Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
I'm honored you stopped by to listen to my thoughts and ponderings - and if you have a minute sometime, let me know you dropped by!

You can also find me on Facebook at Grace Notes, Thoughts and Prayers.

I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Power of Words

Recently I was excited to go have a spa treatment and receive a pedicure. I had never visited this lady before and hoped I would be feeling terrific after some foot pampering.

The visit didn't go so well.  After telling me how young I looked (that was a bonus!), she proceed to find a number of challenges with my feet.  I won't bore you with the details.  It went downhill from there... she started to massage my feet and informed me she was practicing reflexology... something I had not asked for... (and suspected she was not licensed for), and then shared with me the various parts of my body that were toxic... it was quite the list.

I was then informed that I would likely feel ill after this "treatment" because of the flushing of the toxins, and I was dismayed... I had dressed up, looking forward to going out, and hoping to feel like a million bucks.

Instead I left, feeling more like two cents worth....

I had to process that.  And tell myself some truth.  And I did not get sick.

As well-intentioned as she might have been, her "words" were devastating to me.

I was reminded again, (and this was a very good lesson for me) how the words we speak are powerful and can impact others.

I recall in recent months someone coming up to me and telling me how tired I looked.

Immediately, I felt tired.  And started to evaluate how I really felt....

On a brighter note, there are so many who are encouragers.  I received a beautiful note today, thanking me for something I had done.  I was touched by the fact they would take time to write me, a relative stranger, and bless me with their words.

The words "I love you" or "I appreciate you" are precious words, and when I hear them my heart is blessed!  And I hope I bless others with encouraging words that bring life and lift the spirit.

I think about this, as I visit many who are sick and discouraged.  My words can be powerful, for good or bad.  When one is sick or depressed, it is challenging to look one's best.

But one can always find truthful positive things to say... like admiring one's smile, or cheerful attitude, or something about the room that is cheery.

Our whole physical demeanor can change when we are fed positive information.  It can feed those positive hormones like serotonin that help us to be calm and peaceful.

As I thought about this further, I was reminded about the awkwardness of words after a bereavement.  I have experienced this first hand, and have talked to many people who have experienced awkward conversation or even worse... no conversation at all.  "I know exactly how you feel" is one response that is NOT helpful to one who is in great pain or grief.  "They are in a better place", while it may be true, is very painful to hear.

Others don't know what to say, and avoid the griever all together.  As one who has heard these painful stories, I want to encourage people to not be afraid to have those conversations.  One can always be honest and say "I don't understand your pain, but I want you to know I care."

Words do matter.  The old saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." is a lie.  We all have a choice of how we receive what we are told - acknowledging that there might be very good intentions, and to receive words with grace.  I was reminded that I often have to sift through what I am hearing, and ask, is this true?  Do I receive it?

So a challenging experience for me really turned out to be a good thing.  I'm taking better care of my feet, for one!  :-)

I am also reminded to use the filter of love when I speak.  Is it thoughtful?  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary? Will it lift up or bring down?

I like that thought.  To live life through a filter of love.  Good words...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Everyday Joy

Everyday Joy

Joy was the word I chose for 2017. Now 39 days in, it is something I'm choosing to practice, everyday.

Melancholy was a word once used to describe my personality, I'd rather go with thoughtful and sensitive!

I've long admired those sanguine types, whose happy countenance seems to spread joy wherever they tread.

And I know that having an Eeyore type personality while wishing to be Winnie the Poo is not productive!

No, joy comes from a deep acceptance of how God has wired me, with plenty of grace for those who are different.

So how to practice joy, in the everyday?

My girlfriend inspired me to start a joy journal, and each day I write down three moments of joy. I also write down joy quotes from what I've been reading.

Which sets me on a joy quest every day!!

Yesterday the joy was lovely, for we spied a hummingbird fluttering just outside the patio of the home where we are holidaying. And then it settled into the tiniest nest I'd ever seen!!

I recognized that the hummingbird bird had been there all along, and us here a week!  But I had not noticed. It spoke to me again of the presence of God, our Creator, always present. But am I attentive enough to notice, to be aware?

