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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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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Time for Those Fuzzy Socks

I sat on our deck Sunday afternoon and the air was chilly.

I went into my unused sock drawer and pulled out one of my favourite happy pair of socks.  These socks have a bit of a story.  Some years ago, my friend Christina, insisted we all would be happier if we owned... and wore... happy socks!  These socks were a gift from her.

In the Winnie-the-Pooh world, Christina was the Tigger... and we joked that where she was unconventional, I was rather staid and kept the rules.  (I believe I wrote about that recently!).  I am an Eeyore, a Winnie-the-Pooh want-to-be, and I'm OK with that!

And generally I wear boring black socks, if any at all, but once in a while I need to spice things up.  Or in Sunday's case create a little warmth.
I put my feet up on my deck, sharing the chair with this Teddy Bear, rescued from my stash at the hospital.  He needed a bath and was drying in the late summer sunshine.

The socks felt good on my summer-calloused feet, and this year especially, I am grateful for the cooling winds of autumn coming.

This time of year the quilts and sweaters come out, and it is time for the bi-annual closet shift from warm to cool.  The soup pot comes out and there is so much inspiration from harvest.  Last week I cut up a rather interesting squash I had grown in my garden, and we added ginger, carrots, onions and garlic as well as some peppers and simmered it all day.  A little cumin and turmeric added some zest and the blended soup was delicious.

This morning I heard of reports of snow in the passes, and am wondering if we are going to bypass autumn altogether.  Right now I'm hoping to put off the winter coats as long as possible and enjoy some sweater weather.

I'm thinking tomato season is done, and like many others I'm storing for winter.  For years I have roasted tomatoes in the oven, and there is nothing like that rich smell of garlic, onions and tomatoes simmering in my roaster, sometimes for a few hours.  I've added peppers and zucchini too, and cooked down and blended with basil, it makes a rich sauce that can be used all winter long.

Thanks to my new friend Hannah, I'm freezing my sauces in "pucks", how brilliant!  The silicone muffin tins work great, and once it is frozen, you can easily store in freezer bags, and just take out what you need.  In fact, I think I might try that with applesauce....

Life can be full... especially in September.  I'm reminding myself to slow down, to savour the moments, the smells, the sights.  Just walking through a market and seeing the colourful inspiration of harvest is food for the soul.  I met a dear couple at our local farmer's market recently, both now in a extended care home, but there they were out for stroll.  She in her walker, he carefully watching out for her, and they were enjoying the autumn sunshine, taking it all in.

So I'm inspired to pull on the socks, brew some Chai tea, and inhale... in the middle of a labour-intensive season, it is good to settle my heart and be grateful for the many blessings that abound all around us.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Help!

A couple of years ago I had a display for the chaplaincy work I do, and brought a basket of rocks.  I had written words on many of them, and encouraged participants to write their own.

We had written out words:  courage, strength, faith and love.  And on one rock I wrote the word "Help!"

It was quite popular!  :-)

Even though many of us appear to be well put together (sometimes), within all of us is a place where we know we need help.

Of course babies are the best at this.  They just cry about it!

But independence sets in early and my darling grandchildren are very quick to point out "I can do it by MYSELF", even though Grandma is more than willing to help.

It can take courage to ask for help.  It is a vulnerable place.  Recently in our community a father reached out on Social Media and asked for help.  His son who was challenged in a number of ways was having a birthday.  And none of the invited guests were coming.

It was heart-warming to read the story in the paper the following week, but the community responded to this cry for help, showing up, bringing presents and even a fire-truck got involved.  It was a wonderful birthday!

There is another funny fable about a man in a flood who was perched on top of his house, calling out to God for help.  There were offers, but none suited him, and he kept saying that God was going to answer.  Well, he drowned.  And the fact is God had sent all kinds of help but he didn't recognize it.

We can become overwhelmed by all those who need help.  Right now our eyes are fixed on hurricanes as they have pummeled the United States and Mexico.  Mexico is reeling from a large earthquake on top of this.  We are still recovering from a summer of flood and fire in the Pacific Northwest.

And then I saw a news-clip almost hidden in the hurricane stories of mass flooding in India and Bangladesh, and other parts of Asia, where more than a thousand people have died, and others and are crying out for help.

It IS overwhelming.

