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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, August 31, 2014

at Heaven's Door

  It has been part of conversations lately... aware of those we love close to heaven's door, and the thoughts have turned heavenward, to that heavenly home that is waiting.

  I thought about it a lot this week, for those who wait and vigil and accompany those who are so close... just steps from heaven.  We don't all have that experience, because for some it is a sudden invitation, and they shed this life quickly, leaving those who love them in terrible shock.

  It is a blessing to be able to say good bye.  To say I love you.

  I was always thankful for that... when I said good-bye to Andy, my first husband, the dad of my three kids. We were all able to say good-bye.   And to my mom, lying with her in her bed, kissing her and hugging her more than I had in years, cherishing every moment.  What lovely conversations we had.

  And as I had a conversation with someone this morning, grieving the dying of a dear friend, I recalled that Jesus wept.  He wept over the death of his friend.  And in a new way that comforted me.  Because Jesus knew where Lazarus his friend was, heaven was familiar to Jesus; it was His home.  And He knew His own sojourn on earth was short.

  And yet, He wept.

  And I wondered, was he weeping more for his friends, the family of Lazarus, or even for his own sorrow in this temporary parting?  It was a question I pondered today.

  I wondered too today, as I thought about Mom, and Andy, and those who have gone before... and thought... do they see?  I know God sees all things... but does He reveal to our loved ones in heaven how we are doing?  And one can only wonder, but some things we will never know this side of the veil.  

  I thought too today about those who come close to heaven... and are sent back.

  Within the last few weeks I've had encounters with at least three people that should be there...in the life to come... but it was not their time.  And we've talked about it, their purpose in living, and how they have been spared from probable death.  And how it has significantly changed their outlook on life, their life here on earth.

  And I also thought about some very disturbing words I read this week, someone wondering how God could spare a doctor from the deadly Ebola disease and yet hundreds of others have died... and the question was, how could this doctor be thankful to God... when he had been spared and others had not.

  My wondering continued... did God in his mercy have other work for this doctor to do?  And for those who died... would they be pleased to find themselves in heaven?  Would they not too... be thankful?

  And yet I'm again inspired to pray for those who suffer from Ebola and other horrendous diseases and for those who risk to work with them in difficult conditions, and there are no easy answers.

  Except I do know that the God I love, loves them all... those he chooses for heaven, and those he leaves behind to wait.  And He is present with us, in the living, and in the mourning, and He will love us in the dying.  And He loves us all the same.

 

 

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Inflated

  We were sitting on the deck this morning, having our breakfast, and I was staring at the little blown-up pool we have there for our grand-kids.  And I noted it had become somewhat deflated.

   "We should clean that thing up", I declared... thinking it was either time to put it away or inflate it for the last of the summer...

  Which got us into a very silly conversation about inflation.  No, not the money kind, or our economy, but our personal selves.

  What inflates us?  "Oh, I don't want to be puffed up", I joked... but thought about it some more... what builds me up, what encourages me, what inflates my spirits?

  What people in my life inflate my spirits.... or deflate them?  And how do I respond...

  The silly conversation continued... "that would make a good blog", my husband declared, and we thought we should add...

   Pass this on to ten people and be inflated.....

                        .....just kidding!!!!

  But it is true, there is a joy in spirit and a relaxation of the body when we are with someone who we are truly safe with, and it literally buoys up the spirits.  We just had a weekend like that... hanging out with new friends, enjoying meals together, good conversation, enjoying the wonderful outdoors.  It was uplifting, for sure!

  And I thought about my work as a chaplain, and I realized that there are so many people out there, broken, hurting, discouraged, and can I come alongside, and help to lift their spirits?

  I pray so, as I pray for them, praying that God would lift their spirits and touch their bodies, and meet their needs.

  And what started as a silly conversation became fodder for thought today, as I thought about those in our lives who encourage us, and we in turn hope to encourage others.

  Because there will always be those who unfortunately contribute to the deflation of spirits, and a critical and judgmental spirit can cause great damage.  And I've seen the damage, far too often, and it saddens me.

  I'm so thankful I'm not called to judge, that is God's business... instead He calls us to love, and love is the great commandment of the new Testament... to inflate with love, now that is a novel thought for today!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

War and Peace... and Pacifism

  I grew up with strong Mennonite roots.  And my strong cultural heritage is strongly tied to faith and belief and convictions, and yes, pacifism.

  Because I love peace, I have been quite happy to identify with pacifism.  I had a great-uncle who went to prison because of his pacifist beliefs.  There was pride in that...

   As I grew up, this thinking became somewhat muddled.  I married a guy who loved guns, he was a sharp-shooter and loved the military, excelling in sea cadets.  Later, he worked with the RCMP as an auxiliary, and I know target practice was a favourite shared activity with his colleagues.

  Although I forbade my children when they were young to play with guns, (it was abhorrent to me), my son built them with Lego.  It probably helped there was only one son... and two girls at that time.  Some things just seem... well, inbred.  And probably for most boys, quite normal.

