Archive for February 2017

Unsettled   Leave a comment

Is it just me or does everyone feel unsettled right now?

It is easy to feel that life will go on as usual indefinitely.  Indeed, it’s not possible to live assuming or predicting major change around every corner.  We are creatures of habit who thrive on routine–even those of us who score high on the Myers Briggs as adventurous need to know there is a home to come back to.

Right now, it just feels like the world is ready to turn upside down.

There are more refugees and displaced people than at any time since post-World War II.  I think of WWII as the epitome of displaced and unsettled.  It’s unsettling to hear that for 65 million people (as of June 2016, almost 1% of the world’s population) it is just like that, right now.

The political climate is uncertain.  It’s unknown what details of our lives in the US will be changed.  Will prices go up because of treaty and tariff wars?  Is the cost of health care going to go up or down?  One thing’s certain: I really hope the cost of prescription medications does not go any higher.

Life transitions are looming on the horizon for a couple of my children who either are adults or really close.  Major life transitions for me are only a few years away, as well.

Other long-term unknowns are making me realize that this life I live right here, right now, did not come with a guarantee.  Usually it rolls along in the expected manner.  But there was never any promise it would be safe.

I know I’m not alone in this sensation.

I just don’t like it.

 

Posted February 23, 2017 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Humble   Leave a comment

If there is one word that goes with broken, it is humble.

(See my last blog here at https://swanatbagend.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/broken.)

One leads to the other, as surely as night follows day and water flows downhill.  It could be humble first, leading to a willingness to be broken and to see what’s broken.

Often, it is broken first.  This leads naturally to humility because if you are broken and acknowledge that you are, you realize that you don’t have the power to fix it.  You realize while there are many steps you can take to bring healing, to ask forgiveness, to renew what has been damaged, you don’t have the ultimate power or authority to make renewal come to pass.

It makes you humble.

This is your new reality.  Not a sense of self-flagellation or an endless reviewing of past trespasses.

Humble is just being in touch with reality–the reality of who you are and what you can and cannot do.

Humble is, I think, actually quite freeing.

Posted February 12, 2017 by swanatbagend in character, reality

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Broken   Leave a comment

What’s one of the most distressing events that can happen to a child?

That’s right.

Something they love gets broken.

And mom and dad cannot fix it.

I have memories of something lovely getting irreparably damaged, and how distressed and grieved that made me as a child.  We had Christmas ornaments of blown glass, colored globes surrounded by extremely thin spiraled wires.  Even the bracket at the top of the ornament was a work of art, all fine silver made of tiny detailed patterns.  When one of those broke, because they were already old by the time I was old enough to love them, it was painful.

That’s an ornament, a thing of beauty, but nonetheless just some heated and blown sand.

How much more distressing it is when things of more importance are broken.  And how distressing it is to find that one continues to break things on a regular basis.

It seems to be inescapable.  I once thought that if I just tried hard enough, I would always and only be a force for good in the world.  I thought that somehow I would have the ability and the will and the power to always do the right thing.  Knowledge was power, and I knew what was right.  It was my goal in life when I graduated from high school to love and be loved and be happy.  I had no idea how truly difficult that would be.

Despite my best efforts, I damage and destroy what is good.  How is it possible to be aware of the beauty, of the import, of the good in people and the world, and still be the cause of damage?

I realize that I too am broken, and that my brokenness damages others on a regular basis.

I’m not saying that I never do anything right.  Like you, I work hard to be a good friend, a good parent, a person whose heart is attuned to God so that I can spread the love around.  I want to love others well.  Most of the time, I do a pretty decent job.

But, some of the time my brokenness rises to the top, and that is what other people get from me.

Thank God that he has made peace with me and covered me with his righteousness.  I was far away from him.  I am still farther than I want to be.  However, my distance and brokenness does not stop him from pulling me closer.  Because of Christ, he has brought me into his presence and I stand before him redeemed.  He is transforming me.

He is transforming me, and it starts right here, from the point of my acknowledgement that I am broken.

Posted February 8, 2017 by swanatbagend in reality, reflections, relationships

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What Are You Eating?   Leave a comment

As those of you who know me well know, I love to cook, and I love to eat.  Over the years due to health problems experienced by various members of the family, I have learned a good bit about a variety of different diets.  When your nose runs every time you sit down to a meal, you start to do some homework.  In the course of this journey, I have learned to always read ingredient labels.

Well…in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably say that I haven’t learned to do this, because I don’t always read ingredient labels.  For one thing, product ingredients can change.  You think you’re on top of what is in something, and don’t bother checking, and then once you get it home you notice there is something in it that you should not eat.  That’s usually what I run into.

Also, there are surprises, ingredients you don’t expect, usually because it makes no sense for them to be in the product you’re buying in the first place.

There are quite a few additives in most foods in the grocery store, and if you want to avoid them, you’re going to need to read labels and buy fresh foods, not prepared ones.  Oh, and did I mention reading the labels?

Here are a few surprises we had lately.

We enjoyed pancake and muffin mix from family as a Christmas gift.  It is organic and non-GMO.  The pancakes were delicious for sure, but the pancakes included organic malt extract and natural flavoring.  If the flavor of organic pancakes is so fantastic, why do they need flavor enhancers?

I was looking at baby shampoo, which of course you don’t eat, but your skin absorbs whatever you put on it, so thinking along these lines for a gentle safe soap for babies, I was thrilled to see that–no whoops, I  mean confused to see that baby shampoo has, among about 15 other ingredients that I couldn’t identify, two kinds of yellow food coloring.  Slather it on!  I’m sure that will have health benefits for your baby.

You’ve heard that if you want to eat healthy, just buy your food from the areas around the outside edge of the grocery store, thus avoiding the processed, packaged foods that make up the majority of the center aisles.  I think in general that is a good idea.  But, even with fresh food, don’t stop reading those labels.  You still have to look for additives.  I recently discovered that conventional ground beef has natural flavoring in it.

Why does plain ol’ meat need natural flavoring?  Honestly, what is wrong with its flavor alone that requires additional support?  I asked the meat guy about this and he told me it’s been in there for years, basically industry standard, and if you want meat that does not have natural flavoring in it, you have to buy organic.

I have to say, that’s the dumbest, wrongest thing I have heard at the grocery store in a long time!  Meat.  That is all it is supposed to be.  But, if your family, like mine, reacts to food additives and flavor enhancers, you are going to have to find an alternative to grocery store meat.

This in itself is wrong.

In a perfect world, you would not have to read every label and get the life story of the food you want to purchase.  But here we are, in a culture where as long as it’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) it can be in your food.  Why not add another stabilizer, another thickener, another flavor enhancer to this product? must be what the companies are thinking.  What’s one more? the public already takes in hundreds of substances that are not actually food, but that are allowed in substances that used to be food.  It must have started somewhere.  Sometime, natural flavoring was the only additive in your food, and you only ate it once or twice a week.  But just a little at a time, more and more preservatives and flavor enhancers and food colorings were added, and you ate more and more of the prepared and processed foods.

And here we are with a grocery store full of substances that I cannot honestly call food.

And people who don’t make a lot of money and can’t afford to buy organic meat are forced to take in all these substances that aren’t needed in the first  place.

And we are pondering why we are chronically ill.

What are you eating?

 

 

Posted February 2, 2017 by swanatbagend in food

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