Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

Not as Old as I Thought She Was   Leave a comment

So I realized a few days ago that I am now the same age that my mother was at the time I got married.

I was already aware that my oldest child is close to the age I was when I got married, so I knew in a general vague way that I was technically old enough to have a child doing suchlike adult things as getting married or having children.  I have friends who are grandmothers so there’s no reason I wouldn’t be at that point myself.

However, for some reason, looking back in time twenty-seven years at who my mother seemed to be at the time I got married, is different from realizing that I have a child who is old enough to become married.

I think it’s because your mother is always old and wise.

It’s just that once you become old and wise yourself, you realize that old ain’t old any more.  Wise, sure, but trust me, my age is not old!

But wait a minute–I sure thought of my mother as old and wise when I got married.  I didn’t even really think about it.  I guess I just assumed it.  She knew everything there was to know about being an adult, she was a functioning adult with a thriving career and many interests, who knew how to fix every problem.

But I’m fairly certain I have not gotten there yet.

Which I guess is what makes this so strange to think about.

Posted November 19, 2015 by swanatbagend in identity

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Come However You Are   Leave a comment

I have been thinking this week of our Savior’s capacity to absorb, absolve and take into himself all of our mess and shame and guilt.

There is no end to it.  No matter how much we are damaged by others, how much we are doubted by ourselves, it is all neutralized by God.  He meets the onslaught of our failures and it does not even slow him down.  This tidal wave of love is not repulsed by our refusal to believe that he covers it all.  He is not remotely disturbed by our disbelief in his mercy and compassion, the compassion that is for us, for you and for me personally.


Come with your regrets
Come with the things you can’t change
Come with all your fears
With all your shame, with everything
Come with the pieces of your bruised and broken heart
Don’t wait
Don’t wait

Whatever pain you’re dealing with
Let me offer this

Come however you are
Come with all your heartbreaks
Come with all the mistakes you’ve made
Lay them down at the cross
Give them to the God who loves you
Hurt, scared, falling apart
Come however you are

–City Harbor


Nothing can separate us from this love, neither life nor death nor the present nor the future.

Nor us, ourselves.


Posted November 15, 2015 by swanatbagend in identity, reflections

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Moment of Truth   Leave a comment

Yes, that moment happened to me this summer.  We were on a road trip to a wedding, and stopping briefly at a truck stop to use the restroom, I was coming out of the stall to wash my hands.  I looked up into the mirror, under the flattering light of fluorescent bulbs, and it happened.

That’s really what I look like?”

Oh man.  Not a good feeling.  Old, wrinkled, and somewhat bloated.

Well.  There’s good in every moment, right?

So… if I’ve joined the rest of the human race in the dilemma of weight that appears in unwanted places, and does not leave just because we want it to–that’s not such a bad thing.

Could motivate me to consider a new hair style or maybe different color of clothes.  Definitely aware that I need to work on taking care of myself.

Practice seeing things from someone else’s perspective.

Hmm….If I was too good-looking, it would scare people off.

Reality check: God uses it all.


Posted September 20, 2015 by swanatbagend in identity, transitions

Routine   1 comment

A routine is the framework we hang our lives on.

I know mine keeps me going and sane many times.  I mean that in multiple ways.

People often comment on how organized I am when they see our house and learn that I homeschool.  More so if they find out that I only go to the grocery store once every two weeks, with a menu planned to last that long.  I just stop in on the off weeks to get milk, bananas and lettuce.

And that’s true, I am very organized.

And it’s also true that being organized and having a daily and weekly routine helps keep us productive, most chores done, some seasonal work up to date (just being honest here as I still have quite a bit of fall yard work undone), and school both completed and recorded.

But that’s not what I mean when I say a routine is the framework we hang our lives on.

When everything else is blowing up in your face–you’re unsettled, depressed, uncertain–circumstances are unpredictable: at those times, having a next step to step into when you can’t even think clearly is a real gift.

I can’t tell you how many school mornings in the winter, I’d get up, make breakfast, light a candle in the den to drive away some of that January stuff, and then the only reason I knew what to do next was because I had a routine.  I’d already done it.  I kept doing it.  Later in the day, things were better, and I was thankful I hadn’t ended up spending half an hour crying in the shower, or just gone back to bed.  (Of course it helps if you have other people who won’t let you stay in bed.)

Another time routine is a gift is when I’m really anxious.  If something is disturbing me, whether circumstance or just an unfavorable brain chemistry at that moment, thinking can get pretty adrenaline affected.  Things seem to spin.  I start with one thought, move to another, and then a third, but end up right back where I started.  At times like those when my world feels as if it’s spinning out of rational control, when I do the next thing in my routine, and then the next, and then the next, I eventually get through it.  I don’t slip off the edge.

I figure this is probably what women pressed to the limit in truly difficult situations do as well, in places where they’re displaced, there’s disease, disaster, death.  They figure out a routine.  And they do it.  Because that’s what they need to keep going.

And it’s a real gift.


