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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Making Peace with my "To Do" List..

  Ahhh... it feels good to sit down after a busy day.  Writing is therapy for me, a delight to sit here, and look out on my beautiful view of Davison Orchard and the surrounding countryside, to write, and I have an ice-cold glass of lime water going...

  I was thinking about my "to-do" list this morning... it was long.  This, after all is "my day off", a day I use each week to catch up with myself and all the things I have to do.  Trouble is, it is all the things I have to do that usually takes over...

  I had visions of a tidied garden, new plants, a clean house, fresh baking, tomato sauce made, and a big pot of chili, shopping, oh, yes, I forgot the laundry... there was a pile of that too.  In fact there still is - a pile of laundry.  I just didn't get to it...and there is still the bills to pay, and the office is a mess.  I think I'll just close the door...

  I can be ruled by my lists.  My urgency to put all things right in my world, to achieve, achieve, achieve... and it made me remember following the Benedictine way, which I did closely a couple of years ago for a class assignment.  Oh the Benedictines believe in hard work, but it is tempered.

  In their lifestyle, there is room for prayer, for quiet, for play, for rest... how often I forget those elements.  It was good to take a break this morning and talk about it with a dear friend.  Coffee at our local MacDonalds, outside, in the fresh air, enjoying each other's company.

  It was good.  Life is about friends, about family, about, well -  living!  It is not about a perfect house, or how much I accomplished, or whether all the laundry got done, or every weed is pulled in my garden.  I have to keep telling myself that.  Sometimes, it is just good to be, to sit quietly and reflect, to take time for a walk or just smell some flowers.

  I often tell myself it is good to count the things I did, not the things that did not get done... most of them can wait.  And to count the important things, like a conversation with a friend, or loved one, or a word of kindness, or even those kindnesses to myself like a refreshing nap. So I'm taking a deep breath... and just going to sit for a while...

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eagle Eyes

   The picture on my Facebook Timeline currently is a lovely scenic shot taken off of Galliano Island, where we vacationed this past May.  One of the things we enjoyed was watching the eagles fly back and forth to the little island right across from us.  Quite often an eagle would perch on a tree there and sit for hours.

  The day our daughter came to visit, I pointed this out to her, but alas the eagle did not make an appearance that day, and my daughter teased me, wondering if I was seeing things... so I posted the picture with the eagle on Facebook, but really, you need eagle eyes to see the bird!!  However it is there, I promise!

  This past weekend, we had so much fun visiting the Vancouver zoo with my three children and spouses and 2 grandsons and the animals put on a wonderful show.  We saw three eagles too... majestic, watching us warily from the protection of their cage, safe in their perch.  I felt sorry for them, not soaring up in the skies, but realized they were probably rescued birds, perhaps could not even fly anymore.

Eagles are special to our family - when my first husband Andy, my children's dad, was dying, his favourite verse of comfort were from the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah who says "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles..."  It was amazing how many cards we received at that time with that very verse in-scripted, and I spotted an eagle very close to us just hours after he died.

   I think of God's amazing care and love for us, that he can use majestic birds as these to remind us of his love and protection.  And it came to me too, this week, of God's eyes, amazing eyes that see all things.  They are eyes of compassion and love.

  Unlike an eagle, I often don't see things clearly... what would I do without my reading glasses???... I also am aware of the parallel... I often don't see life clearly either.  We don't see the whole picture.  In one of my favourite passages of scripture the apostle Paul says: "Now we see only a dim likeness of things.  It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror.  But someday we will see clearly.  We will see face to face.  What I know now is not complete.  But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely"  (NIRV)

  We live in a mystery - an incompleteness.  An awe of God and all He has created for us to enjoy.  But there is also a comfort in my unknowing, in my dim vision, that He is a God who sees, who loves, who cares.

   (you will need a magnifying glass to spot the eagle... but he is there, I promise! - off of Galliano Island, taken May 2012)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

She had a more important appointment.

