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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The wonderful world of Books

I have an e-reader, which I enjoy, but there is something about getting lost between the pages of a good book, settling into the chair and becoming immersed in a story.

Some reading is necessary, some is monotonous, some inspiring, some is challenging, some is pure delight.

Although reading is solitary - and that kind of rest is good - I like to hear what others are reading and learning.

That was the case recently when a friend recommended a number of books and I dove right in.  I dusted off my library card and found a whole new world of treasures.

I've now read three books by Lisa Genova, the author of the famed "Still Alice", a novel about a woman diagnosed with dementia, and this book became a major film.  I have not read "Still Alice" yet, but found myself fascinated by her novel "Love Anthony" about a little boy who suffers from epilepsy and severe autism.  She steps right into the mind of this child, and you gain a whole new understanding of what it might be like to perceive the world when you are autistic.

Genova is a researcher who creates artistic expression with her words and stories and brings the real challenges of physical and emotional difficulties that people face, to life.  This has helped me to broaden my understanding of some of these challenges.  The latest book I read was "Inside the O'Briens", an amazing account of a family dealing with Huntington disease.  I also read her novel "Left Neglected", about one of the possible side-effects of brain injury.

These books and stories are better than any textbook in my opinion (although textbooks certainly have their place!)  They have given me new perspective to understand some of the people I meet in my work as a chaplain.

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague at work and we talked about how it is our personal experience and often suffering that have been our hardest and best teachers.  There are books which bring us into the lives of those facing challenges and these stories can  teach us in a way that textbooks cannot.

Another novel I just read is by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn, "Healing Waters" which addresses the deep problem many women have with self worth and body image.  This book also addressed those difficult questions about suffering, and why does God allow it?  As I read through the pages, I was drawn into the struggle; it was a good and challenging book which kept me from any housework for a number of days!!

I must admit I love a good novel.  I dislike fluff and pre-fabbed happy endings.  Life isn't like that.  I want a book to challenge and inspire me, to stretch me into thought and imagination.

True stories and biographies are high on my list as well. 

And I love the ancient words of the Psalms, of Isaiah, the poetry of the Bible.  And the scriptures are full of wonderful stories of real people.  I recently spoke on the story of the Red Sea, and again it was a book that helped me to understand this story even better.  If you need encouragement, I recommend "The Red Sea Rules" by Robert J. Morgan, the subtitle is "10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times". 

What would we do without words, without language?  I think of the imagination of our Creator - and it is said we are made in God's image - and we have minds to think, and tongues to speak. These are gifts to us.  There is power in this, and also danger if we misuse it.

So, if you are inspired to read, happy reading!   And please share your favourite reads that you have discovered recently.  Here's to inspiration!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Facebook is very good about reminding us about anniversaries if you check in regularly.

I'm trying to curb my FB appetite, but some days I am thankful for the reminders.

For instance, today my son posted a very sweet picture of myself and baby Andrew, taken and posted five years ago.  I love this picture!  We had travelled a long way to meet this new little grandson, and it was a delight. 

Mixed in with the memories of that week five years ago, was a phone-call we received while in South Carolina, that my mother had been hospitalized and was being transferred to hospice.  We were so torn! 

We were celebrating new life, but also feeling that we should be home, present with my mom.  I remember the FaceTime chat with her that week where she told us fiercely (as only my mother could) that we were to stay and enjoy our time. She promised, and I don't know how she could, but she did... that she would be around when we returned.

And she was... for three more precious months as we all prepared for her home-going.  My dad reminded us for those days this week.  He is meticulous in keeping a diary, and has records going back to when he was eighteen!  He e-mailed us this week telling us he was re-reading that diary of five years ago, those bitter-sweet moments we shared as a family.  It is in those moments indeed we recognize the fragility of life, the preciousness of family. 

As I am present to many others who are in the midst of saying good-bye on this earth, these memories stay with me, the lessons we learned still help me to understand, to be empathetic, to practice compassion.

Just this morning another memory came up, one that always stirs my heart quite literally... it is seven years ago TODAY that I entered into the hospital with weird symptoms... to find out I was having a significant heart attack.  I remember well thinking that it wasn't good timing, and perhaps they were wrong? 

The incredible part of that week seven years ago was that my dad was also in ICU, with severe complications after surgery, and for a few days, we were in the same ward.  Crazy memories.  Recently he turned 87, and we are grateful for his return to health!

