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

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“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

Benefit of the Doubt

I ran outside, the sky lit by starshine and a gibbous moon. Birds still slept. The only sound I heard was the music pulsing in my ears and my feet hitting the street.

The town slumbered around me. I kept pushing repeat on this song.

It’s a beautiful day…Don’t let it get away…

True confession time:  I haven’t stayed faithful on my “no sweets” challenge. This, though it’s helped me lose 4 lbs. to date. To be completely honest, I’ve struggled quite a bit. Since February 13 – blame it on Valentine’s Day, if you wish – I’ve eaten some chocolate every day. I questioned whether I could do this at all. Chocolate, you delicious foxy minx. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

You’ve been all over…and it’s been all over you…

Anyway,  the sermon last night talked about doubt. When we start questioning what God has asked us to do, whether He did it in a big way or by a still, small voice, we pull back. We operate in fear instead of faith. We look at ourselves instead of up to God and His purpose. Guess who’s bigger, stronger and able in every way? It’s certainly not us. We need to press into Him and stop looking at ourselves and our circumstances.

What you don’t have, you don’t need it now..

I realized that yes, indeed, this is the mission for 2016. I’ve had a few victories. I’ve walked away from peanut butter cookies that I made. Ice cream and cake don’t pull on me like they used to. I still stumble on chocolate-studded baked goods and dark chocolate, period. Bridge mix still croons its siren song. I can’t have any of them in the house, at least not right now.

Teach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case…

I’m taking this time to realize only with the Lord can I keep my word. The benefit of the doubt is that I learn to trust Him more. So, I am an addict, albeit a recovering one. This means one day at a time. This means I will have good days and bad days. I believe desserts will lose their power over me, little by little. I can’t strong-arm this, exerting extreme control. This will take surrender of my wants and patience.  I need to stay the course and keep seeking God for strength and wisdom.

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

 

Tasting

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Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

This psalm came up in my Bible reading plan today.  I’m going through the psalms for a second time now.  What does it mean to “taste and see”?  I’ve heard this scripture quoted often over the years. David wrote this psalm after he had faked insanity in front of Abimelech.  David’s acting skills saved him from death twice – from King Abimelech, who wanted to kill David while he fled from King Saul, and from King Saul himself. “And the Oscar for lead actor this year goes to…David, of the tribe of Judah!”

David escaped death many times. Praising God for His faithfulness became second nature to him.  Many of the songs he composed reside in the book of Psalms. He wrestled with God, there, too.  Look at Psalm 22.  “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  The fullness of David’s character, his flaws and fortitude, come to light in the pages of the Old Testament.  God called him “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

I think David fully tasted of God’s goodness. He sought and found God in minding the family’s sheep. He learned to trust God in the great seasons and the trials.  That meant surrender.  That meant honest faith – or lack thereof. God’s not afraid or put off by our emotions or quaking.  He is love.  He’s bigger than all of our circumstances and pain. He can meet us where we are, right now, today.

Taste and see.

Lucky Rabbit’s Foot

Well, it’s Monday.  Again.  After a full weekend of parties and gatherings, I find myself wondering what this week will hold.

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

I think sometimes after we worship on Sunday, we head out to the regular world and leave God on the couch next to our Bibles.  “I got this, God.  I’ll see you when I get home.”  As if God were some kind of pet or lucky rabbit’s foot we can take or leave.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. – Isaiah 43:2

I owned a lucky rabbit’s foot as a kid.  Maybe the rabbit could have used a little luck. Anyway, It looked like this.

rabbit's footI don’t remember ever praying to it, but I do remember wishing.  I do remember its soft, creamy fur.  It felt well in my hand. As a child of the 70s, I longed for a mood ring as well, but that’s another story.  A superstitious youth, I believed from an early age that old adage “step on a crack, break your mama’s back” and other chestnuts.  To put a positive spin on it, I realized early on that actions had consequences.  I perceived that doing dumb things would yield painful results.

