Fall Finish

fall leaves

It’s fall now. The rain has come, gentle at first, but will push its advantage as time goes on. I ran outside in the on again/off again drizzle. Even by the light of the street lamp, I could tell the trees were turning crimson. Their tie-dyed leaves, red-green-gold, made me smile. At one point, I pulled the earpiece from my ear. You know the season has changed when the rustle of the wind in the trees cuts through the music pouring in through your earphones. 

I’m up to 8 minute running/two minute walking intervals, three times through. It’s good. I stretch any cranky calf muscles that tighten up, and we keep on going. I ran past the graveyard. Funny how there are no lights down there, not even along the street. The graves lie in shadowy darkness behind the wrought iron fence and pillared gate.

I have an acquaintance who works for the cemetery. He doesn’t make corny jokes like “People are dying to get in!” or anything. But he says it’s steady work. It’s honest work, too, digging rectangular holes in the ground for the dearly departed. Lately, business has picked up. “Otherwise,” he says with a smile and nod to the change of season, “it’s just blowing fallen leaves around. That gets old. Time goes by faster when you’re digging.”

I guess I’d never thought about making time go quicker when you’re working in a dead-end job. Get it? Even cemetery workers need to keep busy. 

I suppose it’s a bit gruesome, but I like running past the graveyard. It reminds me to keep the main thing the main thing. Burial – or cremation – is the period on the end of the sentence of your life. As I keep aging, I realize how short this life is. We don’t know how many years we’ll get. I want to make them count. I want to be about the Father’s business, as my particular job description in the kingdom requires. For now, it includes loving people wherever I am, with a smattering of running, writing and worshiping thrown in. Personally, I want to have as much fun as possible along the way. Every breath is a gift, another day to live in the light and share it with the world.

P.S. I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, but it was the 7th anniversary of this blog. I know I haven’t been as regular as in the past. I appreciate all of you who read and comment and keep hanging in there with me. Things are changing again. Yay! Mostly for the good this time. I’ll keep you posted as I have more details. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1-3

 

 

 

 

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Where We Are

Mt. Rainier sunriseIt’s Tuesday. I got up this morning and read my Bible for the day. I fed and watered Dakota and the cats. Afterwards, Dakota wanted to play. Who am I kidding? She wants to chase a ball all day, every day.

I found a ball and switched on the outside light. It buzzed to life, flickering and humming as it warmed up. The wan light allowed me to walk into the driveway.

I hucked the dirty, pine needle-covered ball as far as I could. My right shoulder is tricky and doesn’t always serve me well. I figured Dakota wouldn’t mind.

She raced after the yellow orb. It bounced around, dodging her mouth. I looked up at the sky. A half moon shone down on us. A few bright stars glowed through patches in the tree canopy.

Life goes by fast.

Heck, sometimes I move too fast. I took a deep breath. I threw the ball a few more times. It skittered off into the grass. Dakota retrieved it and I found the other ball to toss for her. I walked up and down, the real fetcher.

I don’t want to miss the beauty all around us. The picture at the top of this post someone else took. I can see the same view from our bedroom, but didn’t stop to snap a photo. The season is changing. The days are slowly cooling down as fall looms. Our kids are growing up into young adults. I know I’ve said this before, yet I think it bears repeating. Lord, help me not to be so busy I miss the beauty of this moment.

This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

 

 

Friday Refresh

So we’re all in the house. By “all in”, I mean our stuff is in the building. We’re not unpacked, and my parents still need tomorrow to move the rest of their stuff out. Jonathon painted the living room and the master bedroom right away. They look great. Slowly but surely, we’re settling in.

I went out for a run this morning. I felt really good. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, but streetlights provided adequate light. I varied the route, turning down a side street to add more mileage. I chugged along past the cemetery and the park. I turned back onto the main route. A silver crescent moon and one star hung in the sky. I love how God decorates the sky.

Suddenly, my right calf hurt. A lot. I stopped and walked. The pain didn’t subside. I rubbed it. Still there. I tried running again, hoping it would dissipate. It didn’t. I turned around and walked towards home. Dehydration? Muscle strain? No idea. I sighed.

Instead of getting frustrated, I decided to enjoy the moment. I admired the sunrise. I thought about how great it was to be living in a house where we could host gatherings. I thanked God for my new job, filled with possibilities. By the time I reached the house, I was ready for the day.

So much of this life is not in our control. I’ve been in a long season of “what now?” I’m getting the point. I don’t have to have all the answers, but I need to listen and be open to what’s next. Because He is good, all the time.

Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 17:8

 

Spring Change

life change

(source)

I apologize. It’s like I fell off the face of the earth.  I didn’t. I needed some time to think…and run. Last week, I resigned from my position with the City. It was a tough decision. I love those people. Shelton has many dedicated, talented public servants. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t the best fit for the job. Someone else will be.

It’s felt like a free-fall, because I don’t know what’s next. I want to thank all of those who have supported me. Most of them won’t see this. But you have no idea how your texts, phone calls, emails and real time conversations have encouraged me and helped me to dream again. I keep running into ladies I haven’t seen in months, or really talked to in years. It’s like God has been saying, “See? You are loved. I’ve got you.”

