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, May 14, 2019

To be Cured or to be Healed, that is the Question

There is this wonderful song which goes "I am the Lord who healeth thee."  It is written in old English, and the words have always been soothing to my soul.  I will sing it often, letting the message sink deep into my bones.

Do I believe in healing?

Yes, I do.

I've written about this before and have wrestled with this question.  I am a chaplain.  I would love to be a healer. 

To some extent I believe I am.  Words we speak, messages we give, our touch can all have a healing presence. 

The struggle comes when those who are very sick are not healed.  Rachel Held Evans, who died last week at the age of 37 is one of those.  Many people prayed for her healing.

Ironically, we happened to listen to one of her videos where she spoke of this very thing.  And she had come to the place where she believed healing was for everyone, but a cure was not.

This spoke to me, and I think of where I work, where the goal is to cure, for people to get better, to go home again.  The curative model is one doctors learn well, and they work hard at restoring physical health to the patients they treat.

But one doctor said it well to me in recent weeks... we are all going to die, I don't think we will get out of it.

In fact, Doris Day died today at the wonderful age of 97.  I don't think anyone was particularly surprised, and she will be honoured on the news tonight, and we will remember all she contributed to society. 

A cure, and yes we pray for it, is always temporary. 

But healing is for all!  Healing is for the soul, for the spirit, and yes, sometimes for the body.  Healing washes over us, like a soothing ointment, healing the heart. 

I looked up Bible verses today on healing and there are many.  I think this is where the confusion comes in because there are groups of people that truly believe that if you believe, if you have enough faith, you will be healed.  (Physically!)

And yes, this happens sometime.  God is a God of miracles!  I've known those to be at the brink of death and come back to live wonderful lives.  But not all.  Even Jesus, who healed the sick, did not heal everyone.

What is far more important is trust and surrender, as hard as those actions can be in the midst of a devastating illness, or uncertainty.   Even Jesus asked for mercy, before he died... he was overwhelmed with what lay before him.  He gave his life... and showed us the way of suffering. 

There is a much bigger picture that gives us hope.  When my mom was dying there were those who told her she would be healed.  She understood that they didn't want her to leave, but she was more than ready to go.  She looked forward to her heavenly home, where she would be truly healed and suffer no more.

I am grateful for the miracles, for the cures.  It is good to live well, to live fully, to live joyously with every day we are given.  When I think of all the natural medicines our Creator has provided to help us feel well... this is an area which really interests me... I am grateful!  I use lavender to sleep and for calming, and peppermint for headaches.  I found a wonderful tea that helps with joint pain, made locally.  There are many resources and wonderful teachers out there.

I am grateful for medicine, and for those who spend years learning to be doctors and nurses to help those who are sick.  I am grateful for cures for polio and measles, and we all pray for a cure for cancer. 

I am also grateful that I can participate in spiritual care - providing care for people's souls and hearts.  This is a wonderful privilege.

And so today's picture, a beautiful verse which says it all:

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Ps. 73:26

May you know that healing touch, today.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Influenced by Those who Lived the Questions with Compassion

I know it is a long title.

This week I have been impacted by two writers, followers of Jesus, who have deeply impacted my life and who died in the last few days.

I struggled on the weekend to understand (I don't) why a young woman of 37 with two young babies would die so soon.  This is the cry of the human heart.  When tragedy comes we are shaken.

Rachel Held Evans died on the weekend, an author, speaker and leader.  I wondered why I was so affected by someone I didn't know personally.  I had read some of her blogs.  I admired her courage. 

Relevant Magazine said this about her in a post on Monday: "Rachel Held Evans was a singular soul; a refuge for the disenfranchised and doubtful.  She saw the millions that had been harmed in Jesus' name and assured them she didn't blame them for their hurt and anger."  

Rachel dared to ask questions out loud that many of us won't voice.  It is too unsettling, because it shakes our faith.  My faith was very shaken some years ago when I dared to ask myself some of the questions I could not find answers for. The God I knew could not stay in the box I had carefully crafted, and I became undone.

As I wrestled with my faith, I came to a place where I could be ok with questions.  I could be ok with  not having all the answers.  As I get older, the more I know that I don't know.  I am usually good with that, but if I were to be honest, not always.

I take great comfort in the scriptures where the writers also asked the questions.  Where are you, God?  Why have you forsaken me?  King Solomon was surely having a bad day when he wrote: "Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart."  Ecclesiastes 7:3 

God is a God of mystery.  There is much we don't understand, that I believe will be made clear when we get to heaven.  Or perhaps it won't matter then...

