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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.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Looking Up

It was one of those beautiful fall Saturdays, the sun shone blue, and many of the leaves on the trees hanging on, colouring the world around us.  

There are always many things calling my name, including garden clean up and laundry, but my hubby thought we shouldn't waste the beauty and suggested a ride in the country.  He is often right about things like that!  

So we went, enjoying the country side, pumpkin patches, trees in various stages of colour and loss, enjoying our conversation, and taking pictures.  We even took a little walk in our local cemetery where my mother is buried.  It is spectacular this time of year with huge trees towering over the grounds.

I've been thinking about beauty today, this gift of the Creator.

This, in the midst of weariness, for if you look for it, there is also heartache around.  I, for one, am election weary, and sense that many are stressed about many things happening in our world.

For many, that is the least of their worries, as they struggle through health challenges, deep grief and the troubles of life.

The seasons, and particularly the trees are good teachers on life.

My ponderings today:

The world is beautiful
This late in October day
And coloured trees dot my landscape

If I look down
rotting leaves abound
covering streets and allies
some mushed brown
sunk back into the earth.

I can choose where to look.

Can I turn off the screen
Shut off the noise
And drink in the beauty?

Can I look up into a canopy of leaves
drink in the beauty of the sky
take in ever-changing scenery
all around me?

At least it deserves equal time
really, much more
for it feeds a 
weary soul.  

This is the renewable
History marches by

but beauty remains
and the promise of
new seasons
springs hope within the heart.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Election Weariness

This is the year of the US Election.  In case you had not noticed.  :-)

Not particularly a topic I wanted to write on, however it has been very much on my mind.

On many minds, I think, judging from my Facebook feed, and the constant news updates we see on every channel.

We might be Canadian, but we are very affected by this US election.

I'm not going to spout my opinion or add more feed to tired minds, yet after we watched CNN yesterday for a bit, I could keep quiet no longer.

We first watched Trump give a speech in Florida, and then tuned in to hear Michelle Obama give her stirring speech.  We listened to Hillary Clinton as well.  I was especially surprised on how these speeches impacted deep emotions in me, and at one point I was moved to tears.

I think we in the North feel somewhat helpless, like we are watching a Soap Opera on the World stage gone terribly wrong.  And yesterday I felt violated as a woman, and wondered how many felt the same way...

Are we really helpless, I wondered?  And as I've been pondering about it all this week, some things came to mind....

As a Christ-follower, I often think.... how do I live?  I know Christ encouraged us to pray for our leaders, our governments... so I am compelled again to pray, to pray for wisdom, for discernment, for those making decisions in the countries in which we live, wisdom for those who vote.

Christ also called us to LOVE.  It is the part of the greatest commandment.  One of the aspects that appalls me is how divisive this US election is... Christians turning against Christians, and I sometimes wonder... where is the respect, the honour, the love that we should be known by?

We are also called to care for all:  the poor, the sick, the foreigner....  With Christ there is no respecter of persons.  We are all loved equally.  How do I live my life where I stand up for those who are bullied?  Is there a right time to speak out, to champion values that care for those who feel trampled on?

That being said, I believe we are also called to Peace.  Peace seems unattainable some days, but I love that verse in scripture which says: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)

No, I was not going to write on this topic. My thoughts are few.  I am weary of it all.   But there needs to be voices that call for love, for justice, for peace, for compassion.  As much as we are able.  And I will continue to pray... for those who lead here in Canada, and for our neighbours in the USA and all over the world.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Giving Thanks - and missing those we love

Another Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, and as we were walking today, we noted it felt like Thanksgiving today... the air crisp, the hills alive with colour, the lake muted and chilled in the distance.

We just had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend together with my extended family here in Vernon.  One of the most poignant moments was gathering at the graveside of my mother, who has been gone just over three years.

How I miss her at times like these, because she was the ultimate hostess, and knew how to prepare for a family gathering.  She was a true matriarch, and the empty space at the table was felt.  We also missed my nephew Chris, and others who have gone before us, including my first husband, and the memories of grandparents and other loved ones linger at times like these.

Grief was fresh this past week, as we gathered with my Uncle John to honour and remember his sweet wife, and grieve with their children.   I was also impacted by another loss this week, a sweet mother who I had the privilege of knowing, slipped away to heaven just before Thanksgiving.

Life is brief, and fragile, and it is these times of gathering that the missing can feel even more intense, even as the memories are often sweet.

I couldn't sleep one night this week, with these thoughts on my mind, and I wrote this especially for those grief is new and deep.

Her Presence

The walls echo loneliness
Dense with memories
Her presence
So vital
Filled these spaces.

Living in the void
Yes, living
Can be the hardest
Task of all.

She coloured her world
with grace
The fabric of all
she left behind
is a constant reminder
she was here.

And the space
she filled
so empty

Yet filled with
gifts she shared
Great love
courage, spunk
faithfulness and faith

in a tomorrow
where we will be
Once again.