The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. – Nahum 1:7

Last night, Jonathon and I watched a movie called “The Cobbler”.  Caution:  spoiler alert plus Adam Sandler. Yes, I’m a fan.  So sue me.  The movie is about a third-generation cobbler in New York who longs for a different life.  A shell of a man beaten down by the drudgery of the everyday, he considers selling his space and doing something new.  One day when his regular sole-stitching equipment breaks, he discovers he owns a magical piece of equipment that allows him – literally – to walk in another man’s shoes.  But that’s not the best part.  The best part is when he discovers his dad, played by Dustin Hoffman, has been right next door as the barber, wearing someone else’s shoes the whole time.  The look on Max (Adam Sandler’s face) could only be described as surprised by joy. His dad was there his whole life, watching over him.

And it hit me:  God was there all the time.

We never really leave the Lord behind. Perhaps it would be better to say He never leaves us behind. We may not be able to see Him all the time. God is still for us. We don’t need luck. We can turn around and find Him.  He will walk with us through the fire.  He never left our side.

Birthday Blessing

Today, friends, is my birthday. I’m more than halfway through my life.  Well, if Jesus tarries and the creek don’t rise.  I leave for work in a few minutes, after I clean up the cat puke in the bathtub. Seriously.

I just want to take a moment to say thanks. I’ve always been an analytical person, so thinking about things hasn’t been a problem.  As I sit here, in midlife, I realize I haven’t been the best friend, wife or mother I could have been.  I’ve had hangups and unforgiveness and misunderstandings and you name it.  I can see where I’ve fallen short.

I want to do better.  Heck, I try to do better.  But I don’t always succeed.  Despite me loving words and using them as a tool to express things, I struggle to find the right way to say how I feel.  I wrestle with speaking the truth in love.

I read Psalm 32 today in the Bible reading plan.  This verse stuck out today:

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

I want more of that, starting today. I can see God’s hand guiding me over the years, bringing opportunities my way and closing the door on others. I see His goodness and mercy even today. I’m grateful I’ve gotten to walk this earth for so long. However, I need to have greater discernment and discretion.  I want my ears opened. I need more than “just a little more Jesus”.  I need as much as He will give me.

Thanks to all of you who read faithfully, family and friends I know in real life and those whom I only get to know virtually. May God bless you today.

Friday Philosophy

Anyone else get to the end of the week and think, how did I get here?  What did I do this week?  No? Okay.  Never mind.

Photo by alan.com

I get to go in to work a little later today.  Ruby and I plan to attend the Volunteer Appreciation breakfast at her school this morning.  Donuts, coffee, possibly fruit and time with the wonderful folks who make the magic happen. After that, I’ll be paying a visit to the Public Works shop which is right next door to the grade school.  The interim superintendent will give me a tour of all the records each department stores. Only an overview, people.  I have no intention of carting boxes back to the office with me.  Think of it as a reconnaissance mission.

Highlight from the week:

baby burpeesI did some on Wednesday.  Let’s just say Advil and I were good friends yesterday, possibly this a.m. as well. Yowza.

This weekend has a lot packed into it.  I started feeling overwhelmed this morning.

“Hey Ruby, want to take a walk?”

Since she never actually walks anywhere, Ruby pumped up her bike tires.  We stepped out into the overcast, cool day.  The Shelton Creek Trail got finished a few days ago.  The trailhead starts a short distance from our house. She left her bike at the first bridge. We followed the gravel trail past the pond.  We wound around tree-covered paths, over bridges scattered along the narrow path.  As I gazed into the green-shadowed canopy above us, I felt my shoulders come down out of my ears.

“Let’s run!” Ruby called back to me.

Ruby ran ahead of me. We jogged up and down on the newly-carved way.  The creek burbled along beside us, sometimes far below.  We stopped to catch our breath and watch it.  Sitting on one of the little wooden bridges, the water flowed below us.  This time of year the water looked friendly.  It creased and rippled, revealing variegated stones.

Ruby handed me a fist-sized, rounded stone. Grayish brown and ringed with dirt, it didn’t appeal to me.

“Make a wish,” she said.

I took the rock. I made a wish and threw it in the water.  It made a satisfying splash.

“It’ll come true,” she promised, smiling.

It already has.

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