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

 

Bucket Drainer

bucket_with_holes_

I’ve had some encounters this week with someone I used to know. This person has no idea the effect they have on me. They punch holes in the bucket of my self-worth. No, dear reader, it’s not you. Truly.

While I was putting on mascara yesterday morning, I struggled. Some gals will get this. You apply mascara to one eye, carefully. It feathers out reluctantly and leaves chunks on your once-clean lashes. Gah! Then you move to the other eye. Back and forth you go, trying to even out your eyes so you don’t blink with tarantulas all day. Wait! The left eye has a weird smudge. Awesome. Finally, you’re mostly even. But now you look like this.

bambi eyes

Life goals?

But I digress.

This person I mentioned once let me know what they really think of me, including that I can’t write. I’ve never forgotten. But it seems they have. They are kind and cordial when they see me. Nice, even. But the memory of that previous encounter remains. Oh, I know I need to forgive. That’s mandatory. And I have. But the feeling persists.

Needless to say, I avoid this person. Don’t want to see them or talk to them. I’ve had to talk to them more times than I’d like over the last several months. I can’t seem to reconcile this newly solicitous person with the other person who humiliated me publicly and privately on a regular basis. The two halves don’t form any kind of recognizable whole.

I mentioned the Bambi effect because I think trying to make sense out of how this person treats me is rather pointless. I’ve gone back and forth, trying to “even out” their behavior and put it in some kind of perspective to make sense of it all. Yet I don’t know their motivations or though process. They certainly will never share that with me, even if they knew, which I seriously question. The good news is that I don’t have to see or talk to them regularly. We don’t move in the same circles or keep any kind of similar schedule. I don’t worry about running into them at the library or Safeway. Not going to happen. 

What to do? I find that I have to let the poison of their presence leach out of my system. Time and changing my thought patterns help. Laughter. Spending time with family and friends. Worshiping. Actively finding blessings in the now and speaking my gratitude to Jesus does wonders as well. Those things patch the bucket and get the focus off myself.

I also remember they don’t get the last word on who I am. God does.

I’m choosing joy today.

If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

The Harvest

fall-fruits.jpg

I looked up at the pre-morning sky. Stars winked in the inky black.

Monday. Again.

I tossed the ball in the air, dodging a shower of pine needles as it flew. Shadows flickered on the driveway as the trees swayed under the electric lights. The air felt damp and cool from last night’s rain. I tried to muster up enthusiasm for the day ahead.

I’ve been in a limbo place for a long time now. Trying to be peaceful / joyful / content / everyone’s cheerleader in this season has proved challenging. My tank runs dry. But when you’re an adult, you don’t get to just lie down. Or, you shouldn’t. You keep getting up and going to work – fully dressed, ideally. Ladies, remember your foundation garments! You pay bills. You clean. You check on kids. For believers, you attend church. You tithe. You worship. You read your Bible and pray. Even spend time crying out to God for some kind of answer, anything.

Then when nothing happens, you keep on.

Nothing is horribly wrong. It’s just that it doesn’t make sense. I know I’m supposed to be based in Shelton, but I spend 45 hours each week going to and from another city. I guess it’s just over 25% of my time, when you think about it. I have applied for jobs here in town, interviewed, and they’ve gone to someone else. I don’t begrudge those others getting jobs. But how do I get back home? I keep clicking my heels, eyes closed. It hasn’t worked. I probably need the real ruby slippers or something. Sigh.

I like Thurston County. I work with great people. Yet…my job is unchallenging. That’s putting it kindly. My boss is wonderful. No complaints there. The commute is fine, most days. In fact, driving in on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, I sailed along with little traffic. All of a sudden, Knight Rider appeared on my bumper. I pulled into the right lane as a cop from the other side of the highway roared up behind us. Knight Rider got a ticket, not me. So, not without some chuckles.

And yet…something’s missing. I think its purpose. I’m learning patience (gah!). No, I didn’t pray for more patience. That I remember, anyway. So what’s a gal to do? Well, celebrate was good, for starters. Family. Health. Provision. Jobs that allow us to use our skills. Friends. Good food. The lovely fall season. Goofy pets. I can go on, but you get the idea.

I think I’m also learning faith. Not sure I like that one either. But untested Faith isn’t really faith, is it? It’s just passive belief. Maybe I need to press the faith muscle into service, like how in the natural muscles gain strength through exertion. If I really believe God works all things together for good for those called according to his purpose, I have nothing to worry about (Romans 8:28).

That leaves me with: more faith and patience. Yay! Neither is a favorite “food”, but they are fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Fruit doesn’t just happen; it has to grow, and that takes some time and care, as well as pruning. Lord, let my life be filled with these delicious fruits for others to sample and taste Your goodness. I want a good harvest.

Upgrade

I have something to tell you. Some of you already know. When I got hired by Thurston County just over 3 months ago, I took a temporary project-based position. The jail expansion project support position will end when the project wraps up in 2020. I was okay with that. I thought, anything can happen in 3 years. Turned out to be true.