I also came across this verse from an ancient prophet, Habakkuk, this week, about joy. The word that stood out to me was "YET". No matter what the day holds, I can choose joy, and look for those joy moments.

"Yet I will be joyful in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Saviour". -Habakkuk 3:18

Saturday, February 4, 2017

On being a woman, thoughts from the Heart ❤️

I've been watching.

I've been listening and reading and observing.

I have felt great sadness and I know I'm not alone.

As I watched women march, and men march with them in solidarity, all over the world, I thought about why they were marching. I knew that my beliefs and convictions would not line up with some of them, particularly the more militant.

But I am learning to use my voice. And if women would not have spoken out over the last century, we would not have a vote. We would not have had the opportunities to work and serve along side men.

Not every one is a leader, however I have known I am, and others have affirmed this, for many years. Coming from a culture where women didn't lead, particularly in the church, I found other ways to use my gifts.

Then came my own awakening, if you will, and an amazing spiritual journey where I first had to become broken; to see my own humanity, my faults and weaknesses. It was only in accepting myself as I was and embracing all that I was, seeing myself through the loving eyes of God, could I begin to truly follow my calling.

It would be easier to be silent. I know that my words must be motivated by love.

But as I see the oppression, and the falsehoods, masked as truth, as I see the protectionism of keeping things that are not truly ours, I want to cry out with passion.

Back to the women's march. Some I know, believe this was a march against the pro-life movement.   For some who marched this might have been true.

But I believe the majority marched for dignity of women, women who don't want to be degraded. We have reacted to the words of one who bullies, who calls down, who makes fun of. Someone who shows no respect for women, for the refugee, for those who might think differently. At least THAT is what disturbed me greatly.

Oh I am very pro-life. But that being said, I want to be pro ALL of life, to care for those who are disadvantaged, for the poor, for the refugee. To listen to the stories of those who struggle. To be compassionate. And I believe with all of my heart that this is biblical, following the example and teaching of Jesus.

It is not easy to be a woman in leadership.  Never in my dreams did I envision doing what I do.  And I do it with a feminine voice. I don't need to be a man. And my male friends and colleagues support me and challenge me and encourage me.

The days leading up to my ordination were peppered with my own self-doubt.  But the word I believe God impressed upon my heart was YES!  Yes to the Creator I love, the One who wired me, who called me to have a voice.  And the day came with joy-overflowing.

 It also came with a real sense of commission, there is work to be done.

I've often thought of the words of Queen Esther in the Old Testament. Now there was a woman of courage who lived in a repressive patriarchal culture.  She too was called, and her response was that she had been created for times like these.... and she became the catalyst to save her Jewish people.

I've often thought, this is the world I have been born into, the time God has allowed me and you to be part of history. How will we live our lives?

I believe we are all called, and as I feel urged to put down words, and even share them, (which scares me at times), I want to be true to that calling, to the God I love.

Part of that calling is to live thoughtfully, listening to and respecting others around us. It is to live prayerfully, asking for wisdom and discernment, listening to the voice of the One who loves us. It is to live a life of love, also seeking justice and mercy for those who do not have a voice.

May God help us all!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Night Watch

It is overrated

At least I tell that
To my tired body
When my mind refuses
to shut down.

Oh, I've tried all the
Chamomile tea
hot milk
essential oils
I have an arsenal!

I know I'm not
I've heard the stories

But in the dark hours of
The night
It's just me
And my thoughts

Night sounds
Drift through
I hear traffic
The distant howl
Of the coyotes
And the quiet
of the wind.

I play games
In my mind
Working through
The alphabet
Finding words of gratitude

And then I think
What a better time to

I pray for those
In hospital
Those in pain
physical or mental

I pray for the helpers
working through
night hours
Nurses, paramedics
And others who take care of our world
In the night.

I pray for those who rise early
Truck drivers
Newspaper carriers
Those we take for granted
In our daily rhythms

I pray for my grand babies
And imagine them
Heavy in sleep
Curled up in their little beds
And pray for their parents
Who wake with them
At moments
(Too many I often hear!)
Through the night...

I give thanks for my warm bed
My slumbering husband
My safe house

And often
I find myself
Awake from sleep
I did it!
Grateful another day
has begun.

