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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.
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Possibilities

   In 2010, I decided to focus on gratitude.  I shared the quote on Facebook:  "A heart of gratitude is the doorway into God's presence".  

  Since then I've often thought of those words and how they inspired me that year, and do still... focusing on a theme or word can be a powerful thing.  I was sitting in church this morning feeling encouraged and inspired, as I thought about the new year, and all the possibilities.

  "Possibilities!"  What a good word to focus on!  I had actually shared this word with a young patient recently in my rounds as a chaplain.  Sometimes I feel I wander around the hospital with platters of hope in a hope-hungry world.  What a privilege!  This young patient is an over-comer, and needed to get beyond the confines of her illness and see the possibilities.

  Today I decided to give that gift to myself.  Or to anyone else who is looking for encouragement.  It is easy to get stuck in the struggles of life.  I have had a number of things weigh me down this last season, and it is easy to become weary and focus on the worry...

  I read a funny editorial in our local paper, The Morning Star, this week about 2013 - there was no looking forward here... just a satirical look at what could go wrong in a year with 13 in it.  It made me smile.

  But rather than worry for what could go wrong, can I choose to look forward with anticipation to all that is good... to all that can be?  The possibilities are endless if I let my mind go.  For me it is art projects and cleaning out of cupboards and simplifying... it is anticipating the joy of the little people in my life - my grandchildren, and the great anticipation of two more...it is spending time with people I love, making memories, relishing conversations, making the most of each moment.

  It is spending more time in God's creation and the wonder of growing things... and perhaps some travel and exploration thrown in.

  And I let my mind go way fast-forward and dream of dancing at my grandchildren's weddings.  Perhaps I should start practicing now?  A dance lesson or two wouldn't hurt...

  Possibilities start with hope, and are energized by dreams.  It is good to dream, to be inspired, to plan for all that could be.  God is a God of possibilities and hope..."Jesus himself said: "Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." -Matthew 19:26

  A new year helps us to move forward, to look forward to all there is.  We can learn from our past, but also set aside the things that drag us down.  I loved listening to this poem, read to us this morning in our church by Alfred Tennyson... ring in the new, he cries... a new year full of possibilities.

A New Year's Poem

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Friday, December 21, 2012

I'll Be Home for Christmas

   You hear it played in the malls, over the airwaves, on the Christmas CD... "I'll be home for Christmas!"  For years, I couldn't sing that song without sadness... we all long to be with our loved ones at Christmas time. It is the ideal, the stuff of Christmas movies and Christmas cards...

  The year all our five children came home with assorted spouses and loved ones, I was so excited!  It was the first time in our married life they had all gathered under one roof, and I went crazy with preparations.  I believe I hung 17 stockings that year and planned and shopped and was full of joyful anticipation.  I'm thinking I'm not unlike most mothers out there... we love our children, and we love to be with them...

  Today I had a very joyful moment when I heard my son was "home" for Christmas.  No, he is not in Canada, and I miss him and his wife... but he had been abroad, far away from the home he has in the southern states, and when I heard he had arrived safely from the Middle East, I heaved a contented sigh... knowing he was safe, and happy to be with his wife... and soon to be first child!!

  There is a melancholy that can come with the holidays... it triggers memories and longings.  For some - and I know many, this will be a first Christmas without their loved one.  I think of saying good-bye this year to Dene and Gerda and I miss them still.  A dear friend lost her husband this year, and there is an empty chair at their family gatherings.  Home for Christmas?  Not on earth this year.

  But I often think of Dene (and we talked often), and I know she longed for her heavenly home.  She would say she is "home" for Christmas this year... but I also ache for the family who miss her, who miss her presence, her wisdom, her joy of life.

  Years ago, just months after I was widowed, in November, I happened to be in a mall and I heard the song.."I'll be home for Christmas..."  I choked up, I panicked, I ran...the words were just too painful at that point of my life.  The reality was that I would experience my first Christmas as a widow, my children without a father, and that was just plain hard.  Yes, we survived... and I worked hard to make that Christmas as gentle and peaceful and loving as possible.

  So this year, as we also remember those who grieve... and there are many... give them an extra hug.  Make the phone call, send an e-mail, invite them for dinner...

  And we also have the comfort to know of those for whom heaven is a reality this year, they have truly gone "home" for Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Peace on Earth?

   My day started off with a little accident yesterday... a very little accident.  I had just fixed my bowl of porridge with cinnamon and apples and honey, and it was sitting on the counter.  I went into the cupboard above it, and crash, down plunked a large spice jar, right into the porridge.  What a mess... but salvageable.   I actually imagined those big white roly-poly  men on that paper towel commercial and wondered if they were going to appear to clean up after me, but I did the job myself... and ate what was left of my porridge.

  If only life were so simple.....
 
  I had been pondering that little event, and how life does not go smoothly... and how do we find peace in the midst of it all...

  And then, I, with so many others, were deluged yesterday, December 14, with messages on Facebook of the unspeakable tragedy, of senseless murder of innocent children, the perpetrator scarcely an adult himself.  Social media has its good points.  It seemed that as the news spread, there was an uprising of prayer and uniting of  kindred spirits who joined hearts to pray, to send their support emotionally, to rise up against such incredible evil.

