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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Like

  Like... a funny word for sure... an identification with something, an affirmation, a positive word.

  I like it...and it warms my heart when people like what I write, It is nice to be liked!

  Like has come to it's own with it's place on Facebook.  The Like button is there for us to give approval, applause, appreciation, to show affirmation.  I use it a lot.

  There are times when I wish for an "unlike" button... when I feel sad for something that has happened to one of my friends, or I might happen to disagree.  And maybe it's a good thing it is not there... remembering the old adage... if you can't say anything nice... don't say it at all!

  Yup, Facebook has become a platform for lots of opinion, lots of sharing... One of the things I cringe at the most is when I see posts like "press like" if you love the Bible, or some other sacred part of faith... things I do happen to care deeply about, but it seems to me that if I press "like" or "share", it cheapens my faith... and sends a wrong message to people I care deeply about.

  I don't like to see Facebook as a platform for an agenda of any sorts, although it is used that way every day, for political gain, for religious opinion, and for a lot of opinions on culture and life that are simply that, opinions.  And, in my opinion, I really don't like that!

  Social sites, such as Facebook can be such a positive!  They have been avenues for communication, for sharing, for staying connected.  I have been grateful for how it has helped me to stay in touch with my world.

  Just as I don't want to feel guilty for not pressing like (when I feel pressured to), I don't want this to be a guilt piece.  Rather a thoughtful discussion about how these things affect us, and affect those around us.  I want to be known for love, for caring, for listening, and for being thoughtful; and I believe most of us do!  Especially on public arenas such as Facebook.

 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Transitions and Tragedies

  As the 16th annual New Hope retreat is this weekend, my thoughts and heart have been with those who are grieving.   New Hope (for widow/ers and their families)  are holding their sixteenth annual retreat this weekend and I am grateful for what New Hope means to me; and for how sharing my story and listening to other's stories has enriched my life.

  I have blogged much recently about our current story; about my mother who is still in hospice.  She was a pioneer with New Hope, sitting on our board, and helping in many ways; caring for the widowed at retreats by feeding them, providing beauty through flowers, sewing gift bags and much much more.  How I have appreciated her support, and I know many remember her serving ways and care.

  She spent countless hours helping me with these retreats and it is good to remember these times!  She knew I was under duress at this times, and often packed extra treats and made sure I had good care... so good to have a mama during times like that!!

  In fact, it made me think about how rich our lives are right now.  We are in a huge transition.  We are celebrating the life of my mother, still alive, remembering countless memories, telling stories.  In so many ways I feel blessed, because not all have this gift of time.

  We have also been blessed by the care, understanding, prayers and well wishes of many many friends and family.  It is a beautiful thing.

  And it struck me that our present story is not a tragedy.  It is just one of life's transitions.  Not all transitions are easy; every change comes with challenge.

  But it is good to see the gifts of this time, and realize how rich it really is.  And as I will stop to ponder, with other widows this weekend, their stories of grief and loss, I realize with care that some will be stories of tragedy.  Stories that need to be told.

  And even in this, as I remember my own loss as a young widow at age 37, and how I came to see the gifts that came along the way.  For I was never alone.  I was surrounded by loving family, friends, and a God that was watching over me.

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blossoms of Pink


Blossoms of Pink

They line the street
Like bridesmaids
Decked in the most delicate pink.

Lacy, soft
Whispering promises of warm days to come.
They are fleeting
They turned their brown winter garments
To pink
Overnight
Almost like a butterfly burst
From it's cocoon.

But ready to fly away,
Blossoms in the wind
Will soon become
Just memories of the mind

Until spring comes
Once again.

© Grace Wulff 
April 23, 2013

taken April 22, 2013
On a walk, near Hospice House, Vernon BC

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Living in the Land of Limbo

  Limbo seems like a good way to describe it.  We are in a time of waiting.  In the waiting, we live, and watch, and in many ways life is on hold.  As I write this, my mom remains in hospice, and has been there for a number of weeks.  It has been a precious time, a challenging time, for her, and for the family.

  When my first husband, Andy was dying, I remember feeling this way... that life as I knew it had stopped.  And yet it kept on going!  The sun kept shining, people around me were doing very normal things, work still needed to be done.  There was a robotic sense of being.  And there was a sense of waiting for what we really didn't want to happen.  But the preparations were there; the journey unavoidable.

  In my mind, I began to see it as an exploration... what is there for me to learn in this place of limbo?   I have long believed that every day is a gift.  But do I live that way?  Not always.  Do I see the treasures in this time of limbo?  There have been many.

  The care of friends and family has and is truly amazing.  A sense of community and caring and loving.  It is about celebrating life.  And yet even here, in this place of waiting, it can be hard.  There are constant questions, that are valid and come from a place of love and concern.  My dad joked that we should just wear a placard so we didn't have to tell the story, again, and again.  And yet, it also helps to tell the story... it is as if we need to explore what we feel, to explain it.