"I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, 
and in the night watches he instructs my heart. "
Psalm 16:6

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Living in a Divisive and Polarized World

Often when I am troubled, I need to listen.  I need to ask the question, why am I troubled?  These thoughts have come pouring out of me today and I pray they will encourage others.

I have been deeply saddened by the divisiveness and polarization of the world we live in. There is a lot of anger, fear mongering, and some of it (in my opinion) is very justified.

Deep divides are in our neighboring country, the United States (or not so united?), and this has spilled into our Canadian world and the whole world.  We cannot say we are not affected.  Not only does this divide occur on a global level, but it affects communities, and even families.

I realize we are deeply affected by what we see on a daily basis, and what we read.  Our news feeds are filled with opinions, and often we only read or absorb things that match up with our point of view.  We live in a biased world, and rarely do we have all the facts.

There are many things that divide.  I read an interesting dialogue this morning on vaccinations.  Now there is a hot topic, and people (rightly so) feel very strongly about it.

When I read letters to the editor in our local newspaper, there is a lot of discussion about traffic lights in certain places and crosswalks in others.  And people are passionate about sharing their viewpoints.

There are a few things I hate.  There, I said it.

When it comes to this subject of divisiveness, the two that come to the top of the list are these:

I hate bullying.  Please note I did NOT say I hate the bully.  But I do hate bullying, and have a strong urge to stand up for those who are bullied.

I hate arrogance.  The stance that I am right, and will not listen to your point of view or listen to your story.  This is so very wrong, in my opinion.

Oh yes, I can have an opinion.  And I shared an opinion just last week on this blog, something I felt strongly about.  But when I think about whom I follow,  a Jesus follower, I see Christ as someone who cared for the marginalized, who SAT with them, who listened to their stories.

I often encourage those I counsel, (myself included) to pray this simple prayer:  "God please show me Your truth.  Not my truth, not the other's truth, nor the truth that is biased through my own lens or interpretation, but God's truth."  I believe when we truly ask God for wisdom, without our bias, God will show us the way.

There are some things I believe are important, and I pray I can live my life within these standards:

Can I truly live my life with the lens of love?  How do I measure my actions and motivations and speech?  Is it measured with love?  Jesus spoke so clearly of this when he spoke of the greatest commandments.. the first is loving God, and the 2nd loving my neighbour as myself.  Who is my neighbour?

We have become a global community.  We are all interconnected through television, through the internet.  This is a large neighbourhood.  Can I truly love others as Jesus asked me to?  Without judging them first?

Can I be kind?  I often get teased that my favorite "mom" saying was "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"  Probably some double negatives in there, but you get the drift.  I don't know when I've seen so much unkindness, as in recent months.  Perhaps that is the product of social media.  I'm all for free speech and having an opinion, but how do I share that?  Can I be kind?

Can I listen?  Truly listen?  Listen without judgement, without a "I can fix you" attitude?  Week after week I meet people who long to be listened to.  Sometimes I meet people who have left faith or Christianity or church because they were not able to ask the questions, to tell their stories, to truly be heard.  This breaks my heart.  Can we be compassionate servants who truly listen?

I'm tired of sides, or polarization.  And perhaps there is no getting around it.  But I feel called to be someone who calls for peace, for moderation, for truly listening to one another.  I think of that favourite scripture of mine which I have quoted often from Romans 12:18:  "If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceable with all men."    

And when it comes to peace, let it begin with me.  And I pray we can join in that prayer, as we live in this broken world.  Prayer for wisdom to become peacemakers, to love those who need it most.

thanks for listening.  <3 Grace

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A "Good" Bye

You know the saying where there are two sure things in life:  death and taxes?

Well, I would like to add to that list.

I'd like to add the word: Change.  It is constant!  There seems to be lots of change!  And with some change comes loss, and sometimes we have to say "good-bye".

Now I have never cared for "good-bye", it seems rather final.  I've always opted for "see you later!".  But the truth is that things are not always the same when "see you later" comes, because life is not stagnant, but always moving; ever changing.

I looked up "bye" in the dictionary today, and one definition actually speaks of transition.  I liked that.  So how can I approach these transitions and changes and create goodness?  A "good" bye?

