ruby makes getting ready for school something fun, with funky hairstyles and bizarre clothing choices.  Animal print head to toe?  Why not!  Zac comes up with puns all.day.long. He thinks it’s hilarious.  To each his own. Adults, we give up this ability somewhere between graduating high school and looking for a job.

Lately, work has been a little tense.  I’m still striving to understand all that my newly mashed-up position entails. Communication breaks down sometimes. People have expectations of me that I know not of. It’s important to laugh at myself and get past mistakes made. I am not perfect, despite all the indicators. Insert snicker here.

Fun is about being in the moment.  It’s enjoying where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing. It’s tied up with gratefulness and joy and happiness.  It’s not a stand-alone thing. It oils the gears of our spirit. It’s okay to enjoy life. You don’t have to be a grownup all day, every day.

Today, I pray you have fun.  May you spot the fun opportunities that God shows you. Some of you are better at it than others. Remember, it’s only today for a little while.  Let’s make it count.