Rainy Blessing

wet seattle.jpg

(source)

It’s very wet. Driving to work in the downpour, I set the windshield wipers to hyper wiper. They worked as fast as they could twitch, back and forth, shoving the rain off the window. I ended up behind an empty tow truck. Its wake alone disturbed me, flumes of water spewing up on either side of the back wheels, like a sort of land speedboat. But, true Pacific Northwesterner that I am, I kept driving. I followed the fog lines in the still-dark morning. I prayed I wouldn’t hydroplane as I navigated the banked turns and  straightaways of Highway 101. Water rushed over us and under us.

After yesterday’s Amtrak accident on I-5 southbound, I thought maybe there might be more traffic. It seemed a little heavier. All of us drove slower due to the lack of visibility. A few miles into the commute, I passed the tow truck. On the right, because he wouldn’t get out of the fast lane where he was barely making the speed limit. What gives, dude?

Rain happens. As of right now, Shelton’s gotten nearly 164 inches in 2017. Jesus said, “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”(Matthew 5:45). In most of the Biblical references (see Job 37:6, Deut. 32:2, Hebrews 6:7), rain falling on the earth shows God’s blessing and care. Before the invention of irrigation, farmers depended on the rain. It’s God’s unique watering system. Without the regular flow of rain, they could grow little food. They could starve, and their livestock, too.

The context of the Matthew 5 reference is praying for your enemies. It’s loving those who don’t love you back. It’s being good to those who persecute you. Then “you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven”, the first part of verse 45.

Rain, it seems, gives us a context to bless. Up here where it rains so much, we don’t necessarily see it as a blessing. At all. It’s cold. It’s dark and depressing outside, where we spend very little time, dodging puddles from our car to the house and back again. The ground doesn’t dry out until late August. Mud and muck abound, and what it does to our hair? I won’t even go into it. But rain also makes the tree and flowers grow. It causes us to have a bumper crop of blackberries. As God has blessed us with more than enough to drink, our roots can go down deep. We can rest securely in His care for us. We can reach out to those who hate us and pray for them. By God’s grace, we can find a way to love them. After all, He sends the rain.

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The Next Day

storm trees

We have a fall flood watch on now. Yesterday, all was breezy and sunny. The sun smiled down. Brilliant leaves tossed in the wind, drifting down and piling into crunch drifts. Today, all is soggy and dripping. Early morning twilight prevails. The rain comes and goes. The wind whips through the trees and water puddles everywhere.

What a difference a day makes.

I think of Harvey Weinstein. Never met him, and barely registered the name before all the accusations of his predatory behavior came to light. One day, he was sitting on top of the world. He ran the show as a film producer, called the plays, held the fate of young starlets in his hands. The next, he was eviscerated in the press. Actress after actress came forward to condemn his appalling, despicable behavior. Perhaps the wake of the death of Hugh Hefner created a space for women to feel safe enough to tell their stories. Maybe they’d simply had enough.

But this blog isn’t about scandalous national current events. It’s not about how power corrupts those over us and how we all make allowances in order to save our own skin. No. It’s not even about how both men *and* women sexually harass, demean, and objectify each other, in big and small ways, on a regular basis.

It’s really only about how one day can change everything in your life.

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. – Hebrews 3:13

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

 

 

 

 

Stormy Season

quinalt

We’ve had a few storms blow over the West Coast this weekend.  I heard it was remnants of a typhoon, which sounded very exotic. Nothing happened like the Columbus Day storm of 1962, as originally predicted. The closer you lived to the sea, the more damage you sustained. But here…no need for water jugs or generators. Locally, A few tree branches knocked out fences. Some experienced short power outages. And rain, as in about 10 inches. I took a walk this afternoon to survey the neighborhood damage.

The rain had paused. But everything dripped. Red, gold, green and brown leaves – tree currency – littered the ground. Some stuck to the pavement from the damp adhesive. Nearly translucent, they clung with tenacity, like stamps to envelopes. Squirrels scurried up trees. Their gray poufy tails twitched as they gathered acorns. Birds chirped and hopped about, catching up on socializing. The hazel-eyed creek, swollen with runoff, curled and swirled around downtown with swiftness.

I breathed in the fresh scrubbed air. The relentless rain makes me restless. It creates a sort of barrier with its wet silver curtain. Nobody wants to go outside, or go anywhere, really. We all hibernate, dashing out into the damp to gather groceries or pump gas. It’s the season for getting lost in a book and drinking hot beverages.

I packed up my summer wardrobe yesterday as the rain drummed down. I boxed up all my sandals, shorts, lightweight dresses and capri pants. So long, summer. This year, it’s taken me awhile to get around to doing it. Oh, I had a couple of pieces on standby as the weather turned cooler. But I couldn’t quite surrender. Usually we have a last-ditch effort on the part of the dry season. A couple of freak hot days sneak onto the calendar and we all flip back to sleeveless mode. But summer is truly gone now.

