‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Counting Our Blessings in All Circumstances

I feel grateful every day I'm alive, but sometimes the gratitude I feel is so effusive, it is like a tidal wave of grace that pours over me and knocks off my feet. This week has felt like that. 

And I've been meditating and thinking alot about a person whose short life was marked by kindness, joy and gratitude - Collen Ritzer.


A blessing: Colleen Ritzer was my godson's teacher and I had the luck of communicating with her a few times when I was tutoring them last year, and her loss hit the entire community very hard. Watching her students, including my godsons, deal with loss has been hard. But Colleen's own words have been a comfort to everyone. Even after her death, her firm focus on goodness, kindness and gratitude help those left behind.

My two godsons and their friends at the memorial across from their house.

But it is at these times that gratitude is even more important. One of the last things that Colleen Ritzer shared on FB in the weeks before she died was this:

'No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.'

What a perfect testament to the life she lived. These words have been a comfort and guide to her students, family and friends in the wake of her loss. How fitting that such a kind and giving person is still 'giving' to those she loved even after her death. God be with you, Colleen.

Another Blessing: I'm sure it's also no coincidence that this time of effusive gratitude happened while my Mom was visiting. Having her here makes me (and Nastia) supremely happy. As Nastia puts it, 'When Grammy is here, it feels like everything is going good in the world.'  A good person to have around when everything is NOT going so 'good' in the world.

We made use of every minute we had with her - took her to the local apple orchard, went trick-or-treating, played games at my house with Nastia and my godsons (my Mom's surrogate grandsons) that has us all laughing so hard I thought I might pee myself. We went to football games and out to eat, and she made her special spaghetti sauce that I love, and we had way too many chicken pot pie dinners to count. We just sat and talked, at her place and ours. And I even convinced her to go on a walk with me on one of her last days - granted it was a walk to and from an appointment she had, but it was a walk nonetheless!

Yet Another Blessing: And then there is Nastia, who is just blossoming before my eyes in ways I never could have conceived even a year ago. She is genuinely happy lately, and engaging with others in ways she never has. She expressed her love for my Mom in ways she thought she never could, and had an authentic goodbye with her - something she usually avoids. She is working really hard at school, writing college essays, preparing her portfolio for colleges, and having very grown-up responses to difficult situations. I'm just so proud of her lately, I could burst.

My Cup Runneth Over!: And if that weren't enough, there is Sasha! Anya is so happy and content lately - the happiest she's ever been. Motherhood suits her, and her only thoughts and actions these days are about her sweet little daughter. We call her daily, and most of the time she says, 'Mama, I can't talk right now, Sasha needs me..." and then she tells us to call back in an hour or so. And on skype, we witness the gentle and oh-so-loving way she talks to Sasha and holds her. Sasha waits in her every word. It's adorable. I may be partial, but I think my granddaughter is just beautiful:

Not even a day old in this photo!

Three weeks old and already lifting her head by herself! And look at those cheeks!

Tired Mama and her little one

As for M, I'm still awaiting my court dates, but am hopeful they will come soon. I have been praying a novena to St Therese of Lisieux and have a number of friends praying, too. I know whatever happens, God is in the details. I feel His support and trust it will unfold as it should. M is impatient, of course, and when I call her she wants to know why it is taking so long. I tell her to just keep saying her prayers and try to be patient. Once she is here, I remind her, it will feel like she never left.

I'll leave you with another inspiring quote Colleen Ritzer shared on her pinterest board. If you want to visit her pinterest yourself, it is here

May we all be so wise. 
God be with you, Colleen Ritzer.


  1. What a beautiful update! Even the sad parts are written from the perspective of gratitude and love--a great way to start my day, Keri. Thank you for sharing bits of your life and spirit this morning. (It's still morning out here in CA!) I am praying for God to keep blessing you and drawing your girls closer to you and Him. (in all the various meanings!)

  2. Oh, that dear Sashenka! What a precious one. And, it is so good to hear Nastia is doing well - I'm also thrilled that you'll be getting Matilda in the nick of time to avoid an empty nest. When I think of your communications with her, I guess I am as glad that I had no way to communicate with my littles while waiting. Just as well.

    We hear that Sergei's sister is expecting a baby. Have you discovered via Anya what might be good things to send? I think in this country we've gone all out in a ridiculous way in regards to "baby implements"....they encourage parents to spend enormous amounts of money on items can are used for just a month or two.... But, perhaps you have some ideas.

  3. Anonymous9:14 PM

    Inspiring words. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Cara Lynn6:46 PM

    I found your blog, along the sidebar of another blog I read, about three days ago. I havent stopped reading since then! What a powerful story, and what an incredible mom you are! I'm pregnant, and your blog has me so inspired to be the most gentle loving mom I can be. Granted my baby won't be born with a history or trauma and neglect, but your thoughts on parenthood are inspiring for any Mom - including this new mom-to-be! So glad I stumbled onto your blog. Blessings to you!


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