Rainy Blessing

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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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Aside

Tuesday Life

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I’m sitting here on our side deck. The sun warms my back. The wind sways the hanging baskets, releasing the intoxicating fragrance of yellow, purple, white and pink-striped petunias. Rex lounges on the porch at my side, soaking up the sunshine and the company.

It’s pretty great.

Part of me doesn’t want to go back to work. Ever. This summer, home with the kids, Jonathon and my folks, has been lovely. I only want to play and have fun, like a female version of Peter Pan. The other part of me, the practical big sister-mom part, longs to do something constructive and lucrative. Those don’t necessarily go together, mind you, but it would be nice.

I walked down to the bank earlier today to deposit a birthday check. I ran into someone I used to work with.

“I miss seeing your smiling face every morning!” she exclaimed upon seeing me.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love those people who work at the City? I miss them. But I know I’m in the right place for now.

I’ve applied for at least a dozen different positions. I had an interview last week for a job that sounds promising. They’re checking my references now, and the references of the other possible candidates.

I hate waiting.

I’m trying to keep busy. I clean. I do laundry. I bake. I shop. I meet up with friends (thank you, by the way). We attend church and serve in the worship ministry. These all help keep hope alive and to focus on other things.

But I detest limbo. It makes me squirm. What’s next? What now?

I can hear the bell tower in Evergreen Square tolling the hour. I can see the blue mirror of Oakland Bay shimmering in the distance. Our house sits above the city, and I can see a bit of Loop Field, Railroad Avenue, and the edge of City Hall.

It’s strange to be outside of it all.

All around me, the tall Douglas firs testify of God’s faithfulness. Running into friends reminds me of God’s goodness in all circumstances. Sitting out here in the fresh air, just breathing, helps me to find peace. I don’t have to be in the thick of it all right now. I don’t have to know all the answers. Instead, I can embrace what is.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.” – Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Decade

I stepped out into the early morning darkness. The sky, swirled with white clouds, glowed with light from a half moon and a few sparkly stars. The seasons are changing and the change is beautiful. I don’t know how many more dry mornings we’ll have, so I want to get out in them.

This month marks 10 years of living in Shelton for our family. Zac was 6 and Ruby not even 1 year old. Portland no longer feels like home, though I enjoy visiting. I like it here. Let me count the ways…

Traffic. There isn’t any.

I love how the seasons move and shift here. They change with a boldness I’ve not found anywhere else I live. Suddenly, it’s fall. Instantly, it’s spring. Bam! It’s summer. I like it. And always, come winter, the possibility of snow.

The ocean is all around us. Shelton sits on a peninsula.

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We’re down on the bottom of the map, towards the middle. You’ll be driving and come upon a finger of the ocean. You think it’s a lake, but the next time you drive by it’ll be low, muddy stretches showing through like the earth’s undergarments. You’ll see bald eagles, egrets, gulls, and all other kinds of wildlife.

You also might almost hit a deer on your way to work. In town.

The people amaze me. Friendly, interesting, open, unique. I could go on and on. If you meet someone who grew up here, and they accept you, you’re in. Because they’re related to or went to high school with most of the other people you’ve met. Now you’ve got connections. That never happened in Portland; it’s too large.

After the last census in 2015, Shelton crested 10,000 people. We now fit into a category called a code city, according to municipality governing standards, which beats the heck out of a second class city. Huzzah!

In Shelton, we have time to get to know people and offer our gifts to a community and our church. We’ve made some great friends and now belong. Moving up here, we had no idea what copious blessings awaited us. I thank God for this town and I’m grateful.

The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! – Psalm 16:6

 

 

 

Work Anniversary

Today marks the one-year anniversary of when I started working for the city.

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I’m surprised at how quickly time went by. I’d like to take a moment to pause and reflect on what I’ve learned this past year.

  • The front counter gal on the planning side makes a mean cup of coffee. Thank God.
  • And…I don’t ever want to do her job. She interacts with the public every day, yet keeps all the cogs of the planning and permitting department running. She’s a rock star.
  • It’s possible to get promoted twice in one year and never leave your cubicle.
  • Engineers don’t change:  no news is good news.
  • Everyone has a story. If you’re lucky, they’ll tell it to you.
  • Engineers still have the corniest sense of humor on the planet.
  • Even if you put meetings on an Outlook calendar, people might miss it.
  • Passion for excellence and doing it right inspires.
  • Shelton’s department directors accept walk-in appointments. They remain accessible.
  • Dressing up too much makes you look suspicious. See below…

Coworker, smiling: “You look really nice today.”
Me, smiling:  “Thanks!”
Coworker:  “Do you have a job interview or something?”
Me, stifling an inner sigh: “No, I only wanted to feel like a grownup today.

  • Everyone wears multiple hats and covers at least one other job. Don’t undervalue employees. Small cities create mighty workers.
  • Both kinds of milk containers are recyclable.
  • Just because someone says they know the winning Powerball numbers doesn’t mean they do.

Thank you, Shelton, for an opportunity that turned into a great adventure. Here’s to many more!

Necessary Heroes

It’s Monday again. It’s raining and 35 degrees. Out of the corner of my eye, on the floor below me, I can see several street staff trying to fix the cherry picker in the garage. They’re all wearing variations on the same shirt/sweatshirt,

SafetyHoodedSS

which makes them look like they’re part of a special club. Which, I suppose, they are. No, I don’t feel left out, in case you’re wondering. They talk and point.  One hard-hatted guy wrenches down a screw on the bucket. No doubt they need to take out some broken tree limbs.