  I know we are not alone.  Hospice is a wonderful place. It has been another gift on this journey.   Amazing, really, the care for the patient and for the family.  But even here, there are expectations.  And we really don't know the rest of the story, until it unfolds...as my mom's disease progresses, she has also rallied in many ways.  She often does not feel sick.  She is able to get up, to eat, to converse.  So it is hard, some days, for her to be there.  And sometimes difficult to understand.  And yet we rejoice that she has another good day!

 So much of life is about waiting.  I was thinking today again about the Israelites in the wilderness... they too were on a journey, and they wanted to reach the destination!  But there were lessons in the wilderness, and treasures too... sometimes we want to explain life away, to understand it all, but we live in the mystery of it.  We don't understand the waiting, the challenges, and we dislike the unknowns, the questions.

  And so I send this "postcard" in a form of a blog, in this time of waiting, from the land of limbo.  Perhaps you are there too... We are fine.  We are tired.  We take comfort in knowing we are not alone.  That there are friends and family who love and support us, some whom are on their own journeys.  And we know that God above, is also the God within, that gives us strength for the journey, and He alone knows the final destination.  And He also provides treasures along the way!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

taxes and government ads

  I really should be working on my taxes.  Oh, they are half done, and somehow instead of going to the financial pages on my computer I find myself meandering over to my blog... more friendly, more reflective!

  There are a few things in life I love to dislike... doing taxes is one of them; going to the dentist is another.  It is easy to procrastinate, to put off the unpleasant.  I admire those who enjoy working with numbers, I find words so much friendlier.  Numbers tend to give me a headache...

  And yet "they" say... there are only a couple of things sure in this life... and one of them is taxes!

  This morning I was on a rant... the latest mud-slinging ads in our country were televised; not pretty, not tasteful.  Governments that I had some measure of respect for fell out of my grace at least.  Are we not standing up against bullying?  Isn't that what we teach our kids and grand-kids?

  And yet it becomes the standard of political fare, the meanness and pettiness, it simply angers me.

  Usually this blog is hopeful, tasteful, but today I am grumpy.  Even publicly so.  I think the sadness of the latest world events permeates us all... the sadness of those in our human race who do harm... whether it be bullying or much much worse.

  How do we call for peace and kindness?  How does one change the human heart?  Oh, there are lots of opinions out there, and I would hesitate to add mine to the mix.  It is complicated, and it must break God's heart.

  So back to taxes... really, I am thankful to pay them.  I don't enjoy the process and I struggle with many of the choices of government, like most of us do.  But I am thankful for healthcare, and safe roads, and social structures that keep our country inviting and safe... we are truly blessed among nations.

  And I have the freedom of speech.  To speak out, to encourage peace, to wave my flag.  I am proud to be Canadian.  And thankful.  But like a nagging mother, I will be inclined to let my voice heard.  I said it often when the kids were small.  "If you can't say anything nice, please don't say anything at all."

End of rant.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A beautiful autumn leaf

I know... as I write this, it is spring.

Although last night felt more like autumn, snow seen in the hills, quietly descending  sneaking into our valley.  And our Alberta friends must think it is winter, from the weather reports we hear!!

Today, though, as I look out my office window I see the lush green emerging of spring, trees with new leaf and fresh green and the hills are green.  It is beautiful and inviting if a little nippy.  Such is the weather in April.

  But I was thinking about the mystery of the leaf.  I am no botanist or scientist, but my understanding is that leaves are green because of the chlorophyll content.  From the limited understanding I have, all the colors of fall are always there, but the chlorophyll dominates in spring and summer leaving the leaves green.

  And with the changing of seasons, the chlorophyll diminishes allowing what was always there to show itself in all it's beauty.  And so you have the brilliant yellows and reds and the lovely colors of autumn emerging in season.

  I was telling mom yesterday that she reminded me of those autumn leaves.  Beautiful, colorful.  Even though she is weak, mom still insists on dressing each day, right down to matching jewelry and scarves.  People who visit her sometimes have a hard time acknowledging she is sick!  She reminds me of that beautiful leaf, the one which hangs on with tenacity, with dignity...

  And when I think on it, it gives cause for celebration.  To celebrate the color, the beauty, the joy... even in this autumn turning winter season of her life.

  And it gives me cause to know that there is always color within... color and beauty that are sometimes tempered by the cold winds of fall, and the brisk tempests of spring.  Life in all of it's seasons, worth celebrating.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Birth Pangs

   In the last few days I've viewed a number of face book posts from friends of mine who have had the joy of welcoming new grandchildren into the world.  Funny, it doesn't seem that long ago that we were the ones having babies, but now we enter the joy of new life with our children having children!  It is a special privilege and joy to be a grandparent.... or just to be around babies!