<3 Grace. 2016

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Comforting Words from Psalm 23 - 3 P's to remember

Recently I had the privilege to lead three memorial services in one week.

Two were in the community, and one was a memorial service for residents at a care facility attached to the hospital where I work as a chaplain.

I've long been drawn to Psalm 23 as a source of comfort in these times.  It is often used at memorials, often printed on memorial cards.

The words are life-giving, familiar, and comforting.  I also read them often at bedsides, and the familiar words ring with comfort to those who are dying, to the families who love them.

As I prepared for these services, two words came to mind, and so I spoke of them.

The first was the word PROVISION, which is quite appropriate as we enter into this week of thanksgiving in Canada.  We are thankful for God's provision.  The verses are clear... we shall not want, for we are provided for.

We are led by quiet waters, there is a place for rest, there is refreshment for our souls, we are guided.  There is a table prepared for us, even in the presence of enemies.  This speaks of provision through all of life... the peaceful times, and the challenging.

The second word that came to me was PRESENCE.  The verse I cling to is verse four, where the psalmist says: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

I never cease to be in awe that the Creator is like a Shepherd, and he wants my company!  He is present with us.  This is comfort.  And as sheep need a shepherd, God wants to fill that need.  In a shepherd's world, the rod and staff are tools of protection and guidance.

Which brings me to a third word, which I have to credit my Uncle John with.  He is in my heart this week, because his beloved wife, our Aunt Lenora has gone to heaven after a very short battle with cancer.  We grieve with him and their family!

He and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about this Psalm.  He is a pastor, and had preached a sermon on Psalm 23 the day before we talked.  And he shared with me a P word I had not thought of... it is PROTECTION.

For those in the midst of grief, this could be a conundrum.  And yet, I believe it to be true.  We are not promised a world without trouble or pain.  Jesus himself said "In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world."  

Knowing we are loved deeply by the One who created us, who carries us as we allow it, who is Presence in this life, this is protection from evil as we also prepare for the life to come.  We who are tethered to this earth can scarcely imagine it, but when a loved one slips away we think about heaven.

We think about being free from pain, of deep joy, of sweet communion with our loved ones.  We think about God, and some envision God as a loving Heavenly Father, calling us home.  Or Jesus as the tender Shepherd, carrying us.

So, three simple words:  Provision, Protection and Presence.  This has brought me much comfort in the last few weeks, and I believe has helped to bring comfort to those who grieve.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley 

of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me 

in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall 

follow me all the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kind Words

When I turned to Social Media yesterday, I was reminded that the Royals were visiting our beautiful province.  Our Province's capital city was in waiting for this monumental arrival, and crowds of dignitaries including our prime minister and premier were all on hand, as well as half of Victoria.

To be honest, I have always been fascinated by the Royals.  My mother followed the Queen, and had clippings of her visits to Canada.  My dad talks of a royal visit.  When my children were little I followed Princess Diana, and I think there is something in every girl that wants to know a real live princess.

So I had coffee books about her, and followed her wedding and the birth of her two little boys.  I felt the heartbreak when her life unraveled, and yet admired her compassionate heart.  It is a princess tale with a sad ending.  I see her courage and compassion in her two sons, especially William.

Most girls love a princess story...

I laugh at my little three year old granddaughter with a closet of princess dresses, she is our royalty for sure!  And when she twirls with her lovely smile, we are all smitten.

We can only imagine what it is to be born into that kind of living, and I actually felt for the young couple, William and Katherine yesterday as they got off the plane, every eye on them and their two adorable children, the same age as my grandchildren.  Where most normal people would be bedraggled and pooped, they were expected to look glamorous and the children behaved.  Although it was quite humorous that little Prince George refused to give our Prime Minister a high five.  A true three year old, I thought!  

And then off to speeches and formalities, and I admired how they took time for people... genuinely listening, asking questions.

What I found appalling as I watched all of this was the news feed on my screen... there was the welcoming remarks, but there were a number of people that were spewing unkindness and rather rude remarks. Negative, hateful, jeering remarks about the events of the day.  This is one side of social media I do not like.  Ever.

It is one thing to have an opinion, but another to publicly vent unkind words, often about things we don't fully understand.

It reminded me of words often preached to my children when they were little... "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all!!"  

Our pastor spoke on Proverbs this morning and on the power of words.  I loved the picture he used of a filter... if we are truly wise we will use a filter for our words.  Are our words pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy, impartial, sincere?  

I enjoy Facebook and other social media for the connection I feel with family and friends, and even what I can learn from the rest of the world.  But sometimes the meanness just gets to me...  and I have to remember, when there is a fly in the ointment... we notice the fly!!  

Still, it is good to make a choice to be kind.  To be positive.  To be peace-loving.  To be considerate and full of mercy.  To be impartial and sincere!  

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  "Proverbs 16:24

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I've returned to Mitford

In last week's blog, I talked about pain and poverty.