The threads of my old life beckon. Writer’s group. Kettlebells. Blogging. Coffees and lunches with friends, no time limit attached to them. I relish the opportunity to breathe and reconnect with my kids and husband. I’ve missed them so much. Both of the kids will transition into new phases of life come fall. Zac heads off to college in August. Ruby will enter middle school in September. I’m savoring these moments before it all changes.

For now, I’m downshifting into home life. I thank God He holds the future and knows all the bends in the road. Right now, I can see all the way to the horizon. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams. – Psalm 23:1-2

Shifting Standards

I’ve been thinking about how our standards have changed over time. For instance, Twiggy emerged as the beauty standard in the 1960s.

Twiggy.jpg

A lovely gal, yet her dimensions set off a chain reaction in women everywhere: how can I look like that? Her iconic slenderness changed the course of modeling. Models used to look like this:

1950s-model

Where did the curves go?!

Anyway.

Skinny jeans still rule the fashion world. I even have a couple of pairs, though they have yet to make me any skinnier. Right now, boots are everywhere. Living in the Pacific Northwest, cute little Audrey Hepburn-style flats prove impractical except for about a month a year. Boots make sense. You can wear them at least 7 months of the year.

One of my friends informed me leggings have fallen out of vogue. His wife tried to wear them and his daughter, a high school senior, told her to go change. “Mom, leggings are so last year.” I’ll let you imagine the sigh and eye roll accompanying that announcement.

Granted, I don’t live in the fashion capital of the world. People still wear pajamas to the store upon occasion. But I look around, and the changes don’t only apply to beauty standards. Spanking lost favor long ago. Timeouts and “safe places” are in. The popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs has been superseded by more economical cars as the price of gas and political correctness pressure continues to rise. Just peek at reality TV to see who and what we admire now. I won’t even mention the Kardashians.

So many things change on a regular basis. It’s hard to keep up. Heck, even our scale weighs me 8 lbs. heavier if I move it out of its sweet spot. But Jesus doesn’t vary. He is who He says He is, every day of the year. I find peace and comfort in the fact that His word never changes. His love is unfailing, even when everything around me spins out of control. Meanwhile I’ll hold onto the earrings I wore in high school. Hey, they still fit me! Maybe they’ll be cool again someday.

For the word of the Lord holds true,
    and we can trust everything he does.
He loves whatever is just and good;
    the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. – Psalm 33:4-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Trust

“Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in relieving tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring.” – Jimmy Carter

Is it Friday yet?! This week has seemed to have some extra days between Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

I did my last 3-mile run of the week today. I’ll do my long run on Saturday. We’re topping 90 degrees again today, so the cool morning air was welcoming. A few stars twinkled in the sky next to a glowing half moon. I paced down city streets, with streetlights and porchlights to guide me. It made me think of this:

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105

I’ve been doing some more attitude work this week. Things haven’t gone according to plan. And by plan I mean *my* plan. I’ve struggled to remember I’m not in charge and I don’t have to solve everything. Running helps, but isn’t the cure. I can’t solve everything, in point of fact. Otherwise, why would I need Jesus?

Remembering this, as I pray minute by minute about things large and small, helps me to stay in the trusting place. My fallback is here:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take – Proverbs 3:5-6

What’s fascinating to me is that He speaks in so many ways. Yes, through the Bible – our standard for testing direction. But also through perfect strangers and our closest family members. We only need to listen and know that He will guide.

Drop It

606_Diploma

“Fred’s dropout paperwork should be in by now. He’ll probably get called to the office today,” Zac said.

We drove to school in the damp March morning. Rain dripped off every available surface and person.

“What?” I said. “I thought you talked him out of out of it.”

Zac shook his head.

“What do his parents have to say? Obviously, they’re involved if there’s paperwork.”

Zac stared straight ahead out the windshield.

“His parents don’t care. It’s his life decision.”

Life decision?! Are you kidding me?

“That’s very stupid. You can make dumb life decisions when you’re 18. Not when high school is your job. Fred is making his life infinitely harder.”

My heart ached. I know Shelton isn’t the educational Mecca of the Northwest, but you need to graduate. A GED is not equivalent to a diploma, no matter what anyone says.

“What will Fred do?”

“Dunno.”

“Did you ask him?” I got a little exasperated at my son’s lack of curiosity and concern at this point.

“Why does he want to drop out?”

Zac shrugged.

“Why didn’t you ask?”

Zac said it wasn’t his business.

People, it IS our business when the people we care about make foolish choices. We can ask questions and raise concerns. No, we can’t boss people. Much. To his credit, I remember Zac did try to talk Fred out of dropping out of high school partway through his junior year.

As I pulled up to the stop sign to let Zac out, I realized I kinda gave him the third degree about some kid I’ve never even met.

“Zac, thanks for staying in school. I know it can be monotonous at times. But life is what you make of it.”

He glanced at me and nodded. He heard me. He picked up his backpack and opened the car door.

“See ya,” he said.

I prayed for Fred on the way to work. Some of our “life decisions” have long-term repercussions. I know I’m biased here. My parents were both teachers. My father-in-law taught college classes and has a doctorate as well. My husband has a doctorate and I have a B.A. Education looms large on our agenda in this family. It matters, especially while it’s free. Opportunities come around once. Make the most of them.

This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24