Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Hurry   Leave a comment

What’s the hurry?
I’m referring of course to the ever more noticeable early rush of Christmas decorations, music and advertising. I don’t know if it’s just more obvious this year because Thanksgiving was so early, or if it is truly even more ludicrous than usual.  I was subjected to “Feliz navidad” while shopping for the turkey. That’s just obnoxious.
There is no reason to Light Up Your Town on November the 5th, or start calling it “the holiday season” the minute the kids stop choking down all their Halloween candy.
It’s not the holiday season.  It’s November.  It’s being grateful for what you received, not looking forward to grabbing whatever you can get.
I know what you are thinking.
You’re thinking I’m a grumpy curmudgeon who can’t keep up with the times, who doesn’t like change and who doesn’t want to have fun.  If you think that, you’d be right–except for the bit about not having fun.  I really do love to have fun.  And I’m writing this because I think people are missing out.
Don’t miss the glories of November, the colors with the blue sky, and the rainy gloomy days when the leaves get torn down.  It’s orange, gold, red, russet and brown.  It’s harvest home.
Don’t miss the rest and the food of Thanksgiving, and the fun of being together with other people to give thanks.
Don’t miss Advent.  Don’t miss the anticipation of the feast of Christmas that is to come.  Don’t miss walking through the sorrow and darkness that is this life, knowing that the surprise that overturns it all is still to come.
Don’t miss the opportunity to sit, quietly, in your home, before the lit tree, and ponder the mystery and glory of this season, the Incarnation.
You don’t have to try to cram all the parties in before the 24th of December.
There is still time.  From December 25th to January 6th, you can lift your glasses highest, sing the loudest, and leave the Christmas tree up, and the lights on.  When the year is at its darkest, that’s when we need the lights the most.

Posted November 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude, holidays

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Our New Math   1 comment

Monthly Master’s Conservatory tuition for two= $90

Gas money for a season of driving to practice and tech week(s) =not sure but maybe a couple hundred

Costume rental= $75

Odds and ends from Amazon to add to costumes= $30

Time compiling costume components= 10 hours

Time spent ironing costume components= 1 hour

Time kids spent at rehearsal between May 15 and May 29=
50 hours

Time mom and kids spent in the car or carpooling last two weeks= 12 hours

Free time for kids during two tech weeks= a few hours each morning

Free time for mom during two tech weeks= free time?

Last minute costume changes and additional details= at least five

Tech week meltdowns= one

Seeing my husband not recognize his own son for a few seconds after he appeared on stage. Make-up and costume can do wonders= magical.

Watching the story of Beauty and the Beast brought to life= magical. Don’t need any CG here, people.

Seeing my 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter waltzing with each other in “Human Again”= priceless

Tech week meltdown defused by older sister with experience, advice and hugs= priceless

Over months of practice, observing my daughter make peace with the role she was given, make it her own, and make it amazing= priceless

Seeing my gentle, peaceful daughter doing all her own stunts as the enchantress, a silly girl and the wolf who leaps on Belle= priceless

Hearing my 13-year-old son on the autism spectrum “put on” the bad guy and dance and sing his very own musical lines as Monsieur D’Arque= totally and completely priceless

Ordinary Day   Leave a comment

On any given normal day, I don’t think much about how normal it is.  I don’t think about the responsibilities I normally have or the tasks I complete, maybe not even about the people I know I can expect to see.

But after I get back from vacation?  or recover from a really bad cold?  or pass through a crisis of some sort?

Then, normal starts to look pretty good.  It starts to look like something downright amazing.

If I live a day of my life, and there’s no aches and pains in it, no illness, no coughing, itching, gagging or fever, it is a pleasant thing.

A day without hassles. One without arguments.  One without overdue bills, fender benders, or speeding tickets.  One without hospital stays, illness, rehabilitation, therapy…a day without death, tears, anguish, or heartbreak.

an ordinary day.

If I have ordinary, it is a gift.

Posted March 9, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Chronic   Leave a comment

Do you have anything in your life like this?

If you’re like me, I’m sure you do.  No matter what it may be, it is something that does not diminish with time.  It’s something that does not seem to have a packaged, straightforward treatment.  It does not go to the doctor, come home with medication for pain and an antibiotic, then three days later go back to school/work.