  We will soon have a new little one under our own roof... our "downstairs people" are in that waiting mode, expecting their first born to arrive any day.  And it is fun to enter into the anticipation with them.  My husband  and I are doubling our "batch" of grandchildren this year from three to six and feeling quite rich and blessed.  Each one a special gift with their own unique characteristics, personality... it is such fun to get to know them.

  Birth is a process... a waiting process.  From the pregnancy and the challenges a pregnancy can bring to the birth itself.  Often so unpredictable, but part of life.

 My last pregnancy was my most challenging - a lot of morning sickness, and swelling in my legs... to a night of labour a full week before baby even was ready to come.  And when she did, even then she was reluctant to leave that warm cocoon, and we came oh, so close, to having a C section... her safe arrival was sweet relief.

  Its been on my mind lately... the comparisons between birth and death... or perhaps I should say the rebirth to eternity.  We don't want to leave this earth... it is what we know.  And even though we intellectually know that all will die eventually, it is often the thing we deny the most.

  Death, as in birth, is filled with the unknowns... as inevitable as it might be, the hows are a mystery.  For some, like my mom, who are granted this time to spend, even knowing that the end is near, there is the tension of not knowing, and learning to live in that mystery, day by day.  There is the wonder of the after-life - what will it truly be like?  We ponder the questions, our minds have heavenly visions.

  I'm understanding that this is not so uncommon for those at the end of an illness.  So we wait, as those who wait for birth.  It is an in-between time, often unsettling, knowing there is change in the wind, but uncertain how that change will be, how it will affect our lives.  And in the waiting there can also come the trusting, the letting go, which leads to peace.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Losing It

  For the second time in a week, my key chain fell apart when I was in a grocery store.  Both times someone behind me said... lady, are these your keys?  Today, I panicked... the key to my car had fallen off.  After scurrying through the store and retracing my steps and receiving help from some very kind people... there they were... stuck right in my grocery buggy.  Sigh...  (And thanks to Dawn who spied them there!!)

  Both times I was in a place of exhaustion that was catching up with me... buying a few things so I could go home.  Life has been full lately... and we are feeling that sandwich effect with loving on our kids and grand-children and being fully there for mom and dad during this intense period in their lives... in all of our lives.

  It reminded me of the time I met a woman, crying at the hospital, and I inquired of her what was wrong.  She was emotional and upset.  She had lost her car!  Oh, how I can understand that... and realized that not remembering where her car was parked really masked the deeper pain she was experiencing, something we were able to talk about.

  It is those little things like spilled milk or lost keys that can drive us right over the emotional edge when we are tired.  And yes, I felt like I was losing it, whatever "it" is...

  It is funny, just this very morning I was encouraging a patient to be gentle on herself... today is a new day... we have to forgive ourselves... I am a very good preacher, but oh, it is so much harder to practice.  To be kind when life is full and overwhelming and just a bit stressful is so much harder to do than to say.

  To find places (and yes, I find writing therapeutic !) to unwind, to think it over.  A nap seems like a very good idea right about now... and yes, I bought a new key fob to hold those keys together...

  I know I'm not alone... and it is wonderful to know that I am loved in my humanity, for just being me... and isn't it wonderful to know that God takes all our broken pieces and glues it all together with his love.

  Just found this quote on line... "God can take broken pieces and turn them into master pieces." (author unknown)  Even when we are losin' it!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Perfect Timing

   In my work as chaplain at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, I have agreed to work three mornings a week (I am a volunteer) and am on call most of the rest of the time.  However, in the last few weeks my focus has shifted from hospital to hospice, where I have enjoyed spending time with mom.

  I have been able to get up now and then to the hospital, and was joking this week that I should be called the Irregular Chaplain!  But what has been so amazing is what has transpired when I have been able to attend there...last week, as I was visiting a patient, I was told..."you came just at the right time".  I had two other encounters that morning... entering situations that seemed so timely that I simply could not have orchestrated them myself.

  On mornings like that I'm reminded that God truly answers my prayers and the prayers of others who faithfully pray for me.  I ask Him to direct my paths and I truly believe He does.  And then amazing things happen... amazing encounters, conversations, a real sense of God's care and love even in times of challenge, suffering or pain.  He is there at the hospital.  He is here.  He is present.

  And so I also hold on to that in our own mother's journey - that God alone is the author of time, and He knows what is best.  We talked about that again yesterday - there can be a lot of questions about "the end", but if that is all we focus on, we will miss this beautiful journey we are granted... the here and now.

  It also brings up the age-old question of healing... and I know some have prayed this for mom.  There are books written on this and I am no theological expert.  But as I listen to the heart, and listen to mom, we are aware of a real acceptance of this time we have, this precious time at the end of her journey here on earth.  We don't fight it.  Like matriarchs and patriarchs of old, she has rather chosen to enter this season with grace and acceptance and also to give us her wisdom and blessing.  It is a gift.

  And we know God, in his perfect timing will complete what He has begun.