Posted November 25, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity

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Laura and Me   3 comments

When I listened to my weather radio this morning I learned that the record low for our city was set in 1876.  Laura was nine years old when that record was set.

Why do I even know that?

I happen to have been born 100 years after she was, and so in any given year I can easily remember her age.

When I discovered I was almost exactly 100 years younger than Laura Ingalls Wilder, it added to the kinship I felt with her and her family.

For one thing, my father also looked like Abe Lincoln, was born in a log cabin, and had itchy feet.  And to me it appeared that he could either fix or make anything we needed.  A child of the Great Depression, he knew how to make do. The best illustration of this came on our move from Colorado to Oklahoma.  The engine of our bright red VW camper died and left us on the side of the road in hot, empty eastern Colorado.  It appeared some small part in the engine had broken.  My father had a package of Black Cat firecrackers stowed in the glove box (why no idea), and he inserted one into the gap, and got the van running again.  We’d drive anywhere from two to ten miles and the firecracker would burn up.  Stop.  Open engine compartment.  Insert new firecracker.  Repeat.

My family moved all over the west when I was a child, in search of I’m not sure what, but this helped give the four of us the bond that can only come from helping each other walk through being the new people in a new place multiple times.  My brother and I lived with a father who was ever ready for a new adventure in a new part of the country, while his wife would have been more inclined to stay where society (musical, literary, church and political) was established.  Ma Ingalls only put her foot down one time when Pa wished to go further west again,  but my mother expressed her frustration in a different way.

We had recently moved to Colorado, where my father had started work at the Denver Service Center for the National Park Service.  My parents were in the process of buying the first house that was their own, not government issue, when my father saw a posting for a Coast Guard job in Juneau, Alaska.  Doubting he would be properly qualified, he applied anyway.  We had been in our lovely new house with blue wall to wall carpet and a pool table in the basement for merely weeks, when he called my mother with the fantastic news.

He had the job!

Mom was so mad, she hung up on him.  That did not stop us from moving to Alaska, however.

Another way in which I identified with Laura was in the love of words and books we shared.  I liked the way she thought through difficulties and questions.  I resonated with her fear of being the new girl at school and all those unknowns.

It goes without saying that I read her books innumerable times.  Which is my favorite?  Hard to say.

I read The Long Winter and emerge with Laura once again into spring, lettuce and new peas in the garden, after twisting hay to burn for fuel most of the winter.  I read On the Banks of Plum Creek and rejoice when Nellie gets her comeuppance via leeches.   I read Little House in the Big Woods and hear “Now is now. It can never be a long time ago.” It sets the strings of the past reverberating in my heart.

But my past or hers?  Somehow, a bit of both.


Loyalty   Leave a comment

This trait is probably the one most valued by someone with Asperger’s syndrome.

At our house, that runs in the family, and as I think about my sons, myself, and others I know, if I think about how we are and how we expect other people to be….this would be the word.

We just can’t be any other way.

Where it gets hard for us is when we just can’t comprehend why others aren’t the same way.

I guess I’m writing this to explain how we think.  Who knows if I speak for every Aspie out there, but I’m guessing most could at least relate.  And I’m not saying we are always perfectly loyal or that some of you couldn’t call me on my own personal exceptions…just that this is our strong tendency.

Once you have gained my loyalty, it is yours for life.  It could change, I suppose, but it would take a really huge violation of trust for that to happen.  If you are a kind person who reaches out to me, I acknowledge that and appreciate it.  I am then likely to consider you a casual friend.

If you spend time with me on a regular basis, and we have a good time together, I will consider you a friend.

And if you are a friend, you are a treasure, and a very valued part of my life.

Even if I don’t communicate by email or Facebook or phone, when I see you again, I will pick up right where we left off.

I will come to your birthday parties, to your barbeques, to your graduations, and your funerals, and I will do it gladly.

When you have a problem or need, if I possibly can,  I will do what I can to help you.

If I do communicate, you can count on Christmas cards, emails, and notes when things are hard for you.  Even if you don’t respond for years, I’m likely to keep sending you cards, because you are still important to me.  You are still loved and cared for.

And I just don’t understand, honestly, if you stop talking to me, or if you lose interest in communicating, and if you manage to disappear out of my life like a wisp of smoke.  It will not make sense to me.  Aspies are black and white in their thinking, and a friend is a friend is a friend.  Forever.

So, now you know.

Just in case you’d ever wondered why we behave as we do, why we don’t just let friends disappear after they move away, or when some certain amount of time has elapsed. We just don’t do that.

It’s who we are.


Posted October 7, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity

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Ephesians 2:1-10   Leave a comment

My summary of last week’s sermon:

Grace is re-making us.  It’s not just for salvation.

He paid off our debts and is also paying for the future.

God prepared good works for us to do; he’s the master planner.

It is up to God to see to it that I make it to the end.

The remedy to our desire to let our performance declare our value is hearing God say that we are his masterpiece because we are in Jesus Christ.

This means we now have the freedom to fail because it is all covered.

We don’t have to live in fear.

Posted September 25, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity