Trusting the Season

fruit trees in winter

Winter has hung on longer than usual here in western Washington. Daffodils have just started sprouting up. Crocuses put out vibrant petals a week before. But the cherry trees in town have yet to blossom.

This means more time for pruning. We have inherited a handful of fruit trees behind our new house. Dad and Jonathon went out to prune them. Sometimes, pruning can seem daunting. Which limbs should go? Which should stay? How do I optimize the life of the tree and its fruiting?

Jonathon got a little aggressive with the cutting. The trees look more, um, sculptural than usual.

“Well,” my dad told him, “you can do that. But you might not have any fruit next year.”

Jonathon felt bad.

“You mean, I might have trimmed them too much?” he asked.

Dad nodded.

For us, owning fruit trees is a learning curve. We will learn what works and what doesn’t. We can observe the next season and correct if necessary.

But it made me think. You may feel like you’ve been pruned back in your life. The things you used to do, the things that made you happy or helped life make sense may have gotten stripped away. Maybe people moved away. Maybe activities dried up. Maybe the Lord moved you a different direction. Any way you look at it, you got pruned. Your life acquired more restrictions. Your path narrowed to what looks like a trail winding up a mountainside.

Maybe, just maybe, you feel you got pruned back to stubs. Nothing is growing. Nothing is blossoming or bursting up out of the ground for you. You feel a sense of hopelessness. You battle restlessness. I want to tell you it’s coming. The growth is coming. It’s alright to be in a fallow season. You don’t have to be putting out huge crops all the time. Change happens to all of us. You can get refreshed and let the season come upon you when God deems it’s time. The pruning, the cutting away, the trimming, it all has a purpose. The new direction will become clear. Don’t lose hope. Stay on the new trail. Find the joy in the journey. The Master Gardener holds you in His hands.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:9

 

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Night Running

night sky

I’m changing my schedule up. I decided to run on different days, like today. It was raining when I got up. I hopped on the treadmill. However, I really, really wanted to run outside. Treadmills are nice and all, but can get monotonous.

I walked for a couple of minutes on the mechanical beast, willing my left calf to loosen up. Then I started running. The permanent incline of “1” felt like uphill all the way. My legs, fleshy pylons, protested mightily. I gave up. Rain or no rain, I was going outside.

I stepped into a star-spangled pre-dawn. Clouds and rain had stopped. The eastern sky lightened. The air held the perfume of cherry blossoms and cut grass. An involuntary smile crept onto my face. Now we could get somewhere.

I ran past the sketchy streetlight at the end of my driveway. I pounded along on familiar territory, yet somehow all new today. Running past Safeway, I saw a short figure in the dark distance. Funny how your vision, source of most of our perception, gets altered in the low light. A man with a dog on a leash. I got closer. The German shepherd never even saw me. Just as well.

I ran down to the post office. Cherry trees in full bloom lined the entire next block. Backlit by nightlights, their petals rained down on me and the pavement behind me like a faux winter wonderland. I passed another person, a woman with her hair in a long braid. She too had dog-walking duty. Her three small whitish dogs lunged at me, tails curled. Call it a three-dog dawn. I smiled and kept moving.

Somewhere along the way where the sidewalk ended, I hopped into a puddle. I got wet all the way up to my ankles. I bounced out quick, surprised by the unpleasant sensation of water sloshing into my socks. But I kept going and the water squished out on the cement.

I rounded the corner for home. Right on cue, the streetlight flickered on. A black shape with a whippet tail moved in front of me. It was Rex, lurking around to greet me and/or let him in. He edged away from my hand as if to remind me when it’s dark out, he belongs to the night.

February Thanksgiving

TGIF, people. I thought I’d write about what I’m grateful for today. I know it’s February. It seemed like the best time to meditate on good things, since the dreary weather continues.

Let’s start with this peaceful pond, out in back of the Public Works shop main office. Two very ugly ducks live here. But so do salmon, a woodpecker and who knows what else. Living in Shelton reminds me that we’ve only eked out this space from the woods. We’re blessed to have it, as long as the wilderness allows us.

