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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, September 27, 2014

You're Richer Then You Think

   We enjoyed a lovely dinner date last night - compliments from a couple of our children for birthdays past.  We chose to be extravagant - French wine, steak for my hubby, a fancy salad to start for me...

  And the ambiance was fine, very fine.  Our waiter attentive but discreet.  And we relaxed into the atmosphere, and enjoyed it immensely.

  And the thought came as we sat there, how nice this was... and wouldn't it be nice if we could do this more regularly... treat our family... without looking at dollar signs, or worrying about the tallied bill.

  And no sooner did that thought parachute in, that I checked myself... and shook my head at such absurdity.

  For we are far, far richer than we think, and we know it.

  And it was lovely to have such a treat, and we knew it would be enjoyed all the more knowing it wasn't a common occurrence.

  I thought about the conversations I had just recently... about the lady who couldn't afford housing... so she lived at the shelter and ate at the Mission... and about another conversation with a family who had to move... immediately... because their loved one had died and their income had dropped considerably.

  And I thought of how these and many others would see a fancy dinner out as a visit to a foreign country... something very unfamiliar indeed.

  Would it not be good to count my blessings... I have a car to drive... perhaps a little outdated, but workable, serviceable, and I can fill it with gas... and I don't need the latest model or all the gadgets.

  I bought new pillows today, just because mine were shabby, and lumpy, and thought nothing of it.  In fact I sleep with several pillows, just because I can.  And I know I'm rich...

  And though some months we sigh at the bills, and we think carefully about expenses, we know that we have so very much in material goods... so much that they weigh us down at times... the upkeep and the taking care of, and the clutter and the putting away...

  Yes, we live in a materialistic society, and this week I sighed at the pile of flyers, and wondered if I really needed to read them all, because I love a bargain.  Because, really, I don't need one more thing...

  So today as I plucked the beets from my garden, along with beans growing old, and tomatoes slow-ripening in the autumn sun, and created a quiche from fresh-picked zucchini and swiss-chard, and I sit here while it bakes in my trustworthy oven, working on a computer where I can send this post to many in an instant, and I realize, yes... I am very rich indeed.

  And this is in material goods... the real riches come in relationships, family, friendships, faith, a safe place to live, and each new day that I am alive... and the thankfulness wells within me.
 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Surviving September

   I used to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine (and I can imagine thoughtful nods or surprised looks), but I looked to her for inspiration in some departments.  And although I admired her hard work ethic and creativity, there was a section at the beginning of the magazine with a "to do" list for the season... like carefully cleaning and disinfecting all garden tools before putting them away in carefully marked and labeled corners... and about 20 other reminders.

 I just couldn't measure up... even though I admire the well cleaned and organized.

  No, September has become more a month of survival... and this, the tail end of a particularly full week with extra meetings, lovely surprises like the printer completely breaking down and the purchase of a new one, a sore throat lurking, and a few sleepless nights...

  And I don't think I'm alone... I listened to a couple of clergy this week... who by the way describe their Septembers as the busiest month of the year, and it sounded a bit like a roller-coaster that had forgot to include the Sabbath rest.

  And being from good Mennonite stock, this is harvest season in full swing, and this morning as I picked 8 black blackberries, ripened to perfection, and 8 tomatoes that had ripened on the vine, and one huge butternut squash, I paused to give thanks, and tried not to think about the fact that I would NOT get to the weeding today, the clearing out of plants and debris, and just stopped to appreciate that my little riot of a garden has brought me great pleasure.

  And so I decided on this gift of a quiet Saturday to slow just a little in between laundry loads, and the tomatoes will be frozen for some later date instead of finding themselves in a sauce and I will find time to sit and read, and perhaps even enjoy a walk in the sunshine...

  Because surviving means taking time to breathe in the busy seasons.  And so I take a deep breath, I will take some honey for my throat, I will close my eyes and soak in the sun for 5 minutes... and I will be thankful for all in my life that brings me joy... for printers that work and blackberries in September, for healing conversations, for the joy of grandchildren...

  Talking about grandchildren... the highlight in the middle of a rather busy week was teaching my young grandsons to use the binoculars... the same ones we had bought for their mommy and siblings, and it was great fun to gaze across our little valley to Davison Orchards and watch the activity there... (we do have a lovely view of Davison Orchards!!)

  And the next day, a text in the middle of my work day... my little grandson, giving the message... Grandma, get out your binoculars and look... we are at Davisons right now!!

  And as soon as I got home, I ran out onto my deck, peered through the binoculars, and imagined their joy at the thought of me seeing them.  (when really, all I could see was cars... but does it really matter?)  And I waved like the dickens, and smiled a smile of joy, and got back to work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A gift from the rocks

  This spring, as my husband prepared our rocky landscape for the permanent setting of our new gazebo he was building, I saw four sunflower plants emerging from the rocks.  And I decided I wanted to rescue them.

  Honestly, I wish I had taken a picture.  These little seedlings, gifts from seeds blown there from last year, were firmly planted in the rocks, not much soil to be seen.  I carefully moved the rocks and gently pulled, but they did not come easily.

  I then transplanted them into freshly prepared soil.

  They were NOT happy.

  They drooped, they shriveled, they turned an ugly brown color.  And I almost let them die, they looked so pathetic.  But I wanted to give them a chance... so I watered, and waited... and tried to ignore them.

  One day I saw a straitening of the spine, a little more green, and the plants began to grow.  They struggled for a while, but soon they began to thrive.

