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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Berry Delicious Saturday

When I named my blog "Journey of Hope, Faith and Love", I really didn't have a food blog in mind, but it seems to creep in now and then.

  I was analyzing that fact, and came to the conclusion that so much of life is connected!  Food is such a creative process, and a gift from the Creator.  When I think of the vast varieties of fruits and vegetables and grains, it really is mind-boggling.  I love food (probably far too much); there is such creativity and beauty; food for the eyes as well as the palette, and the smells can bring us places we haven't been a long time.

  I was thinking about that the other day after I made Summer Borscht, a soup of my childhood, filled with sorrel, dill and potatoes, and the smell that filled the house, and the taste that made me feel like was ten years old again, envisioning my grandma's house and the meals we shared together there.  My mom has faithfully grown sorrel all these years, and now gave me some of this hardy perennial herb and the story will go on...

  But today it was a day for strawberries.  There is nothing quite like the fresh strawberries that grow locally, or in your own back yard.  You have to grab on to these days, for they are here so briefly.  We were talking to the farmer today, where we visited, and heard his frustration with all the rain, and lack of pickers, and the challenges of farming.  And we felt for him.

  But there they were, large, luscious berries, just freshly picked, and we bought a whole flat to freeze for winter months.  And of course we saved this bowl-full for eating.  I wonder how long it will last...

Years ago, I wrote a column called "Thots for Moms", for the Hope Standard, and one summer I ran a recipe contest where we gathered recipes of fruits or vegetables in season and featured the winning recipe each week.  It was a delightful project!

  I am tempted to replicate that event - although I might just share tried and true recipes throughout the summer using the wonderful produce of the Okanagan and our back yard.  We are so blessed to live here and to have access to such bounty.

  As for strawberries, I really don't have favourite recipes.  This time of year, I love to make parfaits.  The new Greek Yogurts, many of them come with 0% fat are beautiful to work with, rich and creamy.  I layer berries and yogurt and granola for breakfast.. or dessert!  Another idea I tried recently was to blend together tofu and yogurt with fruit, and layer that blend into a parfait glass... quite yummy, and healthy!  I tried adding cream cheese to the blend another night, and that was good too!  The combinations with fruit and yogurt can be endless..

My next project will be to purchase popscicle molds and find a recipe for yogurt and fruit blend to freeze in them - should be a good  treat for my little grandsons, and I'm thinking, we might enjoy one too.

  But for now... those strawberries in the fridge look pretty good... we'll see if they last long enough to make it into a recipe!  So good, just as they are.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weeds

  The wet rains of late spring and early summer have produced an abundant crop of weeds!

  I have weeds everywhere... they are in my grass in the form of clover and quack-grass and dandelions, in the decorative rock that covers much of our property, they have sprung up in every crack on the sidewalk and have invaded my garden.  They are prolific and determined and as fast as I pick them they reappear.  They are just determined to be part of my landscape!

  Some weeds are beautiful - even beneficial!  I wrote about dandelions in an earlier post and their new resurgence to popularity for wine and medicinal uses, and as always they will make the endearing choice for little ones to their mommys and grandmas.  Even herbs can act like weeds.  I was inspecting my peony bush which was struggling and found out it had been choked by a mint plant that had somehow found it's way into my patch.  Not by my invitation!

  When we recently vacationed on Galliano Island (a lovely little adventure, I might add), I was taken back by the beauty of yellow bushes everywhere, some gathered in fields to make a lovely sea of yellow and green.  I asked our host about this plant, and her reply was "that weed!"  It seems this plant was not native to the islands and was taking over wherever, crowding out other plants.  So the beauty I saw was not shared by the islanders!

(Picture:  a deer helps to cull the yellow bushes of Galliano Island)

  I actually love a hodge-podge of plants in my garden.  Rarely are the neat rows you see, lovingly grown by others.  My boxes are filled with all sorts of vegetables and the dill that seeded now grows everywhere - almost a weed itself!  The nasturtiums are tangled with the zucchini and the peas co-mingle with the squash.  A tomato seed that lost it's way finds new life in growing among my beans.  It is welcome to stay...

