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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A trip down Halloween Lane

I've been cleaning out my closet today.  The study closet, full of old important papers, dozens of picture frames, and other assortments of things, and finding the most amazing treasures I forgot I had.

Old petit-point patterns, a half-finished piece, things I just couldn't throw away.

A pile of warranties, for things we no longer own.

And then there was the box of my writing.

So instead of cleaning, I sat, in the middle of the floor reading what I wrote in my teens and twenties...

I have always loved to write, and I remember an especially inspiring class, Writing 11. which inspired me, pushed me and prodded me to write in all different styles.  And among that collection I found of all things, tonight, on the eve of Halloween, a poem I wrote called T'was Halloween'en Night.

I actually found this highly amusing, because I have struggled with Halloween over the years, not enjoying the dark side, and as a young parent was fiercely protective of my children.  I am sure I voiced an opinion or two on this topic, and even wrote about it.  And while Halloween is still not my favourite holiday, the kids sure have fun dressing up.

And tomorrow, now grandparents of seven - can you imagine? - we will enjoy seeing these little ones have great fun in their costumes, and of course I will try to provide some healthy treats!

So here is the poem, written in my Grade 11 hand, about Halloween:

Twas Halloween night,
The air chilling and bitter
The streets dark and damp'ning
And filled with the litter
Small groups of children
Were thronging the streets.
Or rather, some witches
And white ghosts with sheets.
There were old men and ladies
And gypsies with finery
Some cats and some goblins
And angels all shinery.
Clowns with all faces;
Some happy, some sad.
And a dear old professor
who looked very mad.

They all rang my doorbell
some shy and some eager.
"We've come trick 'r treatin"
Said one little beaver.
So I'd plop them some candy
In pillow or sack.
They'd say thank-you with wide eyes,
Their lips would go smack.
And down the long street
their small footsteps would patter.
They'd giggle and laugh
With child's endless chatter.
I'd sit back and smile
And recall way back when
I was a child
And had fun like them.
by Grace Friesen - for my writing class: Grade 11

My friend Dawn inspired me to try my doodles on a pumpkin, so here it is.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How are You? I am Fine.

How are You?

I've been thinking about this blog for about a week now, and often that is how it is, a lot of ruminating in my head, and then, my thoughts translate into words and escape into the screen.

But it was crazy, the more I thought about this common greeting and tried to STOP saying "How are You?, and answering "I am Fine", the more I became aware of how many times a day I do just that.

And I thought, this is really one of the most insincere greetings we use.

Because, really... instead of hello, we politely say "How are You?", and do we really want to know?  Do we have time to listen?  Are we genuinely interested?

And if I answer "I am fine", am I fine... really?  Well perhaps some of me is fine, but other stuff is not, and really, I don't always want to talk about it, and I might think you might not have the time to listen.  Or that would make me feel vulnerable, and it is really much easier to say "I am fine".  Perhaps some of us have this inner dialogue, but most of us just use the greeting like a common "Hello".

The crazy thing is, in my role as a chaplain,  I try to be very aware of my words, but sometimes I blurt this greeting to a patient... someone sick in hospital that I am meeting for the first time, and really it is not a great conversation starter.  And when I do that, I feel bad.

So I'm working on some new greetings...

"How is your day going?"

"Nice to see you!"  Really, it is!

And I'd like help with a few more...

Of course, meeting friends, co-workers, people on the street, people we meet in the workplace or community all can have various greetings that are suited to our relationship with them.

I also thought about my own answers to that question I field many times a day.  When my day is not so great, I might say I am OK.  Often I say I'm fine... it is just easier.  And the more I think about it, truly I AM fine.  I am breathing.  I am alive.  I am loved.  In fact, I'm really great!

I do love the prayer of the Examen, though, (inspired by St. Ignatius Loyola over 400 years ago)where I examine my heart at the end of a day, or a time period, and I ask myself:  How are you?  I can recall the tough parts of the day, the things that made me sad, that impacted me, words I heard or read that stayed with me.  I acknowledge how that made me feel.  I can talk to God about it.  Sometimes I share this with a trusted friend.

And the other part of the Examen is to recall what was the brightest part of my day, what brought me joy, filled me with peace, gave me hope.  And I lift my heart in gratitude.

And it is good to hold those two in balance, because our lives are like that.  There are the broken parts, the concerns, the worries we bring to God, we ask for prayer.  And there are the joys we share.  The blessings we are grateful for, every day.

So how are you, really?  Honest, I'd love to know.  Your comments and feedback mean the world to me.

How am I?  Not always great.  There are struggles some days.  I'm human, and I become discouraged.  I believe this is a reality for many, and we put on our strong fine faces and press forward.  I struggled with writing that.  But I am compelled to share it, because I think what our generation longs for is authenticity, for the safety to ask the questions, to say "this troubles me."  We live in a broken world and for some I know, things are very challenging indeed.  I long to bring hope to their discouragement.

The truth is I'm also good!  I'm thankful that even in the challenges, there is a deeper strength I can depend on, and grateful for my faith, and for my friends who cheer me on.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Gift Worth Giving

Some call it "Donor Fatigue".

I experienced this to some degree this week when I opened no less than four requests for donations, found in my mailbox, one day this week.

Two came with unsolicited gifts, the typical address labels (I have hundreds of these by now, saving for those letters I rarely send), some pretty Christmas cards, some of which I would not use.

