Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seven Quick Takes of Gratitude

I've been awfully ornery and irritable lately-a sign that I'm focusing too much on life's struggles and failing to appreciate the joys with which God has blessed me. I'm overdue for a little gratitude and so I'll share a list of seven things from this past week for which I am grateful. Seven items of gratitude are very little compared to the magnitude of the goodness of God, but from here I can only hope to move forward and continue to praise God for each and every blessing that He sends my way.

1. I signed my three oldest sons up for another year of high school this week. As we approached each station at the "forms and fees" day, the staff and volunteers never failed to comment on the fact that there are three Benders at the same school, each one a year apart, and they made sure to make us all feel uncomfortable for our family size. Those who have large families will know the scorn with which a mother of many children is held and will recognize the rude comments such as "Don't you know what causes that?" and "Haven't you ever heard of birth control?" as if having children were a disease. But one kind man who had been Joe's science teacher last year was equally amazed at the three oldest Bender boys, but, instead of looking at me judgmentally and asking me what on earth I was thinking when I gave birth to three boys three years in a row like the other staff members did, he said, "Well done Mom! What fine sons you have, especially if they are all as nice as this young man!" and he pointed to Joe. I proudly assured him that yes, they are all fine young men and thanked him for noticing. And of course, I thanked Joe for behaving in such a fashion so as to make the Bender name something of which to be proud!

I thank God for large families and for well-behaved children (at least in public-anyone who lives within ten blocks of my family will testify that my kids can misbehave with the best of them while in the comfort of their home!)

2. Our friend, Fr. Christopher Klusman, joined our family for dinner this week and then we all watched one of his favorite comedy movies. We couldn't help but notice the constant smile on his face during the entire show and it was easily contagious. We are all so proud of our dear Fr. Christopher here in Milwaukee-he is making great strides in the early days of his priesthood as he brings about hope and joy in Catholicism with his exuberant personality and deep faith. Check out this great story about him that was featured on the Deacon's Bench this week!

I thank God for new priests who joyfully spread the love of Christ.

3. How sweet it feels when my daughter holds my hand as we walk together. It's hard watching my children grow up and slowly lose their dependence upon me-but my daughter continues to need my love and affection and I will gladly offer it to her as long as she accepts it.

I thank God for the gift of motherhood and for being needed.

4. My family was blessed to enjoy a day away from work as we joined with our local Catholic Herald newspaper for a day of Brewers, Brats and Bishops. We relaxed at a tailgate party with about 300 people which was followed by a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. The guests of honor were Archbishop Listecki and Bishop Hying. The tailgate and game happened to occur on Bishop Hying's 48th birthday. A favorite moment at the tailgate was when a fellow tailgater gave tea light candles to 48 people (including my family) and asked us to be the choir that would sing happy birthday to the Bishop while he was given a cake. After the song, Bishop Hying had to come to each 'choir member' and blow out his candles! It was a clever idea and fun to partake in! And yeah, the Brew Crew lost. Who said life is perfect?

I thank God for the time to relax with family and friends, and for the gift of a good and holy bishop.

5. We were blessed to be in the shade at the Brewer Game and I was most grateful for the frequent gentle breezes that came our way. The wind is a sweet reminder of the Holy Spirit and I could feel His love blowing my bad attitude from the past week right out of the ball park.

I thank God for the gifts of nature that remind me of His love.

6. It's a cliche, I know, but it's really true-confession is good for the soul. What a blessing it is to release our sins in the privacy of the confessional and receive sound advice, a practical penance and the wondrous gift of absolution.

I thank God for the healing of the soul that can only come from His gift of forgiveness.

7. Some of the greatest gifts I know are the bounties of nature. Our garden is overflowing with the late summer treats of zucchini, tomatoes and green beans. My favorite treat is toast with mayo and a slice of fresh tomato-I could eat it for every meal...and practically do! God is good!

I thank God for the home-grown goodness of healthy food.

Although I am greatly blessed in life, I know that I will continue to fall into my old habits of ingratitude again and again. I will lose my patience and my temper over little insignificant things. I will get on the nerves of my family and friends. I will make a fool of myself and will have to deal with the consequences of my actions. I will forget about the goodness of God. But I know that God will love me-even if I fail to love Him-He will love me beyond my wildest imaginings, beyond anything I could ever deserve; and He will show that love to me through my family, my friends, nature and the Church. Yes, life is hard and I struggle through it with many mistakes and faults, but I have so much for which to thank God who loves me and embraces me and accepts me as I am. And so do you. Let's continue on this journey of life with praise for God beyond the count of seven.

Joining with Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary.


  1. I totally agree with #6 ... our family is headed to saturday night Mass and Reconciliation this week. It's true, but we are all so much happier after confession.

  2. Anne, how awesome to have 3 sons in high school together. What gifts they must be to each other. My son, an only child (not by choice!) wanted siblings so much.

    I really think many of members of the fertility police are secretly jealous when they see large families. Perhaps they lack the courage to go against the ridiculous <2 children standard of society.

    You are the hands down winner hands down on this issue. Your children will have each other to share their lives with for many years to come, probably long after you and your husband are gone. You have so much to look forward to in each of their futures.

    God loves you for loving life! I'm a big fan of the Duggars. I think they are amazing.

    Enjoy your children, and rejoice that you have been so blessed by God. Our culture is crazy in so many ways! Don't let them get to you.

    You go, mom! : )

  3. as a wic mom, i have much love for the nutritionists, especially the one who met with us this month and was understanding about the fact that my child is at the 5th percentile for weight and 10th for height. (i have a preemie who expends more calories than he takes in. thank God for pediasure 1.5!)

  4. I love your list. You do have a lot to be thankful for! I do not understand why large families get a negative reaction from so many. Never fails to surprise me. And I love the sacrament of Reconciliation. What a blessing!