There are a few things I am certain of, in a world of uncertainty.  That God is Love.  God loves me, and loves everyone.  I believe there is always hope.  These are the things I cling to when I'm feeling sad. 

Another precious man we have long admired died this morning.  Jean Vanier has been a steadying influence and mentor for both me and my hubby.  His gentle ways, his heart full of love, his ability to care for the most marginalized with grace and humour, his great love for Jesus; this has impacted our lives.

As I think of both of these precious people, one young, and one who lived to be 90, I am thankful for their words and lives, the influence of which will live on and continue to inspire many. 

To live with the questions, to me is a honest life.  To know I am loved is a cherished life.  To respond with compassion for others who suffer is a privileged life. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Restore, Reboot... Rest!

Recently I attended a wonderful retreat which focused on returning to rest.

It was wonderful.  It was a time of renewal and restoration.

As I doodled, I was struck by all the delightful words that start with RE, have you ever noticed this?

I've already used eight of them right here!

As I continue to think on these words, I am drawn to return to rest.  There has become an urgency to rest, if that makes any sense, before I get too tired or overwhelmed. 

This is easier said than done, and I'm finding I must be very intentional.

One of the new practices I have created is to set little reminders on my phone...can I stop, pay attention, say a prayer at those times?

My fit bit... or as my hubby likes to tease me, my guilt device, reminds me every hour to take some steps.  I can also use those reminders to pray as I get up and move.

Our worlds are filled with distractions, pressures, and demands.  So many of those I love are going through difficult challenges.  We live with grief, with loss, with brokenness. 

We long for the soothing rhythms of rest and reassurance that All will be Well.

Recently (another RE), I read a book about Jillian of Norwich, who coined those words...  she had lived a life of immense suffering.  She came to a place of rest, in trusting in a Saviour who had also suffered and suffers with us.  The theme of her life became "All Will Be Well".  There is a deep rest in that statement. 

So I determine to keep coming back to rest.

To reboot, to restore, to renew.  It might be a few moments in my busy day, or an intentional day off once a week where I rest.  It is planning time away for restoration. 

Blessings as you find moments of rest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Consciousness - I'm Awake!

You know those first moments when you wake up and everything comes into focus... you think about what day it is, and what it holds. 

I'm very slow to wake up in the morning.  I've learned to be ok with that, to take my time.  I love gazing out my bedroom window, sipping my coffee, and to be quite honest, I'm probably still somewhat half asleep. We've made it a practice to listen to scripture, or read a devotional thought, to say a prayer.  It is a good way to start the day.

Consciousness is to be aware.   Awake. 

Sometimes this works against you.  I recently had to get up and speak in front of quite a few people, just for a minute.  I felt self-conscious.  Beforehand anyway.  Some people shine in the limelight; for me, it takes courage.  I've learned I can do it, and I was thankful for the words whispered in my ear that morning "Just show up."

One of the wonderful gifts of aging and maturing is that we become more comfortable in our own skin.  I can be who I am, thankful for another day.  I am not perfect, but I am loved.  We all are. 

Consciousness is noticing.  We had a early morning drive today, dropping off our daughter at the airport.  The world was waking up, the sun shafting light through clouds, creating shadows on the lake.  The balsam daisies were in bloom, everywhere.  Tree blossoms had burst in some of the orchards, so beautiful.  On the way home, a blanket of cloud rested on Swan Lake.  So picturesque.   We live in a very beautiful world. 

This beauty draws me to the Creator.  As I thought of consciousness, God-consciousness came to mind.  Do we see God - in beauty all around us?  I am learning to sit, to notice, and just soak it in. 

One of my breath prayers lately has been:  "I am here.  God, You are here."  And we can be together.  I need to notice this, to draw my attention to the One who is with me, who has promised to never leave or forsake me.  (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

In the midst of a full life, where I can be distracted by many things, it is good to practice God-consciousness.  To slow down and notice, taking a deep breath.

God is as near as our breath.

We are loved.

I am awake to the presence of the Creator.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Woven Together in Love

I enjoyed drawing this simple celtic cross, woven together. And I thought it was appropriate I use it for a blog this week leading into Easter.

It's not a typical cross, I know, but it spoke to me about connectedness.  I wear a cross, almost always.  It is a symbol of where I belong, of Whom I belong to, of Whom I love.

Jesus, who died on a cross, came to bind us all together.  He talked a lot about love and how we are to live in love, to love one another, and that He embodies love.  He spoke of his love for all.