  I was thinking about the loveliness of some weeds and how that applied to my life.  Facebook for instance... I love Facebook for it connects me to my friends, my children; it keeps me in the know.  But negative concerns about this social media keep cropping up in the news at least once a week.  Much more personally, I find it can "choke" my time, if I let it take over... so like all the other weeds in my life, I'm thinking about thinning it out a little...

  Of course face-book is just one weed.  It reminds me again to maintain my priorities; to focus on what is important; to put things in perspective and in their rightful place.  And to not get too uptight - some weeds are meant to be enjoyed, others pulled.  Life is just like that...the good, the bad, the tangled, all co-mingling to the mosaic we call life.

 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Rainy Summer's Day

  As I write this it is POURING.  The heavens are opened, a deluge pouring down and washing everything.

  It is a concern for those in flood areas.  I've been thinking of them today.  We ourselves have experienced two floods in our home (although not from rain), and I know from experience how much damage water can cause and the stress of working with insurance and restoration to clean up a home.  Not FUN!!

  It seems ironic that this morning we were outside, having breakfast with friends, and I had to shield myself from the warmth of the sun.  It was lovely.  We then went on a hike, and were back in the car just as the first drops of the day descended.

  Weather is certainly the topic of the day.  Our wet spring, the constant rain, the Okanagan is green!  Unusual for this time of year.  The kale and lettuce and spinach in my garden are thriving; the watermelon looks decidedly unhappy, and the eggplant is near death.  Some plants just need sunshine, and lots of it.

  This deluge of rainy weather reminded me of our own "perfect storm", as my cardiologist so aptly put it... the spring a year ago when both my parents were so ill, and then I joined them for my own medical adventure.  Sometimes we wondered... what was next?  I talked to a gal just recently in the midst of a similar "storm".  Health crisis in the family, major challenges, one thing after another; and everyone is utterly exhausted.  You begin to brace yourself for what is around the corner..

  The question often raised at times like that is "Where is God?"  His seeming absence can be the felt emotion.  I see it often in my work in the hospital.  Trusting God in the dark can be a leap of faith.
  I was talking to someone just yesterday about that very thing.  That in my own darkness I experienced the deepest life lessons, and God WAS faithful.  But I didn't always feel it at the time.

  Life can be full of challenges, sorrows.. and joy!  Another friend shared with me today the difficulty of caring for a chronically ill parent, the day in and day out needs of someone you love.  It is not an easy task.  And in the midst she is celebrating what I would call "hallelujah" moments in the lives of her children!  The range of emotion from frustration and exhaustion to sheer joy - it is all part of the fabric of life.

  We need the sun, we need the rain... too much of each can do harm.  A time for joy, a time for tears calls the old prophet in Ecclesiastes.. so as I hear the rain, I want to look outside and find that rainbow; to embrace all there is, because nothing is wasted with God.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Enough

  It was one of those mornings - I knew I had a busy morning ahead at the hospital, where I serve as chaplain, and I felt, well, inadequate.  Do you ever wonder, "What in the world am I doing?"..... and really, I know what I'm doing, and I love what I've doing, and I am so blessed by what I'm doing... but those niggly thoughts of self-doubt creep in, now and then.

  Why would I even share this in a blog?  Perhaps it is because I know I am human, and I am so encouraged when I read of others who also struggle...

My hubby and I were listening to the scripture yesterday on-line, and there was those words of Jesus, which said "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect".  (Matthew 5:48)  What does that mean?   I know I aspire to be like Jesus, but it is an unattainable goal.

  It struck me, this morning, as I was surrounded by wheelchairs in our monthly memorial service at the Extended Care of the hospital, and I sang with them, "Jesus Loves Me".  We sing this at every service.  Almost always, these dear folks, many of them who can't walk, many for whom speech is difficult, whose memory is faded, come alive when we sing "Jesus Loves Me".  It is a song of their childhood, wedged deep in their memories... and the words are so incredibly beautiful.  Jesus loves me.. this I KNOW!!!  I am weak, but He is strong!  It is something to grasp onto; simple words full of truth and conviction and meaning...

