Year 2019 in Review

apocalypse 2019

How I feel about this year. Buh-bye! Too much?

Folks, this was not the best year. At all. Not only did I fail at every single resolution, but some major things went wrong. If you’ve been following along you might remember…

Jonathon’s mom, Barb, passed away in July. Her brain tumors were inoperable and eventually shut down her movement and then speaking ability. It was a great loss for all of us.

Jonathon lost his job. He was out of work for 6 months, receiving halftime pay for 3 months prior to that. His old employer graciously allowed him to vest. He interviewed for several positions and has landed with Northwest Educational Partners, for now.

My mom entered a veterans’ home on October 31. Her Parkinson’s has curtailed her ability to walk, stand, talk and eat. She eschews meat these days and prefers to drink most of her meals through a straw. She continues to lose weight. Speaking is difficult. We visit as much as we can and bring her to our place for festivities.

Some fabulous changes came about this year. One of the good things was me starting a master’s program in public administration. Still going strong on that. I have 2 quarters left, if I can stay the course. It’s been going well and I’ve learned a lot about ethics, leadership and actual project management. January quarter starts on the 13th and I’ll be taking 3 classes. Pray for me!

Zac joined the Air Force. On October 15, he began basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated December 13 and is now enrolled in tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, TX. It was an 8-hour bus ride. Fun! He is doing well and finding his way.

Despite not meeting my mileage goal, I did get more consistent about running this year. In fact, last week I ran more than 9 miles over 4 separate sessions. Not a lot of mileage, granted, but I’m not as into the distance as much anymore. I’m doing it for attitude adjustment and fun, not weight loss.

I have been consistent on another thing, too. I read a great book called Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens. At the risk of sounding trite, it changed my life. The health benefits are cumulative and amazing! If you’re curious, look up ‘autophagy’. I’ve been intermittent fasting since August 2017, and I plan to continue for the rest of my life, God willing. I’ve lost about 10 lbs and numerous inches. It should really be called intermittent eating, because I fast 19-20 hours most days and usually eat for less than 5. I eat whatever I want in my “window”, though I am a food snob now; not all foods are “window-worthy”, and some make me feel crummy afterwards.  On this program, I feel really good. God has revealed deep things that needed healing, areas I would not have been aware of otherwise. Additionally, it contributed to healing a stress fracture in my right foot, keeping my immune system primed, and clear-headedness for an entire workday, and fitting into ALL of my clothes. I listen to my body now and don’t push too hard. I don’t have to prove anything. Exercise is fun and not a punishment. Huzzah! I need to stay healthy and be the best that I can every day.

I know God is still in control, even though this year was a slog. Looking forward to a new start in 2020. As believers, our hope is continually renewed. The best is yet to come.

How about you? How was your 2019? I’d love to hear about it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

 

Friday Abide

abide

(source)

So I ran 3 miles today. Not an accident. My foot has healed, slowly but surely. And somehow, I’ve gotten faster. What in the world?? Do I run without stopping? No. I take walk breaks when needed. Because I think I’ve finally gotten the message that walking is not weakness. In fact, work and rest are synergists. One fuels the other. Resting without hard work makes a person feel listless and restless; working without resting opens the door to injuries and burnout.

Between the master’s classes, serving at church, work and family obligations, I felt tapped out. My mom’s losing the battle with Parkinson’s; she is nearly homebound now. We are working to get her into a VA home in Port Orchard soon. I haven’t felt like I could breathe or relax or think. At least not for very long. I snapped at people closest to me. Hope ran low. I found myself responding in cynicism instead of empathy and kindness. I sensed something was wrong. I couldn’t quite get out of the funk. I blamed it on the end of summer, on the difficult classes, on morale at work.

After one particularly bad day, Jonathon heard me out. He looked at me thoughtfully.

“You know, Sue, you’re burned out,” he said.

I didn’t like his analysis at first. I mulled it over. Could it be? He explained how he had reached that point not too long ago and stepped back from some responsibilities for a time to focus on receiving refreshing and vision. He came back to tasks ready to serve and engage again.

Yeah. His diagnosis of my mindset was right on. I guess after 27 years of marriage he *does* know me.

I’m learning at my advanced age that it’s okay to stop and rest. It’s okay to take breaks. You have not lost if you step back for a season. It is not a defeat. It is not a concession, merely a pause. You can take a moment to regroup and restrategize, come at it all again with renewed vigor and drive.

I am learning to lean even more on Jesus, the True Vine. Gonna spend some time abiding. He truly knows where I’ve been and where I’m going. So I’m taking 6 months off from worship team, the only place I can really ramp down. That starts October 1. I dearly wish I could take 6 months off work. However, since I’m the only one employed at the moment, probably not a good idea.

