Archive for October 2015

Never Enough   Leave a comment

And the rest of the story, aside from the minor inconveniences and hassles that attend any trip–these included the trains that ran past my hotel multiple times during the night, the confusing signage for a major interstate detour that took me on a wild and crazy ride when I was working under a deadline in order to get to the performance of the high school marching band my brother directs, the occasional scratching in the back of my throat and the way my eyes get so watery sometimes in the mornings.  That kind of stuff.  The every day or the drab or even sometimes the ugly stuff.  It did happen; I did experience it.

But it all gets overlaid and washed away by the good things.

Then, often, ravenous as I am, I find the good things are never enough.

I always want more.

More time.

More conversations.

More music.

More opportunities.

More depth.

More hours in the day.

More intimacy.

More cuddling my children and nephews.

More peace. More joy. More love.

I want a way to freeze time in the moments that I cannot get enough of.

Posted October 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Road Trip to Michigan   Leave a comment

This past weekend, I went away to visit family members.  My circuitous route took me through Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

I would love to go again, soon, just to see the colors on display.  I’m not crazy about the scenery in Ohio, in general, but I have some advice: Go now, before you miss it.

The woods there and in Michigan were on fire with color.  (Or should it be ablaze with color? aflame?)  Words cannot do it justice: it was therapy, beauty, peace, and amazement.

Red-orange sumac.

Orange-yellow maples.

Darkling red oaks.

Gold, yellow, gold-green, leaves that weren’t any of the colors I have mentioned above–that were unique and indescribable.

Have you ever ridden down a hall of trees, in the westering afternoon light of a late October day?  Lit up with gold, more gold comes through the leaves and trunks, flickering over the path you travel.

Other moments:

Holding a scorpion and then (much to my preference) a long, gently waving round reddish-brown millipede at the insectary where my son goes to college.

A stroller before me, my nephew scampering at my right hand, as we trundle past red leaves on the way to the park.

Seven musicians around a dining room table, rehearsing for a gig.

Autumn air riffling the curtains at a dorm room window.

Sitting on a park bench overlooking the U, enjoying the time with my oldest.

Marching band competition watched from the hard bleachers of a high school football stadium.

Looking out from the top floor of the library while students hurry to and fro on their own ant trails.

Grapefruit, and granola with raspberries, and a hot cup of tea: breakfast with my brother.

Winnie the Pooh with my nephew bundled on my lap.

Reformation Sunday in a Lutheran church.

Greeting my young son on picking him up at his grandmother’s, to find he’s spurted up, again.

Dinner and a warm bed waiting for me after a long drive.  A book in hand for a read before I put out the light.

And the road before me and my thoughts my own.

Posted October 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Relationally Apathetic?   3 comments

I’ve lived in 11 different cities or towns in 9 different states.  I have moved around a lot in 48 years, less than some people, but enough to develop sufficient social skills to make friends wherever I go.  At least so said some friends of ours from one of our old churches when the subject of how I interact came up.  I was glad to hear that was their perception of me, ’cause that is what I like to do.

I lived in one town between the years 1994 and 2006, and what I’m wondering is this.

Did our culture irretrievably change during that time period, so that making friends became ten times more difficult when I moved nine years ago, or did I just move to the most relationally apathetic place I have ever lived?

Which is it?  both/and?

I know people are busy.  I know, because I’m busy too.  My children aren’t inundated with activities but when you add together homeschooling, doing the planning for that, doctor and therapy appointments, vacations, family events, each person only has so much energy.  Then there are church commitments if you’re part of a faith community.  I appreciate that our church keeps those to a minimum, where you can wisely allocate your time to meaningful ministry, outreach, living, without getting bogged down in obligations just to keep a program running.

Busy is understandable.  We’ve all been there.

I suppose it could be true that I just need to revamp my own priorities and try harder.

Possibly, and I’m processing this one, I need to consciously decide to invest less time on the things I do on the internet, and redirect that toward contacting friends another way and spending time with people in person.

And, I am thankful for the gems we get to spend time with (many of them those very hardworking, busy women I referenced in my recent blog post “A Day with a Friend?”).  Our family has been blessed with several lovely families whose company we have really enjoyed for many of the past nine years.

