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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

 

 

Unanticipated Risks

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Over the weekend, Ruby handed me a permission slip. Seems her school would be making a trip to the capitol in Olympia in March. Since Shelton lies in the shadow of Washington’s state capitol, all the kids get to go, at least once.

As I filled in the blanks about Ruby’s particulars – name, rank, serial number – the phrase “unanticipated risks” jumped out at me. The elementary school wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t hold them liable if anything should happen to my child.

Unanticipated risks encompasses a lot of territory. Frankly, just getting up in the morning entails a certain amount of risk. You could stub your toe getting out of bed. The eggs lurking in your fridge could provide a nasty case of food poisoning. Your best friend could decide they like someone else a little bit better than you, and drop you like a hot rock. You might get downsized at work or hit by a bus when you stepped off a curb during lunch break.

So many things could go wrong in the course of a day, and even more in the course of a lifetime. While I can appreciate the school’s concern, I want to focus on all that can go right. What if Ruby learns about government and has a great time doing it? What if I stumble upon a new and delicious way to cook eggs? What if my best friends and I grow a little bit closer, God willing and the creek don’t rise? What if I get a promotion and the bus that could have hit me stops and picks me up instead?

Ultimately, my best insurance policy is trusting in God’s goodness and faithfulness. After all:  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

 

Jam Day

I didn’t write much last week for a number of reasons.

Here’s one

Not for the squeamish.

Not for the squeamish.

And another is that the week got crazy. As in, “Lunch hour, where art thou?” Between meetings and anti-harassment training, I was licked. So many protected classes these days, and Washington state is the leader in protecting the picked-on.  I figure pretty soon we’ll only be able to use sign language because our words will be considered too offensive.  Then again, perhaps we should stick to everyone’s health and the weather.

You might be wondering why my knee got all bunged up.  Well, I’ll tell you.  I was running in the early a.m. under cover of night.  I cut through a parking lot in order to avoid construction area and I fell.  Scraped my shoulder and jammed two fingers on my left hand

As I got up, I thought about quitting.  But I had a great pace going.  And I want to do well in the half marathon next month.  Which means line upon line, day after day of faithfully increasing by increments. I looked at my right hand. Blood oozed from a small abrasion on the palm. My pants had a hole in them where my right knee hit the pavement. Nothing broken.

I went on. Turns out the motor still ran and I finished well.

I contemplated going to the doctor.  I called but no appointments were available.

“You can always go to our walk-in clinic.  It opens at 11:00,” said the helpful scheduler.

Sitting around and waiting.  Hmm.  No thanks.

“Your finger’s not broken,” my engineering co-worker scoffed.

“You know what I’d do?

He smiled.

“I’ve got some duct tape in the back. I’ll tape your fingers together.  That’ll fix it.”

Uh, no thanks, MacGyver.

Now, 5 days later, my finger’s a little stiff but not swollen.  It took some time and patience.

Because even when you fall down, you can get back up.  I love running, and I believe it’s something I was born to do. Even if I mess up or get hurt, the gifts and abilities given to me remain the same. As much as I’d like to be perfect all the time, it’s simply not possible. I get discouraged.  It’s alright.  God’s purpose and love for me haven’t changed.

I will say the same to you:  get out and do what you were born to do.  If you fall, get back up.  Your Father will help you. You won’t even need duct tape.

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. – Romans 11:29

Embracing the Storms

A couple of weeks back, a guest speaker visited our church.  He spoke about the storms of life and how to embrace them.

“Every one of us is either going into a storm, in the middle of a storm, or just coming out of a storm,” he told us.

I’d never thought about it that way.  Some storms happen to us and some we bring on ourselves. He told us storms change us.  They become pivot points that change our direction and destiny.  When you enter a storm, know it will bring change somehow.

Yesterday, I found myself reliving some of my own personal storms.  Anyone who ever says Christians don’t experience regret is lying to you.  I’ve got plenty for things I’ve said and done. I’ve been brought to the end of myself more times than I can count.  What God brought to mind is that His plan has never been to destroy me or anyone else.  Not ever.  Storms reroute our lives.  They move us into a new direction and sometimes a new destiny.

Storm will pass…you’ll be ready for the next one…

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 shows this.  The younger son takes his inheritance and squanders it on wild living.  When he runs out of friends and money – right about the same time – he finds himself humbled.  He returns home to a father who jumps up and runs to him.  All is forgiven.  Now, the young man deserved some kind of consequences for his selfish behavior, right?  He brought that storm of hunger and deprivation on himself.

But that’s not God’s heart.  Even if we bring the pain onto ourselves, He will restore.  He will continue to bring good out of bad circumstances.  He wants to be connected to us, simply because He loves us. He understands our limitations and like a good father, lets consequences teach.

I would encourage you to embrace the storms in your life.  Don’t be afraid of change.  Let it come.  Learn from it.  Let consequences teach, if necessary. Today, I can say I’m grateful for the storms of life – unemployment, broken relationships, loneliness, physical pain – because the Lord brings good out of it all.

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