  I had planned to get up there all week.  It was a busy week, with other appointments, interruptions, needs - and I didn't make it... until today.

  But it was too late.  Or was it?  She too had an appointment.  And it was far more important than mine.  An appointment that freed her from all her earthly cares, that lifted her out of the body that weighed her down, and set wings to her feet, and joy to her lips, and light to her eyes.

  It is never easy to say good-bye.  In fact I have a policy where I just don't say good-bye.  Too formal, too final.  No, rather I embrace "See you later!".  Years ago I read Elizabeth Marshall's book where she talks about the life with husband Peter Marshall, the great preacher in the beginning of the last century.  His last words to her on this earth were "See you in the morning!"... how sweet is that!

  Yes, there is that hope, that we see again, and are reunited with those we love.  And we only imagine their grand reunion with those who have gone on before... quite a party, I imagine!

  Reminds me of the song by David Guetta:
  "I can only imagine... what it will be like
  When I walk by Your side
  Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel
  Will I dance for You, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?...
  I can only imagine..."

It is hard to imagine, really...

  So, see you later, my friend!  I will imagine your heart filled with joy unspeakable, your mind with peace overflowing, and picture you dancing with the angels.  Peace, my friend, until we meet again.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Assumptions

   I do not like this word - assumptions.

   I see so much of life lived this way - my own, and in others.  What I assume about others, what I think they think about me, what I hear people think about others, what we even think about ourselves..

  What I said, what I meant, what someone heard - the same source, but with many different meanings.  Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the truth.

  I was misquoted recently, what I said was not interpreted as what I meant.  Is it a big deal?  Perhaps not.  I often think of the God I love, who looks at my heart.  He sees what is good and bad, and He loves me still... He knows my desires and my thoughts and my intentions.

  But it got me to thinking... how often we assume things about others, because of our own frame of reference, or because of something someone said, and really it is not the truth at all... when my hubby and I have conversations about life this often comes up.  Is this an assumption?  Is it based on truth?

  So often, we really don't know... and I think the best response is to remember the command Jesus gave - to love others as we love ourselves.  To truly love means to suspend my point of view, or even my understanding, to love graciously.  To listen and to be thoughtful, and to truly try to understand.

  This is a life-long lesson, I think.  But one I think about often.  To live my life with an open heart, with open hands, with listening ears, to love as Jesus loved.  Lofty goals.  Probably unattainable on earth.  But good to aspire to!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hope in a Jar

  Sometimes canning can be therapeutic.  I don't do a lot of it, but every year my Mennonite roots kick in and I feel compelled to preserve the bounty all around me.

  There is nothing like a jar of peaches in the dead of winter, reminding us of  warm August days.  Peaches are so flavorful and juicy... funny I was thinking yesterday of all the descriptive words we use - "she is such a peach", or wasn't that "peachy"!  Must be a sweet thing I think...!

  I have seen a lot of sadness lately.     To say it doesn't affect me is a lie.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in a place where often sadness gathers... and I think of when we too were in hospital with our own heartache and pain, and so thankful for the caregivers and visitors and those who cheered us on - who brought us hope.

  So as I slowly, peach by peach, peeled each one, this morning, and placed them in their jars, I thought about how it was like putting hope into tomorrow.  Saving some goodness for the future.  Something to look forward to!

  Sometimes, in the midst of life's tragedies, it helps to be acquainted with the mundane, to tackle the ordinary, to remind ourselves that life goes on... and yet I am mindful - always - of people who grieve in my community, in my world... of those who have huge challenges to overcome.

  Perhaps many of us are inundated with the sad news of the world - we hear it on the news daily, it is hard to escape it.  And I have to remind myself, that the majority is just fine, and the world keeps turning, and God keeps loving in the midst of it all.

  And He sends the goodness of peaches and many other things that remind us of the goodness of life - which for today, was preserved in a jar.  It's all about hope...

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pain

  Pain was on my mind today.

