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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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quitting is not an Option - how do you label that?

Sometimes some honesty is in order.

Last week I said to my hubby... I think I'm going to quit.  I'm tired of writing and need a break.  Who reads this stuff anyway?  Definitely in a funk mood, I contemplated dropping the blog.

Until... the very next day I happened to meet someone in the hospital corridor...and she said, "by the way, I read your blog yesterday..." and with her encouraging words, and some heart-felt ponderings... I'm writing again this week.

I pondered even sharing this... and then I thought, we all need encouragement!  I am very grateful for those who take the time to encourage me, and I want to be an encourager to others!

And then there is the discipline... and if you are a writer, or artist, or a do-er, you know that anything worth doing takes discipline... the doing and practicing, and sometimes the result is wonderful and other times, you wonder!

I have a wonderful bookmark from a friend, now in heaven, that says, "Don't Quit"!  I thought about that again today... and really, quitting is not an option.  No sometimes our lives take a new direction or path, but every day we choose to live, to say yes to whatever God has called us to do.  And I truly believe God has called and gifted each one of us.

So in the midst of all this pondering, I was writing in the night.  This is quite hopeless, often, because trying to recall what you wrote in your mind in the wee hours of the night, mixed in with dreams, just doesn't quite translate to paper, (or computer)  even though it seemed rather full-proof at 3 in the morning!

I was thinking (and dreaming) about labels... how we are good at that... labeling each other, and defining what we do; who we are.  I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister... all labels.  Lovely ones...

There are some labels that are not so pretty... derogatory ones that are difficult to shake... I think of dear folk I know who are homeless, poor, marginalized.  And then there are others with illness... the diabetic, the cancer patient, the schizophrenic.

I was totally impressed some weeks ago when we were having lunch with a new group of friends, and the man seated with us told us that he was schizophrenic.  What struck me was there was no shame; it was just a fact, his reality.  And he was an over-comer, and we were blown away with his story, his courage, and his ability to live life, a life not always easy, but one filled with hope and hard work and determination.

Sometimes we are afraid of labels, and I've heard the warnings... don't label a person!  There can be stigma, disgrace, and loss of social status.  And yet, on the other side of the coin, I've seen the enormous benefits of someone properly being diagnosed... say with a mental illness, and it creates new awareness and a host of supports and resources that were not there before.

What I believe is critical is that we are not defined by whatever label comes to us. Oh, it is true, I am a woman... a lovely label... but that does not define all of whom I am or limit me.  The much larger picture, I believe, is that I am a person, a creation of God; a God who loves me... and believes in me!

And whatever labels we might put on ourselves, or feel others put on us are only part of the story.  I am not defined by my work (which I love), or my age (which is just a number!), or my disabilities (which stretch me and teach me).   No, I am Grace, loved by God, loved by many, and my life can be rich and full, even as it can be challenging at times.  This is true for all of us!

So no matter what label you feel you wear today, remember you are loved!  And when it comes to living well, no matter what you are called to do, quitting is not an option!  And I'm preaching to myself of course!





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hidden Things

It is Tuesday, post-Easter, in the Easter week.

As I look outside on this awesome spring day, things are rising!  The grass is green, the hills glow with life, and to my children's chagrin, I celebrated the arrival of dandelions this past weekend!

To be honest, I pluck them out, but God has purposes for dandelions... and I need to listen to that.  They brought much cheer to me, their sunny little faces sprouting with the warmth.

I started thinking today about hidden things... about the lessons of Easter time and spring.  Some years ago I drew about being hidden, and I found it again today:


We hid things on Good Friday for the children.  Treats, activities, chocolate of course.  :-)  And some fun balls I had made with balloons.  I was grateful for my daughter who hid them (and my other daughter for providing children to find them!) while I busied myself with dinner preparations... The hiding is fun, but the finding is delightful!  Precious grand-kids having a blast, creating memories.


Yesterday I did a different kind of hiding... tiny seeds: lettuce, radish, kale... all now hidden in the garden bed my friend and I prepared for them.... and we covered them.  And now we wait, for the miracle!

Good things come from hidden places.  And I think about what I hide in my heart... my hopes and my dreams, my longings.  

Sometimes it takes brokenness... and periods in dark places before we can see the light.  The seed is full of hope and life, and to me is a beautiful picture of how God prepares our hearts for things to come.  Sometimes the hard places are the places of greatest growth.

There is also beautiful places in the Psalms about God himself being our hiding place.  Psalm 32:7, a beautiful prayer says:  "You are my hiding place, You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance."  

And Psalm 27:5 says this:  "For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock."

At times our world doesn't feel very safe.  I love the images that we can run to God and hide... and with God there is safety, security and rest.  

I'm learning that to be there, I need to rest and trust... spending time with the Creator, in creation.  As I learn from the seeds, now hidden... and delight in dandelions, I can experience God's great love... love for each of us as we trust in our loving God to be our shelter and hiding place.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Relationship that Does Not Fail

Over the last seven weeks we've looked at a new word for every week of Lent.  I've thought a lot about these words... Invitation, Expectation, Contrition, Contemplation, Gratitude, Transformation, and today it culminates in Relationship!