I pulled out my knee-length boots and corduroys. I folded the sweaters and placed them on the shelf. I hung up skirts and blouses. I unpacked long-sleeved pajamas and fleece pants. I even dusted off the clown pants. Hey, you never know.

So I’m ready. Seasons change. I can’t hold onto summer like those soaked leaves stuck to the sidewalk. There’s a natural progression to the seasons and to this life. More storms will come, I’m sure. It’s time to move on.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”– Genesis 8:22

Believe the Hype

I got up for a long run this morning. Outside, I heard rain. Great. Not a fan of running in the rain. But what if it rains all morning of race day? Gotta do it.

It was only a light drip when I started, the temperature at 57 degrees. I found my pace quickly and got into a groove. I tried to convince myself, due to the humidity and relative warmth, that I was running on Maui.

maui-rainforest

It didn’t work. With only evergreens for company, I moved on.

The day was just starting to dawn as I hit mile 3. Down past the hospital, I came across two deer grazing in a swale. They froze when they saw me. Then they darted into the woods. I never would have seen them if I slept in.

Around mile 4, my hip got a little cranky. I walked a bit, figuring I was already wet and a few more minutes wouldn’t matter. I dodged puddles but eventually hit one. My shoes soaked up water. At mile 6ish, the rain started coming down with a purpose. I smiled. Water oozed out of my shoes with every footfall. Squish, squish.

As I entered the 9th mile, I realized I felt pretty good. Sure, my clothes all together probably weighed 5 extra pounds due to water absorption, but I realized something.

I’m doing something right. For years, dear readers, I’ve been kind of rebellious when it comes to running training. True confession time: I wanted to do it *my* way. I didn’t want to have rest days. I didn’t want to carb load. It made me lethargic and bloated. Plus, it seemed dumb.

Ahem. I stand corrected.

I ate breakfast on mornings when I ran more than 6 miles. But when I finally started taking rest days and eating bread and pizza the day before long runs, something magical happened. I had stamina. I could do long runs without turning into a slug for the rest of the day. Yes, I get tired. I’ll probably need a nap later today, plus I’ll be rather ravenous.

Setbacks happen. I’ve experienced several injuries over the last few years. Yet something is working. Having a teachable spirit can reap great benefits. Old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m starting to get excited about the race next month.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Camp Beaver

Happy Friday!

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I took this photo yesterday. Today, it’s even more flooded, with wave patterns and practically its own weather system. The guys’ trucks plow through 6-8 inches of water at the deepest place. It’s been raining and raining. We’ve logged nearly 10 inches of rain for January.

Did you know Shelton has beavers? I didn’t, though in hindsight it makes sense. Growing up in “the beaver state” (Oregon), beavers got a lot of press. Especially OSU Beavers. Though salmon reached a near-saintly status beavers could never hope to attain.

beaver

Meet Hazel the beaver, of Point Defiance Zoo.

The reason I mention beavers is that we have at least one beaver who blocks the Shelton Creek culverts. He dams them. I guess the idea is to slow down the water’s flow and have a little quiet pond to call home. He can build his lodge there and his abode won’t wash away.

Unfortunately, this beaver activity stopped up the drains in the Shop parking lot. It’s made the pond out back, a salmon-bearing, duck-paddling, woodpecker-drawing pond, nearly overflow its banks. The beaver has made other wildlife – and not so wild creatures – lives a bit unbearable.

One can’t really fault the beaver. He – or she – is only doing what they know to do to protect themselves. But it makes me think about how we camp on things, like a job, or a church, or relationship, that maybe we should move on from. It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. Trying to preserve circumstances causes us to miss out on other great things that might be just down river, if we let the current of God’s direction carry us to new adventures.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

 

Friday Faith

palm frond cross

(source)

This week, I realized I’m working 3 half-time jobs.  I had meetings and reports and all sorts of things going on.  Oh, plus church.  Did I tell you we’re ramping up for our Christmas program?  Yeah.  So, I’m feeling the finiteness of my being keenly this week.  Not enough Susan to go around, folks.

I sometimes reminisce with great fondness of my old life of chores, church, working out and visiting with friends.  Seems so long ago now.  I don’t anticipate things slowing down any time soon. My limited human capabilities remain. But I remembered this:  Jesus said, in Matthew 28:20, in his closing instructions to the apostles:  “And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Bam!  Now peace can flood in.  Because no matter what life throws at you, be it a drenched, windy Friday, or a sunny Monday, Jesus remains at your side.  You don’t have to worry; He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.  The twists and turns of outrageous fortune don’t faze Him. Jesus said it in Hebrews 13:5, but God said it way back in Deuteronomy, too.  Stuff happens.  Life isn’t fair.  But Jesus.  He will make a way.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19