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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!

You can also find me on Facebook at Grace Notes, Thoughts and Prayers.

I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Living in the "In-Between"

I write this on Easter Saturday.

The "in-between day" of Easter, except we know the end of the story!

So much of life is "in-between", don't you think?

I see it in my work - a lot.  The hospital is all about hurry up.... and wait.

And people wait, for tests, for doctors, for results, for surgery, and some of them know they won't go home again.  So they wait, and wonder.

Some of us handle this better than others.  Some have a peace in the waiting, others a resigned attitude.  Some are too sick to care.

Others spread cheer, and see that there is living... in the waiting.  Even when it is not easy.  They look for gratitude, and opportunities to share love, or a smile.  This sometimes takes great courage.  And determination.

Others struggle.  And pain and not-knowing and uncertainty are certainly ingredients for discouragement, even depression.  There is no guilt in this.  It is simply an observation.

Really, so much of life is like this.  We hold joy... and sorrow... loosely, because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.  We can plan, we can be prepared, we can practice prevention, we can live well, and in the back of our minds we know... we cannot take it for granted.

Really, the Easter story is all about that.  The worst of the worst happened on Friday.  The disciples felt lost, bereft, Jesus' mother Mary bewildered and grief-stricken.  They could not fully understand the miracle of resurrection that was about to happen.

I thought about that yesterday, a very small example, as I poured these tiny dead looking seeds into my grandchildren's eager, little hands.  We dropped them in the dirt, and covered them, and they took delight in watering them.  It is a miracle really... those little seeds have the potential of life, of giving us nourishment, along with more seeds for the future!  We planted those tiny seeds with a lot of hope.

And as we live in the "now", the in-between of life, we also can live a life of nurture and love and hope, even in the un-knowing.  So much of life is wrapped up in mystery.

And the beautiful thing is that we trust in the words of the one who died... and was resurrected... and Who said He would return.  He promised us an eternal home, and an eternal life.

It is hard to imagine, in our dark cocoons of dirt, but someday we will see the light.  And in the "in-between", we have the wonderful promise of God with us.

I read a wonderful prayer by Thomas Merton this morning, and I think it fits so well here:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Surrender

So much of life
Is about letting go
About loosening of control
Surrender.

It starts at birth
The leaving of the
Womb
Warm and dark
And mostly
Safe.

The separation of
The cord that binds
And life in the world begins
Dependent on the care
of others.

We don’t choose our families
Or status
Or colour or country.
We simply are born and trust the hands
That catch us.

Children know it too…
They are dependent
And yet they learn to yearn
For the responsibilities
And so-called freedom
of
Adulthood

There are times through life
Where we are jolted by
Events
and  we are reminded
We are NOT
In control.

But mostly
There is this tension
Of wanting to work things out
This illusion of orchestration
Where I am the conductor of my symphony
and the author of every line.

I hope to make it better
Succeed
Ambitions for happiness, health, wealth
All rampant in our culture.
  
It is the elderly, and sometimes the very sick
Who face again with honesty
…for the most part…
That  life can fade from
Independence to dependence

Sometimes a slow painful journey
Other times a sudden awakening.

And the question remains…
Who is in control?
St. Teresa of Avilla said it well…
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away,
But God never changes.

God, the creator of life
Is always enough.
Can I relax my life
Into the Creator’s hand?
And practice

Surrender?


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Five Years

So much can happen in five years...

Five years ago we had two grandsons... and were waiting for one more!

We were in limbo...both of us between jobs, figuring out where God was leading us as we sailed into our fifties.

Our parents fragile... my hubby's mom had died a year before; his dad in a care home... my dad very ill and my mom fragile, fighting her own cancer battle.

And on a chilly Sunday morning, I woke up to a heart attack.

This was five years ago, today, as I write this on March 13, 2016.

So much has changed!!
Sometimes it is in the hardest of things,
the not knowing,
one has to surrender to the moment.

I remember arguing with the doctor that morning this couldn't be... no, I was care-giving for my parents, going to school, babysitting when I could... there simply was NO time for a heart attack...

But the heart crashed anyway, and my heart... and me... needed to pay attention.

So there I was, in the ICU ward close to my dad, also in the ICU ward, contemplating my life, and celebrating a birthday in the hospital.  It was quite the week.

Today, I am so grateful.

The heart-attack, serious at the time, left little damage.  I now know the regimen of heart pills, and the importance of taking care of myself.

I have entered into work I love, feel called to, and wouldn't be doing with such passion if I had not experienced the dark days of my own difficult health, and of being present to my own family members in hospital, and hospice.