It might be a disease.  It might be a habit you have wrestled with for years.  It may be a person you’re connected to who is difficult but whom you can’t abandon.  It might be money worries.  It might be the mess in your garage, or the yard work that never really gets done, or the pile of dirty laundry that completely covers your cracked cement basement floor.

Whatever it is, it’s chronic.  It’s not fixable today or this week.

You know what I mean?

Reflecting on my own life at the beginning of a new year, and wondering what will become of the chronic situations in my life during the course of the months to come, something else came to mind.

There’s all of this stuff, but, whatever else may be chronic, thank God that He is chronically good.

Posted January 7, 2017 by swanatbagend in gratitude, reality

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Road Trip to Michigan Again   Leave a comment

I guess I’ve found a good way to get some R and R.  I went back to Michigan again this weekend and stayed with my mother in law and my brother and his family.  I did this last fall and found it to be very refreshing.   I had missed seeing my nephews at New Year’s because of illness and I really wanted to find another time to get back.  I’m glad I did.  I got home this evening feeling very happy.  I like happy.

I found a way to connect with my brother in the midst of his very busy life as a band director.  I found time to catch up with my sister-in-law.  I got to interact at length with my five-year-old nephew, and hold the baby over and over again.

I can’t get enough of the five-year-old’s conversation and the baby’s sweet heaviness.  There’s nothing quite like a huge, fuzzy, sweet-smelling, hard baby head right against your cheek.

I also had a great time thrifting with my mother in law, tooling around town running errands together, and eating in the lovely private dining room at her retirement community.  We looked through many wonderful family pictures and heard the stories that went with them, as we tried to sort them out.

But Sunday morning was the best.  Saturday night I arrived after dinner at my brother’s, and we took a nighttime stroll to the local ice cream place.  At the mention of their church’s name a hymn came to mind, and I started singing the chorus, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion, we’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.”

Sunday morning, after the sermon, we sang that hymn.

That’s a Lo! moment (Thank you Charles Fort for giving a name to those things).  So I sing “Then let your songs abound and every tear be dry; we’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, to fairer worlds on high,” with my brother and sister.  I walk forward to take communion with a nice plump baby on my hip.  I travel through the worship and follow the Cross back out.

We are marching in the light of God, we are dancing in the light of God.

It doesn’t get any better than this.


Posted February 24, 2016 by swanatbagend in gratitude

Gift Giving   Leave a comment

I just figured something out.

Gift giving is for the giver.

Not the recipient.

Gift giving is for the joy that it brings to the heart of the giver.

–and this is why the person receiving the gift needs to cultivate a heart that receives the gift gladly.  To maximize the joy in the interaction, the giftee can choose to receive gladly–even if the gift given is not something he likes or wants.

I know, I’m in my fifth decade and I’m just now figuring this out?  I did grow up hearing that it’s better to give than receive.  I would agree, and sometimes the hardest part is receiving.  If you really don’t like the item, it’s hard to be gracious.  It is.  Since there’s a context for the exchange of most gifts, it’s hard not to assume that people will give you something you like.

But the thing with a gift is–it’s a gift.  It’s free.  You didn’t ask for it.  You didn’t pay for it.  You didn’t look for it.  You didn’t deserve it.  Yes, sometimes you didn’t even want it.

It’s a gift.


Posted February 15, 2016 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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I don’t know how it happened   Leave a comment

But–I. Am. So. Blessed.

At night when he is ready for bed and has been read to by his dad, my going-on-12-year-old son comes into my daughter’s room and tells her goodnight.  They touch noses by way of friendly greeting.

Sure, he only remembers to knock first intermittently but he’s trying–and that he wants to come in and touch base with everyone in the family before he goes to bed is worth celebrating.

I’m usually there with my daughter talking before I say goodnight to her, and so we both get the benefit of his usually cheerful goodnight.

I don’t remember doing this with my brother.

My mother usually tucked me in at that age; I also have many memories of moments spent together at bedtime with my father when I was little.  But I don’t think I have any memories at all of saying good night to my brother.  I guess we were too inclined to get on each other’s nerves throughout the day to have any wish to wrap the day’s annoyance up with a friendly greeting.  I regret that.

So I am grateful for children who do more than tolerate each other most of the time.  Makes it incredibly pleasant to get to the end of the day and go off to sleep in harmony.


Posted December 12, 2015 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Anniversary   Leave a comment

Not much blogging going on here this summer, but today I have something worth saying.

Today is my 27th wedding anniversary, and that is worth celebrating.