  The prayer came to me today, as I felt weak, and inadequate..

I am inadequate
  You offer an endless supply of resources
I am weak
  You are strong
I am human
  You are Divine.
I offer an earthly shell.
  You, the Divine
      stoop... to dwell in me.


  It was a busy morning... it was an amazing morning.  It is God, the Perfect, who chooses to use us, to dwell in us, to direct our paths.  I just need to pay attention; to open myself up to Him.

  And this, is always, enough.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The idealism and humanity of Fatherhood

   I had a conversation with my dad years ago about idealism and realism.  I think he saw the conflict in me, even then; and perhaps it was because he had wrestled with it himself.

  Idealism comes out shining on a day like today, and also Mother's Day. .  And it should!  It is good to be thankful, to share good memories, to honour the men in our lives who gave us life, who nourished us as children, who led by example.

  I also think of the many I know whose experience with their dads are so far from ideal.  Or those whose dads are gone.  Or perhaps even those whose dads have been absent... this day is tinged with the sadness of what might be wished for... but isn't.

  The reality is that all dads... all of us, are human.  Perhaps this comes to me as I have come face to face with my own humanity in new ways these last couple of years, embracing all of me... the parts that are good, the parts that need some work, and learning to love myself; flaws included.

  For those whose dad didn't match an ideal image, this day can be flawed.  Even our relationship with a God who longs for us to call Him Abba, Father, can be affected by our own experience with our earthly fathers.  God, the Father, is the true ideal, the Perfect, the Compassionate, the Tender-hearted, full of Love and Mercy.  But if we have been hurt, or wounded, we might not always see Him that way...

  Our Heavenly Father..a lofty ideal that none of us can measure up to.  And yet, many men aspire to do just that and we stand up and admire them.

  So in my gratefulness today, for the life I have been given, I want to honour my dad, for all he is, for who he represents, for the love he has shown to his family, and far beyond.  I am blessed, and I am grateful... thanks, Dad.  I am also blessed by a loving, caring husband who loves unconditionally, who embraces all of our children and grandchildren with love, and time, and care.

  Happy Father's Day to all.

 

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Light

  I love these longest days of the year - we are almost at the peak of light, and I want to hang on to every minute.  Even though we have had a very cold spring, it is still wonderful to have long evenings in the light - the world is a brighter space.

  I am quite greedy when it comes to light - I would be quite pleased if we had a calendar month full of Mays and Junes.  I just want it to last, I want to bask in it.

  I find it interesting that the opposite of light is darkness, and the opposite of heavy is light... the English language has so many meanings.  Does that equate darkness with heaviness?  And does light bring a lightness to our world as opposed to heaviness?  I would tend to think so...

Let me bask in the light,
Let the glow of the Sun
Permeate every part of me
It brings warmth and life

Let me bask in the Light
Let the glow of the Son
Permeate every part of me
He brings life.

Yes, He dispels the darkness.
And enters every season of my life
With light, with love, with life.



 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mesmerized by a kite

I spied it, suspended in the air, a few short blocks away, just a few short meters if one measured it by the flight of a bird.  It was the most graceful kite, hanging in the sky, with colorful tails weaving in the wind, and it clung to the sky, sometimes rising above the clouds that framed it from my vantage point.

  I watched it for a long time; nothing much changed except the gentle movement across the sky.  I could not see the line which tethered it, nor the ground from which it was held.  It was obscured by my landscape of houses and hills; the neighborhood in which I live.

  We went on a walk later, and still it hung in the sky and I followed it, but we never did find the source.  It was still there we we got home, and then other matters of the evening pressed and when I looked again, it was gone.

 I was mesmerized by it's beauty, by it's color in the sky.  I thought of those who want to fly and attach themselves to kites and the like; not my idea of fun, but still... doesn't everyone imagine what it really would be like to fly - free in the sky?