I don't take my health for granted.  Every day is a precious gift, and I pray often that God would guard my heart and teach me how to live wisely with the body I have. 

Every day a blessing, and so many opportunities to love, to share, to make a difference.
  It is good to look back and remember,
       good to celebrate today,
            good to plant the seeds of hope for tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

God cares about the little things

I've been spending time with the wonderful story of the Red Sea miracle told in the book of Exodus.  This is a miracle of epic proportions.  In fact I'll be speaking on this story this coming week, if you are in the Vernon area, part of our Lent Eccumenical series.  (Wednesday, 2 pm, at 1st Baptist Church).

It is a story which puts us in awe of what God can do.  To think God can part the Red Sea to make a way of escape, gives us faith that our Creator can also provide for us.

But what struck me last week as I moved about the hospital in my work as a chaplain, was how God cares about the little things.

I've been doing this long enough to recognize God's hand in so many ways, leading my steps.

Last Wednesday was a busy day, and I got there early... and there was a beautiful young women in the lobby, who I've had the opportunity to visit many times.  She was waiting for a ride.  Our conversation was meaningful, her diagnosis not an easy one to bear.  I saw it as a "God-appointment".  During that interlude, before I ever got to my office, I met two other people I knew... and was so glad we could have conversation.

Earlier in the week, I had been given the gift of little pockets made from greeting cards, much like the Christmas Card stockings we make every year.  But these were for everyday, and lovingly stitched.  And I wondered... how would I use them?

I looked in my filing cabinet, and spied two lip balms I had not given out at Christmas time.  Yes, they fit into the little pockets!  So I put them in my bag as I started my visitation.

The first visit was to a friend who had been in hospital for a week... and I said, I have something for you!  I gave her the little gift... and to my amazement, it was exactly what she needed!  She had asked her husband to bring one, and he had forgotten... and before we carried on our conversation, she applied it, grateful.

And we were both amazed by God's provision... it was a little thing, and yet I believe with all my heart that God cared about her need in the midst of what she was going through.

I also became aware of another women who was in hospital that day, one I have visited often.  I happened to know she loved a certain Disney character, and in the midst of her life challenges, this brought her joy.  I wasn't thinking about that though, on this busy morning, but happened to go to my storage area where I keep all kinds of materials, and prayer shawls and quilts.

There on the counter was a quilt... one I had neglected to put away days before.  The quilt had a disney character on it... and I realized at that moment... it was exactly what this woman loved.

I knew then I was to bring it to her, and I marvelled how God would put it in my path at that moment, because I was certainly not thinking about it, or even intending to bring her a quilt.

We talked together, she and I, about how God cares for the little things... and I believe that our Creator cares so deeply that there are reminders... beautiful reminders that God IS with us... even in suffering.

We are not alone.

These stories encourage me greatly and I pray they will encourage you as well.  The God who flung the stars in place, who created our beautiful world... the God who created a pathway through a sea to rescue the people of Israel - this God also cares deeply for you and me.  How awesome is that?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Flexibility and Expectations

I decided to bake this morning.  I had some unexpected free time, and I plunged in, smashing bananas, measuring and sifting flour...

It wasn't the greatest idea.

If I had a twitter account (I don't) it would look like this:  #bakingfail #forgotmyMennoniteroots #wasteofgood ingredients

I used to bake a lot.  I baked for my children, I baked for their friends, I baked for ambulance attendants (when my husband worked as a paramedic), I even baked for the school lunch program. 

But life changes.... I no longer have white flour in my house, nor do I have white sugar... healthy choices have created purges...

My hubby sometimes says... why can't eating healthy taste good?  I think my children echo that at times... so I keep on trying... 

Last week I wrote about planning... prayerfully.

We all have just so many resources, and the energy part seems to dwindle as one ages.  So there are choices to be made.  How do I spend my time?  Can I be flexible... even with my expectations?  I might have been super-mom way back then, I have different priorities now.  I'm not sure baking should be one of them...:-)

Years ago, when I was starting a job at a busy church, a wise woman came to me on my first day with some encouragement.  I'll never forget what she said to me.  She told me the interruptions were to be embraced, they often were the most important work of all. 

I thought of this last week when I was at work, and I loosely plan my mornings, with time for hospital visits which are always high priority, and time for paperwork and other connections.  I never did see the patient I had noted on my pad... instead I found myself having a meaningful conversation with a staff person that was not scheduled... but felt so important.  I was guided by another staff person to someone who was dying, and those were precious moments as I entered into their life story.  I had to enter into what I call "God-appointments".  They are the best of all!