  My heart cried for them all... for the families who lost, for the families whose children were spared, but part of such horror, for the teachers who must have felt so helpless, and for the family of the young man who went on this rampage.  Why seems to be the question of the day... why, why, why?

  I work with sadness.  I hear lots of questions.  Most of which will never hit the media as did yesterday's tragic events.  And days like yesterday, tears wash over any traces of joy... and you really wonder about peace on earth.

  And yet, the angels promised... didn't they?  I keep thinking back to that first Christmas... and in spite of all the promises, life was not so simple.  Jesus and his parents fled Bethlehem for their lives - and King Herod went on a murderous rampage of innocent children.  Oh, how I hear the mothers crying for their children.  Oh Lord, have mercy!!

  As I dig deep for answers, for comfort, for peace, the only answer I seem to get is that there is a bigger picture. That God loves us, and weeps with us.  That He can give me peace in my heart, even in the messiness of life.  And sometimes it is really ok to ask why, to weep with those who weep, to embrace those who hurt.

  Peace on Earth?  Perhaps it is more about peace in my heart.  Peace that we can share and pass on and strive for, peace that battles the darkness, that reigns over injustice, peace that frees the oppressed, and overcomes the oppressor.  Perhaps it isn't the idyllic picture of snow and Christmas lights and everyone getting along... no, it is more of an action word, an intention to live peaceably in a broken world.  An everyday word that goes beyond Christmas and December but for every day of our lives.
 

 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Love with Skin On

   The other day I hugged my oldest grandson who is 3 - and he hugged me back... tightly!  "This is a really tight hug, Grandma", he told me, and I agreed.  And we both said how much we like tight hugs.... so sweet.

  There is nothing like the embrace of someone you love dearly.  Just this week we listened to a Christmas story at a party we attended, where a little grandchild sought to find the perfect gift for her beloved grandpa.  "All I need is love", he kept telling her... and on Christmas Day after he had joyfully received her precious gift, he enveloped her in a big hug... and they both had to agree... the best gifts are wrapped in love, often wrapped with a hug.  It doesn't cost anything.  And it can be shared...

  This morning I felt compelled to bring two quilts to the hospital where I work as the chaplain.  These lovely hand-made quilts were created by friends of mine, and given to me to hand out when I felt the need arose.  So this morning, as I entered into work I prayed that I would find the right recipients... there was an older gentleman who has been there a long time, and I thought of him.  He is hard to understand and I don't know his story.  So it seemed fitting... just as I was walking in, I met him going out for some fresh air.  My timing, or God's??    I asked him if he would like a quilt, and it seemed the answer was yes... I wrapped him in it, tucked in the edges into his wheelchair and I said "Merry Christmas!!  Made with love for you! He seemed so pleased, and I thought... how blessed am I to have such a moment.

  The second quilt was easy to give away... also to someone who has stayed at the hospital many many weeks.  This patient and I have been thinking of words to give strength to our days... a few weeks ago it was believe, then courage, and last week we talked about trust, radical trust.  "Today, your word is comfort,"  I said, and here is a comforter to wrap yourself in love!  It is so beautiful to see light come into people's eyes when they know they are loved, are cared for and thought of... so I thank those who help me provide such tangible gifts of love... a very real reminder of God's love and comfort.

  As we contemplate the first Christmas, I also thought of how the birth of Jesus was also a tangible gift of love... love with skin on.  No, it wasn't just God loves you from the sky, but it was a personal God becoming man like us...love that is real, that belongs to our history, our present and our future.  Of course, on this 12th day of the 12th month of 2012, we don't always "feel" God... and I know that sometimes He seems distant.

  And yet... we have these reminders of His love for us.  And today, I was so excited to be part of those reminders... to be love with skin on... to wrap someone in a quilt, to say God wants to wrap you in his love.  Just like a big tight hug.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joy to my World - a Christmas Gift

  As we near the end of the first week of advent, I've been pondering the gifts of Christmas:  hope, joy, love, peace... all gifts we long for in an imperfect world.  A couple of blogs ago I wrote of beauty as an antidote for suffering, and it came to me that there is more than one antidote..

  Yesterday our house was filled with joy.  It was Grandpa and Grandma day, and my hubby was able to be home to share in the joy.  Our littlest grandson, who is almost 19 months amused and entertained us, first with his guitar playing and singing (you had to be here), and then we brought out the Christmas tree...

  He was soooo excited!  Following his grandpa everywhere he "helped".  We played peekaboo between the branches, and he had great fun with the wrapping for a while... trying to decorate the tree with it, wrapping his stuffie with it, draping himself with it... it kept him entertained for quite a while.

  What a gift laughter is.  It is truly an antidote to pain, to the heaviness of life. There have been many studies of laughter... and joy having therapeutic benefits to our health, and healing. Of course this isn't new... King Solomon wrote about it saying: "A happy heart is like a good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing."   (Proverbs 17:22).  

  But it is a good reminder... to receive this gift of joy, to see it in the simple things... to seek it out and practice it in the everyday.  We were talking together the other day at the Art Center where I hang out, about how often children laugh... and it is often, and how we lose this gift as adults.  So today, I choose to rekindle joy, to practice laughter, to smile more often.  A lovely gift, indeed, and priceless.  


Two of my favourite men... my hubby and youngest grand-baby... who bring joy to my life.