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

The Sundae

Most of you know I’ve struggled with a lot of “whys” in my life of late. I still don’t have answers. But I’m coming around.

A smiling harvest moon sliver glowed overhead early Sunday morning. Stars winked at me above the trees. I was talking to God about everything. Still don’t know what’s up, Lord, I remember saying. And then it hit me.

What if all that happened for me to leave the City was in God’s plan? He works all things together for good, after all (Romans 8:28). What if what I thought was how things were supposed to go, how things should be, was not a permanent situation? What if all of that favor, learning and time was to prepare me for this next chapter?

I don’t like this answer. Still don’t, really. At all. I have dug my heels in, emotionally and spiritually, every step of the way. This doesn’t feel like abundance or blessing. But what if it is and I’ve missed it? I equate it to a kid who really wants an ice cream cone but there aren’t any cones. So they whine about it, even though there are all the fixin’s for a smashing ice cream sundae on hand. Sundaes have less carbs, anyway.

sundae.jpg

Sure, there are downers. Commuting 30 minutes each way. Less variety of work and less work overall. Let’s not forget lower pay. But…parking is free and paved. No dust bowl in the summer and mud pit the remainder of the year. Great boss and fun coworkers. Pretty campus and neighborhoods to walk around. Onsite coffee stand. Huzzah!

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m learning – in the baby stages, frankly – of embracing the season, of being grateful for what is instead of lamenting what isn’t. I don’t want to miss God’s blessings right under my nose while my gaze is fixed elsewhere. My dream is to find work back in Shelton. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll celebrate the now.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:11-13

The Dog Life

Dakota today

This morning, I rolled the now-empty garbage can back to the house. Usually, it stands at attention next to the paper recycling and glass/plastic/aluminum commingled containers. Yesterday, the faithful garbage man (yes, it is a man) dumped it out into his travelling dump truck and carted it away.

Dakota never likes that some random truck picks up our stuff. She barks at him. Thief! she calls. How dare you trespass? This is my house, buddyroe, and that’s our trash. You can’t have it!

Which is why we keep her inside on Tuesday mornings.

Now it’s Wednesday. We need the garbage can back at the house for kitty litter deposits, if nothing else. I walked up to the gate in the dark morning and pushed it toward the house. Dakota got excited. She bounced up and down. What are you doing, Mom? Can I help? Ooh, it’s rolling! It makes a lot of noise! (sorry, neighbors). Where are you going?

I couldn’t help but smile. She does this every time. Retrieving the empty recycling containers elicits the same response. She likes to get caught by the wheels participate in everything we do outside. It’s like a coronation parade and she is thrilled to be a spectator.

There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle. –  Albert Einstein 

I think I want to live like everything is a miracle. Not in a condescending way, like,”Oh, look! You got dressed today!” Or “You’re so good, you drove yourself to work. Proud of you.”

No. Like the people in my life matter and not missing the beauty of the changing season. Like recognizing when people take care of things that make your life easier, or routinely serve with a good attitude. Zac mowed part of the lawn yesterday. When I asked him to take care of it, he said, “Sure, Mom.” That blessed me. Jonathon cooks dinner almost every night. I love that! Ruby’s learning to feed Dakota dinner without prompting.

It’s up to me to choose this attitude of celebration. It doesn’t just happen; it’s not our natural bent as humans. We’d rather complain. Let’s face it, how many times have we connected with people over the lousy weather or traffic jams? Maybe it’s time to change the conversation. As believers, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory. As we think about good things, our words will change, too. Let’s choose joy.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

 

Hoofing it, Part 2

 

Cocoon(source)

I went back to Dr. B. yesterday. As I opened the lobby door, it felt like a scene from the movie Cocoon. The place was wall-to-wall ancients of days. One guy sat in a wheelchair, connected to oxygen. A woman in a periwinkle coat inched her way on a wheeled walker to her seat. Ever so slowly, with tiny steps, she turned herself around and sat down.

“You made it!” said another man, thin and well into his 90s, sitting with his knees practically in his chest. His bald head shone under his baseball cap. A shorter, white-haired man checked in ahead of me. I took a deep breath. It felt like a glimpse of my future. A little frightening, to be sure.