  I see a lot of pain.  Physical pain, emotional pain, mental and spiritual.  Pain colors your world.  It becomes hard to function.  I see it when I visit in the hospital.  But I see it many other places as well..

  I know this for myself.  I have experienced a lot of body pain since a fall earlier in the spring, and have been working to get a handle on it.  I've seen the doctor, been to physio, and am trying all kinds of new exercises to work it out...

  Sometimes I am thankful for pain.  It keeps me in touch.  I become more careful in taking care of the body God has given me, but more than that, it gives me emotional awareness to what others might be feeling.

  When I see someone who is depressed, or irritated, or even angry, or shut down, I am more in tune with the fact there may be reasons why.  At times we are so quick to judge.

  There are many who suffer with silent pain, with chronic pain.  They look well; they function at a certain level, but they are hurting.  And it is hard to talk about pain.  Certainly most people do not want pity, and don't want to come across as feeling sorry for themselves, or worse yet, a hypochondriac.

  Those in pain need dignity and understanding.  There are times when my heart aches for others  - and I long to take away their pain.  I have seen raw grief, and have felt physically the hurt - it is so deep.  One of the hard things of life is that there are things we simply can not fix.

  What we can offer is hope.  Hope and understanding, and care and compassion.  A listening ear.  We live in a broken world where there is hurting people.  I am glad the God I serve is the God of all comfort... although I've also learned to run to him with my honest feelings - which can include frustration and despair at times.

 I read part of Psalm 23 today with some of the patients I see:  "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil... for You are with Me".  That is what I hang on to, and pass on... God is with us, even in our pain.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Truth and Wisdom

  There are two things I often pray for.  That I would know truth, and know wisdom.  That I would live life reflecting these attributes.

  As I was thinking of this today, I realized I wanted more... the third thing I would pray for is love.  True love that is unconditional.

  All of these attributes, I believe, are unattainable at their perfect level here on earth...but are things we can pray for and desire, and hopefully live reflecting their pure qualities.

  I used to see truth as very black and white.  Certainly it is absolute, but I have seen how it can be abused... Truth can be seen as opinion, and interpretation, of living life as we have learned it and believe it should be.  It reminds me of a conversation... what she said, what I thought she said, what she really meant... where is the truth in that?

  When I read the scripture, the Holy pages; I sometimes get discouraged at the vast differences of opinion, and strong opinion about how they are interpreted.  There is the funny story that Tony Compolo tells of denominational differences, where he says, in regards to baptism, "they do it their way... but we do it "God's way""!!  (not a direct quote).  It seems many of us are convinced we do it "God's way"... really?????

  Are we not a product of our culture, of our upbringing, of the church where we hung our hat?  We think we have a corner on the truth, but do we really listen to what God is saying to us?  These have been hard questions for me..

  I've come to the place where I don't think we really know what God's way is at all.  His way is so above us, so vast, that can it really be understood?  The way He showed love to Nicodemus in John 3, and responded to the woman at the well of Samaria... touching people where they were at; very differently for each specific situation, not according to a formula...

  How do I respond to Jesus?  How can I learn from Him?  These are questions I ask.  Because the more I study, the more I realize I don't know anything at all...

  Perhaps to become wise is to become empty, and to ask God to fill the empty spaces of the heart.  I love that scripture where it encourages us to ask for wisdom, for He will give it!  But I am also reminded of the verses that tell us that every attribute is nothing without the gift of love.

  On the first day of my classes at Carey Theological, our gentle professor told us that we needed to find space to listen, even when what we heard might not always fit our theological box.  He cupped his hands, and we followed his lead, and then spread his fingers apart and showed us how we needed to sift through all we heard and learned.  Some of it we would hold in our hands, and the rest we would let go.

  It seemed so respectful, and I have often thought about that picture.  To listen, to have an open heart to what God is saying to me, and what I don't understand, I can let go with love.  Not judgement, but love.

  So today, again, I asked for the gifts of truth and wisdom...and love.  And I am grateful for all He is teaching me.