This past week the United States of America swore in a new president.  Many are uneasy with this change in government and governing style, and how it will affect our world.

Personally, I feel a lot of concern, but what has struck me about recent weeks is the class and style that the out-going President and his wife displayed.  They lived with grace and diplomacy as they said a difficult "good" bye, and helped to make the transition easier.  I respected that.

In our own church community we are facing our own "good" bye, with our pastor retiring; he and his wife, my dear friend, saying goodbye to our church family.  This is not an easy change.  They face a new way of living, different responsibilities, and they will be missed.

No, change is hard!  And I was thinking,  how do we send them off well... with a "good" bye?  A so-long that is affirming, thankful, and also prepares our church community for the changes to come.

Part of the work I do is being present to people and their families for those last good-byes on earth.  You might have heard of the phrase "a good death".  There is merit in that phrase, for I have met courageous people who face their death with dignity and have prepared themselves for what is to come.

There are no set rules, only some certainties.  Can I walk through life, choosing to face whatever changes come with a sense of thankfulness, creating "good" byes?

There is another certainty that I cling to.  I have become confident of this; that I have a God who loves me, who is with me through every transition and change in my life, who has promised never to leave me.

So death and taxes.... and change - are all part of our reality.  The best part is that we can have the assurance that it will all be well in the end!

Until next time!
<3 Grace

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On the Subject of Healing - an Opinion Piece

There are times when I am compelled to write.

This is one of those times, and I am fully aware that not all might agree with my opinion.  I will respect that.

I speak from the point of a wounded healer.  I have experienced deep grief in my life, and some of my life story has been made more difficult by those who would convince me that physical healing is to be claimed.

I have prayed often for healing for myself, for various ailments, and found that God has helped me, but not always healed me.

How I have wrestled with this!  But I only tell my story.  When my first husband was dying there were a number of people who believed he would be healed.  They prayed that way, even to the point of putting time limits on it... he would be healed in three days.

Another wanted to take him to a Benny Hinn crusade, believing God would touch him,  My husband was in no condition to travel.  And we responded with the fact we knew, that God could heal anywhere, anytime, and didn't need to go to a healing service to receive God's help.

This was highly confusing for us.  Of course we wanted healing!!  He was only 41.  And it was a source of stress and even guilt when we questioned what was happening to us.  In the end, we had to put ourselves into the loving arms of God and trust Him for the future.

Years later, as I processed what had happened, I came to believe strongly in the sovereignty of God, that I can trust God with the whole picture of my life, and the timeline I and my loved ones have been given.

Do I believe in healing?  Yes.
Do I believe we all will be healed, or if we pray the right way we will be healed?  No.

We cannot control God.  Period.  Stuff happens.  To all, irregardless of faith.  We live in a messed up world, in a contaminated world.  Jesus himself said, "In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world."  Is that a reason to say I claim this right now?  I don't think so...

This is a touchy subject with me.  Again when my mom fell ill, and was in hospice, very ready to go to heaven, there were some that wanted to claim her healing.  And it troubled her.
And it happened again with another close family member... to the point where those closest to him were deeply affected and even hurt.

The bottom line is that when people claim healing or force that kind of thinking... even if they are very kind and want the best for you... it becomes a kind of spiritual abuse.

I have seen this kind of thinking in my work as a hospital chaplain.   There are those who simply can't face their death, those who will claim healing right to the end.  And when it doesn't happen, their families are often devastated. There is hope, and then there is false hope.

Ultimately we all will die.  And I believe God is sovereign.

As I accompany dear folks through their last days on earth, I want to share with them a loving, caring God who is with us to the end, and stays with us through that journey of death to ultimate life.  There is assurance in the wonderful presence of a loving God, and we can rest in that.

And there are times where there will be healing.  And I do pray for that, as I feel led to.  But mostly I pray that God would be present, and that there would be comfort in resting in God's love, knowing we can trust Him.

I was triggered this week... triggered by those who would influence, and misguide the vulnerable.  To me it is false teaching and false hope.  Because ultimately we all need the best kind of healing of all, healing for our souls, and the knowledge that with God, we can fully trust any outcome.