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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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Thursday, February 28, 2013

By the hair of my chinny chin chin

      What an odd topic to write on!  Usually I get an idea and it ferments in my mind until I simply must write it down... I'm not sure this will even make it to the publishing part.

  Because hairs on chins are not attractive. Well, maybe for men.  But definitely not what our society dictates to us women.  Yuck.  And they start sprouting in earnest in this latter half of life - determined and ever present.  I never thought I would be so attached to my tweezers, but there you go...

  This became more evident to me lately when one of my little ones pointed out one I'd missed.. "What's that, Grandma??"  Kids just say it as it is...

  But we also teach them what we believe to be acceptable or not.  Or perhaps it is the media bombarding into many of our homes?  What is it about hair anyway?  It can be our glory and when it thins or disappears we panic.  When it is attached where it belongs, on our heads it is beautiful... at least on a "good hair" day.  But if that hair should stray and fall on a piece of food, or in the tub, it all of a sudden becomes vile and disgusting...

  I write this in tongue and cheek.  I was amazed at myself the other day... I was in the middle of an intense week, and know many people with incredible challenges.  This is part of my work.  But here I am, at the dentist, for a routine cleaning, and they bring this little mirror to my face to examine a small cavity, (of all things), and all I see glaring at me in the bright lights and magnifying glass is the hair I missed plucking!!!

  I am blonde and fair, and these things are easy to miss...but what annoyed me more was how much this bothered me!  Am I so vain?  And really, in degrees of importance, does it really matter?

  No.  But I was reminded again how we are affected more than we know by what we view as societal demands on our behaviors, what we believe to be appropriate, often focusing on physical beauty.  And often we judge each other with that kind of measuring stick... which is sad.  Now I don't want to be gross (although perhaps this blog already is!!), but I became annoyed again with how we focus on the outward appearance and how I buy into that.

  And although I will continue to be friends with my tweezers and try to be presentable, how much more important is the inner beauty, that comes from the heart.  There are faces out there that are inviting, kind, loving - people with a "yes" face... and then there are others that are more closed, or sad, or even angry.

  Does my face say "Yes?"  Is it full of love?  Much more important than a few stray hairs!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How I Came to Live in Vernon

How I Came to Live in Vernon

When we first moved to Vernon, in 1996, people would often ask, "What brought you here?  I started thinking about that today, triggered by our pastor's thoughts on "inquiring of the Lord".

  And it came to me that there are significant times in our lives where we look back in retrospect and see how the hand of God was present, leading and guiding.  Sometimes when we are in the midst of it, it is hard to see.  But always good to ask Him for help!!

  And that is what I was doing that winter/spring of 1996.  I was a new widow.  I knew I could no longer live in the tiny village of Boston Bar, and needed to make some changes.  Anyone who is, or has been in those circumstances can understand the agony of decision.  It is difficult to make decisions when you are grieving.  And everyone had an opinion about what I should or should not do!  I had lots of advice, and knew that my decision was critical for the rest of my life.

  As a young widow, one of the prayers I prayed was that God would put a shield around me, and show me His ways... even in my muddled state.  So in that state of affairs I agreed to go on a trip to Vernon, with my brother and my parents to scout out houses.  It was the weekend of my deceased husband's birthday, exactly 17 years ago as I write this on a February weekend.  I was melancholy to say the least.  But Dad, newly retired, thought Vernon would be a good place to move, and I had agreed to look into the possibility of living together in a shared larger home with my parents.

  We searched through eight houses that Saturday.  But it was number three that stood out strongly to me, and by the end of the weekend, we had actually put down an offer - based on whether or not my house or my parent's house would sell in the meantime.  I was not that optimistic   Economics were not promising in Boston Bar, and I really wondered if I would be able to sell.

  So three weeks went by, and again I prepared to go to Vernon, this time with my children to show them what we were thinking.  I still struggled with making the right decision.  I prayed for a good weekend, and good roads since I was driving with precious cargo through the mountains.  But that morning the fog and rain had moved in, and I was sick.  In so much in pain I couldn't drive.  But the reservation was made and I reluctantly handed the keys to my seventeen year old son... and off we went.

  We were not half an hour down the road when I saw the first rainbow, closely followed by another.  I started paying attention.  I have always believed God uses His creation to remind us of things.  I thought on that as we drove and by the time we were half way I was feeling so much better - and the sun had come out.  By the time we were through Kamloops, I was driving, and said to my kids... time for some mama music... after listening to their tunes all the way!  So I flipped in my Michael W. Smith CD and the first song to play was... "I'll lead you home"... and just then as the music swirled around in the car, we came to the turn-off to Vernon.  That got my attention.  Teary eyed, I continued... starting to believe that God was showing me the way...

  When we arrived at our hotel in Vernon, we were surprised that my parents had arrived within minutes, travelling from another direction.  We were just in the hotel lobby when the clerk asked for my mom - there was a telephone call... with an offer on their house.  The timing was impeccable.

  I no longer doubted.  Even though I knew no one in Vernon, I already began to feel that this was my home.  The new home God intended for me.  And the miracle of my selling my house some weeks later was also amazing - but true.  One of my friends from that area told me that every time he drove by that house he was reminded of God's care because it was truly a miracle.