I scooted around the lady and sat in the corner to wait. A large man in his 50s came and sat adjacent to me. The baseball-capped man addressed him.

Then a general conversation about the Seahawks ensured.

“Wish they didn’t keep Williams (name changed to protect the guilty because I didn’t catch it). He has too much baggage,” one man harrumphed.

“Well, I am glad they kept him. Even with the baggage,” said large man. So there!

Then a pause.

“What are you reading?” baseball-capped man asked large man.

Large man, also with a baseball cap (try to keep up!) showed him the cover.

The nonagenarian mumbled it to himself.

“So you’re a radio operator?” he asked.

“Yes. I’m going for another certification. Trying to learn more.”

“I was a radio operator in ’41,” said the older man. “I kept at it until ’45.”

“Oh. You were in the great conflict,” said large man, his tone indicating polite interest.

“Yes. I trained on it and then had to take an electronic test. Never learned that system, so it was difficult.”

I must confess this is where I tuned out. Dear reader, I grew up on war stories. I’ve had my fill.

At this point, wheelchair man piped up loudly.

“I want to learn how to do radio. I know there’s a group at Panorama. I live there.”

“Oh, I live there, too,” said the WWII vet. “I just haven’t been able to make it because of all my chapel activities,” he mused.

“Oh, I want to go to chapel, too,” said wheelchair man. “But I don’t know where that is, either. Someone needs to show me.”

“They have people to give tours. I can get someone for you,” said the vet.

“Oh, that would be great!” wheelchair man gushed. “I broke my leg and I’m in here for r-r-rehab.”

Pause.

“What’s your name?” wheelchair man asked the vet.

“Potter. POTTER. Lester Potter.”

“Oh, my name’s Simon. And this is Holt”, he gestured to the man pushing the wheelchair.

At this point, an assistant came out and directed her attention to Lester.

“Your wife is having a procedure done. She’ll be out in a few minutes.”

“Is it legal?” quipped Lester.

The nurse smiled. “Yes.”

Lester gave the thumbs-up sign.

Finally, they called me. I bolted out of there with all speed. I only have a 1-hour lunch, and almost half of it was gone already.

When the doctor came in, he admired my Mickey Mouse bandage. He told me the reoccurrence of pain was due to the inflammation battling the cortisone shot.

“You’ll probably need one more after this, then the inflammation will be cured.”

Cured? I liked the sound of that, though not the sound of another foot poke. I told him I went to Road Runner Sports in Kent and got new shoes and custom-molded orthotics. He wasn’t impressed.

“Those don’t really work he said,” mentioning that they correct the problem but don’t put your foot in a neutral position like custom orthotics.

“Good luck with that,” he said, rolling his eyes.

This time, the needle went I swear to my bone. I voluntarily looked up at the ceiling light, this time covered with tropical fish. Cool. I could think about scuba diving. He kept up a steady stream of banter as he plunged. I took deep breaths and stayed focused on the conversation.

He bandaged up the site and told me it wouldn’t hurt today, but would start to over the next couple days, just from the shot. I nodded. Familiar territory. Got the bruise to prove it. I did ask if I could get someone to carry me around for awhile.

“Could I get a palanquin?” I asked.

He laughed.

“I’ll write something up.”

Hey, you never know if you don’t ask.

As I left the clinic, I considered the lobby exchange between Lester and the other patients. Maybe I got it all wrong. Lester didn’t glorify his time in the service and he reached out to others. He reminded me of my dad in that way. Despite their obvious pain and failing bodies, Simon and Lester kept good attitudes. It was obvious to me they were both believers. There’s something to be said for keeping your hearts and minds on Jesus all your life. You come through life a victor even as your body disintegrates. After all, our attitude is all we can control in this life.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

 

Dakota Love

Dakota sleeps

You may remember we acquired a dog back in August. She’s a black German 4-year-old shepherd named Dakota. She’s got a ton of energy. A few issues have cropped up. She doesn’t like new people much. Like, at all. She barks at them, teeth bared, a ridge of black fur standing up in the middle of her back. She’s 60 pounds of protective rage. Men get her unvarnished wrath, especially if they’re wearing ball caps and hoodies, which covers 90% of Shelton males. We propose someone, long ago, beat her regularly. This mystery man shaded his visage with a ball cap and wore hoodies as a staple in a damp climate.