Feb duck pond

As many of you know, I work half the day down at the Public Works shop. I am the only woman working at this facility. We have a restroom the guys and I share. It has a lock on it now (hurrah!), but some things still remind me it’s mostly a men’s bathroom. On the floor this morning, a hunting magazine lay open to a page like this:

Ikes-CO-Buck-14

Could be worse, I guess. I’m thankful for how they have welcomed me and allowed me to be part of their team. I don’t know anyone very well, nor do I interact much with those who ride the equipment and fix things outside the garage. I hope, given time, to remedy that.

I got on the treadmill this morning for a short run. Well, Susan, you *are* short, consequently, all your runs are short! Haha. Very funny, inner comedienne. Anyway, it felt good. Got to sweat off some irritation. I needed that. The head mechanic here, also a runner, reminded me yesterday about how much his runs help him with his attitude. Nuff said.

Zac, bless his heart, got the same flu Ruby and I had about 10 days back. I thought for sure he’d dodged it, ensconced at his computer. He’s been home from school all week.

“May I implore you to make me some tea?” he asked the other morning, very early, around a cough. Shocking, since he never drinks tea.

I had to chuckle. No need to implore, sweet boy. I miss taking care of you, now that you’re nearly grown. I will do it with pleasure. He’s shown up chipper all week long, albeit tired, coughing and feverish. I don’t think he’s missed school for one minute. So, I’m not thankful Zac got sick, but glad to be able to spend a little more time with him and help him where I can.

I apologize that this photo is rather graphic, but I’m happy about cats that work hard so we don’t have to:

Rex rat

This used to be a rat, and a fat one, too. Not sure what the decapitation is about. Extreme prejudice, perhaps?

And last, but not least…

Crocus_speciosus_clump2

Amen. Come quickly, spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grappling with Groundhogs

We’ve been battling sickness at Casa Isham. Ruby got the ick on Sunday. It started out with a cough, then progressed into a debilitating fever. She’s watched Shark Boy and Lava Girl, Free Willy, Book of Kells and countless episodes of Avatar (animated series) and Martha Speaks (PBS animated series). Most of these shows I can’t stand. Book of Kells had spectacular animation. Avatar is imbecilic at best. Martha Speaks I love for the wordplay and vocab lessons. Shark Boy and Lava Girl have good…hair. I know all this because I stayed home from work with her yesterday afternoon.

My turn to keep healthy now. I started coughing yesterday and spiked a small temperature. However, things at work are hopping. I couldn’t – can’t – afford to be ill right at this moment. New responsibilities are breaking open, like springtime buds. Relationships and establishing reliability sit on the brink at this point.

So, I’m self-medicating with OTC drugs. I’m chugging cough drops like they’re going out of style. I’m drinking water and lots of it.

While we’re at it, Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today.

punx phil

He thinks we’ll have an early spring. I’m ready. I’m praying that spring is on its way, both in the natural and in other aspects of our lives as well. I want to see new growth bust out of the cold, unforgiving ground and our circumstances. Who couldn’t use some bright and cheerful crocuses right about now?!

But even if winter lasts 6 more long weeks, I know who has it all worked out.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 1:6

 

Sprung Flu

I’m finally on the mend.  I’m so glad I timed the flu so it could happen over a 3-day weekend.  Woot!  Yay, me!  I used my single earned sick day, too.  I didn’t get as sick as Ruby did. Fever lasted 3 days. I felt it lose its grip yesterday. The aches disappeared as the heat held on for one more night.

Despite being sick over Valentine’s Day, the days got sunny and warm outside. Pushing 60 for two days straight. Yes.  Cherry trees bloomed.  Purple, white and gold crocuses have sprung up and birds chirp merrily. I so wanted to be out in it, running, walking, or crawling if necessary. When you have nice weather in Shelton, it feels criminal to let it slip by without soaking it in firsthand.

A little bit ago, I convinced Ruby to take a walk with me.  Since I’m back to the grindstone tomorrow, I figured I’d better get moving around some today. Ruby decreed it her pajama day. Her ensemble included firework-embossed fleece pajama bottoms, polka dot fleece pajama top, flowered coat and animal print hood. No color – or pattern – left behind. I was much more demure, in denim and fleece and shades.