Relationships are not always easy.  I see it every day in my work, in my world... and yet we long for relationship that is loving and kind.  I often have said that the best gift my husband has ever given me is the gift to be myself.  I flourish in that!  But that too, as in any relationship, has to be worked on.  There are the ebbs and flows, and the challenges that come our way... no relationship is exempt.

The  amazing thing to me... and I think of it often... is that the God who created the universe... more than we can think or imagine... from the farthest of the galaxies to the tiniest micro-organism... this Creator God desires to have relationship with you and me!



This comes back to the first word... Invitation!  We are invited into relationship with a Heavenly Father who loves us!  There is mystery to this... there are things we cannot grasp or understand... but there can also be a deep knowing... that we are loved deeply.  There is a verse that says God sings over us with love!  And Jesus has called us his friends!

This is the kind of relationship I long for, and delight in.


There are some other verses I love from Ephesians... talking about Christ dwelling in our hearts... so that we may be rooted in love.  In this spring-time, Easter time, I think of God's invitation to us. I send an invitation back in response... O Lord, I invite you and thank you for dwelling in my heart... may I be rooted in Your love.  Thank you for desiring a relationship with me!  

This is the heart of Easter... God, who in the form of His Son Jesus came to be one of us... to redeem us... that is what the cross is all about.  But Jesus didn't stay on the cross... Easter Sunday is coming!  Jesus was resurrected and provides us with the Holy Spirit to indwell us... to give us strength and courage and a purpose for living.

One of my favourite things in my work is to share with people that they are loved... and that God loves them deeply.  So we rejoice in the story of Easter, in the story of God reaching down to us, to dwell with us, so we can have relationship with our Creator!

You will note that in each of the word art pictures of the seven-part series, the T is drawn to resemble a cross... this was very symbolic for me in my devotions. 
 I have also created a little booklet with these art pieces about Lent... and it is available for a minimal cost if you are interested.  Just e-mail me at grace@gracewulff.com  Thank you for sharing these thoughts with me!!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Transformation!

I love this time of year.

I was convinced last week that one of my forsythia bushes had died over the winter; it was brown and brittle and lifeless.  Forsythia's remind me of my mother, she loved them and used them in her early spring bouquets.  And they are often the first bush to bloom in the spring.

So went I went out in the sunshine yesterday to do another inspection, I was thrilled to see the transformation... little bumps pushing out, promises of buds!  It has been so cold this year, and everything is late.  But in the dark and cold, life waited to burst forth... and soon I will see those beautiful yellow flowers!

When I was choosing words for this Lent season, it seemed so appropriate to include the word transformation.  Easter is about new life, renewal, hope of resurrection, and the celebration of the resurrected Lord.  But first there is the waiting, and sometimes groaning, and the learning, and the wondering... often in the dark.

I believe we can have seasons of transformation in our lives, as we learn and grow and move through cycles of our lives... I know that in my early fifties I experienced a deep transformation and renewal that was life-changing.  As I look back, this time was preceded by an intense time of brokenness, searching and surrender to the One who created me. There was a choosing to trust.

Life is never stagnant.  We are always faced with choices.  Responses to what is in our lives.  We can choose to react or respond... to grow, or to become stagnant.  

"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind", the apostle Paul says in Romans 12.  For me, transformation includes praying the prayer that never fails, "Your Will be Done.", knowing God loves us deeply.

As the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, do you think it is surprised by beauty, by freedom?  As we are transformed, renewed, there is new life!

I wrote this little poem this week as I pondered these things:

Today
is always
a new beginning.
 
Life doesn’t stand still.
Do I flow
with the movement
that is my life?
 
Allowing the Creator
to fill
   to renew
      to restore
           to gently lead
 
As I move forward...
   not alone!
      to the next step.

  <3 Grace

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Gift of Gratitude

Do you ever have the kind of day that your body and mind just want to shut down... and you wanted to escape it all?   I have a feeling I'm not alone, but that is how I felt today, weary to the bone, in spirit and my body too...

And the amusing thing was I was going to joyfully write about Gratitude!  For this was the next word on my list of words for the Lent season.

Days like this, we choose life, and take a lot of rest!  Cheerful friends encouraged me, and getting some care from the doctor helped too...and I thought about what I was grateful for on this pilgrimage of Lent, where I am posting these words, week by week.

Give thanks in ALL things... so the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians.  And truly, this has been a wonderful thing for me, each day, to write what I am thankful for, what brings me joy.

Lately, it has been the robin, faithful each morning, greeting the new day and heralding that spring is really, truly here.  Even if it is a little cold outside!

It has been a deep awareness of how much I am loved.... by the One who created me, and God watches over us. And how God loves each one of us.

I'm thankful for precious family, dear caring friends, a wonderful work environment, and the list is far too long for a blog on gratitude.