Zac, who collects hoodies, received a villain’s welcome when Dakota first met him. He didn’t want to be around her. She guarded us from Zac, the interloper. I passed Zac a hot dog and he was able to dilute her hatred, one fleshy chunk at a time. Now, she loves him. Her joy to see him – or any of us of the inner sanctum – is genuine. She wags her tail, jumps around and rubs against us, seeking hugs and pets.

“I love how happy she is,” Zac commented the other day, rubbing Dakota’s back as she wriggled in ecstasy, amber eyes filled with adoration.

It’s rather beautiful, and has made our house feel like a home. I want to be like that. You see the bumper stickers:

wag-more-bark-less6.jpg

 

It sounds like…

Do everything without complaining or arguing – Philippians 2:14

Is Dakota perfect? No. She finds stray Kleenex and shreds it. This creates a random sort of indoor snowfall. She fishes, ahem, kitty roca out of the cat box. She loses her cool with Rex, who hisses and takes swipes at her every chance he gets. She drops her muddy, sopping tennis ball wherever she pleases. This leaves a round, grungy splatter on the carpet or wood floor. Or better yet, she loses all of her baker’s dozen of balls in the yard. Someone has to go help her hunt up at least 2 in order to keep her calm.

But we don’t love her any less for all these transgressions. We’re working on the “meeting new people part, letting her know *we* decide who is initiated and who is excluded. Rex is a goober and I’m not getting in the middle of that relationship. We can keep things picked up better so she doesn’t form her own weather pattern. Her joy in everyday living inspires us to see the world with gratefulness.

When the Smoke Clears

I feel like myself today. That’s rather huge, as it’s been probably the better part of a year since I’ve been able to say that. The work drama/reorg of late 2016 sapped a lot of joy and confidence from me, frankly, and it’s only been since I started working at Thurston County that I feel a sense of peace and distance from it all. Who knew driving 23 miles south would take me to such a different world? I am so grateful for new beginnings.

I know my blogging – well, any writing – has suffered because of it. I don’t want to write downer posts as a general rule. In fact, I considered shuttering this blog. Why keep the pressure on myself to find a topic and time to write for public consumption? I keep a journal (sort of). Isn’t that enough?

I’ve spent a bit of time asking the Lord about it, and praying. It has seemed a trivial request. So many horrible things going on in our world right now – devastating hurricanes, mass shootings, hatred rising from every corner. I do pray about those things as well.

Maybe you’re in a similar season. You’re beat up, tired, ready to lie down on the couch and eat circus peanuts while watching Matlock reruns.

circus peanutsNot that I know anything about that.

So…where to now? No thunderbolts tore open the sky. No answer dropped on me via passenger pigeon. But I do feel a peace. I’m not done here yet. God’s not done in your life either, friend. I hope to write more, and more often. Thanks for sticking with me.

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

Taking Flight

Today, we take Zac to college. How did we get here?!

We’re still unpacking from the complete move-in last weekend. As Jonathon sorted through boxes, he came across this

Toddler Zac

 

Zac’s about 18 months old in this photo. Those chubby red cheeks produced darling dimples. His blue eyes filled with wonder at each new discovery. “Mom! The moon!” How many times did we go to Alberta Park and chase everyone else’s balls (even slimy doggie ones), or attempt science experiments, or talk about video games and politics? Where is the boy whose favorite color was red and had a need for speed?

In this last year of high school, he made some good friends. They’ve hung out a few times this summer. Zac, a non-driver, pitched in on expenses. “Mom, food is expensive!” They drove to Ocean Shores and played mini-golf. They bowled. His two friends will attend community college. Zac is the only one going away.

I’m plagued with all the parenting baggage. Did we do enough? Will Zac be able to make it on his own? He can do his own laundry, but what about time and money management? And holding down a regular job? All of that remains to be seen.

But maybe it’s as it should be. Baby bird won’t know if it can fly until it takes to the air. It can’t know ahead of time if it will make it. Mama bird must stand aside while pushing her baby out of the comfort of the nest. There is no shortcut to growing up.

And so I will stand aside, praying and encouraging. I know Zac has it in him. We’re so proud of him. He only needs to unfurl his wings.

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