Archive for the ‘character’ Category

Fulfillment   Leave a comment

I’m restless and lonely and unhappy again.  Sure, I know by now that it has a physical backdrop, that the reason I’m feeling low is because the physical body isn’t in top shape.  Still it’s always difficult to take that knowledge and use it to separate the truth from the loneliness.  I want to know that there are friends there for me.  I don’t like feeling alone.  And often, that longing goes farther and spills into irritation because friends or family aren’t interested in spending time together, or don’t seem to know I exist.  Then I get bitter and resentful.

But why is this happening in the first place?  Why is there all this bitterness and discontent, especially when my needs in so many other areas of my life have been so beautifully met?  Why isn’t it enough that I have a loving husband, three wonderful children, meaningful work and a lovely home?

Why do I always want more and why isn’t what I have enough?  And honestly, why do I chuckle at those “other people” who are never content with their material belongings?  Why do I think I’m immune for the longing for more?

Envy is an ugly thing.  It takes a normal desire and turns it into an endless quest for a new friend who will always be what I want her to be.  I find myself angry at others because–bottom line–they are not doing what I want.  It’s insane.  I don’t want other people to treat me that way, so why do I make these demands of others?

My desire to be loved, honored and valued is a God-given one.

The problem is that I don’t look to God for those longings to be fulfilled.  I constantly turn to other people to meet that need.  That’s why it’s never filled, because looking to others it absolutely never can be filled.  The well of need is way too deep for any human being to fill.


Posted July 9, 2018 by swanatbagend in character, relationships

Perseverance   Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking recently about how much I admire my 16 year-year-old daughter. In the struggles she has in her life, she doesn’t let them take over so much that she becomes unkind to the people around her. She has gone from being a beginning archer in an unfamiliar sports environment to an outstanding archer who performs consistently in the 270s out of 300 points. She takes on new challenges in areas where she is not naturally comfortable and I’m thinking of 2-year-old nursery duty where she serves weekly at our church. The children have learned to love her so much. She has gone from being so quiet that other girls and leaders in scouts could not hear her speak, to delivering all kinds of lines for all kinds of characters who are nothing like her in her theater work, and she does all her own stunts!

She is an amazing person in many ways, which we already knew, but the work she has done to go above and beyond is what I want to honor today.

I admire you as much as I love you, my dear!



Posted June 29, 2017 by swanatbagend in character

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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

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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Election Day   2 comments

I wasn’t as surprised by this election’s results as I would have been if I hadn’t been driving across the midwest and southwest in October.  I saw many Trump/Pence signs as we traveled and very few for Clinton.  Thus I had a heads up that the pundits and the surveys might actually be wrong.

So I wasn’t shocked last night or this morning.

Yet I still am concerned.

I don’t think things are as dire as Donald Trump says they are.  I don’t think we need him to make America great again.  America is already great.  We may not be able to claw ourselves to the very top of the international pile, but that is not what is necessary to make a nation great.  Any student of history can tell you that world powers rise and fall.  We have not fallen as far as the paranoia tells us, and we can exert ourselves to live in a way that makes us good and great, with or without Donald Trump.

But as much as I think this campaign was run on a platform that does not align with reality, that is not my main concern.

I call on every one of us to remember that just because our president-elect is, unbelievably, openly nasty to people he doesn’t like, each of us does not have to be that way.  We can choose to deliberately shun his ugly attitudes toward others.  We can choose to reject the name-calling he brought to the campaign.  There’s no excuse for any adult human to dismiss other people in this way.

Mr. Trump has changed the tenor of political dialog from merely rude, to hateful and childish.  There is nothing here to emulate.

But I plan on moving forward utilizing this helpful question, “What would Donald Trump not do?”

It should serve me pretty well.

Posted November 10, 2016 by swanatbagend in character, citizenship

When You Give a Banquet   2 comments

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors–for they will invite you back and in this way you will be paid for what you did.  When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind; and you will be blessed, because they are not able to pay you back.”

I realized years ago that Jesus is addressing me with this parable.  I realized that I expect some sort of repayment when I invite people to my banquet.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a reciprocal banquet.

I just want something.

I became aware that I wasn’t giving others food, time, or attention because God is good.  And I intended to change.

But what I have found?

I. Can. Not. Do. It.

I want, no, I demand, internally, to be repaid for my friendship or my service.

