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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.
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!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Song in the Hospital

  I don't generally sing in the hospital.  In fact, I don't believe singing was one of the prerequisites to becoming a hospital chaplain.  Although I believe I wrote about singing in the elevator on one fine occasion!
(You can read about that story here.)

  But this day was different...

  I had originally met this couple, (later in years, but I suspected young at heart), in the back rooms of the emergency department.  I don't often wander back there in my travels at the hospital, but this day was delivering something to the nurses station there.  And spied their daughter, whom I know,as I glimpsed her face behind the hospital curtain.

  I always think these are God-encounters.  He knows where I should be, at any given moment, and I often pray He would direct my path... and then perhaps even more important, give me the words, or the knowledge when to just be quiet and present.

  We had a good visit, this precious couple and their daughters.

  A week later, I encountered them again, a different ward.  The woman sweet and frail, in her hospital bed,  the husband lovingly watching over her.  They reminded me of my parents...

  Again we talked, about life, about what they were going through.  And as I often do, I asked them..."How can I pray for you?"

  And she said, quite promptly... "Can we sing?"

  Now, this was a four-bed ward, curtains drawn, and I hesitated.  I usually don't break into song in public places!

  But I asked her... "What is your favourite song?"

  Without hesitation she replied, "Faithful One".

  Not the choice I would have expected, given their generation... and I asked, "Oh do you know of the author, Brian Doerksen?"  Brian happens to be one of my favourite song-writers and singers, and I can even claim that he is a distant relative, having common Mennonite roots and history, and his parents knew my parents... but I digress...

  No, they had never heard of Brian Doerksen.

  The husband then proceeded to tell me how they came to know the song... and it was a moving story... He had been very sick, some years back, and in a coma for some weeks and someone had played music as he lay there.  And this was the song, the words they had remembered from that time, written forever on their hearts.

  And they began to sing....

Faithful one, so unchanging,
Ageless one, You're my rock of peace,
Lord of all, I depend on You,
I call out to You,
Again and again,
I call out to You,
Again and again.

You are my rock in times of trouble,
You lift me up when I fall down,
All through the storm, Your love is,
The anchor.  My hope is in You alone.

You can listen to it here..."Faithful One".

  The words, so powerful, so true, so moving.  And I joined in to sing.

  And a nurse, hurrying by, was moved by the words.

  And it became a holy moment;  it became the prayer.

  I wrote a note to Brian that afternoon to tell him the story.  How God had used his song in a hospital room. How the song had penetrated the mind of a man in a coma, and he had never forgotten it.   This couple told me they had never even seen the words.  And yet God has used this song to encourage them, over and over again.  It was those words that brought them encouragement and hope.

  And I realized, later, that it was I that had received the blessing that day.  Of a older couple fully trusting God, demonstrating beautiful faith, and sharing it through a beautiful song.

  Yes, God is truly faithful.

This story is told with permission of the family involved.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the face of Tragedy

   It has been a difficult week.  No, not for me, personally, but the losses that I see, the tragedies of our greater community have been felt, deeply.

  I've followed and read the reports and blogs and heartfelt responses to the numbing tragedy of the murder of grandparents and their grandchild in Alberta.  I too have an almost 5 year old grandchild, and I cannot even imagine the horror and pain... and the changed lives and deep grief of their family left behind.  The sorrow of a mom who has lost her baby... and her parents, is unimaginable.

  In our own Okanagan, two tragic deaths of teenagers in our community of Vernon, and yesterday we are reeling from the news of three more fatalities in a horrific car crash.  Families are grieving.  They are numb with shock.

  And the community grieves too, as they absorb the news, many reaching out to help, others feeling helpless.

  Sometimes there is not a lot of words.  These are events that cannot be fixed, ever.  They are life-changing, somber moments where we realize that we all stand at the edge of eternity, and life is precious, fleeting, and meant to be cherished.

  My hubby and I were watching  a clip last night from Dallas Willard, a well-known theologian who spoke on the topic of pain and suffering.  I found it helpful, and you could access it here:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2iOlV0niBk

  I appreciated his wise words and was encouraged by it.  He said that without suffering there would be no caring.  I sometimes wonder what my own life would have been like without the suffering.

  And I would never compare my story to others, each story is our own, and how we process our grief is individual.  But the truth for me, is that I have been shaped by my suffering.  Being widowed young, watching my first husband suffer (but also blossom in his suffering as he came to terms with it), struggling with my own health, especially a heart attack, feeling depression and anxiety... these are all chapters of my life which have stretched me, shaped me, helped me to be more caring and compassionate.

