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, June 30, 2015

I love you to the moon and back!

  The other day I told my grandson this very thing... "I love you to the moon and back!!"... and he came back with he loved me to the sun!  And of course that was farther...

  It is wonderful to tell all our grand-kids that they are loved.  To the moon and back and much more.  And nothing more precious when they love us back, such words just melt the heart.

  I was thinking this week about how much I loved my children... and that nothing, absolutely nothing would ever change that fact.  It is a primal love, filled from the depth of my heart.  Oh yes, it is true, that in a mother's world, there is nothing like a child that will bring her her greatest joy... or deepest sorrow.  That is just the way it is.

  But no matter what ... they are loved, and welcome, and the door is always open.  We want to know them, hear their stories, care about their lives.

  I have friends like that... loved dearly, appreciated deeply.  People I can be real with, authentic, and no matter what I do or say, I know they will love me... I feel so safe with them.  Friends like that are treasures indeed.

  And I believe in a God who loves me just like that... unconditionally, splendidly, compassionately.  Some of my favourite verses are "I am sure that nothing can separate us from God's love - not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below.  Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

  Love is central to the message of Jesus.  If I am truly a follower of His, I choose to love as He loves... and I love those who are a part of my life, and those who come into my life.  This is truly a privilege.

  So no matter where you are, who you are, you are so loved... a beautiful thought I have been pondering today.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Believe

  Some years ago, my husband and I found ourselves gowning up in the Intensive Care Unit of the Transplant Unit at Vancouver General Hospital, eager, yet apprehensive to visit a dear friend and my former boss.

  He was very ill, and in recovery from a second liver transplant in a number of weeks.  And on that day, he was sitting up for the first time in days and we were thrilled to see him and his wife.

  As we remembered that day in conversations later, we all agreed our friend looked much older than his years, frail and weak.  We searched our hearts for words to encourage them, but found ourselves the ones who were encouraged by their faith in spite of all they faced.

  I wanted to bring a gift... and when I saw the plaque with the word "Believe" written on it, it seemed the right gift to bring.....

  Five years later we were invited to a very special party for "Larry, the Liver", and in their living-room we rejoiced that he had not only recovered, but was doing very well.  The plaque "Believe" on their fireplace mantle, a testimony to their strong faith and determination not to give up.

  Their story, which was told and shared with many, was an honest reflection of looking for hope in the midst of desperation. The road to recovery was long and hard, but step by step they kept going.   He became dubbed the "Miracle Man" because he overcame so many hurdles.

  It was a long arduous journey for them, one that took all of their courage and strength, and one that inspired the many of us who cheered them on and prayed for them.

  A couple of years ago, another health challenge appeared, and he was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.  Again, amidst fear and trepidation, they faced this new crisis with courage and faith.  In fact, instead of giving up, he began to tackle home projects, living each day with determination and doing as much as he could.  And he has outlived his prognosis, over and over.

  What strikes me about their story is their strong faith, faith in God, but also a belief that every day is worth living, and that giving up is not an option.  Although they are realists, they are also some of the most beautiful optimists I have ever met.    When I asked what was their secret, it was in the word Believe... that faith will see me through.


Their story inspired me to use this word in one of my drawings.  
Believe... Faith will see me through!
June 2015





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Whatever!

  Whatever!

  If I add some tone, you might think I'm having a sarcastic moment.  Who cares might be the translation.

  This word took on new meaning when my children were teens and at least one of them adopted it as her favourite verbal response.  In fact when I found a t-shirt with "Whatever!" emblazoned on it, I promptly bought it for her, just because it was funny.

  There are days that I can get rather melancholy, I think it comes from my sensitive nature.  Whatever!  :-)  On days like that,  I usually look for things to lift my spirits and in spending time with my art this week (art therapy!), I wondered what word to ponder on.  Whatever came to me!

  As I spent time with this word, and thought about it, I happened to discover that one of my very favourite Bible verses has whatever all over it!  And I love it, because it encourages us... not to give up, or be sarcastic, but rather to lean into the positive things in life...

  Of course, you need to read it in the NIV translation, but here goes!

  "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."  (Philippians 4:8)

 Isn't that a great motto for life?

 I think what has often been lost in the translation is the expectation that we always will feel these things.  And for those who call themselves Christian, there is even a lot of guilt when we struggle with our failures, or our responses, or as I've been talking about recently, for those who suffer from depression.

  I don't see this as a "guilt" verse at all... rather an encouragement to dwell on positive things, to change focus.  This is a choice I make... what I choose to dwell on...

  Whatever would even be a great prayer-starter...

  Whatever comes my way, I thank you, O God that you are with me.
  Whatever others may say, I know I am loved and cherished by You!
  Whatever negative voices I hear, I ask that my focus would be changed to thoughts that are true, are lovely,  and praiseworthy.  Amen!
 
 



Friday, June 12, 2015

Calm

   Some time ago I sat at a table at a work fair, sharing about my work in chaplaincy.  I had brought some little rocks and written on many of them... usually one word, like hope, or love, courage, and one of the most popular was be still.

  Of course this was not original with me, but it was fun to create the words on rocks, and encourage others to create as well.