I have the joy of being present on this earth to witness little miracles... grandchildren... and the eighth will come in May!!  And I, not a great lover of air-travel, will jet across the country to meet this little person, because being present in those moments is a precious gift.

The hardest things in life often teach us the most.

And every year, at this time, I remember.  I am glad to be alive, and to be living well.  My life is filled with joy and gratitude, although not exempt from sadness.  For that is the way of life.

I'm grateful for the lessons of the heart... to slow down, to pay attention, to live life full of gratitude.  For each day, is a special gift.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Woman to Honour and Remember

I've been trying to blog regularly on the weekends, but today is an exception.

Because today, March 8, is a birthday I want to remember.  It is my grandmother's birthday and she has been in heaven more than 30 years.

I was noticing that today is International Women's Day and it seems fitting that I would think of her today, and all she meant to me in my life.  She truly was an example, a mentor, and her name fit her well.  Anne means "full of grace, mercy, and prayer", and this was very true of her.

She was not well known.  Her family loved her.  She had lived with much adversity, sorrow and pain, but rose above circumstances to be one of the most loving and caring people I have ever known.


This picture is taken on her second wedding day, a lovely photograph.  My father was seven at the time I believe.

Grandma had lived through the pain of illegitimacy (very difficult in her day), and a challenging childhood as a result.  She immigrated to Canada when she was seventeen, leaving her first love behind.  

She married my grandfather, Jacob Friesen and they had two children and she was expecting a third, when he died of tuberculosis.  Sadly, baby Helen born months later, died of SIDS at three months.

So much sorrow for a young woman.  

She remarried a few years later to Henry Suderman, and she had six more children.

Her loving clan, my uncles and aunts are a living legacy of her love and life.   And she touched many people through her loving gifts of service and prayer.

In her fifties she became a paraplegic... my age... and it was a very difficult time.  I remember spending much time talking to her, and she was so very interested in my life, and I know she prayed... much... for her family.

So today I want to remember her.  She loved to serve cookies for breakfast and wieners for lunch.  Funny memories.  I think of her often.

Happy Birthday, Grandma Annie.  Thank you for how you influenced my life.  And I believe you cheer down from heaven, with all our other loved ones, cheering us on to do our best, to live a life of love and caring.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What's so Amazing about Grace?

Our little church produces a bi-annual story-teller, where congregants can share stories, poems and items of encouragement.  It is produced each Easter and Thanksgiving.  This Easter, the theme is “Amazing Grace”.

Of course, this piqued my interest, my name being Grace (smile), and I must admit I have conversations about that almost every week.  Often people tell me I am aptly named, given I work as a Chaplain in a hospital, and I usually joke back, “It is a hard name to live up to!”

But I do love my name… and the story goes I was not always named Grace.  No, my mother named me Dianna Grace, and apparently even baby announcements went out with that name.  But my maternal grandmother was dismayed, thinking that such a beautiful name might go to my head, and Dianna was the name of a goddess you know.  So the legend has it anyway, and my name was dutifully switched… to Grace Eileen.  Much more sensible.  J

And to all my friends who are named Diane or Dianna… beautiful name, glad you got to keep it!  (smile).

Eighteen years ago I fell in love… for the second time in my life.  Not quite forty, widowed, and into my life entered a wonderful guy named Steve.  We both thought it was hilarious that he had the same name as my son… and the same birthday, eighteen years apart.  And Steve is such a great name. 

We met at First Baptist… our current church, at a potluck Christmas supper hosted by a group called Singles for Christ.  He had noticed me before, and it is an interesting tale, too long to share here, but we came to believe that God brought us together in a lovely way.  That December night I invited him to sit by me (he looked lonely), and the rest is history.

That Valentines, our first together as a dating couple, he decided to buy me a present.  The present was a newly released book by Philip Yancey called:  “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”.

It was meant to be a sweet joke, but really, this book had an amazing impact on both of our lives.  We both were recovering from traumatic events in our lives, and anticipating starting a new life as a blended family was daunting as well as exciting.  We had a lot to work through.

And God’s grace had everything to do with it.  We needed grace for ourselves, grace for each other, grace for our families, grace for living.  If you haven’t read the book, I will say, it is one of the best I have ever read.  Phillip Yancey is honest, challenging and dares to ask the difficult questions we are often thinking but don’t dare to say out loud.

So there is my story on grace  God's amazing grace that has touched me so deeply.  It is from this well of grace that gratitude comes, grateful to God for His amazing provision in my life.  And I've learned that grace is to be passed on... in abundance!


Grace and Peace… beautiful gifts we can share with each other every single day.