I just haven’t figured out why, despite making continued efforts to develop friendships, my efforts haven’t borne the fruit I expected, nor the fruit that an equivalent amount of effort elsewhere, in the past, would have done.  It seems as if what used to work doesn’t work any more, and I find myself wondering if there’s been a new class in Friendmaking 101 that I have completely missed.

Have you had this experience?  Please share your thoughts.

Posted October 21, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, friendship

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I Get Confused   Leave a comment

Or I would if I didn’t know more.

I get confused when I listen to local Christian radio stations.

I really do enjoy them; it’s a great way to enjoy new contemporary Christian music without having to buy and guess what I might like.  I am thankful to have our local stations as an option musically.

And there has been encouragement from the music that has been helpful to me too many times to count.

Maybe it’s the time of day I’m listening?  I usually don’t listen in the morning.  It’s always when I’m driving in the afternoon or the evening.  There’s music, advertising and a bit of chatter.  Some times of the day all of the chatter is about upcoming concerts.

I suppose it’s natural for Christian radio stations to sponsor and feature performances by the artists they are promoting on the station.

But I hope that the stations do more than just promote a localized Christian culture.  I hope Christians have more to live for than the next concert that hits town.

Posted October 14, 2015 by swanatbagend in the church

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Never Long Enough?   Leave a comment

Why is it that a vacation is never enough? I can’t think of a time in recent history, or even in the last twenty years, when I could honestly say at the end of my trip, “I’m ready to go back to my responsibilities!”

If I take a vacation with my family and we go camping, life is much simpler, and generally, I don’t think about projects back home or work or research or anything.  I think about hiking, the scenery, what we’re eating next, and getting everyone tucked in for bed.  It’s pretty simple.

If I take a road trip to see a friend, I think about all kinds of things while the road unwinds and my mind does the same. I enjoy laughs and getting caught up with the friend.

If I am on a getaway for a night or two with my husband, I don’t think about the kids much.  I don’t worry about them.  I enjoy the buffet breakfast, I enjoy not having to cook for anyone, and I just sit and read a book when I want to.  I stare out the window.  My man and I talk about all kinds of subjects we don’t usually talk about.

So I think I’m taking advantage of these opportunities I do have, for the most part.  An exception might be fall break, which we are partaking of right now.  Only, since I’m home, the kids are home–it seems to be difficult to just do whatever I want to do, because most of my regular responsibilities are still right here looking at me.

But it doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing that is a break from the usual routine, it never seems to be long enough.  I always want more.

So do I have an insatiable appetite for rest and relaxation?

Or have I just not gotten a long enough vacation yet?

Posted October 9, 2015 by swanatbagend in mental health

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Heart or Help?   2 comments

I used to pray “Dear God, please help me to be patient with my children today even though I’m really tired and feeling depressed” or

“Dear God, help me to get to the end of this to-do list I’ve got to get through”

or “Dear God, help me not to be afraid of this event coming up” or

“Dear God, please help me to reach out to the people around me who need your help.”

I don’t pray that way any more–or, at least, when I find myself doing it again, I stop and do a quick eval to determine if that is really the most effective way of praying about a problem.  Sometimes it is, because don’t get me wrong, obviously what I need, and a lot of the time, is help with a capital H.

However, the problem with asking God to help me was the burden was still on my shoulders even when I was done praying.

If God was helping me, I still had to do the work, it still felt impossible sometimes, I was still in charge of the plan, I was still stewing about the subject.

I finally realized I needed to go far, far beyond asking God to help me.

I don’t need help.  I don’t even need Help, really.  I need Transformation.  (Or would that be TRANSFORMATION!!?–as Manny the mantis chants in one of my favorite movies, A Bug’s Life.)

So now I ask, “God, please drive this fear out” or “God, give me your strength.”

Or most powerful of all, “God, give me your heart for my children.”  Or for the person I’m thinking of, or the people who are frustrating me.

I have found in the short time since I started praying this way that much to my surprise, prayers like this get answered.  I guess it takes the burden off of me and puts it on the one with the power to really get it done?  I guess, maybe, I can’t pull lovey feelings out of a hat?  I don’t know.  I don’t have it, but that is OK, because God is the one with the heart vastly bigger than the universe and all unknown universes.  And when I ask to be made like him, he answers.

Posted October 1, 2015 by swanatbagend in prayer

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