  Later, I asked someone what word they would use, and the answer was calm.

  Calm is a word that speaks to me, because usually there is a lot going on...

  Even today, in the midst of changing plans, I sat, disappointed in my living room, and listened to the wind howl.  It does that on stormy days at our house, catching some draft through the garage, and it mournfully plays on, and sometimes my soul echos back.

  And my temporary troubles are so small compared to the many I have heard about... just this week.

  We watched a good movie this week, called "Still Alice", about a linguistics doctor who was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's, and it made me want to weep.  And I think the weeping was for all the losses we have experienced lately, and at times the sadness saturates and needs to spill out...

  Sometimes I just want to cry at our broken world, and my own feeble attempts to comfort, to bring hope, to care for.  And I want to howl, like the wind.

  I think of Jesus, who calmed the wind in the midst of the storm.  And I ask Him to calm my heart.

  It is in that resting, and trusting, that my heart stills and I can be calm.


  I created this little piece of art recently... I realized that the calm was the center of a busy picture, lots of detail.  And it is a good prayer to pray in the midst of life:  "Calm my heart, O God."  I believe God delights in answering prayers like these and has great compassion and mercy.
 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dentists and Taxes

  It is fun to list "favourite things", and I have in the past.

  But I've also joked about my very least favourite things, both of which I had to face last week, that being going to the dentist, and completing our taxes.

  Now I've met the odd person out there who actually enjoys going to the dentist; I can't quite fathom that concept, and usually my visit in the chair is a good time for me to practice deep breathing, relaxing and praying.  And I promise myself it will soon be over, and it always is...

  And usually the most painful part is the bill...

  Taxes is another story, and just thinking of that task will bring on a headache.  I love words, not numbers, and in case there is some concern that we were somewhat late, we are now able to file in June, due to having a small business in the family.  So more time to put it off...  (smile).

  And really, once I have waded through all the paperwork, sorted all the receipts, created all the spread sheets and given all of this to our accountant, it really isn't all that bad... so why do I fret?

  So both were accomplished this past week, and as I was chatting to my hubby, he helped me to see a very different perspective.

  He wondered why I was trying to find every last tax deduction... which I was... and commented that really, we need to be thankful for all the benefits we receive from paying our taxes, from health care to safe roads, to just living in a wonderful country we call home.

   I know that there will always be complaints about governmental styles, and bureaucracy and mismanagement (one just has to listen to the news or scroll down the Facebook feed), but I was struck that gratefulness for what we have, brings a peaceful and thankful heart.

  When I was hospitalized four years ago now with my heart, and my dad hospitalized in ICU at the same time, I shudder to think of the massive bill we might have had to pay if we lived in another country, or didn't have healthcare.  It could of changed our lives and added much stress.

  As we have been learning, the way of Jesus was often upside down thinking.  So to be grateful for paying my taxes?  I need to work on that one.  But it was Jesus who said  "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's".  (And that cool story of how Jesus answers the Pharisees who were trying to trick him, is found in Mark 12).

  I wasn't so sure I could practice gratefulness about the dentist, but the more I thought about it today, I looked back to my parent's generation where in our family, dental care was a luxury and one went mostly for emergencies, and many of my parent's generation ended up with dentures early in life.

  And I'm grateful that in my community, there are dental services for the poor, because many can't afford it.

  Once in a while, it is good to examine the heart and truly realize that something we complain about... can really be an opportunity to be thankful.  And that being said, I'm looking forward to a few favourite things to do this week!!


     

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ingredients for Life

  I was enjoying my smoothie this morning... perhaps not to everyone's liking, but fresh kale from the garden (so exciting), flax seed, omega oils, berries, frozen banana.

  It brings me back to my childhood, singing, "Popeye, the Sailor Man", who was infused with energy after eating his spinach.  I wonder what mother dreamed that up to make green vegetables appealing??

  But there is something to eating greens and other healthy whole foods that does a body good... and especially when you have had health issues, taking care of this old body God gave me has become an important job.

   It got me to thinking...

   What ingredients do I fill myself with... for life?

  There is hope... hope is a promise of good, and blessing, and a bright tomorrow.

  Laughter... a beautiful ingredient.  Sometimes it is the little things that make us laugh... and just this morning, our house was filled with laughter, the grandchildren were here!

  There is endurance.... and perseverance.  Ingredients we need when life is challenging.

  Gratefulness is another ingredient... there is always something, someone to be grateful for!

  There is faith.  Faith in the unseen, in the eternal, in what we don't fully understand.  Faith in a Creator that loves us, who understands the bigger picture.  And with that comes trust.

  And it is said, the greatest of these... is love!  Love for one another, true friendship, unconditional, pure love.  It is a wonderful ingredient in it's purist form.

  And there is a host more... but as I wrote them down, I realized that these are often choices we make, either consciously or unconsciously.

  I choose to love, not to hate or criticize, or put down.

 I choose to carry on, and determine not to give up.

  I choose hope... even in the dark.

 I choose to trust... to believe.

Although we cannot always change our circumstances, I can choose my attitude, my outlook and my reactions... and what I fill my mind with.

  Kale, anyone?