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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!

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I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A melancholy life

Some years ago, I took a personality quiz where the outcomes were divided into four categories:

I ended up scoring high on the melancholy profile, not really a surprise.

Of course I romanticized it, thinking being melancholy likely meant being highly sensitive (in a good way of course), intuitive, reflective, artistic, just to name a few.  Some good traits indeed!

I had enough sanguine traits to take the edge off...

As I recall, the sanguine characters were outgoing, happy, charming...so a mix of the two is not a bad thing.  Although I always get confused whether I am an introvert or an extrovert... depends on the mood and the time of day. 

Cholerics are born leaders, bossy, take charge kind of people.  They get things done!

And Phlegmatics are those easy going sorts we all love... nothing much ruffles them.

At least that is the simplistic version of what I remember!

We were commenting on my bent for melancholy recently and I decided to look up this word.  I love words and I duly noted that the last part of the word is holy, that should mean something good!

But I was disappointed. The word in the dictionary is utterly sad... to the depths of despair.  Pensive sadness.. The synonyms listed are a sorry bunch:  discouraged, crestfallen, disconsolate, wretched, glum, morose... shall I go on? 

Just reading that was enough to crush my spirits.

So much for definitions.

I can be
What’s in a word?
It’s quite absurd
that labels thrust
can be unjust.
And yet I see
That I can be

Sometimes it is a good thing to laugh at oneself.

In seriousness, depression is a very difficult condition to live with. I recognize there are varying degrees and a sad state does not always equal clinical depression, which needs treatment. And those who are seriously depressed need hope.  This is an illness, not a personality trait. 

But some of us have a bent for sadness, the Eeyores of this world, longing for the carefree personality of Winnie the Pooh, or the bigger-than-life personality of Tigger. Life can often seem heavy, instead of light.  We can take things far too seriously.

It is good to understand ourselves. I have completed other personality tests, all helpful in understanding how I’m wired, my strengths and weaknesses.  It is good to celebrate strengths and work on weaknesses. 

Someone I loved used to tell me... I can't help it... it is just the way I am!  I disagreed.  I think we all can help it to some degree... and understanding ourselves is often the first step.  In no way can we use our personality uniqueness to be an excuse for bad behaviour. 

On the other hand, we do ourselves no favours by longing to be someone we are not. And on a day where I feel particularly sad or melancholy it is good to be kind to myself, as I try to be kind to others

We are wonderfully and uniquely made!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Things are Not Always as they Seem

We were having lunch at one of our favourite little restaurants, and I was fixing my tea.  I had ordered green tea, as I often do, and I absented mindedly opened the bag and put the teabag into the pot.

But wait a minute... this tea wasn't green as I had ordered.  It was peppermint.

My hubby and I burst out laughing... because our very young waiter had brought me tea in a green package... made sense.  And luckily I like peppermint.

What made it more funny was we had just seen a hilarious picture on facebook of a sign that said "Green Vehicles Only", in a parking lot.  Parked under the sign was a very green old pick-up, probably gas guzzling to the hilt.  Perhaps the sign should have said Electric Cars... or Hybrid Cars... or some other environmentally easy to understand instruction.  But the green truck was parked under the sign "Green Vehicles only" .. looked legit!!

Things are not always as they seem, that is for sure.

I was reminded of so many people who we come across every day who could be in pain, who could be struggling with a chronic illness, who could be grieving... any number of things.  They look fine.  They got up that morning, and they are going about their business as best as they can...

It reminds me to treat everyone kindly... gently.  We simply do not know what people are carrying, even though they may seem as if everything is well.

It also brought to mind about the labels we carry, and how they can be misinterpreted at times.  We all have grids with which we view the world, some good, some bad.  Our perceptions can be just that, a perception of how things are, and not always the truth.

Recently I became aware of how an individual responded to the label "Christian", in a very negative way.  And it made me ponder what was her experience of "Christians".  I wondered if she was hurt in some way by those who wear that label, and if so, I want to say "I'm sorry".

I know from the many conversations I have had in my work as Chaplain that the Christian label is not always welcomed, and in some circles quite suspect.  It is sad for me that it is often acquainted with judgement, with self-righteousness, instead of love.  This is opposite to everything I stand for!

I've come to call myself a Christ-follower, for those who find the word Christian difficult.  People are flawed, Christ was not.

I know I myself can be a stumbling block because I am also deeply flawed.  We all are.  What I DO know is that Christ whom I follow and love called us to love one another.