  It has been seventeen years now... incredible years filled with learning and living, laughter and love, joys and sorrows... but it is good to remember.  Because sometimes in the living, the everyday, we forget.  That God truly cares about all our tomorrows, and He truly does direct our paths when we inquire of Him.






Thursday, February 21, 2013

Insurance

   After writing about immunity, and mentioning our over-insured generation, a good friend of mine reminded me that insurance can sometimes be a good thing!  And I agree... years ago, when we traveled in the States and our little girl took sick, we were only too thankful for travel insurance.

  Years later as a young widow, I was grateful for the provision of insurance.  And years since I have seen many a widow left with debt and staggering financial problems which adds to the grief in a terrible way.

  So, I'm off to buy insurance for an upcoming trip... and will be thankful if I don't have to use it!  No, insurance can be a good thing.  We are thankful for house insurance (having survived two nasty floods), and thankful for all the provisions we have to live a good life.

  But life comes without guarantees.  I want a smooth ride.  I think of that especially as I prepare to fly.  Now most people who know me know that I am terrified of flying.  Oh, I am determined to not let this stop me, and I will go... my family is too important to me not to!  But I AM praying for a smooth ride.  I don't enjoy bumpy.  I scare easily.

  My husband mentioned kayaking in the deep south, and my first thought?  Alligators of course!  Sheesh!!  Don't think I have insurance for that...

  And I am also aware that the more "stuff" I have, the richer I am, the more I have to protect.  I want to protect my health, my stuff, my life.  How do I live a life of simplicity in our opulent world?  To relax and let go, and let each day be a gift?  To me, this is life-long learning.

  I have always been grateful for the experience I had to visit Peru years ago.  It was an awakening to realize how much we have... and how little so many don't have.  One day there was a knock on the door (of our family who lives there) and someone was inquiring whether they would take their little eight year old in... this family didn't have enough resources to care for her any longer... and would the missionaries take her in?  It was so sad... at that time in Peru there was no social systems for the poor, no safety nets for children.

    Insurance for many poor is just a pipe dream.  They live with the risks.  And perhaps don't hang on so tightly?

  And I realize, all over again, how blessed I am.  To live a grateful life, to be thankful for what I have, to have compassion for the poor, and to recognize that each day is a gift.  I know, I say it again and again, but it is always good to remind myself.

 

 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Not Immune

   Awareness is part of learning.  And lately, I've been increasingly aware of how our culture - perhaps this boomer generation I find myself a part of, feels the entitlement to immunity.

  Like the immunity idol in "Survivor", we throw a lot of energy into "insurance"... we are probably the highest insured generation ever, at least in the western culture.  We have health insurance and life insurance and disability insurance and my new credit card company was quite convincing that I should insure that card as well...in addition we try to protect ourselves from everything, and I am not immune to this!  I try to eat right, get enough sleep, take vitamins and supplements, exercise... and feel guilty when I don't do it right.  I listen carefully to the health news and weigh these things seriously.

  Oh yes, awareness is one thing.  But in a culture that worships youth and beauty, I look in the mirror, discover a new wrinkle and find myself running for the face cream.  Sigh...

  Lately, (and perhaps this is because I work in a health-care environment), I have become aware of how even those who live healthy, think healthy, make good choices (at least according to the current thinking), are also not immune.  In the past year I have been aware of those, including health practitioners and very healthy people fall sick... some even died.  I have been somewhat shaken by this.  Why??

  Do I think because people have knowledge, eat the "right" things, that they are immune?  We have experienced this in our own household, and it is somewhat a joke.  My darling husband can eat just about anything and it doesn't seem to affect him... I am the one with the health challenges!  My doing, and thinking, and eating right has not provided me immunity.  And if anything, I have fallen into the trap of guilt when I don't do it all right...

  Why is our generation like this? Living in this trap of feeling like we are in control.  My pastor refers to the "grey wave" that is coming... that we have entered already.  A generation of people who feel entitled to health, to wealth... and who doesn't want to live well?  I am certainly not going to start eating poorly, or throwing out my vitamins.

   But I know I need to be aware of my thinking.  To be aware of the generational denial that is prevalent in this generation.  We do not die well.  We don't think it will happen to us.  And when it happens, it is hard to even find words to talk about it.

  As a chaplain, I come up against this all the time.  There are no easy answers.  Except perhaps the simple ones.  That I can trust in a God who loves me.  That I am not in control... but maybe that is a good thing.  I think of that song "His eye is on the sparrow... and I know He watches me"... the sparrows don't worry about their health... or do they have insurance.  Instead they sing.  Because they know that God, the God of love is watching them.  What a comforting thought!

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is God's Love Enough?

  We are entering the week of love.  Valentines Day is around the corner.

  We are also entering the first week of lent.  Lent, the giving up, to focus on a God who loves us.

  As I thought of these two things, love and lent, my mind wandered to what we have been studying in the past weeks.  Is God enough?  Is His love enough?

