Ruby Bloom

Photo by hdwpics.com

                                             Photo by hdwpics.com

Ruby sat at the table, She slouched over her cereal bowl.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked.

“I don’t have any friends.  I’m the only neighborhood kid left.  All my other friends have moved away for the summer,” she said, brown eyes sad.

I know this.  It makes me sad, too.  Growing up, I can’t ever remember not having kids to play with wherever I lived.  In Portland, it was the next-door neighbors.  In Clackamas, it was a friend across the street.  Sure, they took vacations and went away for awhile. But they didn’t move.

“Have you prayed about it? Jesus said we don’t have because we don’t ask.” A lot of times we whine and complain instead of seeking God about stuff.  Not you, of course. Just hypothetically.

She nodded.

“Lots of times,” she said. She slurped up another sludgy bite of cereal.

“Have you gotten an answer?” I asked

She shook her head.

“Are you mad at God about that?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

Well, that was easy. Now what?

“Sometimes we don’t get what we want right away.  Remember when I told you about how your dad and I wanted a baby?”

“Yeah,” she said, bored. “You prayed about it and poof! there was Zac, then poof! I came along,” she said.

It took a little more than poof, mind you, but that’s the general idea.

“God didn’t deny us children.  He just waited for the right babies to come along.  Sometimes when our prayers don’t get answered right away, it isn’t no.  It’s not yet.”

She looked at me. She didn’t like that suggestion.

“How about we pray about it?  The Bible says where two or more are gathered together, God is in the midst of them.  You and I are two.  Chloe makes three,” I said, petting the muppet-cat at our feet.

I took her small hand. We prayed.  We asked for little girls Ruby’s age, 8-10, with nice families, to move into our neck of the woods.

Now, we wait.  What to do in the meantime?  Make the most of what we have.  In Ruby’s case, that means writing stories, making up songs, playing in our “cool” tub (the unconnected hot tub), planting flowers, building with legos, drawing, riding her bike and enjoying the sunny freedom of summer. It’s time to get to know her dad and Zac better, maybe even learn to make jam. We can bloom where we’re planted even as we wait for the good things God has for us.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:20

Summer Break

It’s the kids’ last day of school.  They will sit in classrooms for 1.5 hours.  When I get home for lunch hour, they’ll be back already.

Why? Good question.

Something to do with seat time.  We had no snow days this year – no snow at all, really – so this is the end of the year from the original 2014-2015 calendar. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma, with tartar sauce on the side.

Zac is no longer a sophomore and Ruby isn’t a third-grader anymore.  Where does the time go? I’d post photos, yet they slumber on. Besides, Zac would kill me.

The good thing about summer is that I’ll get to see them both kids more. Ruby will attend a few camps here and there.  But most of the time she’ll be underfoot, filling water balloons and jumping on her friend’s trampoline next door. Zac will be one with his computer, taking breaks to crack terrible puns and pester his little sister.

I wish regular jobs had summer breaks.  Sure, I’ve got vacation days scattered throughout.  Nothing of any duration, though.  I’ll take my vacation where I can find it, spending time with family and friends. We’ll barbecue and picnic outside.  Might even throw in a little karaoke for good measure, enjoying the sunshine. It’s going to be a great summer, folks.  Don’t miss it.

Summer Monday

Monday.

                                    Cue Monday.

You don’t need to know that I almost made this mistake today.

We’ve been having a heat wave here in western Washington.  We hit 90 degrees yesterday.  It’s a little early for us, not even June 21 yet.  We don’t usually get those temps until August.  I am loving it.  Summer, as you know if you’ve been reading for awhile, is my favorite season.  All the other seasons have their bonuses.  But summer has the most.

Why?  You may ask.  Let me count the ways…

  • Flowers.  Blooming everywhere. Fragrant petunias, aloft in baskets, line the main streets.  Their spicy scent fills the early morning air.
  • Birds.  Singing, squawking, chirping. They soar and swoop and express joy in a tangible way.
  • Berries.  Can’t wait.  Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries.  Sure, I can get them at the store most times of the year.  But local tastes the best.
  • It’s nice.every.day. I could run each morning, the fresh morning air all the incentive I need to step outside. Heck, it’s light early enough, I can run before the sun even rises, with only the pale moon for company.
  • Dressing is easy.  Shorts, tank top, sandals, done.
  • We get to do this at least once a year, too.  My sister-and-law and I take our kids up to Wild Waves for a day of wet fun in the sun.  This year, we actually wanted to play in the water.  We needed to cool off.

Ruby really isn't a serial killer.                                                       Aren’t they adorable? Ruby (lower front) really isn’t a serial killer.

Lastly, summer feels like a paycheck.  Working through all those months of cold and rain results in a beautiful harvest of flowers, fruit and sunshine. It’s all worth it.

What about you?  What’s your favorite season, and why?  And happy Monday!

Fermented

Photo by mysteryofascension.com

     Photo by mysteryofascension.com

I walked a library book home today.  Maple trees, shot through with red, swayed in the warm breeze. Summer, friends, is almost over. Looking at the forecast for the next 10 days, I see a lot of “chance of rain showers” listed.  Didn’t see many of those during our beloved steamy months.

The fallen leaves drift on the gusts.  They crunch under my feet. Summer and fall, now caught in a tug-of-war.  We all know fall will win.  But for now, summer holds on tight, her stiletto heels puncturing the lush green grass.

