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, January 30, 2018

Looking back to see how far I’ve come

I took some time today to check out some old posts, and have been entertaining the idea of publishing some of them in a little book.

I was astounded to realize I am entering my eighth year of blogging!

When I started, I was recovering from a surprise heart attack, which happened just before my 53rd birthday. I was in the middle of my spiritual formation course at Carey Theological College. It was a stretching time, a growing time.

I’m so grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and know more than ever, it is about the journey, living one day at a time, practicing being fully present, and practicing awareness of Gods Presence every day.

Just for fun, here is the first post... and I might reshare another favourite or two in the next while.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me, and I’d love to hear about yours...

First Blog - July 3, 2011

I've been thinking of creating a blog for a while - I've been inspired by other's blogs including that of my brother Randy: Be the Best, and sister Cathy, who blogs at kateaj.blogspot.com, called Desert Rose.

So I'm taking the plunge and starting a blog.  A therapeutic exercise perhaps, a place to share my thoughts, hopes and significant happenings.  It is also a time in my life where I want to record the journey - which is one of hope, faith, and love.  As with any journey, there have been bumps in the road, and significant challenges, as well as rich experiences.

A number of years ago,  I published my little book "A Journey of Hope", which chronicled not only my journey so far, but also told the story of my grandmother Annie, and of my first husband Andy and his battle with cancer.  It was healing for me to share my story of grief and loss, and the rich gifts that were gained as I grew from that deep experience.

This past year has been more of a journey of faith - and sometimes faith is putting one foot in front of the other - when you can't see the way clearly.  It is radical trust in a God who has been faithful in the past and whom you trust will never leave you.  It is about knowing in the dark that which you remembered in the light, and hanging on to that truth. I had actually thought of giving this blog a "heart" name - "thoughts from the heart", "the heart of the matter", or something of that nature, but that seemed a little too corny and overused.  But the fact is that since my surprise heart attack on March 13, of this year, it has been on my mind... how language of the heart and our actual hearts seem to be connected.

The pain of emotional heartache and physical heartache are really not that different, in my experience.   I'd love to do a study of heart words and phrases as they relate to life and the human experience, and to faith and belief.  But I'll leave that for another time.

The purpose of this blog is to simply share the journey - because it is not about what I have learned, but what I am learning.  It is more about the questions than the answers.  It is about searching after the heart of God and finding Him in surprising places.  It is about being fully human and honest.  It is about discovery and finding joy wherever it can be found.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Winter Entertainment

The best entertainment of this season has been provided by the birds.

A couple of years ago, my hubby built this bird feeder and for a while, it decorated our front garden and just sat there, waiting for business.

That has all changed.

The birds have come, and any given hour of every day there is group of birds hopping from the rose bushes to the porch, eating their fill.  We've had up to five or six on there at a time.

Bird fights have broken out as they fight for their spot. and this is highly amusing.  Not so funny was the couple of times a hawk swooped in and I don't think he was looking for bird seed.

No, there was an immediate scattering of little wings, seeking shelter.

We even had a buck come visit there, it was quite a shock to see him outside our front window.  I couldn't figure out what he wanted to eat, but when he helped himself to my rose bushes I opened the door and scared him off.  Enough is enough!

I'd like to show you some pictures of these birds, but they are skittish.  I sat one day, phone-camera in my hand, next to the window.  I was as still as you can be. I sat there for a long time.   But they sensed me, and refused to feed.

This is my best effort, and I know it is not a good picture.  What I need is a remote controlled camera with a tripod.  In my future!

My hubby mentioned it is too bad they don't cooperate for the ones who feed them.

That made me think of how we live our lives... flitting about, taking so much for granted.  It brings me back to my Source, the source of life, of all good things, of wonderful food and provision in so many ways.

It's always time to give thanks, and today I'm especially thankful for these winter birds and the joy they have brought to our life.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seeds of Hope

It's snowing today.

The snow has been falling all morning, following the icy rain that preceded it.  I pray for those who have to be on the roads.

It is pretty to look at.  I'm glad I can be inside this morning.  It is a good day for making soup.  Actually a six year old in my life requested it, and Grandma is listening.  So chicken noodle soup is simmering on the stove, alongside a roasted butternut squash soup which I love.

The mail person delivered our mail on time today, despite the elements, and guess what arrived??  

The seeds I had ordered!

There are moments in the heat of August when I am fighting drought and bugs and am sure I don't have a green thumb.  I don't have a strong back and have an aversion to the strong summer sun, and a neglected garden is often the result.

But just the other day, I thawed some tomato sauce I had made from ingredients from my own garden, and enjoyed it immensely with a spaghetti squash that we had saved.  I may not be an overly successful gardener, but there is great joy in what we do produce.  And it is true, we learn what works and what doesn't.