  Valentines Day can arouse the emotions.  For those who are in love the day can focus on romantic love.  But really, for the majority, this might not be true.  And for some,  it may be very hard that it is not true.  The day can bring up feelings of wishful expectation, hopes and dreams, sadness for those now gone, deep loneliness, disappointment in broken or lonely relationships, and guilt if we do not perform the way those who love us think we might... not very positive really...

  We humans are imperfect in love.  The stakes are high.  How we desire to be loved, to be accepted...and to have our love returned as well.  So it is good to come to a place where God is truly enough.

  Perhaps part of lent is laying our expectations down, and as Richard Rohr put it in his excellent devotional this morning, laying aside what we feel we are entitled to, and rather being truly grateful for what we have.  It comes down to focus - it is so easy to focus on what I long for, wish for, what I want, rather than focusing on what I already have.

  And there is so much.  Life itself.  I woke up this morning.  I breathe... a deep breath.  I sit here, with the aroma of coffee and a full belly, and think of the family day I had yesterday.  Children laughing in my house.  I have the gift of family.  I have the gift of friends.  And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have the gift of love - love from a God who created me, who knows me well, who loves me.

  And with those thoughts simmering, how much easier it is to let that love spill out, to be able to love others, to see with God's eyes.

  The gift of love, to be celebrated this week.  To celebrate our love of each other.  Love to you this week, as you read this.

  If you are interested in reading Richard Rohr's thoughts on lent here is part of his devotional for today - you can sign up to receive them at: cac.org/lent-2013


Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.
To any one of these we must say, "And this is more than enough!"
(Adapted from a post to Fr. Richard's blog, Unpacking Paradoxes, on January 30, 2012)  


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Familiarity

   I was sitting on my couch with my little grandson yesterday, and he was content in my arms, just playing.  Little R comes over regularly, and this 21 month old knows his way around.  The other day he actually took his tissue which had wiped his nose with and toddled off to the kitchen and opened the right cupboard door and put it in the trash.  Smart, I'd say!

  I love the fact he is comfortable here.  We are blessed to have two grandchildren close by and we see them often.  They know where the snack cupboard is and have their own toy corner.  We play with them and I've relearned all the little songs I used to sing to my kids and love singing with them, and reading lots of books.  We played a rousing game of hide-and-seek last week and it was such great fun.

  I was thinking about all of this as we cuddled on the couch, this tow-headed little boy and me... and the word familiarity came to mind.  At first I thought the root of it was "family", but the dictionary states this:  "The quality of being well known; recognizability based on long or close association."

  This week a new grandson was added to our family!!  This new precious baby is miles away and for the first time, I was not present to hold this little one in the first hours.  We felt the distance.  But were so grateful for our world of technology which instantly connects us via phone and video and we could see him and hear him and share the love with our children.  Precious moments indeed.  Being a long-distance grandma will certainly take more determination, but I know I will join countless others who do the same.

  I never will forget saying good-bye to my brother and sister-in-law years ago as they departed for Peru on another missions assignment... we would not see them for years.  Correspondence was slow and phone calls expensive... that was not so long ago really.  We raised children on different continents and didn't see each other in years.  How our world has changed...

   So I hope and pray that even over the distance, I can get to know this precious little guy just born - and he will know my voice and recognize my face.  I don't want to be a stranger!

  As I was thinking about this gift of familiarity - of being comfortable with another because I know them so well, I thought of one of my favourite songs... "He knows my name".  I take such comfort that the God I love, the God who creates, knows me intimately.  He knows my name, he knows my fears, my longings, my delights.  He loves me well, as I am, not for what I might do.  The gift of familiarity seems almost sacrilegious with a Holy God, and yet He calls us His children, and we can pray "Our Father".  It is a beautiful picture of love and safety and trust.

The song is by Tommy Walker. Tommy Walker : He knows My Name

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Doldrums

  I looked up this word today... Doldrums.

  Stuck at sea with no wind.  No air for my sail.

  This time of year can feel like that... and I've written about it before.  Being in this waiting place, waiting for spring, waiting for warmth, waiting for many things...

  It is said that this is the time of year where people struggle the most.  Depression can be very real for some.  We miss the sun, the warmth, and impatience and irritability can set in.  I feel it in my bones.  Restlessness.

 I found this snippet of a poem:

    Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, no breath no motion;
     As idle as a painted ship
       Upon a painted ocean.

          - Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge

One of the things I love about the Psalms is the ability of the writer to say it as it is.  As much as I love positive thinking, I prefer authenticity.  I think we are taught in Scripture to be real... to be descriptive, to have conversation with God that speaks truly.  He knows how we feel anyway.

  And then the Psalms go on with remembering... how God was faithful in the past.  "And yet I call to mind"... the writer of Lamentations puts it after telling it all... his doldrums if you will.  I've been pondering these words this week and find them so inspiring:

  "Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him."  (Lamentations 3:21-24)

 It is always comforting to know we are not alone.  I think of that story of the prophet Elijah who ran away in terror and fell into a great depression... and sat there alone for many days.  And God, in His time, spoke to him in a small voice.

  Sometimes, in the waiting, it is a good season for listening.  Knowing that God is faithful.  Knowing that spring will come, and in all the things I face, this too shall come to pass...