Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscar Goes To...

Enjoying the Oscars with a LARGE Popcorn!
We're watching the Oscars, and thoroughly enjoying them, and will probably remember certain moments forever.  Or at least until the next award show...or tomorrow, whichever comes first.

For example, I treasured the performance of Lady Gaga singing selections from The Sound of Music.  Not just because she showcased a lovely singing voice that has been previously eclipsed by wearing a suit of meat, but because Harriett and I spent the performance cheering for Gaga to "keep it normal" and "keep the dress on!"  We were both delighted when she remained relatively normal throughout the entire performance.  Hats off to you, Gaga.

Then the REAL Julie Andrews came out!!  We love her!  Harriett was surprised to learn that she's 9 years older than Grandma!  Very Cool!

I got thinking about my own Oscars.  What would my life's story be called?  If I was giving out Oscars to the people who do the most important things in my life, The Oscars would go to:

Best Producers:  Pat and Dick Thompson (Get it, they "produced" me!)

Best Editor:  Luke Swager  (He keeps me from getting too far off the beaten path)

Best Soundtrack in a feature film: My Kids:  Jordan & Spencer Roberts  and Isaac Swager on Tuba, Lydia, Harriett, Simon and Sylvia Swager featured on a variety of vocal and background noise.

Best Screenwriter for my feature film: God (He writes ALL of my stories)

Best Set design:  Again, the Roberts/Swager kids for their constant re-design of my background (and foreground.)

Best Supporting Actress: The nominees are too numerous to mention.  If you are a woman and one of my dear friends, IT'S YOU!

Best Supporting Actor:  Again, hard to call:  If you're one of the fellas that make my life a better place, IT'S YOU!

Best Electrician: MAXIMO (My Pacemaker) and Dr. Liu (My pacemaker cardiologist)

Best Gaffer:  Joe Thompson.  Hands down.  Best. Gaffer. Ever.  (Good brother, too!)

I feel like Meryl Streep should have won something, as she's been such a lovely actress for a long time in lots of movies I've enjoyed.  However, compared to all of you, she can't hold a candle.  I've been so blessed by so many wonderful people in my life!

And the one you've all waited for:  Best Picture goes to my life story, which is called...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On our knees

Fat Tuesday was a booming success at the Swager household!  We ate paczkis, we went out to dinner, we polished off the Valentine's Day candy, and started our preparations for Lent.  We didn't have a parade, or throw beads, but we celebrated Mardi Gras in our own frozen, Michigander way.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, things went wrong.  The people in Haiti will spend the next three days weeping and mourning for the 16 people who died in a tragic Carnival float accident.  It would appear that the float hit a low power line.  As the sparks began to fly, people panicked and got trampled.  This Haitian Carnival Tragedy breaks my heart.  It brought a celebrating people to their knees.

Maybe that's what we needed today. Not the death of revelers, but the dropping to our knees.

Mardi Gras really is only important in that it precedes Ash Wednesday.  It's the last day before everything changes.

Everything is about to get stark and real.  We're about to take a good hard look at our choices and our lives, and the things that really matter to us. We'll strip away the things that distract us. We spend time in conversation and contemplation about our relationship with the one who knows us better than anyone else: Our very Creator.  Then, when we've spent time un-building the walls we've erected between us and the Lover of our Souls, we'll walk through the Passion and Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior.  We'll remember the pain he went through for us, and rejoice at his Resurrection.

We will mourn.  The time is fitting for it. But there will come a time to celebrate again.    

I will be posting Love letters to my Creator on my "Lent to Me" blog during Lent.  I hope following me will bless you.

And may God's comfort and Mercy be with those in Haiti, and everywhere that people are in mourning.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Poor Kitty

I can't imagine what she thought when her son brought me home.

She probably had that same feeling a mother has when her son chooses the kitten with a gooey eye that doesn't open all the way, missing parts of an ear and the tip of a tail, and breathes like a heavy smoker.  He picks it up, which is fairly easy, as the poor thing limps around with one leg shorter than the other three (an old wound never properly healed) and declares this bony ball of fur and sickness "the most beautiful, perfect kitty in the whole world!" I AM that kitty!