I fully expect resting to chafe. I like being busy and feeling like what I do contributes, even if in a small way. I like doing stuff. Just like it did with running, I hope to find that resting brings unique benefits that checking boxes, although sexy, does not.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing…” – John 15:5

Twenty-Seven

Nike

I’ll take this one, please.

Dakota and I were out early this morning. We had thunderstorms yesterday and the air smelled sweet. I listened to the bird’s music as we romped up and down the driveway. The morning got lighter and lighter. Rex intercepted me now and then, striking a pose with a plaintive yowl, needing pets.

I sit at the island to write this. The aromas of fresh brewed coffee and stargazer lilies mingle together and bring back memories. Twenty-seven years ago today, Jonathon and I got married. It was a night wedding in Vegas (not like that), at his parents’ Nazarene church. Two punk kids, mostly broke, helped along by generous contributions to the wedding and the planning thereof. My bouquet held roses and stargazer lilies and an abundance of other foliage. Must have weighed 20 pounds. And I loved it.

What can you get us to commemorate this auspicious day? Glad you asked. A quick Google search revealed this:

Over the past 27 years a special marriage has sculpted the way a couple views life, love, and family. To celebrate this unique relationship, the modern anniversary gift guide for 27th anniversary gifts suggests giving the gift of sculpture.”

Mmmkay. This *never* would have occurred to me. “Bring me a sculpture!” But wait, there’s more.

“When most people think of sculpture they picture enormous marble nudes (yikes!), used as the centerpieces in public fountains or displayed in a museum. Few consider that a sculpture can be of diminutive proportions as well as gigantic ones, and everything in between.” (The Printable Wedding, n.d.).

So I guess enormous marble nudes are out, though we have the space to place them. The birds would love ’em. But still. I don’t know any sculptors. Do you? I mean, who would model for them? Us? No fanks, as Zac used to say.

I am grateful Jonathon stuck with me this long. Marriage is the constant combining of two lives into one, mutual submission and preferring the other more than yourself. I can’t imagine this life without his constant affection, belief in us and love. God has been so good to us. It’s not been an easy journey, yet it has been worth it. Our marriage is the sculpture. Jesus has been shaping us, chipping away at the hard edges and excess stone, changing us from glory to glory day by day. Our one flesh is His handiwork.

Romans 8:18 – Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

 

 

References

The Printable Wedding. (n.d.) 27th Anniversary Wedding Gift Ideas. Retrieved from http://www.weddingclipart.com/guide/wedding-gifts/anniversary-gifts/27th-anniversary-gifts.html

 

Monday Musings

sunrise

What can I write in 15 minutes? I have to wake Ruby and Jonathon up then. I don’t know. I could write about duking it out with Dr. X on a grade he gave me in the class with the longest title known to man. Then me calling him on not following his own requirements for the paper (!), us talking on the phone and me resubmitting the paper. He doesn’t give out 100s, despite the fact that the other professor I have does. Regularly. This is week 7 of a 10-week term, people. Can’t wait for the 3-week break!

I could write about how we still don’t know for sure what’s happening with admin in our group. I could write about how morale is pretty low and we feel like “why bother?” with so many things. We’re moving a specific direction in capital projects, synching with Public Works, but no definite announcement yet on specifics. So we live half in both worlds, peering ahead into the misty distance at what could be, and looking down at the work in front of us at what is. It’s awkward.

I could write about Jonathon. He’s looking for a job. Found a couple of interesting gigs. But more limbo there, too.

I could write about how it’s all a walk of faith. I keep waiting for life to be perfect and make sense, whatever that is. But there are good friends in the now, and chocolate, and a fabulous husband, and kids, and Jesus. Not necessarily in that order. I am good at blaming myself when things aren’t perfect. Waste of time and energy. This, friends, is my slow deliverance. Choosing to reject the condemnation and embrace the good is a moment-by-moment task. It’s a rewiring of sorts. Good thing I know the Manufacturer. He is able. And He is patient with me. He will do the same for you.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  – Philippians 1:6

Saturday Status

Rex has been very busy lately. He killed this

straight pipe.jpg

and this

T-pipe.jpg

We live surrounded by very tall Douglas firs, cedars, etc., so pine needles everywhere, all the time.

I wonder if the pipe pieces put up much of a struggle? I should also mention he killed 5 moles and a rat. Guess he got tired of mammals.

In other news, it’s been a long week. Jonathon lost his job at Concordia. It had been coming for awhile. The reorg of his department was announced in February, with a few meetings and deadlines from his team in between. Other than that, it was lots of questions and rumors for answers.  Jonathon drove down Monday morning for a meeting with the provost, his supervisor and HR. Never a good combination. The upside is that he’ll get severance until October, allowing him to vest.

Jonathon’s mom entered a nursing home on Monday as well. She’s in the last stages of inoperable brain cancer. Ever the servant, she has continued to make christening dresses and bake communion bread up until the very end. She doesn’t have much in the way of pain, she says, and looks forward to going home to be with Jesus. She still makes me laugh. Her courageous spirit inspires as she embarks on her last great adventure.