The air smells…fermented.  I catch a whiff of sun-ripened grapes.  I close my eyes and picture them, dusky and plump, lingering on the neighbor’s vine.  They weigh down the leafy green vines.  Clusters dangle, tantalizing bees and birds alike.

The definition of fermentation, I’ve read, is:

noun: fermentation
  1. the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
    • the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, wine, and liquor, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol.

The air did seem effervescent, almost bubbly. The sky appears as a hazy blue shield.  Change is in the air.  Organisms – leaves, flowers and such – begin to die off even as they peak.  This goes on quietly, but steadily. Death of one thing gives rise to another.  Grapes turn into wine.  Leaven “wakes up” bread so it rises.  Yeast sort of eats the sugar in the dough and off-gasses alcohol, creating fermentation (vocabulary.com).

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”  – Matthew 26:26-29

At the Last Supper, Jesus used bread and wine to illustrate His body and His blood.  The creation of both involved a fermentation process, one thing becoming something totally different. I’d always thought, Well, this is just what they ate.  But I think there’s more here. They remind us that His body, broken on the cross, served as our living sacrifice.  His blood cleanses our sin.  Jesus once lived and walked the earth.  His death and then resurrection made it possible for us to live again in new life. Jesus had to undergo a transformation in order to become our Savior. He couldn’t stay a “God in a bod” and be the connecting link to the Father.  He had to die and rise again, overcoming death and disease.

And so we have hope.  We start out in these frail human bodies.  Through Christ, we trust on the other side of this life we will have heavenly bodies, know no sorrow and gain joy eternal.  We shall undergo a transformation of our own.

Stay Cool

Stay cool, bro!

Stay cool, bro!

Today has been much cooler.  When I went out running, a light mist kissed my face.  Ahh…We needed this.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but too much hot weather makes me cranky.  Yes, I love the sunshine.  The flowers, the berries, swimming, blue skies – all of those make me smile.  Yet not finding a way to stay cool makes this girl tense. Which reminded me…

Remember when you were back in school and yearbooks came out?  You hit up your good friends, your significant other if you had one, and maybe if you were nerdy (ahem) a few teachers.  Then you went after the popular kids. Their words of wisdom penned in your book became a sort of trophy, a validation of sorts. You could be popular – and therefore immortal – simply by a brief association and a signature.

The popular girl would inevitably take your yearbook, looking at you quizzically.  Did she remember your name?  Well…no.  But she peeked at the other signatures in your book as a sort of cheat sheet.

 Oh, Jenny!  Right, right (nods head, smiling blankly).  We had homeroom together sophomore year.  I recall now.  Didn’t you wear your shirt backwards on the first day of freshman year? (laughs)That was *so* funny! Huh? No?  Oh (pause).  Must have been someone else (scribbles in your book). Here’s your pen back.  No, I don’t have mine. My yearbook is with Derrick (points to a boisterous group of attractive boys and girls, busily jotting a novel down inside the cover of each other’s hardbacks, guffawing and elbowing each other at intervals). Thanks though! (executes a hair flip with her winning smile, stalks over to join them).

So. After that awkward exchange, you clutched your yearbook to your side, grinning like a Cheshire cat and galloped away.  Carefully though, with a certain panache.  Once you scooted around a corner, you eased open the book to see what they wrote.  Did Stephanie Jones inscribe an epic poem in your honor? Did she spill a secret, maybe how she wished you could have been friends all these years?

Your hungry eyes travel down the page.  Tommy, Gina, Julie, Brad, Brenda…oh, there it is.  You take a deep breath and read:

Jenny Jennie –

Stay cool, dude! See ya ~ Stephanie J.

Yep.  Sigh. Who needs Homer when Stephanie could say it, and with purple ink, too?

Wednesday Wings

summer-31

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?

 

 

A Summer to Remember

Every time school lets out for the summer, I feel the same way.  My heart fills with elation.  The kids are home! I want this summer to be a summer to remember.  I want it to be epic, filled with adventure, fun and laughter.  I picture the kids goofing off outside, eating popsicles, frolicking in the ocean’s waves, camping out in the front yard under the stars.

Friends, most of our summers turn out much. much less epic than these glorified images of fun in the sun.

In fact, I hear a lot of, “I’m bored!” From Ruby:  “Are we going anywhere today?” If I respond in the negative, a heavy sigh escapes her tiny body. She is a people person. From Zac: “Do I have to get dressed today?  Why?  We’re not going anywhere.” Then, heavy sigh from Mom.

I don’t think the kids experience nearly as much disappointment about lackluster summers as I do.  Not that I have incredibly memorable summers from my own childhood to compare them to.  In grade school, my brother and I lived with Mom.  Mom worked full-time. During the summer, we went to daycare all day.  We did fun stuff, like heading to a community pool.  We sewed pillows.  Lots of pillows.  Again, not sure why.  We took urban hikes.  We played a lot.

I guess I just want them to get the most out of summer and the freedom it brings. To quote Thoreau:

“… to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life”…

Now that I’m well into adulthood, I know how fleeting those years of carefree times truly are.  Life is finite. Unfortunately, feeling this pressure to capitalize on every moment makes me a little anxious.  I don’t enjoy what is because I see, in my mind’s eye, what could be. I need to let that go and be happy now, choose gratitude for this time with the kids.  Soon enough they’ll be grown and on their own.

Since we have no huge plans for this season, I want to pick up adventures as they come.  We’ll plan a few outings.  We’ll still do the regular stuff like laundry and shopping.  But along the way, we’ll find big and small ways to suck out the summer’s sweetest nectar.