So much of our lives can be lived in separateness.  Even as we are unique, we are also all connected by our heritage, by the One who loves us, who created us. 

Much of this is mystery, and theologians have been trying to explain it for centuries.  Which in many ways has splintered the church, many of whom feel they have found "the way", and in their "rightness" have lost the love for one another. 

One of the events I love at Easter-time is that some of the churches come together to celebrate this Easter story.  It is a bridge building time that draws different denominations together.  We experienced this in the Lenten services, and many will gather together on Good Friday.

In my work, in hospital chaplaincy, I see this on a broader scale.  I love the fact that different denominations of all kinds are called to work together to provide spiritual care.  We are also called to open our hearts with friendship to all... those with faith, those with a different kind of faith, those with no faith...to all people regardless of race, gender or religion. 

We are called to love.

We are all part of God's creation.

We are all woven together.

This week, we have reacted in horror to tragic events in our Okanagan valley, acts of violence that have taken lives.  This is hard to understand.

Something is broken.  There is tragedy to broken lives, to those who have not known love, or lived by love. 

The helper in me asks, "how do I make a difference?' 

I keep coming back to love.  And I ask the Creator of Love, Jesus who came in Love, how do I respond? 

In a complex, broken world, there are no simple answers.  Except for this:  I choose to live my life in love.  To love all I meet.  It is love which heals, which binds us together. 

There is that old song we sang as children:  Bind us together, Lord, Bind us together.. Bind us together in Love. 

May you know this love in this holy week.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Living with Grace

I can't seem to escape it, I live with Grace.  My hubby does too, and there are days where he has my sympathy!

My name is an easy one to joke about... how often have I heard, "Now could Grace say the grace?", and other variations. 

Living up to my name is another matter altogether.  For truth be told, I love my name.  It is what I want to be.  Graceful, gracious, showing grace to others.  It is good to aspire to. 

Recently one of my kind co-workers asked about how I got my name... I looked back on previous posts, and found I had written the story in March of 2016.  So here it is...

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.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Looking Back to see How Far You've Come

I'm very good at self-analysis.  Well, let me rephrase that. 

I over-analyse, can be critical, even frustrated.  The target?  Usually myself.  Do you relate?

We live in a land of perfection, of lofty ideals, of reaching for the top.  We always want to do better, get thinner, be in shape, and do it all.  We want to be the ideal parent, the doting grandparent, the conscientious gardener, and prepare meals that are healthy in every way.  And taste good as well of course. 

If you are an idealist like myself (something I have tried to ditch since my youth), there is always this striving to be better, to do better...

And even though my name is Grace, there are days I show little grace to myself...

With this comes the sin of comparison... I see others doing well in a certain area and think... I should be like that.  What is wrong with me?

There is nothing wrong with working hard and doing our best.  Although I'm learning this also needs to be balanced with rest and play.

It is GOOD to strive to be healthy and live well. 

The reality is all of us are getting older, and as we age, there are declines... very unlike those golden years all of the magazines promise.  We don't do well with losses, with aging, with grieving our broken parts. 

It can take an accident, or the onset of disease, a diagnosis, and everything changes.  Or it can be the constant presence of chronic pain that takes its toll.  There are unseen ailments others carry that we have no clue about.. Lupus, MS, arthritis, and many others.  We need to show compassion to each one we meet, for we do not know their story.

We did an exercise recently in a study we are participating in.  We listed all the challenges/griefs/losses for every decade of our life.

I was surprised as I started writing for there were significant events in EVERY decade of my life... childhood illness, concussions, the death of my first husband, a heart attack. 

I looked at the list, and was surprised by the emotion I felt.  And then I felt something I was also surprised by - compassion toward myself.

And I thought, you've been through a lot, and look how far you've come! 

And yes, I'd love to be skinnier, but I recognize I've dealt with significant hormonal issues... I'd love to have more energy, but I live with chronic pain... and so on. I won't go into a organ recital I promise.

As I felt this compassion and understanding, I came to this conclusion. 

We can be our own worst critics.  I am guilty of being hard on myself.

And that is wasted energy.  Instead I want to focus on being grateful.  I want to focus on how God has helped me through really hard times.  I want to focus on being thankful for the gift of today.

I do ask wisdom for how to live, for we all want to live well. 

There is joy in this!  And gratefulness for life itself.  There is grace for today, just as I am.  Which reminds me of one of my favourite verses from 2 Cor 12:9:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness."

May this grace be yours in abundance today!