  There are no simple answers.  I've come to believe that God does not cause suffering, but He is with us in the midst of it.  I have experienced this profoundly and felt it deeply.  His love and care does not change in the midst of tragedy and loss.

  There are some things we will not understand on this side of heaven.  So it is left to us to continue to live... to care deeply, to show compassion, to weep with those who weep, to cherish every day as the gift it is.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Yes face

   I stopped at an intersection this morning; the light was red, and glanced to my right to see a man on his bicycle, waiting, smiling. He was alone. A "yes" face, I thought.

  Relaxed, approachable, pleasant; these are the attributes of a yes face.  So much better than a scowl.

  Watching him for that brief moment inspired me.  And I felt myself relaxing, letting go of my petty worries of the day.

  We discussed it the other day, my hubby and I, about how good I was at worrying. I do it very well!!  My safety barometer goes into overdrive whenever I sense danger. Although I find it healthy to laugh at myself,  I have come to a place where I understand myself rather well.

  I've been burned a few times. Quite literally, I am afraid of the sun. Although I love it's warmth in the sun-starved spring, and adore the blue skies, the sun has not been my friend. Melanoma has hit our family twice, and the direct sunlight makes me feel ill.

  So I am a shade lover. I sit on my covered deck as I write this, thankful to be outdoors, yet out of the sun!  I preach to my family about sunscreen.  I am highly protective, and yes, I probably worry a little too much...

   But I ramble... Sometimes the worries about the sun, the heat, the bugs take over and I lose the joy of the day. And there are far worse tragedies that I encounter regularly. And I wonder if my face shows it.

  The goal is to have a face that radiates peace, love, joy. One has to practice peace to get there.  My face is happier when I am grateful, when I stop to soak up beauty, when I take deep breaths and let my body relax.

  And truly, I'm hoping that will transfer to some happier looking wrinkles... laugh lines are so much better than those produced by frowns!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Rest, Reads, and Reflections

  I have just returned from a pastor and chaplain's retreat, with the theme aptly called "Rest".

  It was a worthy goal, and I entered in with some enthusiasm.  The speaker Mark Buchanan was inspiring and provocative, and I enjoyed all the aspects... the food, the music, a great hotel, beautiful surroundings.  And came away quite thankful!!

  Some of my reflection, while away, was on my writing habits.  I have not written as much as of late, I think for a number of reasons.  And I had to reflect on why I write, for whom I write, and whether the exercise has merit.

  And I came away with the thought that writing is good discipline, and good exercise for my soul.  So perhaps it is purely selfish, but I want to continue to write, here on this blog, and perhaps even start to work on another book...  aspiring dreams I know.

  My kind of writing is a reflection of the soul, although it can be interpreted as many ways as those who happen upon the words they read.  I speak of inspirational writing, not the textbook variety filled with facts, or the more academic writing that requires lots of research and isn't open to much heart or opinion.  Each has it's place, but I know the kind of writing and reading I enjoy is filled with word pictures and reflections.

  Books inspire me.  Last summer it was my goal to read the Mitford series again, and I delightfully devoured each one, lovely tales by Jan Karon, and I am so excited that she has a new story coming out this fall.  I find her books deeply satisfying, calling me to a deeper life of trust and faith and an understanding of everyday human life.

  This year, after a little Facebook exercise on "which Anne of Green Gables character are you", (I came up with Anne), and I thought.... I need to enter that world again!  And so I have, falling in love again with the honest, romantical, (a real word in Anne's world) very human, character of Anne, who loves the world around her, and has her share of escapades and adventures growing up.

  It reminded me again of our lovely sojourn to PEI a few years back where we traipsed through the Haunted Wood and strolled down Lover's Lane and imagined Anne and Diana arm in arm, with all her imaginations.  It was here I saw the beautiful baby ferns and for the first time saw fiddleheads growing in the woods and thought they were a most delightful vegetable.  I am ashamed I still have not had the opportunity to taste them.

  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to wander through a delightful little garden, just south of Penticton, BC, in the little settlement of Kaleden.  Linden Gardens is a little hidden gem that I thought Anne would be quite delighted in, or perhaps after being immersed in her awestruck delight of life around her, the gardens seemed rather magical to me.

 Hydrangeas overlooking Skaha Lake, a natural window in the gardens.
 I caught the light on this spectacular gerber daisy.
White day lilies, full-faced and shining in the sun.

  It is good to have summer goals.  Amidst the daily chores and regular life, summer beckons us to rest, to reflect.  I want to spend a few minutes each day with Anne, because she inspires me.  Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of these delightful tales has left a lasting legacy.  

  It is good to rest too... to stop.  I've appreciated again the value of Sabbath, to completely remove myself, without guilt, to a place of quiet and reflection which brings healing for the soul, and body.