Penultimate Joy

It’s Wednesday again. And the last day before my probation ends.

it's a good thing

I can’t believe it. I thought this day would never arrive.

The. Longest. Probation. Ever. In the history. Of. The. World.

Truly.

I am on permanently with the county as of tomorrow. I’m in my new digs in the basement of the courthouse building. It’s rather ugly down here, rabbit warren hallways, ancient linoleum, and 80s grade school era bathrooms (minus the pink powdered soap). Some of my colleagues refer to it as “the dungeon”. But I have a desk and a computer with two monitors and a phone and a chair that’s at the right height. Those count for something. Plus, I have coworkers who are kind and funny and who really like me. They even want me here. Poor deluded creatures.

I’ve been contemplating God’s great mercy today. I never thought I would leave the city. I was happy there. I felt called there, that I belonged there. I lived in the community and felt honored to participate directly in my local government.  But sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. And then it’s…”please stand by” time as the new chapter unfolds. This time with Thurston County has been like that. Lots of questions and wondering what’s next. Am I in the right place? Am I doing the right things? Why did the old path disappear? Did I do something wrong? I still don’t know.

Yet underneath it all has been a bedrock of peace. I have a place here. I can grow and learn and be myself all at once. I’m not going to miss what God is up to in this life, as long as I’m asking, seeking and knocking. I might stumble a bit along the way as I search out light sources, more lamps, if you will. It’s important to stay open and to listen.

I don’t know much. But I do know the One who knows everything and has since time began. He will never fail me.

 

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Adulting

When did you know you were grown up?

I heard this question on the radio this morning. The concept of “adulting” has been popular lately. As in, paying bills, cooking dinner, going to work, etc. The regular stuff of life once you hit a certain phase.

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The two DJs talked about it, when they first knew they had grown up.

“I knew when I got a new washer and dryer and I was over the moon,” the female DJ gushed. “Now I want to get a new refrigerator.”

Totally understand that. Because I’m an adult now.

“I knew when I bought my first car. I got an ’88 Dodge Charger. I bought it for $10,000. That was based on the money I was making at the time,” the male DJ chimed in.

I started thinking about it for myself. You’d think it would be when I went off to college. I left home to live in a dorm in California. I found odd jobs to support my laundry habit. But that wasn’t it. You’d think it would be when I signed on the dotted line for my school loans. But paying those off was years away. I’d think about that tomorrow. You’d think it was when Jonathon and I got engaged. Nope. Still had another year of college to go. College and dorm life can insulate you from the real world. Was it when I got my first car, a 1974 orange VW beetle? No. Car maintenance and insurance didn’t do it, either.

I don’t think I felt like an adult until we moved out and got our first apartment after we got married. We paid rent. I commuted to my job in downtown Portland, a real job with an engineering firm. Jonathon worked as a caterer for Tektronix, may it rest in peace. I felt the weight of working and supporting ourselves, paying utilities and buying groceries. We had to plan a bit more.

I did an informal poll of some of my nearest and dearest. When did you feel like a grown up? One friend said when he had to have back surgery. That made him feel old. Jonathon says he still feels like a kid most days. My new co-worker, F., said she got her first job at age 12. She worked in a factory making plastic kite string holders. She poured plastic into the molds, cleaned them up and put them in a box.

What about you? Was it when you had your first child, and you looked down into that trusting face and realized you held the well-being of another, completely helpless human being in your hands? Was it when you got your paper route? Maybe you saved money to earn a bicycle of your own.

Perhaps you still don’t feel like an adult, despite having a mortgage and many decades under your belt. Rest assured, young’ un. Your time will come.

Upgrade

I have something to tell you. Some of you already know. When I got hired by Thurston County just over 3 months ago, I took a temporary project-based position. The jail expansion project support position will end when the project wraps up in 2020. I was okay with that. I thought, anything can happen in 3 years. Turned out to be true.

Last month, a vacancy opened up at the County. It was offered to me, and I accepted it. I’m a permanent employee now, pending the rest of probation, which is a little less than 3 months more.

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I’ll be joining 2 project managers and another gal in project support for the Central Services group. Central Services maintains, remodels and builds County buildings. I’m excited to join this team. I’m stoked to learn bidding requirements and limitations, formal vs. information project levels, and the like. I’m also interested to see what kind of candidates step forward to take my place on the jail expansion project. I’ll be training him/her, as well as receiving training myself at the other office.

How things have changed in the last 5 months. But oh, am I blessed. When you’re in Christ, He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

Adventure is Out There

I’m 5 months out from leaving my job. I know it was the right decision, yet the pain of it has tortured me. I wished and prayed for a different outcome, over and over. It went a different way than I’d wished.

As I drove in this morning, under a sunrise that started out with a red sky and a few silver clouds, and moved to pink and then bright salmon, I thought about how I got here. I thanked God for the growth birthed of the most excruciating times. I thanked Him for leading me to this new position. Peace fills my heart as I drive in each morning. I know have a contribution to make. Many paths lie open to me now.

adventure is out there

It’s so easy to forget the most powerful, peaceful place for a Christian is at surrender. Thy will be done. My will subsumed into Christ’s, every day, all the time.  He doesn’t waste a thing. Want to have a more adventurous, exciting life? Submit your life to Jesus and let Him guide you. You may not understand or sometimes even like the journey, but I guarantee you won’t regret it.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9

Little Office on the Prairie

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This field office is out a bit from the main digs from Central Services, which is the Courthouse Complex in Olympia. I believe that campus is 6 buildings total. We’re in this small office, attached to the Mental Health Triage Center, in Tumwater. Work release sits behind us. The jail sits just up from us, a small parking lot away. Across the street is the Juvenile Detention Facility. Great neighborhood.

Truth be told, it’s felt a little like homesteading. We got a borrowed refrigerator. I bought a secondhand coffee maker and microwave. The project manager brought in a Keurig. We had to add a copier/scanner, and upgrade to desk phones that work. Our cell phones don’t work well inside, so we step outside the concrete box to take or make calls. Somehow, we’re off the cell network in this wilderness. We don’t have 40 acres and a mule or anything, but we’ve had to make this place workable.

Yet what a lovely setting. Hawks circle above. Rabbits and squirrels scurry in the underbrush. Young maples line the sidewalks, their leaves already tinged with red. Some have completely lost all their brilliant summer foliage.

I walk outside on my breaks. The sun pours down its golden blessing. I see clouds, seemingly combed over the expanse of blue pate. Some look like they’ve been whipped up by God’s KitchenAid. Blackberries release their fragrance. Walking across the main road, you discover a paved path. It winds around a neighborhood under some tall trees. Eventually, you come to a quiet creek, burbling to itself, tucked down into a green ravine.

Immediately south of us, past the jail, lie several industrial facilities. There’s a moving truck company, one that sells building materials, a print shop, a coffee roaster, a beverage bottling plant, and the county coroner. Not much foot traffic, but lots of trucks. Some elderly folks walk themselves and their dogs back here. It’s all paved and off the main drag, though not a lot of shoulder. It’s quiet out here, despite the undesirable neighborhood.

I know the rains will come on soon, relentless and gray, marching us straight through winter and into spring. At least we don’t have to stack cordwood for heat and cooking, or dig an outhouse. But for now, it’s a moment captured in amber light. “All is calm, all is bright.”

 

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

Nothing Stays the Same

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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