I remain awed by the kindness that my husband routinely shows to me, and amazed that, after all this time, we still like each other.  I know not every married couple is so fortunate as to actually continue to like each other.  Sure, the two of us never had that much in common (although we convinced ourselves we did at the ripe old ages of 19 and 23) but we just plain like spending time together.  I’m glad that is still true.

Every now and then I reflect on what my mom said when I asked her before I got married what she thought of my fiance.  The only thing she was able to come up with at the time was “He’ll always be nice to you.”  That doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement, does it?  Well, she wasn’t sure of him at the time, and I suspect she wanted to come up with something acceptable to say since she couldn’t say she was crazy about him.

But, it turns out she was right and that really was an essential quality in him which I’m grateful for every day.

I had a friend from high school comment on our marriage several years ago and her words have stayed with me as well.  She just told me that not many people are blessed to have a love like I do.  I am sorry to have to sit and think about that, for sure.  But what she did was teach me not to take it for granted.  He’s good to live with, a good friend, a good lover, and a great companion: while life always has its difficulties, he’s not the source of the difficulties.  Without her comment I think I would overlook, in the every-day, the amazing reality that I am married to a kind and faithful person.

This is true love–you think this happens every day?


Posted July 30, 2015 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Simple Pleasures   Leave a comment

There’s nothing like the joy you get from experiencing something after you haven’t had it for a time.

And it seems for me it’s true that it takes missing something to truly relish it.

You just don’t comprehend what it means to miss something if you have it all the time.  I’m sure if the weather was only sun all the time, I would be unable to delight as deeply as I am in this wonderful 65 degree sunny weather we’re having this week.  It might be OK, but I would take it for granted.

Or take for example a night of sleep.  I don’t sleep well generally speaking.  Sometimes it’s insomnia; most often it’s just waking up and rolling over about forty times per night, so when I get up I am not rested.

But that’s nothing compared to those nights when you don’t sleep at all.

There is nothing I know of that’s miserable in quite the same way as a night you spend awake, longing for your eyes to feel heavy and your thoughts to get fuzzy, but instead you just keep thinking, droves of ideas and images whizzing through your head, anxiety stirring you around.

After a night like that, experiencing a night in which the peaceful buzzing of a fan is actually soporific is so nice.  Waking up after sleeping a stretch of 8 hours is positively blissful.  There is nothing else like waking up and realizing your nightmare of wakefulness is over, and you’ve slept most of the night.

Extrapolating to other situations–there are many blessings I’ve never had to miss.  I know I can’t appreciate them the way someone who is missing them could.

But I’ll surely do my best.

Posted April 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Thanksgiving Memories   Leave a comment

We had a wonderful whirlwind of activity at my house Thursday and Friday for the celebration of Thanksgiving.  I sat down a few times between 2 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday, but just a few.  We had fourteen family members present and it was good.  My favorite memories:

1. I cut up what must have been 20 potatoes, but my family brought so much food that I thought to myself, “We’ll never be able to eat all these mashed potatoes,” or as my mother-in-law often comments, “I’ve made enough to feed an army.”  At clean up however, there were perhaps two cups left.  Nope, I did not make too much mashed potatoes.

Can you ever make too much mashed potatoes?

2. My brother-in-law picked up my oldest at college on his way down to our place, so I didn’t see my son until Wednesday evening, by which time I was really ready to see him (at the same time I was really thankful I wasn’t making a four-hour round trip drive the day before 14 people arrived at my house for dinner).

There is no more beautiful sight than your child’s smiling face in an approaching car window.

3.  As I passed through the living room, temporarily transformed into Dining Room #2, on my way to sort out some details before dinner, I saw my mother and my mother-in-law face to face in our blue wing chairs, wine glass in one’s hand (guess which one), having what looked like a lovely heart-to-heart.

4.  My children, brothers and sisters-in-law, my husband, my nephew, my mother and father, and my mother-in-law crammed into our kitchen together.  My husband said these words, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,” and we shouted back, “His love endures forever!”

5.  Then there’s the anecdotes I remember, but cannot share here, to protect the guilty whom I love.  Imagine bursts of laughter.  Repeatedly.  I hope you had those too at your house.

It isn’t a cliché if it’s true.  I’m really thankful that I have family who want to be here, a home to share with them, and food to cook for them.  Dirty dishes too.  Thank God for dirty dishes.