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Not the Well   Leave a comment

In the four gospels, we see Jesus spending time with all sorts of people.  He healed, he blessed, he talked about the kingdom of God and mostly, he loved them.  As many have noted, these people were not the beautiful, healthy, powerful or impressive.  They were often the least of society, the outcasts–drunks, addicts, tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, you name it.

It’s understandable, I think, that these were the people who were drawn to Jesus and the ones he was drawn to.  As he said, he came for the sick, not the well.  He came for the ones who really needed him.

But the twist to this story is that if we don’t see that we too are the sick, we won’t see the need.  If we don’t realize that we are the weak and the helpless, despite all the actions we can take, the projects we complete, the service we offer, we will miss it.

The thing is that we all ultimately stand in need.  If our lives now are in order, that’s great.  If we are successful and happy, that’s wonderful.  If we haven’t had any problems yet, fantastic!

But even if you don’t have a miserable life now, if God is real and if Jesus if working and alive, it makes sense to pursue him.  And the good news is that He’s already pursuing you.

For sure, those who suffer have a better sense of their need.  The door to the rest of eternity is wide open–and when the pleasures and joys of this life are thin, it’s a lot easier to see it.

 

 

 

 

Posted October 24, 2019 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

Best Syrup Ever   Leave a comment

I never knew before last week that you can make syrup out of buttermilk and sugar.  I found a recipe for it when I was looking for buttermilk pancake recipes and then for ways to use up the rest of the half gallon of buttermilk that I had.  I decided to try to syrup with the pancakes and I’m here to tell you, Aunt Jemima this is not.  It is so good.  It’s sweet, but not too sweet, buttery, rich and delicious.

It’s good on any breakfast bread, pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc.

Here’s the recipe.

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

Melt the butter and add the sugar and buttermilk, stirring together.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Then stir in the baking soda thoroughly.  Serve warm over pancakes.

I’ve saved the extra in a jar at room temperature and reheated it; still delicious.

 

 

Posted October 3, 2019 by swanatbagend in food, recipes

Faithfully   Leave a comment

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions about ten years ago.  While I know they can be a useful motivational tool for some, they mostly seem like a source of jokes for pastors around the end of January.

When I was younger, I did have lists of goals I wished to achieve, personal goals that is, ways to make myself better.

And, there are areas in which I’ve matured.

I’m making some progress being more patient with other people and myself.

I’m making some progress with keeping control of my temper when pushed to my limit.

I’ve become a really good cook over the last thirty years of cooking!

But there are quite a few other worthy goals that I haven’t been able to achieve.

I also have found that no matter what area I improve, flaws pop up in other areas.  If I work on being better organized, some other aspect of home life begins to suffer.  If I combine errands to town, which include paying for the car tags and going to the butcher shop, I realize the next week that I was supposed to renew my driver’s license and I should have done that when I was there for the car tags.  I’m not a calm, capable parent when things are going crazy.  I haven’t written that book yet.  And no matter how hard I try to remember it all, I’m starting to lose bits of information from my mind and forget things that affect other people.  It’s quite embarrassing.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot I can do about these imperfections, because no matter how hard I try, there’s always some way I fall short of my goals.

I have realized that I must learn to be content to live faithfully–as a failure.

It does matter that I am faithful.

But it also means my worth isn’t based on my progress, my efforts or my performance.

Posted September 25, 2019 by swanatbagend in identity

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Crazy Cats   Leave a comment

We brought home new kittens in June, little adorable male litter-mates, one a grey tabby and the other a golden brown tabby with an unusual pattern.  I had a few hesitations about having two male cats in the house, but I didn’t spend that much time on it, because my experience has been that males are more personable, and also because I like large cats, the bigger the better.

They took about a week to get acclimated to the house and were timid at first about areas that our older cat was in.  Of course they hated the vacuum.  But by the end of the week they were roaming everywhere and playing with whatever they could find.

Now, three and a half months later, we’re learning just how much energy two young tomcats can have.

I had lived with a total of seven cats before they came along, including three who were kittens when I met them, and (I thought our previous male cat was a busybody!) these guys are into just about everything.  They haven’t tried climbing the curtains in the front room yet, but that’s about it.  They definitely don’t spend most of the day sleeping.

They destroyed a topiary of dried flowers I’d had for twenty five years.

They knock glasses off the table and break them.

They try to get in the fridge.

They try to get in the garage.

They try to get outside.

They eat ribbons.

They tear the cardboard off the cat climbing tower.

They play with and lose the seashells I used to have on my dresser.

They get on the kitchen counter, despite being sprayed with water.

They nibble on their cardboard scratcher boxes.

They open cabinet doors and crawl around inside.

They lose their crinkle ball toys within fifteen minutes of my getting them out from under the couch.

They nibble on any dried flowers they can find, including a wreath that’s on the wall in the bathroom.

They pee in the recycle bin or laundry basket, if the litter box nearby isn’t kept clean enough for their preferences.

When they were neutered it did not slow them down.  We were told to keep them in their crates for another half hour when we got home.  The tan one bonked his head against the door the entire time he was waiting to get out.