I have re-read this passage probably several dozen times in the past twenty years.  And every single time it is as relevant as before.  It is so deeply ingrained in me that I cannot blame my upbringing nor the teaching I have received over the years or People Who Were Mean to Me or anything else.

As my then four-year-old son told me when asked why he was doing something I didn’t want him to be doing, “It’s just sin, Mommy. It’s just sin!”

In his case, we gave him coffee flavored ice cream for dessert.  This led indirectly to his attempting to fit himself under our bedside table at midnight, thus waking me up, and causing me to feel aggravation.

In my case?  I have no other explanation.

I have been given, given, given to by God, pressed down and overflowing.  There has not been a day in my life that I have gone hungry.  I’ve had a home and someone to share it with me.  When I was at the lowest points, God always brought me what I needed, eventually.  He kept me alive through deep despair and depression.  He gives me ice cream, and kittens.

This ought to be enough!

Enough to satisfy the crouching beast within me who always wants more.

The old man (or in this case woman) who demands from others, the unforgiving servant, the old heart is not going out without a brutal fight.

Posted September 28, 2016 by swanatbagend in character

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Generosity   3 comments

I can be generous when I feel like it.  I can give away so much money that alone gets me a decent tax refund.

I love plotting to do something nice for someone in need, and finding a way to provide what they need, all in a way they either won’t find out about or that at least will surprise them.

It’s been fun to give family members Christmas presents far beyond what they would usually have expected.  I still get to see some of those things in use when I visit.

I am glad to offer my time for worthy causes, and I volunteer in ways that fit my schedule, but I wonder.

Unless I am willing to stop what I am doing, and give time and care at the moment it is needed, instead of when I want to, and do this without complaining–am I really generous?

To be truly generous is being so when the giving is not what I want.  I am not sure I can say I’m generous until I give without stopping to think.

What do you think?

Posted March 14, 2016 by swanatbagend in character

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One day   Leave a comment

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life.  And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them.”

A friend posted this quote from Lupytha Hermin on my page about a week ago and I’ve been letting it sink in since then.

One thing I couldn’t help wondering was why she chose to post it on my Facebook page.  Why mine and not someone else’s?  Well, maybe she did post it on all her friends’ pages.  That wouldn’t be a bad idea…we could all use a dose of reality, especially a reality reminder like this.  Then I found myself wondering how on earth this friend who lives at the other end of the continent knew I was already processing some realizations about my tendency to temper tantrums when things do not work the way I think they should.

It is important to grasp several essentials about this life.  And I know these are essentials I haven’t been great at welcoming into my reality.

We aren’t in control of what happens.

God is with us no matter what happens.

He infuses how we respond to everything that happens and empowers us to live through it and make something good out of it.

He can do more than we can ask and more than we can even imagine, in every single unimaginable circumstance.

I can choose to have courage in facing the day-to-day and in facing the big and awful as well.  Because I’m not alone.



Posted November 3, 2014 by swanatbagend in character, reality

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Thought I had that one…   Leave a comment

Well, poo.

I thought I had that one.  The sermon this a.m. was about two parts of Ephesians 4: putting away anger and giving affirmation more than criticism.  I know that I have an anger and bitterness problem, but I have been making a point over the past couple of years to affirm my children, especially the youngest, within the awareness that I need to speak truth and love and good things into his life.  I know that telling him the positive character traits that I see in him and the good choices he makes will encourage him and do more good for him than it would if I were focusing primarily on criticism in my effort to deal with his behaviors.  Speak life, you know.  And that is really making a difference.  I’m seeing it helping him, and I know it helps me.

So I was thinking that my family had surely noticed this trend.

On they way home in the car, I followed up with what Lisle suggested we do.  I asked my spouse and children how I was doing.  I said, “I know you might be worried that I will get mad if you tell me the truth.  But honestly, I really want to know.  How can I do better in this?”

I guess I was hoping I would get kudos for my progress with affirmation.  Or, I knew that someone would likely bring up my notorious temper.  These things would not have surprised me.

But life is just full of surprises.

I did not know that the way I respond to new ideas from my husband is hurtful to him.  Had no idea.  Once he explained why it made perfect sense; I wouldn’t want him to respond in a grump every time I bring up something I would like to try or some new idea.

It’s one of those things where I know I do that.  It is just me having trouble changing gears and being flexible, which is nothing new.  And he has known for years that’s why I react that way, and has been cutting me some merciful slack all this time.

But I did not realize it was affecting him that way.




Posted November 2, 2014 by swanatbagend in character

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