By the way, the garage’s floor space is nearly consumed by the street sweeper, sanding truck, paint machine, roller and vactor truck. Oh, and the mechanic’s truck tucked ‘way in the back.

We have a lot of equipment. Most if it lives on the lot. Pickups. Garbage trucks. Dump trucks. You name it.

But it makes sense because we have a lot to take care of. Streets. Drains. Sewer connections. Sidewalks. Stoplights. Pump stations and how they intersect with creeks. Some parking lots. The structures onsite. Not to mention water monitoring, metering and all the accoutrements with it.

I just want to give a shout out to these guys. The fact that Shelton keeps running testifies to their dedication and care. Most grew up here and have worked for the City all their lives. They serve in the worst weather. They clear drains. They come in to work early on days when everyone else opts to stay home. They pick up roadkill. They come in on holidays and weekends and nights.

Makes me think of the scripture that talks about the parts of the body. It says in 1 Corinthians 12:22:  In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. In our bodies, that might be our livers or hearts. Hearts and livers stay tucked deep inside the body, yet remain vulnerable. You can’t live without either. We don’t give them a second thought until we feel a stabbing pain or a blood test reveals high cholesterol.

Likewise, nobody considers the soundness of infrastructure until it fails. A bridge collapses into the bay or a sinkhole opens up. Until then, the road holds and carries us, getting us where we need to go. When it disintegrates, life gets upended, sometimes literally. People traffic ceases. The flow of commodities, both in and out, breaks down. We face food shortages and loss of wages.

These men are everyday heroes. Perhaps not as glamorous or well-known as a certain red-booted someone who soars in the sky, cape flapping behind him in the wind. But so necessary.

 

 

 

Thursday Running Reverie

I headed out for a run for the first time this week. I wanted to cut back a bit after last week’s half marathon.

It paid off.  I felt springy, raring to go. Kinda like Tigger.  I chose a different route because the thought of doing my usual 4 mile out-and-back made me groan inside.

I ran through town.  A fog hung in the tops of the trees, their gold and red foliage brightening up the gloomy morning.  The air felt cool and dry, not humid like it’s been for days. I pounded downtown past the defunct car dealership.  I passed the old shelter building and glanced at the low-flowing creek beside it.  I wasn’t fooled. In another couple of months, it’ll be swollen by runoff.

On my right lay Kneeland Park.  Mature trees shade the park.  The verdant grass and empty swings called out for children.  Alas, they were all in school. I passed the hardware store with its overflowing hanging baskets. The flowers spilled over the sides of the pot and crept up the hanger’s handle.Some even grew a tail of greenery.  I powered up the hill past the tractor display, praying for friends who came to mind. Brown and yellow leaves piled up against the green chain link fence.

I ran past the Shelton overlook to the left.  From there, I peered out at Oakland Bay (not the California beauty spot), the lumberyard and marina.  Pylons stuck up out of the inky water. Today, the fuzzy fog blended right into the water, limiting visibility.  You couldn’t tell where the fog left off and the water began.  All was a gray study.

I crested the hill and smiled. I reached the turnaround. I had to laugh at myself because most of the time I ran the hills and walked the flat spots.  What’s wrong with me!? Downhill now, baby!  Have I mentioned how much I like running downhill?  It felt like flying. For a few minutes, I felt invincible. I remembered afresh why I run.

Wednesday Wings

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I taught kettlebells class again today.  The teacher had an emergency she needed to deal with. I had a small class today, just me and a good friend of mine.  It gave us a chance to catch up while we sweated.

My mom moved up  to Shelton over the weekend.  So glad to have her local now, instead of all the way down in Portland.  Owner of two cats, she and I are kindred pet lovers. She transported her fat ginger tabby up here.  Once placed in the house, he promptly stepped into the great unknown and disappeared into the brush behind her house.  Hasn’t been seen since.  Only the local deer know his whereabouts. The other kitty, a sweet boy, ran away during the moving process.  She drove down yesterday to retrieve him but no luck.

“Hey, I think it’s a sign!” I said.

No response, just “the Mom look”. I guess she didn’t appreciate my interpretation.

Ruby spent time with Mom this week, helping her unpack and doing art projects over there.  Ruby’s got a jolly spirit.  She livens things up when she’s around. She might not actually *do* much, but you’re glad she’s there. Hence her many friends.

Zac watched Ruby for me a ton the past 2 weeks.  He’s continuing to grow in maturity and understanding every day, learning how to apply kindness to other humans. This includes his little sister. He racked up $90 of babysitting, including allowance.  He got to upgrade his video game with money to spare.

My job at the city goes well.  I spent several hours reviewing the SEPA files, intending to start the archiving process.  Some of it I found tedious.  But as I read and purged duplicate documents, I uncovered a history of Shelton I never knew before.  Someone donated 38,000 acres to the city to put in the huge Walmart complex.  Another firm built the strip mall in the late 1990s.  My chiropractor built his office in 2003.  I saw the report on building the new middle school. In my mind’s eye, I can see the city’s businesses and residences coming together on a timeline.  Very cool.  It makes me like living here even more.

Last but not least, I love summer. I don’t think I can say it enough.  Shorts every day, baby!  Sunshine and blue skies. Fresh berries. Running outside whenever I can, the flowers perfuming the air, a nice breeze blowing.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

How’s your summer shaping up?