  I was looking at those plants today, four little dying stems.... turned into this:

 



  A miracle, really!!

  And as I've enjoyed their beauty, I thought of what they taught me and two things came to mind...

  It isn't easy to change.  Or to be transplanted from one phase of life to another...

  Being transplanted is painful business, and often we are bruised and broken, and some even lose hope.

  These flowers taught me that there is a process... a time period where we adjust, and sometimes it is simply not pretty.  But there was also a persistence!    Thankfully on my part, for I was tempted to pull those flowers!  But in real life, I also see how God brings healing and beauty out of our broken places, even in the waiting.... just as beauty emerged in my front yard, over a period of time.

  Sometimes we love the rocks.  They are all we know.  

  I thought about that today, in my own spiritual transformations where I have clung to the old, afraid of what God was opening up to me.  Those rocks seemed pretty secure.

  But God had work to do, so I was shaken... and moved... and transplanted.  

  And I'm seeing each day as I grow and learn that that process of trust and openness to the workings of God creates beauty.  And that is what transformation is all about... 

   The cocoon is not a beautiful thing, but the butterfly that emerges is a thing of wonder and beauty.

  And this is ongoing... in the seasons of our life.  These sunflowers will die, leaving seeds to find their way to be nurtured for next year.  Continual transformation, inspired by hope, fueled by trust, transformed into beauty.

  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Old Hymns and New Songs

  I often wake up in the middle of the night with a song in my head, or perhaps it is in my heart... and it might take me a few minutes to work out the words, as the melody plays.  But it is often a hymn, or a favourite song, or even a song I haven't sung in years, all of a sudden in my mind.

  This last week the song that surfaced was "Until Then"... an old hymn that we remember George Beverley Shea singing in his rich baritone voice.  And it was so appropriate because one of our precious friends was going home to heaven, and I sang this chorus of this hymn often last week as I thought of her.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I'll carry on
Until the day my eyes behold the city
Until the day God calls me home.
composed by Stuart Hamblem (1958)

  And it was the title "Until then" that struck me the most... because it speaks of the now - the dash between our birth and death... what I do in the present.   Until then speaks about how I live my life now, even as I prepare for whatever tomorrow brings... do I carry on with joy?  It is a good question to ask.

  Today, at a memorial service I led at a seniors home, we sang the old children's hymn "Jesus Loves Me".  I've made it a part of every service I do there; and it always moves me... precious older folk, most of them, become more alert at these words.  They sing along!  It is like the room comes alive when the familiar words, comforting words, from the childhood of many, is played.

Jesus loves me,
this I know..
For the Bible tells me so..
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong..
Yes! Jesus loves me...
composed by Anna B Warner (1860)

  The truth is  that I am loved, and I know that I am loved... even in my humanness and weakness.  This is something very dear to my heart.  

  We sang another of my favourites yesterday in church... a newer song with a similar message.  "He knows my name" speaks truth to my heart... about a Heavenly Father who calls me His own... and He knows me intimately and loves me still... and He knows the joys and the heartaches and even sees each tear that falls.

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 hears me when I call.
composed by Tommy Walker (2004)

  Music is a powerful thing.  It takes us to another place and can lift our spirits.  Many of the songs we sing are formed in scripture... sacred truths that are eternal, and always current.

   Music can fill us with joy, it can bring us to tears, it can create a place of peace.  It can make us laugh and move.  I love it when my little grandchildren hear a little ditty and want to wiggle to it... it is delightful.

  And while there have been many church discussions and divisions on the subject of how we should do music, I like to think of heaven being filled with music of all kinds, the wonderful spirituals, the music that swells within us and we want to dance and praise, the music that draws us to our knees in worship.  We cannot imagine the scope of it...

  We had a little taste yesterday when we celebrated worship with our Korean friends, and we all sang in our own native tongue... and as the languages blended in praise, it was a beautiful sound... a little taste of heaven.

    So until then... my heart will go on singing...

  

  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Art, Healing and Doodles

   I've recently taken up a new art form, which is probably one of the oldest art forms of all... doodling!  Playing with pen and paper has always appealed to me, and this time of year I love back to school sales, for it is time to stock up!

  Recently, a friend at the Vernon Art Center introduced me to a special form of doodling and I tried it... and loved the results.

  What I especially loved was that I could take my love of words and transform them into meaningful art images... and I often use this where I work, as the hospital.

 

Words are powerful and potentially life-giving...

  Art is also a powerful thing.  I have long joked that my Art is my Therapy... and I love the quote by Thomas Merton that says:  "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."  This has been true for me.

  And art can be different for all of us.... for some it will be music, or concocting wonderful creations with food, or creating a beautiful garden, or creating with knitting needles.    To me it always comes back to the Creator... and we are told we are made in his image... which is non-gender.  To create comes out of a deep place, that I believe is a gift from the Creator God.

  I was especially inspired this week when visiting a patient who had been at hospital for weeks... and she gave me permission to share this with you...

  Doodling has been on my brain lately and I was drawn to some artwork she had created and stuck on the wall next to her bed... and then she told me she had taken her pill containers - little paper cups and flattened them... and then created art out of the circles... amazing!

  
  Her materials scarce... paper cups and a pen... and she created a little oasis of beauty in her hospital setting.

   And again I was moved by how the human spirit can overcome, and we can be compelled to create, to be positive, to love, to find beauty,  even in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

  So if you're in the mood to pick up a paper and pen... join me and doodle... and it is the act of creating that can be healing, a rest for the mind.  Perfection is not the goal, but a moment of creativity and joy.