They played for over an hour with a toy mouse suspended from an elastic cord today.  I had to put it away to get them to rest; their sides were heaving.

Yea, it’s been pretty crazy for me to adjust to….and that isn’t counting the potty problems we’ve had.  I thought once my youngest child was potty trained that I was done with poo.  Apparently not.

All that said–they are personable, just like I hoped.  They are extremely soft.  They purr almost every time you approach and pet them.  They are sweet boys.  The tan one runs to meet my husband when he comes in the door.

So yeah, we’re glad God created the cat, because we have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.

Posted September 21, 2019 by swanatbagend in cats

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The Gap Between Faith and Practice   1 comment

In the gap between my faith and my practice is–what?  In the past, the answer has been, try harder.

Today what stands in the gap between my faith and my practice is repentance.

I will turn away from my sins and failures and turn toward Jesus, who provides the power to be different.  No matter how many times I’ve vowed to do better, it hasn’t worked.  I’m sure there are people for whom self help books do it, and there are those who are good at pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

If you haven’t found those paths to be successful, perhaps a turning will suffice?

I’m to turn from my sins, which are as follows: impatience, pride, greed, being a controller, selfishness, self absorption, envy and busyness for its own sake.

Instead of attempting to find a way to be good enough to overcome these on my own, I can deal with my gap now by giving them up.  I can step away from my idol–the illusion of power that I think will fix my problems.

Instead of attempting to put sin away by sheer force of will, I will turn to Jesus Christ and receive his power, love and mercy.  He’s the one who stands in the gap for me.

 

 

Posted September 18, 2019 by swanatbagend in reflections

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How Normal People Are   Leave a comment

As I waltzed through a three and a half week period of feeling really great during my healing from depression process, I was so happy.  I was just so thankful to finally (I thought) be through with the pit of despair, any change was welcome and this was a truly wonderful change.

I had the energy to do projects I hadn’t had energy for.  I had the get up and go to clean the Florida room and sell and give away items nobody was using.  I did a lot.

And mentally, I enjoyed it.  Life was purposeful and I felt hopeful about various potential future plans.  I wasn’t overthinking the future either; it was just there and I thought about it occasionally and it seemed like a good thing.

It only occurred to me later that it’s possible that what I experienced for those three and a half weeks is what other people live all the time.

I don’t mean every person, all the time, because obviously some people have more issues than I do, some have fewer.   Some people’s lives are filled with material and spiritual difficulties so far beyond what I experience that clearly they aren’t living the dream.  Life is rarely that simple for anyone.

I just mean that feeling good, having lots of energy, having hope for the future might be other people’s normal.

My normal has usually been more subdued and less optimistic than that.  And I thought that was normal.  Maybe there’s a way to be in hopefulness and make it more of a stay than an occasional vacation.  It can’t be the goal of my life to get there, because I don’t have the power to guarantee that outcome.

But what that knowledge does is show me my variables: I regularly have to overcome them.  If I have to get myself to the front edge of motivation every day, that’s an obstacle.  If I have to sweep together enough energy for the to-do list every day, that’s an obstacle.  Those are real challenges.  This knowledge dispenses mercy, mercy on me and on every other person who doesn’t have a full load of energy, motivation and hope.

He came not for those who are well, but for those who know they are sick.  So if you need the physician–take heart.  He is for you.

Posted August 27, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health, reflections

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Things We Have to Find a Way to Make Peace with   Leave a comment

Things we have to find a way to make peace with:

Aging.

Our responsibilities to love and care for our children and help them toward adulthood.

Loving our children as they are, not as we imaged they would be or think they should be.

Years ago, before I started through this middle phase of life I thought I knew all these things were important things to accept.  It’s not like I’d never heard about these things.

Now I’m not so sure.  As in I’m not sure I accepted them nor did I know how hard it is to accept things that I can clearly see are right and rational.  Knowing something is true does not cause my mortal mind to accept it and move forward.  I know that I believe it.  I know that it’s true that these realities will happen and unfold around and in me and that they are in fact destined to do so.

But I still don’t truly know how to accept these truths.

That aging will happen, is happening to me and those I love.

(Not easy, still think I’m immortal just like a 10 year old does.)

That I had/have a responsibility to love my children well and help them an appropriate amount as they grown up.

(Not easy, because how the heck do you figure out what is truly needed for each child person you live with and what you’d better not even try?)

That I also have a responsibility to fully accept my children as they are, not as my foolish self thinks they should be.

(And not like I don’t love them and like them as they are, but I wonder if I must not fully accept them as they are, since my brain brings up sentences I could say that start with phrases like, “If you would just try…..,” or “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if you….,” or “Here’s how you….,” when advice is unasked.  Thankfully at least part of the time I don’t say these sentences, and remind myself that the particular thing I’m getting stuck on isn’t truly important.)

The second and third things make a great paradox don’t they?  I hope you noticed I have to make peace with my responsibility for my kids and my not responsibility for my kids.  Where’s the easy 1, 2, 3 step plan for that, please?  Did I miss the instruction manual?

 

Posted August 14, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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