Last month, a vacancy opened up at the County. It was offered to me, and I accepted it. I’m a permanent employee now, pending the rest of probation, which is a little less than 3 months more.

it's a good thing.png

I’ll be joining 2 project managers and another gal in project support for the Central Services group. Central Services maintains, remodels and builds County buildings. I’m excited to join this team. I’m stoked to learn bidding requirements and limitations, formal vs. information project levels, and the like. I’m also interested to see what kind of candidates step forward to take my place on the jail expansion project. I’ll be training him/her, as well as receiving training myself at the other office.

How things have changed in the last 5 months. But oh, am I blessed. When you’re in Christ, He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

Sloughing off

Warning: This post is going to sound vain. I don’t mean it to, but there it is. I’m still a girl at the end of the day.

korean skin care.jpg

I haven’t been happy with my skin for awhile. My face breaks out more than I’d like. I have combination skin, some parts oily, some parts dry. I’ve been on the lookout for products to help calm it. When I worked out more, all that sweating helped it stay clearer and more vibrant. I also used to use Pro Activ products. I said goodbye to those tools a few years back. I find as I age, the gentler the product, the better.

So right now, after months of sun exposure on a near-daily basis (even with sunscreen) I have some sunspots. I also have some acne scars. Seems so unfair this late in life, frankly.

I saw a blog post about Korean skin care items. I’m not one to blow up the budget with expensive lotions and potions. I’d rather buy a pair of cute boots or something else that I can wear/use for a long time. It turns out I haven’t been exfoliating enough. Could it be that simple? Well, if it walks like a duck… I thought I would start there. We have all these layers to our skin. We have 5 layers within the epidermis, which is the top layer. I figure I can shed a few and get to the brighter, non-splotchy skin underneath.

Shedding our “skin” of shame, past disappointments and unrealized expectations is something God wants us to do. We have to leave behind the past.  It takes applying the word to our situation – There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9), if anyone is  in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As I shed dead skin, I think about shedding the old way of living, of thinking, of being. I don’t have to be that person whose thoughts orbit in a negative pattern. I don’t have to beat myself up for failing. I rinse off the gunk and let it flow down the drain. I reveal a new woman, cleansed from her shame. I can believe for a brighter future because my hope isn’t in myself, but in Christ.

Amby Running

amby

I’m finding a new balance after not running the half marathon. I don’t need to push so hard, but I don’t want to stop running. How to find a balance? How to stay encouraged as the weather turns perpetually drippy? Our weather hasn’t turned cold. Only rainy. Temperatures range around mid 50s each day. Not too bad for running. Except for the coming down an inch an hour scenario. On those days, the treadmill comes in handy.

Amby Burfoot is one of my running heroes. He’s been running his whole life, even won the Boston Marathon one time. He’s 70 now. He’s won races and come back from injuries. He’s been there and done that. So I know his statements aren’t empty platitudes.

Image result for amby burfoot quote

Sounds a lot like…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

amby-brain

Doesn’t that parallel…

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Seasons of our lives change. Obligations ebb and flow. I’m getting back up again. I’m not giving up. I ran 2 miles on the machine today. I threw in some speed for fun. I remind myself that this body is part of God’s amazing creation. And I run because I can.

Seventeen Days

seventeen magazine(source)

Nothing to do with the magazine.

I’m seventeen days into the running streak. I’ve got 19 days to go. Almost halfway. Truth be told, I’d like to continue it while on our vacation. The vacation goes from June 30 to July 15. I think it would help me be nice (ha!) while far away from home, familiar and control of circumstances.

I did not want to get up today. My body pleaded, “You don’t need to run. Sleeping is good. We did kettlebells last night. Remember? We did the card workout. Our legs already hurt. We’re middle-aged, after all. And let’s not even talk about our back…”

But,  I remembered this: I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:27.

I got up. I turned off the “I can’ts”. Just one mile, I coaxed myself. Start there and see what happens. I ran three very ugly miles. Box checked. Yes, I still think checked boxes are sexy. Don’t hate me.

Discipline gets a bad rap. Every action, friends, starts in the mind. The Bible has lots to say about the battlefield of the mind. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (taking thoughts captive), Romans 12:2 (renewing our minds), and one of my personal favorites, Philippians 4:8: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

It’s taken me awhile to realize the correlation between thoughts and actions. Okay, it’s all over the Bible, and in the news daily, but I didn’t want to believe it. I don’t think I wanted to be held responsible for the way my thoughts repurposed themselves as deeds. I tried to dodge that particular, ahem, discipline. I mean, I’m an American, right? Don’t fence me in. I love my freedom of speech, religion, right to assemble peaceably. Let’s not forget the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those few tenets form the backbone of the gospel of the U.S. of A, I find.

No one else can reign in my thoughts. That’s my job. One of the great benefits of us as free will creatures is the amazing complexity and beauty of our thoughts. As humans, we carry within us the God-given ability to dream and create amazing things. Yet with all the darling schemes we conjure up, some still prove to be stinkers. Let’s yank the ugly thoughts out. They will only yield pain and disappointment to us and those around us. Let’s cultivate a discipline of good thoughts. They will yield a crop of encouraging words, healthy actions and a fruitful life.