And yet I am amazed at all the helpers.  We need to pray for them.  People at the ready, responding to disasters all over the world.  I pray for strength, for wisdom to manage resources, for protection.

And how do I respond?  I think it is good to do some homework and see how the agencies we give to manage their money.  It is good to give, and it is also gratifying to see governments match many of those donations in kind.

Years ago at a widow's retreat I attended a dear elderly pastor gave the sermon.  I've probably shared this before, but it is worth repeating!  The title of his sermon was "Help!"

The message was about prayer.  It is the simplest of prayers, and the most heart-felt.  "Help!"

I find I pray it often, because I know I can't do life alone.  I pray it as a chaplain when I see the great need and I don't know where to begin.  And God gently guides my steps.

I pray it when my body fails me, and I ask the Creator who made it for wisdom for how to take care of myself.

I pray it when I struggle with relationships or schedules or work, because I know I need help.  And I have found God is faithful to answer that simple prayer!

I am grateful for a God who is personal, who I can reach out to and cry for help.  And I pray for all the helpers who are also responding to the many around this world who are crying out for help.  I pray those needs would be met, and know that God can use all of us to help, through prayer, through giving and through compassion.








Monday, September 4, 2017

A Post for Labour Day

I spoke on the topic of labour yesterday and how it relates to the faith journey.

For most of us, Labour Day is related to the last hurrah of summer, that last long weekend to enjoy with family.  Many are getting ready for back-to-school, and indeed this past week I admired the new shoes and backpacks of my grandchildren.  All part of the excitement!

Labour Day has traditionally seemed labour intensive to me.  Coming from Mennonite roots... and others will relate to this... it is the season for harvest, for canning, for preserving.  Peaches are just finishing and tomatoes need attention.  This time of year we roast our tomatoes with onions, garlic and pepper and I've been known to sneak in a rogue zucchini  Blend it all up with lots of fresh basil and it makes a wonderful harvest supper, with leftovers to freeze for winter!

I have two children born in September!  That was labour intensive!!  When they were little I often joked that this was poor family planning to have birthday parties in the midst of harvest and back-to-school.  It created a very busy September!  But today I attend my granddaughter's birthday party... and the tradition continues!

I looked into the history of Labour Day to better understand its roots and was fascinated to find that the initial movements in Canada were to shorten the work week to 9 hours a day.  This is foreign to most of us, except for some workaholics I know.  :-)    The Union movement was created to provide relief for workers and create more time for education and time for families.  It is worth celebrating.

We all need a balance of work and rest.  When there is no meaningful work to do, I believe we begin to whither and lose meaning in our lives.  Recently I was called to encourage two ladies in their nineties who had lost hope and were depressed.  We talked about their lives and what brought them meaning.  I encouraged them that their lives still had purpose... they could pray... which is one of the most precious things we can do.  They could smile and encourage others.  When I left them, we were all encouraged!

The apostle Paul talked about the meaning of work and how we do it to honour the One who gave us life and energy.  He was a tent-maker, supporting his missionary work.  He says in Colossians 3: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord."   

I like to think we find God in the ordinary.  When I am doing laundry or creating a meal, I can be praying or thanking God for the blessings we have received.  We have clothes and shelter and abundance.  When we tend the earth, we give thanks for the miracle of plants and growth and provision.  Not to mention the wonderful variety of food we enjoy.  When we stop to think about it, it is truly amazing.

I am grateful today for all, who by their labour enrich my life.  We think especially of fire-fighters in our province today and pray for them.  Their labour is intensive.  I pray for all those who are in the front-lines, the helpers, the government officials who make decisions, the community workers who provide resources.

We pray for all the teachers, who are preparing for a busy week!  We pray for health-care professionals, from those who clean our facilities (important work!), those who provide nutrition, for nurses, doctors, lab techs and so many more.  I am grateful for the service industry, for those who work in stores, we can go an buy anything we need!  And grateful for the factories and other warehouses where people work diligently to create the many things we need and desire.

I am thankful for leaders in the faith community, and others who work in the church and community.  Life would be difficult without those who work in sanitation, and keeping our community clean and safe.  And I am thankful for the many many volunteers who work freely to make our community and world a better place.

And you know, I could go on and on.  So Happy Labour Day!

May you be blessed by all you do today, whether it is rest or recreation or labour.  All are wonderful gifts, not to be taken for granted.