A long time ago, when I was a foster mom... in those "super-mom" days, a older friend said to me... "you are like an elastic!"  I stared at her, not comprehending.  She laughed and said I was stretching, adjusting my life to include other children...as well as take care of my own.  We were an emergency home for foster care for almost seven years, taking in over 100 children on a short-term basis.  I loved it.

Back to now... It is easy to become rigid with my time, or hard on myself with expectations. My mind is full of good ideas, my body doesn't always keep up!   It is a good question to ask... can I be flexible, and adjust well to life's changes? 

Part of this... and this really hits home... is accepting changes that come with aging.  I don't have as much energy as I used to.  Can I balance that fact with a commitment to take care of myself, to exercise, to eat well, to rest? 

Perhaps part of that will be to find a healthy bakery...or just eat more fruit and vegetables.   And to be thankful for all my blessings!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Scheduling as a Spiritual Practice

Last fall I went to one of my spiritual advisors asking for help.

I had struggled with a chronic cough - and I know many have struggled with viruses this winter - and was weary and overwhelmed.  I thought I should be doing better! 

One of the most helpful things she said to me that day was to map out my schedule in a prayerful way, and I can't begin to say how much this has been a useful exercise.

I started out in my little journal drawing a map of the whole month and writing everything down.... and when I did, it really didn't seem so bad!  From the jumble in my head to a plan on paper was freeing indeed.

I also became more intentional about asking God for wisdom in my planning and what I should put on those pages.  What was necessary?  What could I say no to?  Did I plan for self-care and time with my hubby and family? 

Last week I had to put this into practice as I wanted to participate in a study of great interest to me.  I also wanted to participate in a Eccumenical Lent series I was excited about.  As I processed this, I felt that I could only do one... and I had to choose.  When I did, I felt released.  One can't do it all! 

I greatly admire (and am secretly jealous of) people with endless energy and high metabolisms.  I work with limited physical resources... and I think we all do to some extent.  Especially as we get older... ahem.

So part of my week now, often on Sunday afternoons is planning for the week ahead.  It means reviewing my schedule, and I send this to my wonderful prayer partner who prays for me!  I plan my menu, and somehow knowing what we will eat gives me freedom to enter the week feeling prepared and restful.  A crockpot chicken dish on Monday can become a stir fry on Tuesday and soup on Wednesday... it helps me to manage my resources and be lest wasteful... another goal of mine!

I also need to create "empty" spaces... which allow for rest, creating art, reading and just "being".  These are "energy" blocks which fuel the work I love to do.

Yesterday I had some fun creating a weekly calendar plan which could be printed on a regular size sheet of paper, and even laminated for continual use.  If you would like a jpg. of this, you can send your request to grace@gracewulff.com and I will send it.

On this calendar there is space for the every day appointments, but also places to reflect spiritually, to think of others, to create, and spend time with family. 

There is a new buzz phrase, to live intentionally.  I have a device which measures my steps and it helps me to be very intentional about moving!  More importantly, I want to be intentional about prayer, about being aware of God's presence and strength to help me through each day.

I also want to think of others... can I drop an encouraging card in the mail, or phone someone who is lonely?  Even if I do this three times a week, it is a practice of giving that encourages those who might need it most.

I love the prayer from Psalm 19:  "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You!"  I try to pray this daily...

Yesterday at a group I lead, we talked about breath prayers... and even setting reminders to stop and pray through the day as we breathe deeply of God's love, of God's presence.  When we slow down, we are strengthened. 

Perhaps scheduling well is already a part of your life, I would love to hear what is helpful for you.

May we live our days with wisdom, for each one is a gift.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Connecting with Love

Two important dates collide tomorrow, that is if you celebrate them.

It is the beginning of Lent, and there is amusement in some circles that this is a difficulty for those who love chocolate but have chosen to abstain for 40 days.

I have grown to appreciate the season of Lent; and like Advent, it is one of solemn reflection and spiritual preparation.  Last year I posted every week on a reflection for Lent, and those seven reflections are now available in a little booklet for those interested.(just e-mail me at grace@gracewulff.com)

It is also the season of Love, and Valentines dominate the marketing theme of any store you will walk into.  It is a great day for restaurants, florists, chocolatiers, and card-makers.