  But I was reminded that this kite, just like me, really wasn't so free - it was tethered to a source.  And if that source gave way, the kite would plummet, probably with rather damaging injuries.  So I can soar, in my imagination, in my spirit, but I am reminded that I am connected to a source.  A reliable source that "knows the ropes", so to speak, and has my best in mind!  Reminds me of "radical trust", an on-going lesson that is part of my life.

  So soon, you will find me in a toy store, picking out a kite for my very own - well, to share with my hubby and grandchildren.  And if you see a bright colored kite in the sky, it just may be us, watching the magic.





Friday, June 8, 2012

The Ultimate Graduation

When I wrote about the graduations I attended this past month on my last blog, the thought kept coming to me that there is an "ultimate graduation".  


  I know of several who have graduated this way, just recently.  Yesterday, my uncle Frank, who had the difficult disease ALS for ten years, was released from this life and went to his final graduation - to a life with no more pain and limitations!  I can only imagine his celebration.  Even so, his family here on earth will feel his absence keenly and we are saddened for them.


  We all have this graduation to look forward to.  Although most of us avoid thinking about it, much less looking forward to it.  My dear friend Dene, after surviving a car accident a few years ago, told me how disappointed she was to discover she was still alive!  She was one who looked forward with eager anticipation to a graduation to heaven, to a life free of pain.  And yet, she too was reluctant to leave her beloved family, and I continue to miss her wisdom and our weekly phone calls.  (She had her final graduation this past January).


  As I think about the "school of life", it is one of constant preparation, of learning, or moving from one phase of our life to another.  I thought today... "Am I a good student?"  Do I study well, with a mind open, full of curiosity, and wonder?


  I chatted with a patient this morning, full of despair.  He told me he could no longer believe in a God when life turned out the way it had.  He just couldn't see the point.  Just then, a quail ran by (we were outside the hospital, as I stood with him on his smoke break), and he said "Look at that amazing bird!"  I pondered the craziness of the amazing bird and the God who made it, and reminded this sad gentleman that God made him too.  There are no easy answers for such sadness, but knowing that there is a God so much bigger than we are is part of the picture, part of the mystery.  As we observe all of nature, it seems to sing of the Creator, how can we ignore such masterful Artist, the One who created us and declares He loves us?


  Being a student is not always easy.  Sometimes it means to grapple with the difficult questions.  If I have learned anything in these last two years of study, it is how much I really don't know.  How much is a mystery.  I have also learned in a deeper way than ever, God's amazing love that He lavishes on us, we just have to receive it!  


  I was reminded again too of the Apostle Paul's famous words as he grappled with longing for heaven, and yet attached to this place we know so well, the familiarity of Earth.  I love the way the paraphrase "The Message" translates his words:  "As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do.  If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose.  Hard choice!  The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful.  Some days I can think of nothing better.  But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here.  So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues... (from Philippians 1, The Message). 


  I have been forced in these last couple of years to think much more about death and dying.  (This comes with taking a Palliative Care course, and being privileged to sit with those who are dying).   It is not a popular subject, and yet it is so much a part of living!  All our lives are a preparation for this final graduation.  I am reminded again, to make each day count, to live well, to not waste the precious time I have been given.  To love well, to keep accounts short, to forgive, and to show mercy as I have been shown mercy.  For ultimately we want to hear those precious words from a Creator who loves us and knows us "Well done!".  And I believe, that will be the best graduation, ever.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Graduation and Commencement

  In the last two weeks I had the privilege of attending two graduations - one of them my own!  My Facebook friends and family have sent wonderful congratulations and I thank each one!  (I received a diploma for Spiritual Formation from Carey Theological College).

  It took me a long time to get there, and my journey is not over.  I graduated from high school in 1976, married the same year, and went on to the school of motherhood and life... over the years I took formalized school in bits and pieces... often related to counselling or writing or other interests, but had never "finished".  So to actually graduate with a diploma was quite lovely.  And it gave me an appetite for more!

  I've been thinking about the words... graduation and commencement.  I read recently (and can't remember where!), that really, graduation and commencement is all about beginnings.  Sure you have completed something (Hurray!), but it is the implementation to go on and put it into practice.  I love that old saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life".