Ruby rode her bike ahead of me.  I still felt kind of woozy.  I swear the drugs used to help combat flu are almost as bad as the sickness itself. I needed to get the knock-out medicine moving through my system. I looked at myself in the mirror before we left.  Big mistake. Whereas pre-flu, my complexion resembled something like albino-with-a-tan, now I can safely say I’m straight albino. Death warmed over.  You get the idea.

“Look, Ruby!” I pointed to the cherry tree in our neighbors’ yard.  Pink blossoms spangled the tree.

“Yeah,” she said.  She had seen it all yesterday. No biggie, Mom.

Ah, but it is.  We might have a few freezing mornings left here and there, but winter has lost its grip.  We even have dandelions in the yard.  Dandelions.  In February!

“Aren’t you gonna run today?” Zac asked me, as I’m writing this.

I gave him the look.

“No,” I said. “I’m just getting over the flu.”

“Oh,” he said, already on to other topics like getting himself more sustenance.

I choose to believe he thinks I’m wicked resilient.

Right.

On my own, I know I’m no super hero. However, with God on my side, I can face anything. He walked with me during this season of sickness and He will see me through to health again.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8:31

Easter Garb

sproutPhoto courtesy of http://www.bubblews.com

I ran 5 miles outside this morning.  The acid-green spring leaves beckoned.  The sunshine smiled from the sky.  The warm breeze rippled through the flowering cherry trees.

Today was the first run in I don’t know how long that felt like autopilot.  Right foot, left foot, breathe. Nothing hurt.  I felt like I could go for days.  I did earn some sideaches in the last mile, but I stretched, drank water and pushed on.

What did you do differently today, Susan?  I know you’re wondering.  Today I didn’t let negative thoughts about my performance or fear of failure hold me back.  I truly needed to get out of my head.  Runners will understand what I mean.  This week is packed with activities: baking, meetings, shopping, family gatherings, rehearsals, you name it, most in the name of Easter coming up on Sunday. I hail from the detail-oriented tribe.  I can get bogged down in it all and not breathe in the miracle of this holy season.

I didn’t want to do that.

Rhododendrons with their dark pink centers greeted me.  Tulips and hyacinths waved, happy to see me.  This old earth is putting on her best and brightest as spring unfolds.  How can I do any less at the prospect of new life in Christ?  Let me cast off the old, unforgiving attitudes.  They only bring death. I lay aside the pain of yesterday’s foolish choices. I pick up the garment of praise and shrug out of the garment of heaviness.  I put on joy and gratitude.  I choose to wear the best and brightest of God’s raiment:  love.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Lessons Learned

tulips

When I worked at IDC and we’d completed a project, we had a little postmortem.  Sounds gruesome, but hear me out.  We’d get together as a design team and talk about “lessons learned”.  How to handle a client.  How to communicate better.  How to not blame P.A.s for everything.  Stuff like that.

Today marks the first day back to school for the kids.  You might think no schooling happened during this sunny, glorious spring break.  You’d be wrong.  Here are a few things I learned.

1)  Lizards named M.J. (Michael Jackson) do just fine living in a brightly colored box as long as there are holes in the lid.

2)  Though it’s April, clear nights in Shelton still reach the freezing point.  Hence the cozy box for the lizard.

3) You can get a new job just by not leaving your old one.  I’m now the CDBG compliance coordinator for the city *and* the shelter.  Life has flux.

4) Leaving your cars unlocked, sitting in your driveway in a semi-rural community, can make you a target for “car prowls”.   Jonathon’s phone disappeared from our car Saturday night. Thank God for generous brothers who have old phones hanging around.

5) You can make new friends – even as an adult – hanging out in the park.

6) Smart boys do make it to church under their own steam on an early Sunday morning.

7) Funerals should have bright, colorful flowers to match the vibrant personality of the deceased.

8) Watching the golden disk of the sun slip into the ocean’s depths is a beautiful, romantic date. Driving on the beach, however, still makes me cringe.

9) Big brown spiders lurking in the sink flush easily.

10)  To have a house full of family and friends is a great blessing.

What about you?  What did you learn last week?