A little guilt thrown in, and I have to admit most of this mail added bulk to the recycling pile we took out today.  Good causes, but not causes I feel I can support at this time.

How does one decide?

Websites like "Charity Navigator" help to navigate how organizations spend their money, and bring accountability to how I give. I want to know that money and gifts I give go directly to the source - to the child from World Vision, for instance.

It is a generous time of year... and I am grateful for Food Banks who need our help, and for those who collect for them.  I appreciate the work done in our community for the poor.  I applaud the work of the Hospital Foundation who raise money for endless medical equipment and give support where tax dollars do not.  There are many places to generously give...

This weekend we are going to two fund-raising events, one near and dear to my heart.  The first is for New Hope, an organization  I have been part of  for many years, I think coming up to 19.  They operate from a shoe-string budget, and week after week they seek to support, encourage, and provide resources for the widowed in our community and beyond.  You can check them out at www.newhope-grief.org

So if you are looking to do something fun this weekend, and support a good cause, Their "Gala" event which includes a dessert, dancers this year, and a silent auction is being held at Vernon Christian Fellowship, in Vernon, 7 pm, Saturday evening (Oct. 24).  You can get tickets at the door, only $10.

So there you have it.  My two cents worth.  Well, it might have to be nickels, no pennies in Canada anymore!

And may we all find wisdom and joy, in this season of giving.  It is good to know that no matter what we are able to contribute financially, we can give the gift of ourselves, the gift of time, a smile, some encouragement.  Because somethings are just not measured by money.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Bad Hair Day

I've never been photogenic.  Because it is culturally acceptable and all around us, I am attracted to people who are.  Those people who look great, even though the wind has whipped their hair, or they have run through a rain shower.  Usually I look like a drowned rat.  I'm not particularly fond of rats.

Even though I am learning to be kind to myself, especially as I age, I am quite good at using the "delete" button on my iPhone or camera if I don't care for the result.

So we were laughing this morning when we scrolled through the posts on Facebook, and inevitably the faces of our political leaders showed up.  And my hubby said, you can sure tell if they are in favour for a person or not by the picture they choose.

How true!  The unflattering pictures were those political leaders we were encouraged (by the person who posted it) to NOT consider, and their flaws, physical and political and and and... were shared.  I simply don't think I can vote for a person caught in an unflattering pose.  Can you?

I think it is a sign of our culture.  We hide the flaws.  We put our best foot forward.

And yet... as I sit here with rollers in my hair, warm fuzzy socks on my feet, thinking about life... I know I am deeply flawed.  I also know I am deeply loved.  And I hope I am not judged by a bad hair day.

And far from being a political statement, because I'm not sure which political leader has the best hair (just kidding), I was very impressed as I listened to Elizabeth May chat with Peter Mansbridge last night. (I think it was pre-recorded)   She might not win any beauty contests, but she is smart, dedicated, hard-working. and a wonderful role model for women. And in my eyes she IS beautiful.

But what impressed me most was that she refused to bash the others.  She talked about working together.  How novel!!

So this is NOT an endorsement for the Green party.  It is another reminder that I need to be kind, to carefully make my decisions not based on looks or charisma or promises, but on character, on kindness, and the ability to lead.

And even though the decision is difficult, I am so grateful that I, among my fellow Canadians get to vote.  Bad hair day or not!!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Transitions

the time of year
I set my soup out on the porch
to cool in the chill of autumn
   steam rising

the flowers stare
  chilled
brilliant 
  knowing their time
is almost done
  and I pick the last blooms
cherishing their beauty.

And little feet guide me
   to the leaves piled on the edge
     of the road
And we jump
  admiring the crunch

And I wrap myself
   In my familiar
     favourite quilt
And even as I miss the
  longer days of light

I wrap myself cozy
  And ready myself

     for winter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Election

This blog was created to be reflective, encouraging, uplifting, and hopefully to have some meaningful discussions.

Definitely not political in nature.

But I write, because that is how I often work things through, and because I believe there are many out there just like me who are conflicted, and the choices we have as Canadians are challenging indeed.

I used to think along Conservative and Liberal lines... and my faith would have me align with one more than the other, and that truly was my way of thinking for many many years.

But I fell out of the box, and started to despise the lines, both in political and religious circles.  I wanted to be a Christ-follower first, because my faith is everything to me, and I failed to see how many of the parties failed to acknowledge that God instructed us to take care of the earth, to care for the poor, to seek justice for those who need it.

No we have become more of a society that seeks to look after ourselves and guard our own best interests.

As I consider what is important to me, I find my lines are further blurred by moral issues.  And yet, I am not convinced that government should be legislating morality.

I would think that a government's job is to govern, to manage our country's resources, to take care of our land for future generations, to take care of the citizens that live here, as well as show compassion to strangers/refugees who need our help.

Of course, it is much more complicated, and I have many people near and dear to me, whom I love, with very varying and strong opinions on how I should vote.

There are times where I would rather not vote at all, but I so strongly believe in our wonderful privilege to vote that it would seem a travesty to not have a voice.

And so I struggle.  And I pray for wisdom.  And I pray for our country, a country I love.  I am so blessed to live here and call this place home.

And as Jesus said, we are to pray for those who govern over us.  We are called to be peacemakers.

And perhaps it is the wide differing of opinions, the name-calling, the put-downs, the accusations that bother me as much as anything.  This election is important to many people, but it often becomes divisive, and even mean.

And my prayer, as it often is, is simply, "May God have Mercy."  Amen.