My heart is heavy. I am so tired. I haven’t slept much in  weeks, between all of these personal things and master’s classes and the reorg at my job. I should get to keep my job. All of us in Central Services will, according to the County Manager. But where we will end up is still a mystery, at least for certain admin positions. It’s not helping morale but it is bringing things into focus.

Continuing my reign as Queen of Delayed Reactions,  this combo plate of circumstances hit me yesterday. I went home early and took a 2-hour nap. I never do that. After I woke up, I sat on the porch swing and looked at Mt. Rainier, ate peanut M&Ms (current addiction) and chatted with Zac. He told me about his friend from college. We’ll call him Allen. Allen has by turns pursued teaching, modeling, soccer, philosophy and now firefighting. Allen just broke up with his apathetic girlfriend. Zac left me to play video games with him and cheer him up.

Because what really matters, at the end of the day? Not all the stuff. Not the achievements. Not the status or money or our appearance. What have we done with our time here? Have we loved people? Have we encouraged? Have we let God’s beautiful gift of life permeate our souls and been grateful?

Thanks to all of you who have given hugs, prayers and general encouragement. It’s not over yet. Through resting and trusting, I know restoration, inspiration and healing will come. Jesus is the ultimate upcycler.

Isaiah 61:3 – To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

The Breakup

Note: This is not me breaking up with Jonathon. It’s Valentine’s Day. He’s a keeper.

 

Remember how I wrote about the magical properties of snow, just a few days ago? Remember that? How it was like your high school crush showing up at your door? Yeah. I think I’m over it. The snow continues to melt…slowly. The same insulating quality that makes snow great building material for igloos is the same quality that keeps it from melting, especially when it’s piled high.

Our neighbor called yesterday.

“Susan, did you know when the city plowed the main road, they threw up large berms of snow? They blocked both entrances to our access road.”

No, I didn’t know. Because I couldn’t get out of the driveway.

“Could you call them?” she asked. “I’ve called twice.”

I didn’t want to. I know the guys work around the clock to keep the main arterials safe, then the other roads in order of most used. But I did. I left a message for my old boss. He called right back.

“We’ll get you out of there before you go crazy,” he said.

“Too late,” I said.

He laughed.

And they came out a couple hours later and mowed down one of the egresses.

Now, we needed to do our part. Jonathon carved out a path for us to drive on. I helped a little. The top snow felt light and fluffy. Underneath, it had compacted and become like wet cement. Shoveling snow is not for wimps. Dakota shadowed us, diving into each shovelful as if searching for buried treasure.

Pepper car path.jpg

This morning, I tried throwing a ball to Dakota, staying on the cleared path. She lost it right away. I sighed. Another day without fetching tennis balls. I felt bad for her. We walked the half-plowed access road. The sidelined snow formed bizarre shapes, hardened in the freezing air, impromptu snow sculptures. The asphalt underneath my feet alternated between puddles, crunchy snow and ice. The air glowed, an early dawn reflected off the snow. Dakota trotted ahead of me, mostly sniffing for places to mark. I wondered what animals had braved the cold during the night.

When I came back inside, a voicemail greeted me. Must have been left yesterday.

“Susan, you rock! Look, they came down and did the lane! You are the hero for the day.” The neighbor said in her message.

She made me laugh. But we all know who the real heroes are. And they don’t need capes.

 

 

Friday Fast Pitch

Good morning! I know I haven’t written in awhile. Let me catch you up.

  • Microsoft PACs were last week. I had a new group, with all new faces. I swam in a sea of acronyms and accents. Then I got out of the water and back to work.
  • This week, we’re down one PM (out on medical leave), and my co-worker is on vacation. I’m lone-rangering it. Not too bad, but keeping busy.
  • My foot hurts. Really bad. I’ve done something to it. Running, unfortunately, doesn’t help it. Going in to see the doctor next week. Might get in today, if there’s a cancellation.
  • We had our Easter services last week. Those of us who brought the music got blessed by the Holy Spirit and the great turnout. It felt like a huge party! Jonathon did a bang-up job designing a brand new set and lighting.
  • Ruby’s home on spring break this week. I stayed home with her on Monday. I asked if she wanted to bake something. She shook her head no. We made chicken noodle soup from scratch at her request.
  • Zac’s spring break was last week. He took care of the animals and the house while we were gone to Seattle. We watched “The Matrix”. Again. I guess it’s a favorite of his. Zac’s out of school April 27, finishing his freshman year of college. What?! New adventures await.

As spring moves on, I find myself grateful for the longer glimpses of sun and warmer temps. Jesus does heal us. Time helps, too. Life blossoms again in fresh and different ways. Let me remember to define myself by who I am in Christ first and foremost.