  Life is a series of graduations, in my mind.  When I think of my little grandsons - they are constantly graduating to the next step!  Little E has shed his diapers and I was telling him what a big boy he is now, and he casually asked if that meant he would be driving soon?   I found that delightfully funny, but didn't want to squash his aspirations - he is already setting goals, and before we turn around, we will be watching him drive into our driveway showing off his wheels.  Life is like that...

  He is graduating from stage to stage, and the learning is constant.  It inspires me to keep learning, to keep curious, to look at life with wonder and delight.  Yes, I have learned much from my text books, from my wise professors, but I learn so much from those around me, including my beloved grandchildren.

  The second graduation I attended last Saturday, was a high school graduation, in Hope.  It brought back memories of my own son, who graduated there, and I proudly watched him give the valedictorian speech that year.  We were newly bereft that year; my husband Andy had died the previous September, and a number of years later, we were able to start the Andrew Lacoursiere Bursary fund, which for the last 15 years or so has benefited a high school graduate with a small bursary to go toward their college education.  It is a meaningful award, for us as a family, and it was a delight to be able to present it this year.

  As I watched the youth and enthusiasm of these high school grads, I found myself wondering about their futures - their lives - how it all will turn out.  It is a good thing we don't know our futures.  We look forward with hope, as we graduate from one step to another, and we learn most often from the hardest lessons in life.  For the greatest lessons I have learned have had hard task masters:  grief, pain, suffering.

  Some of those lessons have been hope that is gleaned out of suffering, joy that is birthed out of overcoming, love that overcomes in all circumstances... and it is in hope that we look forward to all the possibilities, to new beginnings, to celebrating life itself.

  So on to commencement - to celebration!

 

 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Technology Bytes

  I love to hate technology.

  I can't live without it.  Or I think I cannot manage very well without it.  Or, I, like many others I know, are so connected through e-mails, and phones, and Facebook and chat and text messaging, that when we become disconnected, we become discombobulated.  

  We just returned home from a lovely get-away.  I love the ocean and it was wonderful to breathe in the sea air, to take in all sorts of beauty... floral and fauna and wildlife, and sea life and eagles and so many other things... I drank it all in, like a thirsty sponge.  I also brought along my I-phone, and my net-book... so I could stay connected, of course.

  On day four my computer died.  I tried not to let it get to me... after several vain attempts at resurrecting the thing, I just gave up... and my phone worked just fine..  The blog I had planned to write, stayed in my head, is still resting there somewhere I think.... and I took more time to just rest and enjoy, which really was what it was all about.

  We came home, and were greeted by beauty.  Flowers I had planted had burst into bloom, miracles really.  The garden was growing.  All was well, well, until I tried to turn on my main computer.  Deader than a door nail it was (i wonder about the origin of that saying)... so I had two dead computers, and work to do, and concerned about losing important work files and our best treasures - our pictures.

  This evening our friend was able to resurrect our computer... but when we went to put it back together, it failed again... along with the phone lines, the alarm system, and it felt like our technology was completely ruling us, because it directly affected my mood - not a happy camper!!!  I went to the garden to spend some time with the weeds, I thought I was better company for my plants.

  Crazy, isn't it?  I love how computers do connect us, and help us to make memories, and share thoughts, and keep track of our business, and how did we ever manage without?  Was life more simpler?  Sometimes I really think so.  Sometimes I feel burdened by technology, as addicted as I am to it.

  And when all was finally fixed tonight (thanks, M!!!), and the phone lines were working again as well as our alarm, we breathed a sigh of relief and carried on...  it makes me think though.  What IF the power went off for a week (I read a book about that once), how would we cope?  Do I let technology rule me, my moods, my life, or can I let it go and find creative alternatives when it doesn't work as it should...

  Here is a pic of the flowers that greeted us when we came home.  The daisies were wintered over in the garage and looked lifeless a few weeks ago - I really didn't think they would survive.  The clematis I planted in memory of my nephew Chris - and it is blooming abundantly.  So much to be thankful for, technology or not.