Every winter I'm tempted by those seed catalogs and all the promises they entice me with.  Last year half of my seeds didn't germinate.  Perhaps it was my own neglect.  Likely so.

But it was with excitement I opened my mail and found... the promise of spring!  

I was thinking about hope this morning when I opened my devotional email I receive from the Henri Nouwen society.  He differentiates the meaning of optimism and hope in a way I found truly helpful.

He says: "Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands."

I am very hopeful that I will have a good garden this year.  Perhaps optimistic is a better word.  It depends on weather, time I give it, conditions, and other factors.  

Hope, perhaps is a more restful posture.  It is trusting God while doing our part.  The outcome becomes less important.  When I put my life in the hands of my Creator I can relax.  This is a daily learning for me, to enjoy life today, every day, knowing God is with me, God is for me, God loves me.

So I can plant my seeds with joy, and leave the results to the Creator.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

It's Not a Cookie-Cutter World

Creating art, or doodling in my case, is a great teacher.

I set out to create a snowflake and I'm having a great deal of enjoyment of using white ink on black paper.  The trick is I have not found an erasable white pencil to create an outline, so I have to trust I'll get it right the first time.  I set my pen to paper and do my best.

Perfection never happens.

If you look closely, there are all kinds of imperfections.  That is, if you wanted it to be exactly even on both sides or symmetrical from every angle. 

I was thinking about that, and remembered something about the human face.  It is not the same on both sides.  So interesting.

I looked up an interesting study - you can check it out here - that showed what would happen if you took a mirror image of your left or right side... and it is true that you would look very different if both sides were exactly the same.

What we might think of as flaws or imperfections are all part of our Creator's unique design.  If you do studies on images of snowflakes - and we know this - they are all unique as well, and not always symmetrical. 

We don't live in a cookie cutter world. 

What if our voices were all the same?  I was thinking about the richness of voice as we sang the other day; the bright sopranos, the rich tenors, the voices clear and loud. Others joined in with praise, and perhaps their voices wouldn't make the audition cut, but does it really matter?  Each voice is unique in its own way.  Our voices are a wondrous thing, we don't think much about it.  But they enable us to communicate, and the lilt and tone, and volume is unique to each individual.   

We get so excited when a little child finds his or her words!  Our two year old grandson is finding his, and it is a delight.  Of course my favourite word is "Grandma", it just melts my heart when he says "my name".  His favourite word right now when we are around is "Grandpa", and that makes someone else quite happy!

The rich diversity of all we experience, from the variety of all we eat... and is any apple identical to another?... to the beauty of plants and sea and sky, and all living creatures. it never ceases to amaze me.  I think it is good to get lost in the wonder of it all.

There is a verse in the gospel of John which says "through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made". John 1:3.  

I love the fact that we are created, loved and unique, all gifts we can be thankful for and that fill us with wonder.  These are thoughts I want to ponder this week.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Freedom in 2018 - a Word for this New Year

The New Year has begun.

Full of possibilities, choices, and events we cannot control.  Life is an adventure.

Last year I chose the word "JOY" for my reflections in 2017, and it was good for me!  It was good to keep coming back to it... to choose joy in the midst of all kinds of circumstances and feelings.  My work there isn't done!

I wasn't thinking too hard about my word for 2018, but the word found me.  Does that ever happen to you?  There is a moment of clarity, and you realize... that's it!  That is what God has for me to learn and experience this coming year.  And so I've embraced this new word:  Freedom!

I found this lovely verse after reflecting on Freedom, and it comes from Psalm 119:45 which says "And I will life a life of freedom because I pursue Your precepts.".

As a follower of Christ... and I like that phrasing... because it pictures a journey where I am not complete... I enter into this path of discovery and learning, as I follow my Creator.  The word "Christian", which is a good word after all, has become tarnished, and we have to acknowledge the woundedness of many who have been deeply hurt by those who call themselves Christian.

There is freedom in knowing we have not arrived, we don't have all the answers, we too are seekers of the truth.  And as we listen to one another and hear our stories, we encourage each other on this path to Life and freedom.

I'll be thinking about what pursuing the precepts of God looks like.  Creating space and time to sit with God are important values I want to keep working on.  Sometimes this is as simple as acknowledging our Creator in all things.  I have been in awe of the moon lately, and as I gaze into the sky, I am so aware that we are not alone, that our Creator dwells among us.  Reminders are everywhere.

As I move into this new year, thankful for each new day, I pondered what freedom would mean for me.  And several things came to mind.  Freedom from worry, freedom to be me, freedom to serve.  Freedom to be okay with the changes that aging brings.  One things about these things as I enter a new decade!

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, too often they disintegrate, and with that comes disillusionment and guilt.  Although, like many, I like the idea of a fresh start.  I love the idea of a word to focus on, that is a constant reminder of where I want to be. 

What would your word be for 2018?