  But I remember my own inner conflict, and was rather grateful we lived in a relatively peaceful time.  It is easy to be a peacemaker when there is no war.  And I prayed that my children would never be affected by war.

  This past week we have been reminded of an important anniversary - one hundred years since the start of World War One.  The war to end all wars, they said.

  It seemed ironic that this very week I was engrossed in the eighth book of the Anne of Green Gables series, which I have enjoyed reading this summer.  "Rilla of Ingleside" by Lucy Maud Montgomery is the story of Anne's youngest and sixth child, and her growing up, in more ways than one, during the time of World War One.

  It was fascinating to read of how this family, through the eyes of Montgomery, faced their own fears and lived in those terrible war years on Prince Edward Island.  Anne, whom most of us know as the lovable orphan, is now, in this book,  a mother of six who sends three sons to war.

  Without the world of media we know today, their family hangs on to every telephone call, to every newspaper clipping, to every telegram, every precious letter.  They pour over maps and have strong opinions, but most of all, they bravely face daily the fact of life going on, as they only imagine their loved ones in trenches, fighting for freedom.

  "Lest we forget" became more real to me this week, as I entered this fictional family's life in a very real-time story that affected every Canadian, and the world's citizens one hundred years ago.

  I was amused at this family's disdain of the one pacifist in their community, although I think his character was rather opinionated and somewhat challenging!.  But as I thought of my own pacifist mindset, I too was challenged as I thought of the enormous courage that soldiers embraced as they fought for our country and freedom.  And perhaps even more so the families they left behind, those who loved them, who supported them, and too often, grieved for them.  And I am thankful.

   And in our time,  I think too of the soldiers who come home, many wounded more emotionally than physically, and how this also affects families.  Too often in the news we hear the stories of these brave souls who are deeply affected by Traumatic Stress, some of them even taking their own lives.  It is tragic for them, and for their families and those who love them.

  I still hate war.  Most of us do. I hate it with passion.   It is grim and dirty and horrific and innocent lives are lost.  I think of the Ukraine, and of the Middle East, and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan.  And mostly, I am saddened, and if the truth be known, I try not to think of it at all.  Because it bothers me that life can be so messy, and tragic, and sad.

  But as I pondered all of this this week, as I sat with Rilla of Ingleside, I was inspired by courage and faith and the continued need to pray and pray and pray... To pray for peace, to pray for those who suffer injustice, to pray for those who are persecuted for what they believe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flawed

  Yesterday I was examining fresh pottery I had created with a critical eye; the fruit of my labor at the Art Center.  I love pressing leaves... God's creation... into clay.  An imprint from the Designer.

  And it made me think... how we are drawn to the flaws, and forget to see the beauty.  Perhaps this is because I have been considering whether or not I should submit my work to a sale now subject to a jury, which I have never done before.  And the works needs to be... perfect.

 

  ... and it is not.  (You will see the glaze missed a little spot).  

  And then I went into my garden.  My garden is a teacher to me.  It is far from perfect.  Perhaps it is the gardener, I'm sure. 

  But the butternut squash I planted has failed to appear.  An extra zucchini plant appeared instead.  The spaghetti squash looks very malnourished, in spite of lots of verbal encouragement from me, and bugs I have not invited seem to show up regularly.

  Lots of dill and cosmos have reseeded from previous years and provide a happy modge podge through my little patch,  I just let them be; they are joyful and wild. 

  The carrots seem happier this year, and the swiss chard positively healthy.  I picked a large tomato today, my first, which looked as if a bug had helped itself to first... but we will cut into tonight, and see...And one of the cucumbers I picked today seemed positively gimped... but I'm sure will still taste good.  Can you taste the greek salad already?

  
Today's harvest
  
Misshapen cucumber

  Why is it that we long for perfection?  

   Our imperfect world is fraught with flood and heat, disease, tragedy, and calamity.  

  On a much larger scale, I have been thinking about the war in the Middle East... the sadness, the horror, the impact on people's lives.

  And I read opinions, and try to understand what is going on.

  And in my heart of hearts, I think that Ishmael was Abraham's son too... and when will the killing stop.... and it is complicated for I love Israel, I grew up cheering her on, and yet my heart breaks over the fighting, and I wonder, does not God weep as well?

  And my little garden and world seem small indeed in light of the world's messiness.

  And I think, how do I make a difference? 

  Perhaps it is by being thankful for my own little corner, and tending the creation God has granted me for this time.  

  Perhaps it is by choosing love instead of hate.  

  Perhaps it is by listening, even to opinions that differ from mine.

  And I hold it all, gently, pondering.  I often think of the image a dear professor shared with us... To hold up our hands to God, fingers open, outstretched.  And in our imaginations we let what we don't understand sift through our fingers. And let it go... And hang on to the lessons He gives...

  Because in a broken, flawed world, there will always be questions, mystery. 

  And I can continue to trust in a Creator God who continues to work a miracle in my garden, and lushness grows out of tiny seeds, and spring continues to come, and each day is a gift.  And the old song "He's got the Whole World in His Hands", comes to mind... and I can trust Him with that too.  Even when I don't understand.