I was broken down, used up, devalued, starved, pitiful, and hopeless.  I"d been played with for a minute, then thrown out the window of the moving car.  I was worthless and pathetic.  And sad. I was just another stray in a vast sea of strays who are lost and looking for a home. I'm sure she could see it and feel it and sense it.  I will never be good enough for her son, We both know it.

When faced with the kitty, most Mom's are thinking, "Right.  I'll give this poor wretched thing two weeks, and if it doesn't die of this respiratory infection, I'm sure it's intestinal worms will work their magic and put the poor dear out of her misery." Then, because she loves her son and her son CLEARLY loves this kitty, she helps him nurse it back to health. She may be secretly hoping he loses interest in this poor wretched thing, but his love heals this desperate, broken soul.  His love feeds her and returns the shine to her eyes, and the softness to her fur.  His love softens Mom's heart, and soon Mom sees his beloved through the son's eyes.

Mothers-in-law have a certain reputation.  For a reason.  It is the mother's job to protect the son.  This child is the fruit of her womb!  His care and protection is no small feat!  This particular son is not like any other man on the face of the earth!  He is her beloved son!  It is his mother's job to protect him.  It is the mother's job to keep away the rabble and those women who would suck the Spirit right out of him until he's a shell of the man he was intended to be.  It is the Mother's job to make certain that his lady understands how special and wonderful he is.  He deserves to be loved and appreciated for all of the wonderful things that he IS, and adored for the way he loves so completely.

And in the case of Mother Mary, it is her job to see me, her son's beloved stray kitty (me), through Jesus's filter of love.  What an incredible job for a human woman.  Even one full of Grace.

So now I have the responsibilities of a daughter-in-law, where it comes to her. I will learn the traditions, the recipes, the history of his family through her.  I will ask her to share the stories of him as a child, and learn the special language that each family has to communicate with each other. I will get to know them because I love him.  She and I will share him lovingly.  We will mourn together remembering his crucifixion, and rejoice together on Easter remembering his Resurrection.  We will each hold a beautiful and perfect place in his heart.

We will love each other. His love makes me worthy, and his love makes her accepting of me. We will love each other for love of him.  I hope that all that I do gives proof to my loving intentions towards him.  I hope that my words and actions illustrate my affection and adoration.

I hope to live up to my Mother-in-Law's expectations.

 ***Any discussion of daughters-in-law must come with a disclaimer.  I have been one, and I have some.  I've walked this path from a variety of directions, and I know that I have been blessed by both of my Mothers-in-law, and both of my Daughters-in-law.***

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Best. Decision. Ever.

There are days when I'm a little jealous of others.

There are days when I look at the lives of my friends who are religious sisters or priests with envy.  I see how they have time in their lives to contemplate the depths of God's love or to sit for hours on end in Eucharistic Adoration, doing the hugely important work of spending time praying for every other person on the face of the Earth. I envy that a little. 

I see the pictures of amazing places my friends have been, and I feel a twang of envy.  There are jungles and mountains and cities all over this planet that I'd love to see with my own eyes.  It makes me just a bit jealous. It makes me question the choices I've made.       

Because I'm A MOM!!!!  I have Mom things to do.  

Twenty-seven years ago, my son was born. He had greenish-brown eyes and dark hair, and came out battleship gray. He smiled at me, then took a dump right on my stomach. I'd never loved a person so much in my whole life. Twenty-seven years ago a Mother was born.  Jordan has been a gift and a challenge.  He reminded me to check to see if soap is toxic before I wash his mouth out with it. I'm his Mom!  I'm the one he cried for, and clung to.  I fed him and clothed him and swaddled him, and did my very best to protect him.  I gave him the gift of siblings.  I came to know God through the lens of parenthood. In return, he's blessed the world with his artistic and musical talents.  He's blessed me with a daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.  He's given me a legacy and a lineage.  Best. Decision. Ever.

So I may not be available for hours of endless uninterrupted prayer, or travel to exotic places.  I praise God in each moment of being the Mom.  I adore the presence of Christ, and acknowledge it in each of my children, and see Him in their beautiful faces. I have seen the amazing sights of my children playing and singing and praising God.  I have felt the warmth of a cuddle on the couch during a snowstorm. I've been moved to tears by their smiles, and shared their tears.  I hold my children in my heart, and it has changed me, and created me into a new creation.

Happy Birthday, Jordan! You helped me find my purpose and calling.