Janathon and Tabernacles

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This morning I headed out for a run after Saturday chores.  The freezing fog rose slowly around me. It actually felt like January. I managed a 3-mile out and back. The old bod is adapting to working full-time.  Yay!.

It’s January 31.  I thought it would never get here. Janathon:  complete.  I missed blogging one day, but since I started a new job among several other events, I consider it pretty good.

I’ve lost about 5.5 lbs. this month. I changed up my eating habits considerably and am so glad of it.  More on that at a later date.

Today, I read Exodus 40.  Moses commissioned skilled workmen such as Bezalel (why don’t kids get names like that anymore?) and co. to finish up work on the Tabernacle.  God outlined very specific instructions on how to craft it – gold-encased mercy seaet, bronze lamps, priestly ephod encrusted with 12 precious stones. Bezalel completed all the pieces, Moses put it all together.  I guess some assembly was required. Once Moses finished placing all the holy furniture and setting up the animal-skin tent, something marvelous occurred.

Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. – Exodus 40: 34-35

Every other time I’ve read these chapters about the creation of the Tabernacle items and the portable dwelling itself, my mind drifts.  I mean, we have very little in our churches today that resemble such ancient equipment.  The craftsmanship sounds fabulous, intricate and worthy of God.

But we’re talking about God here, the Lord of all creation, original Master of the universe.  He gave explicit instructions about the Tabernacle’s dimensions and the things to travel with it.  How does the infinite find a home in a tent made of animal skins, which has rather limited square footage?  Why should the eternal divine, who sits on a throne of rainbow-colored gems, hang out here?  By here, I mean Earth, which is prone to dirt and decay and all kinds of crunchy insects. Yes, the portable dwelling contained some articles of gold and precious stones.  However, not enough to warrant housing such majesty, to my way of thinking.

This Tabernacle, this temporary dwelling, became a tangible, visible reminder to the Israelites that Yahweh had come down from the heavenly realms to lead them to the Promised Land. His presence hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and appeared as fire inside the pillar of cloud by night (Ex. 40:37-38). Since God had a home among them now, he planned to stay. His guidance and care continued though the journey was long. I’m reminded that once I accepted Christ into my heart and let Him lead, He came to stay inside me as well.  God’s presence inside me sanctifies this temple of flesh and continues to guide me every day.

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Working It

rubber bands

I woke up extremely glad it’s Friday and with the energy and enthusiasm of a wet noodle.  I did a 30-minute stretching routine. Much better. I had a short day at work today due to an afternoon appointment, making Friday a little sweeter.

Since neither sparkpeople.com nor myfitnesspal.com have calories burned for work activities, I thought I’d have a go at it. I did most of this while standing. Let’s not forget that added resistance. Here’s how I think the work day went down:

Spending an hour looking up, reading and digesting RCW and WAC regulations summarized in yesterday’s training – 100 calories

Digging through boxes of old applications and working notes from a person who left in 2013 – 200 calories

Taking notes by hand while listening in on a conference call about a public records legal decision – 300 calories (This is probably way too low, considering my handwriting)

Discussing technology I have no knowledge or understanding about with a coworker – 300 calories

Not thinking about the Superbowl – 75 calories

Breaking an ancient rubber band by snapping it on your hand – 25 calories

Tearing up old notebooks filled with obscure yet beautifully handwritten notes – 600 calories (Hey, you can get a good aerobic burn!)

Total:  1600 calories

Who needs scheduled workouts?!

The Golden Lesson

While doing a short kettlebell workout, I meditated on the day’s reading. I came upon Exodus 32 in my Bible reading plan. You know, the story about the Israelites worshiping the golden calf while Moses and God have their confab on Mt. Sinai. I’ve written about this before.

On the surface, their actions seem justified.  “We don’t know what happened to Moses,” they say to Aaron. “Make us something we can worship” (Exodus 32:1). It seems okay, like the calf is just a stand-in.  I mean, God helps those who helps themselves, right? Wrong. The worship becomes full-on debauchery (v. 6).

Once Moses leaves the mountain, things get rough. The Israelites’ idolatry infuriated God. Moses asks the people to choose sides. The Levites stand with Moses.  Moses commands the Levites to kill anyone opposing God, namely, everyone else.  The priestly order manages to snuff out 3,000. What a bloodbath! God killed even more with a plague later that day.

There are several morals here. But despite the gap of several thousand years, we aren’t so different. Don’t we find ourselves doing the same things?  “God isn’t coming through.  I’ll take out a loan to cover this month.” Relationship on the skids?  “I’ll manipulate them into getting my way.” In other words, we force circumstances to become what we want. We do this with our health and careers, too.

But this is not God’s way of dealing with “life”. The Lord has the best in mind for us, every day. We are not forgotten. We need to wait and pray, trusting in the meantime. He has the answers, if we’re willing to listen. They don’t include doing it our way.

Day 21

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Keeping up with the Janathoners, I worked out before breakfast. I did 40 minutes of kettlebells.  Sparkpeople.com says that equates to 800 calories, putting my starting calorie allotment at 2,000.  I’m skeptical.

Today also marks the end of my 3-week no junk food challenge.  How did I do?  Certainly not perfect. Well, I learned a few things.  I’m still at a 4-lb. weight loss, which I’m happy about.

I feel better without junk food. My energy stays steady and my face is clearer. My attitude has improved. I feel like I’m supporting my best self.

I can’t drink coffee with only milk, unless under duress.  A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  Mary Poppins said so.

Too much coffee causes me to drag in the afternoon like a curly-haired slug.

I will avoid salty foods, as they maketh me a sponge.

I will add dark chocolate back. Too long a separation, my sweet dusky friend.

That being said,I need to mind my sweet tooth. There’s a coworker who brings in cookies, and gives me a half every single day. I can save those for Zac like I did during this season. I don’t know that I’ll ever conquer la dent sucree, but I can satisfy it with fruit most of the time.

This is a lifestyle I’d like to continue. I want to indulge in the occasional burger with fries or handful of potato chips.  I have 6 lbs. to go to get to my goal weight.  Staying motivated is the key.

How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

Shine On

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I got up very early this morning to spend time with God and get a run in before church. Rex snuggled in my lap, purring and kneading the fuzzy blanket. He rumbled and gazed at me through heavy-lidded eyes. He reveled in his drug of choice:  fleece. His glossy fur glowed in the lamplight. I found myself grateful for this life and all its blessings once again. Peace filled me as the quiet morning and God’s presence surrounded me.

I hit the damp pavement an hour before sunup. The pavement shone under the streetlights.  It’s harder to push forward without fueling first, I notice. Shelton was deserted. I passed a man walking his small dog and a couple of cars. I only did 2 miles due to a lack of time and energy.

I’m reminded of Matthew 5:16 today:  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. I’ve written about shining before.  Here’s another aspect.  Sometimes our shine has nothing to do with us. Neither Rex nor the sidewalks did anything to deserve their particular luster other than being unruffled and even. At times, we need an external light source to bring out our brilliancy and showcase our “finish”, so to speak. The ability to shine means the light has a smooth surface to reflect off of.

As Christians, we know without Him we can do nothing, but if we do good deeds in His strength coupled with a good attitude, that’s a different story. We provide a path of sorts, shining for God, when we do the Lord’s will. Our calm temperament while serving others points to God. Let me be perfected more and more into Your image, Father, to draw others to You.

Saturday Recess

Day 10 of Janathon:  The day dawned drizzly and 40 degrees.  As I did my Saturday chores, I debated about what workout to do.  Run outside and ruin my decent hair day?  Workout inside doing Piyo or something and kick myself all day for not running?  Finally, I put on my big girl pants and headed out.  It wasn’t raining, really, more like mizzle. If you live in the Northwest, you know what I’m talking about.

My Garmin, bless its little neon green heart, didn’t find me via satellite until well into my run. I kept checking it as it struggled with “finding location” for several minutes. Undeterred, I eased into a good pace right away.  I had no idea what it truly was until much later. Faster. Alrighty. My long run morphed into a tempo run. I ran up the hill, turned around at the highway exit and powered back.  I also discovered that what I long considered a 4-mile route was actually a 3.67 mile route. Not the same. Sometimes, driving your route results in an inaccurate distance. I added on .33 miles in order to round it up.  Take that, Garmin!

As I ran along, mist and sweat mixing on my face, I spotted two small clusters of women running together. A pair passed by me on the opposite side of the road, ponytails threaded through their baseball caps. Right behind them were three more ladies.  In the back was a gal I recognized. Her bleached blonde pony streamed behind her like a banner. Clad in black, she moved with grace and power. I waved to her, smiling in greeting. She smiled and waved back. I don’t really know her, but I know she’s a machine. She inspires me. Runners share a unique bond forged of mutual struggle and joy.

I haven’t enjoyed running very much lately.  Today I just decided to go out and play, relax into the time. I found others doing the same.  What a great morning recess.

Winter of Change

Photo by nibofthought.info

Photo by nibofthought.info

Over the summer, as Jonathon and I prayed, we felt like the Lord was starting to make major alterations in our lives.  Jonathon got a new job working from home. I was working for the city, finishing up the shelter project. We kind of held our breath, wondering exactly what would occur.  And then…nothing.  My 8-hour-per-week job ended at the beginning of September. I felt a little sad.  Despite local scuttlebutt about city workers, I found them a kind lot, doing their best on a shoestring budget and skeleton crew. I still feel that way.

I did my regular things.  Got Ruby to school, shopped for groceries, paid bills.  I faithfully attended kettlebellls twice a week and writers group twice a monthish. I met with friends for coffee and conversation and the occasional lunch.  We attended church and participated in the services. For me, all remained status quo.

I applied for a Habitat for Humanity job last month.  I even interviewed.  The pay was just above minimum wage (read:  abysmal), the work interesting but challenging.

“Well, our financial records are a mess. You’d have to start there,” said my would-be boss. She trained her baby blues on me.

I offered a weak smile in return. Um.  No thanks. Been there, done that.  The t-shirt was too small. I won’t say I tanked the interview by drooling or anything, but I didn’t feel a connection or drive to pursue it. I never heard back so I assume I didn’t get it anyway.  Bullet dodged.

Then, out of the blue, right before New Year’s, I got a call from my friend at the city.  “Susan, we’re moving forward with the file clerk position.  Are you still interested?  Wait, are you working?”

I had to smile. Yes, I’m interested.  I applied for it when it posted, back in the summer. Then the budget for the 2-year position got cut. The position involves archiving essential completed projects, shredding non-essential old projects and scanning what remains.  The idea being having electronic files means the public can access them from a city computer, located in city hall, whenever they wish.  The process now involves a city employee monitoring project boxes and notebooks when a citizen requests information.

All of that to say I start on Tuesday. I will be working full time again for the first time in more than 9 years. I’ve had part-time gigs for the several years, off and on.  But this will be an 8-5, hour lunch, 40-hour-per-week type of job. I have to walk away from morning kettlebell classes I’ve taken for more than 4 years, and writers group.  I’m sad about losing those two activities and missing out on the friends made there, but excited about a new adventure in the grown-up world.  Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up a weekday blog. I’ll have to figure out flexibility to stay in touch with friends as well.

It seems that we had the right idea, Jonathon and I, but the wrong season.  Things don’t ever stay the same, do they? We all age. Children grow up. Seasons slip from one into another as time passes. I have a feeling I’ll be looking to the Lord a lot during this transition.  He is my rock.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

P.S.  I almost forgot Janathon.  Did kettlebells class today with the 8:00 a.m crew.  Only two more left until I can no longer attend.  Have to make the most of them.

The new background theme is in honor of First Draft, my writers group. Thanks for everything.