Sometimes, in a broken world, one has to take a step back and find some time for self-care and soul-care.  I have found myself in that place in the last weeks, even in the midst of a full schedule, back pain which has slowed me down more than I would like, and just the busyness of life as it comes...

This Sunday, a lovely day of rest, I find myself on a day between Memorial Services.  I was privileged to lead a memorial service and graveside for a family yesterday, for a gentleman I had met as a chaplain.

And tomorrow we will remember five more lives at a Memorial Service I hold for the Seniors Residence that is next to the hospital where I work.

It is always a sacred privilege to share in people's lives, to remember lives lived, and to comfort those who mourn.

It is good to rest in between.  Perhaps that is partly why I love going back to Mitford... because there I am in love with a Parish Priest named Father Tim... who is as human as I am, who loves his parishioners, who seeks God with all his heart.  Of course it is the fictional book series I am referring to, starting with "A Home in Mitford" written by the talented Jan Karon.

This is the third time I have "escaped" to Mitford, and I find as I read, I relax, I laugh, I feel at home, and I delight in the goings on of this little town with all it's wonderful characters.

Reading has always been a great escape for me, and even though I value and have a read a variety of books: inspirational, challenging, devotional, and yes educational, I do delight in a wonderful novel that inspires me.  Some of my favourites include the Anne of Green Gables series, Great Expectations by Charles Dickons, and some of my other favourite authors include Angela Hunt and Lynn Austin.

Almost every room in our house has a bookshelf, all brimming with books.  Every once in a while I try to weed it out, but it often feels like I'm discarding old friends.  I do have a kindle I use... great on holidays... but there is truly something about sinking into a chair and turning the pages that I absolutely love.

So today, on this season changing day, with autumn hanging in the air, a pot of soup on the stove, my hubby's music playing in the background, you'll find me in Mitford.  It truly is a wonderful rest, something to enjoy regularly!

And I'd love to hear from you... what is your favourite book, or a favourite way to escape?

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Potpourri of Thoughts including Pain and Poverty

I don't like to write just for the sake of writing.  And I've been grateful I have not experienced a lot of writer's block.

But there are days when one just has to start writing, and get the juices flowing.  One of my "spiritual mentors", is Henri Nouwen and he talked of this very thing:

"Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say: 'I don't know what to write.  I have no thoughts worth writing down.'  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper (or computer!) and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.  One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see."  - Henri Nouwen

In fact, if you are interested in daily inspiration from Henri Nouwen, I'd encourage you to do so!
  Henri Nouwen Daily Meditation

This summer I have had an unwelcome teacher.  The teacher's name is PAIN, and we have not been on friendly terms.   But it has drawn me to a deeper life of prayer, of questioning, of seeking God for strength, and looking for wisdom as I daily help others... in pain.

I've come to the conclusion that while i wholeheartedly dislike my weaknesses, and desire to be strong... and I know I have written about this before... it is in the acceptance of our infirmities, our aging, of accepting what we cannot change, that we come to serenity.

I think this will be the cry to my generation... we are aging, and a lot of us are not doing it well.  I am at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, who have been blessed in many ways.  But we are also an entitled bunch, and have bought and taught the "God of Entitlement Theology" to our children.  

Health and Wealth have high value in our culture.  And even though I fight that in my spirit, I know I practice it, it is part what I know, it is how I have lived.

And I hear the young prophets like Shane Claibourne calling our names, calling us to embrace poverty of spirit, to speak up for justice, to live differently.  We need to turn from building empires and bank accounts to caring for others.

And as I see these words spilling out on the screen I say yes... that is true.  But it is so much easier to write it than to put it into practice.

Sometimes I think embracing my weakness, my fragility causes me to ask these hard questions.  To say, how do I live in a broken world, and how do I truly care for and encourage others whose lives are spinning out of control?  Perhaps that is a little over dramatic, but I do believe so many of us struggle with the achievement of perfection, of the happy life, of feeling wonderful, or having it all.

And if I am a truly a follower of Jesus... and I say I am... is that what life is truly about?  I think of Ghandi who lived in poverty to help others.  And Mother Teresa.  I'm a far cry from that kind of devotion.

When Jesus says to deny ourselves and follow Him... what did he mean?  Somehow I think my poverty of spirit includes weakness and total dependency on the God who created us. We are not in control.  We are not entitled.

With that I can be exceedingly grateful.  This weekend, I just soaked it in.  We spent some time lake-side, and I said to my hubby... I just want to drink it all in.  It was so beautiful.  He quipped that I would be more than sick if I drank the lake... and we had a good laugh.

But to drink in beauty.  It is an antidote to pain.  There is beauty everywhere.  It is free and abundant.  There is beauty in creation, and we live in paradise.  There is beauty in people around me, I see it in a smile, or in a child's laugh.  It brings hope... not in a perfect life, but in the provision of a Creator who cares deeply, knows deeply and loves deeply.  I can rest in that.