It has always been a fun day for me, since I enjoy seasonal things, and making cards is a lovely pastime.

I've been thinking about Love this week, and doodled this famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter in the Bible. 

We use the word love loosely, I noticed as I reread this that I talked about loving chocolate.  And yes, it is one of my favourite food-groups, especially if it is the good-quality kind.(happy thoughts!)

Love is often related to romantic love, and yes, this should be celebrated... every day.  I am grateful for my marriage, and a wonderful husband.

But I am too aware that this is a gift not everyone experiences, for I work with the widowed, the lonely, and many other single people... some by choice.  Being single is a growing statistic, some saying it is as high as 48 per cent.  That is half of us!

While some might be content with living alone, and are comfortable with solitude, others experience deep loneliness.  Even governments are recognizing the downsides of loneliness, recently I saw a news report that Great Britain had created a government position to address the lonely, because it was linked to health concerns. 

I also read recently that one of the best factors to a long life is having healthy connections with others. Connection is a powerful word, and a I believe it is a longing in all of us.  We long to be connected to our families in meaningful ways, and good friendships are precious.

Connection takes work, I think... it means reaching out, even when we are lonely.  It means making that phone call, not waiting for the phone to ring.  It means joining a group, showing up, and for some, their church family becomes that meaningful connection.  There are groups of all kinds, senior's centers, art centers, sports opportunities and support groups.  There are places to volunteer and get involved.

Knowing that God loves me, that the Creator desires meaningingful connection with us fills me with gratitude.  I also recognize that we all need at times connections "with skin on".  Meaningful touch, a hug, can change how we feel. 

Lately we approach touch with so much caution, we hear in the news all about inappropriate touch, and how it is affecting peoples lives as they come forward and tell their stories.  This is a travesty.

It is also a travesty when we stop connecting in meaningful ways, with hugs and gentle touch. 

It is wonderful to know that we are loved... unconditionally, just as we are.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In all honesty, Vegas has never been a destination of choice. But we found ourselves headed there this past weekend to celebrate a special birthday, and it was a wonderful celebration. 

We had one day to explore the “strip”, about ten minute walk from our hotel. We did a lot of walking! In afterthought I wished we had a guide, for I was sorry we missed the beautiful gardens at the Bellagio, and I’m sure there were other places of interest. 

The fountains there, set to music, were lovely. We also explored the mile long mall, all indoors, but covered with a sky coloured dome, we felt we were outdoors in Europe. It was fun to eat there, in an “outdoor” patio. 

My friends who know me well seemed concerned (or not!) that I would be drawn into the life of gambling, but I am not that easily departed from my money!

I am an observer of life and this was an interesting place to watch. A lot to take in. It was loud. It was bright.  And at times it was lewd. This comes from a girl who loves quiet and serenity.  

My heart went out to the poor, and we saw several sleeping in corners, in the light of day. I wondered about their stories. 

There was lots of traffic, people walking, six lanes of vehicles. That evening, a truck with a trailer bearing large banners added to the noise, telling people to repent. A big cross was on the back. Messages saying this is wrong, that is wrong, were written boldly on its side, and loudspeakers telling their message added to the noise of the city. 

I found myself ashamed and and dismayed,  I, who identify with Christ, could not identify or condone this kind of judgement. It seems to me that Jesus would approach things somewhat differently... he would listen to people’s stories, he would meet the real inner needs of longing. 

We all have longings, and the bright attractions of Vegas can be a fun escape for those who enjoy it. We heard lots of laughter. 

Two words came to us in my observations... my hubby and I talked about the word excess... and it seemed to fit. Living excessively seems to be Vegas style, for many who visit there. 

Another more positive word was connection, and that was the real reason we came. We met relatives of my hubby’s family we had never met before, we shared stories, we celebrated 80 years of life for Ron who has overcome many difficulties in living with diabetes for 57 of those years.  He is an overcomer and lives life positively, even with daily physical challenges. This is an inspiration. 

One of the biggest lessons I have been learning in the last few years is to live a life with a heart open, to live with compassion. When I am out of my comfort zone, this doesn’t always come easily, but it is good to be reminded of that. When I gazed into the sky, I saw the beautiful moon, light from our Creator. I love the verses that speak of Gods Presence wherever we go, and yes, I experienced this, thankful for the blessings of life, even in Vegas!