And yet, we can have difficult days, as I did today... and then a miracle happened.  I came home, weary and we had a late dinner.  And the phone rang... and this person who knew nothing of my circumstances, of my day, proceeded to tell me how God cared for what was going on my life... and He was providing me the strength to carry on.  How I needed those words of encouragement!

And I was overflowing with gratitude for God's provision through someone who listened to His voice and took the time to phone and encourage me.

Some years ago I was profoundly moved by a book by Ann Voscamp called One Thousand Gifts.  It is a book all about practicing gratitude every day, an awareness of all God has provided for us.  It is a wonderful read.  This past week I posted one of Ann's quotes, where she says: "Being joyful isn't what makes you grateful.  Being grateful is what makes you joyful".  There is truth in that, don't you think?

Week Four of the Lent Journey - all about gratitude!  Thank you for sharing these thoughts with me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Contemplative Life

Many of us express our faith journeys in different ways, as different as the personalities God gave us.  I believe those lines are blurring as we have conversations and learn to worship ecumenically... together!  I absolutely love gathering with different denominations, and although we might have different theological interpretations, we can rejoice about what we have in common!

Part of my own spiritual journey has to enter into more contemplative forms of worship, to be still, to listen to God, and this has enriched my life immensely!

For some, this might seem foreign, or different that what we are used to, but I remember our dear professor, a gentle man of God, telling us to lift our hands to God and open our hands, asking God to show us truth, and trusting God to filter what wasn't of Him away...

As I entered my first silent retreat, I was quite nervous.  I wasn't used to spending this much time alone, and in silence.  But as I did, a profound sense of peace came, and I sensed the God I loved was there.  "Be Still and Know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) has become so vital to me... for it is when I am still, and inviting God's presence, there is a knowing... often confirmed by scripture.

I love to sit with scripture this way... asking God what I need to learn, and often the words come alive as they speak to different areas of my life, often the very thing I need for that moment.  And I know I need to practice this more!

Part of the joy of my art doodles is playing with words, and often I feel led to different scriptures to understand a thought or theme.

As I have been walking through this season of lent, I asked God which words I should think about for each week.  This week is the word Contemplation.

Now you might have noticed that in the art work, I use a word with the letter t - which becomes a cross.  I believe the cross is central to my faith, to following Jesus.  The cross is central to the Easter story, the gift of Jesus' life, his death and resurrection.  

There is an interesting verse from 2 Corinthians 3:18 which talks about how we contemplate the Lord's glory, and part of following Jesus is being transformed into his image!  

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit".

The practice of Lent comes from those early days when Jesus was preparing for ministry, where he spent 40 days in the desert.  That is a long time.  And as he sat in silence, I think he had much time to contemplate and meditate on what God was preparing him for.  As we know, he was also tempted, and he overcame that temptation.  

"My Soul finds rest in God.", the Psalmist says... and that involves time.  Time away from the phone, the TV, the busyness of life... time to just ponder... this is part of the journey. And I'm trying to practice this through these days of preparation for Easter.

There is mystery to this.  And wonder.  That is part of faith.  To think about - contemplate - that God, through Jesus came so that we could have life.  






Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Joy of being Forgiven

This post, the third in the series of reflections on the Lent journey, is one I've thought about a lot.

The word that came to me for this week is Contrition.

As we enter into a life of following Christ, we become aware of our own need, of our own faults.  In the many visits I make and spiritual conversations I have, the words sin and repentance can often be a barrier to conversation.  Many have felt judged before they felt loved...and the truth of it is that often humans are very good at judging before they practice loving.

I believe it is God's realm to judge... we are called to share his love.  Part of this good news is sharing God's gift of forgiveness!  I liked a definition of sin I heard recently... it is all about the middle letter... I!  My own desires, my selfishness, and we know we are human and don't measure up.

One of the emphasis of Lent is to take a solemn look at ourselves, and come, as we are, to the one who loves and calls us.  He is full of forgiveness and healing!  I love the picture of a dad, receiving his penitent child, and celebrating restored relationship!  In the story of the Prodigal son, which Jesus told, he shares the tales of two sons... one who blew it all, and lived recklessly... and then came back, so sorry and wanting restored relationship.  And the dad received him with open arms!!

And then there is the other son... one which I've identified with at times in my life... self-righteous, working hard, felt he was doing it all correctly... and then angry when his dad showed forgiveness to his brother..

It was a turning point in my life when I could say, God, in my weakness, with my faults, I come to you... and joyfully receive forgiveness and love.   God loved me exactly as I was.  God is a God of mercy and compassion!

There is a cleansing when we confess our faults, a transparency and authenticity that I believe God desires, and also helps us in our relationships.  James said, Confess our sins to each other and pray for each other that you might be healed!"

Psalm 51 is a wonderful prayer to pray when we are entering into confession... this Psalm of David was a cry of repentance after he committed a grievous crime.  "Create in me a clean heart!" he cries, and God was faithful to restore their relationship, even calling David a man after his own heart.

In this journey of Lent, I am thankful for the gift of Christ, who came, who invites us into relationship, who offers forgiveness.  This is the gift of freedom, to trust in One who loves us so deeply, who has given us the gift of life.