Labels are not always what they seem.  Sometimes we have to be reminded that what we perceive is not always true. 

And above all, in all things, to live a life ruled by love.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Finding Freedom in Unexpected Places

I've been on a learning curve this year.

Actually, I think this learning is a regular thing, and I'm grateful, for I'm learning when I'm NOT learning I become stagnant!  Kind of like the stinky mess I found in my pail of weeds this morning... I should have emptied that out earlier.  But I digress... :-)

Sometimes the learning is difficult, and as a preacher we listened to recently often said:  "We are all enrolled in pain university...".  From the moment we are born until we exit... into a world without pain!

But life can also be full of joy, and I've thought long and hard about this word freedom... a word I felt God was wanting me to dwell on this year.

It would be so nice to have freedom from the hard things in life... and we all have them. 

But I realized soon that freedom would not give me reprieve... for life happens.  I have my list of difficulties, and I'm sure you could name your own.  Sometimes we live with pain, with grief, with challenges that make us weep.

Every week I send a prayer list to a dear friend who prays for me and the work I do.  She is an important and valued part of my ministry.  This week, after I sent her my list, I added a couple of prayer requests that were weighing me down.

And I was struck by her answer...she told me not to become distracted by these things but to stay on course.

I needed those words... because so often I do lose my focus. 

The verse that sits on my desk is so precious to me; it is from Exodus 10:4.  It says "I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself."

Yes, that is freedom.  It is rising above our problems and pain, and trusting in the One who created us, who loves us.  There is an old chorus I sang as a child and it comes to mind now:  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face... and the things of earth will be strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace." 

Ah yes... living in the light of the One who sees the bigger picture, in the larger scope of eternity.  "In this world you will have trouble", Jesus said... "but take heart!  I have overcome the world."

This takes faith to believe.  And trust.  But there is freedom in that.  A letting go from what tethers me, and trusting that the God I love is watching over me.  This lesson is a daily one, I think.  Letting go, trusting, and soaring to new heights... this is freedom!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

God is not in a Hurry

We've been listening to Pastor Bobby Schuller of Hour of Power most Sunday afternoons and he has a creed he recites with his church every week.  One of the statements they repeat is "I don't have to hurry, I don't have to worry". 

I have been repeating those words because they are good for me.  The creed goes on to say that our friend Jesus is with us, helping us on the journey. 

"I don't have to hurry, I don't have to worry" are good words for slowing the steps, for slowing the heart, for taking deep breaths, for paying attention. 

Last night I was doing some calendar planning.  September can come upon us like a moving train with all sorts of start-ups and programs.  For years I have felt like I need a holiday after September, there is so much to do, from harvest to meetings, and everything in between.

And I think, how can I do this better?

Deliberately slowing down is a start.  Sometimes I have to break this down, do I take time in between tasks to have that cup of tea, to be still?

Planning ahead has also made such a difference in a full life. 

As I look at my September calendar I can have that conversation with God... where do I take time to rest?  What do I need to prepare for so I am ready?  Do I have spaces in my life so when the unexpected comes I am not exhausted?

These are the questions I ask myself, and wrestle with at times.

And I think of my Heavenly Father, our Creator who is NOT in a hurry.  I see that in the garden, where there is growth, but we cannot see it. 

Sometimes we want to rush God a bit... it is hard when we are in a waiting place and want to see results.  There was one prayer request I prayed that God took twenty five years to answer... and I despaired at times. 

"In His time" is a song we sing... and it is true.  God makes all things beautiful in His time.  If we rush it, like helping a rose to bloom before it is ready, we spoil the beauty. 

There is surrender in that... and peace.  We can relax, knowing that life will enfold as it should, that we can trust God with our very lives.  "I don't have to hurry, I don't have to worry", words I am humming these days... because we can trust our Creator who sees the bigger picture!

Monday, August 20, 2018

An Ode to our Beautiful Province... that is burning

I wrote about smoke last week.

It is the topic of conversation everywhere... smoky skies, fire and how it affects us.

These words came to me today:

Beautiful British Columbia
on fire
My home

there is a heaviness in the air
It seems our world has become

Black and white
We long for colour
We are known for colour!

Flowers still blooming, 

trees rise up to greet the day, 
do they feel the smoke?

Other trees give way to torches, 

lighting up the sky
sacrifices to the great fires that 
cannot be contained.

There is a soberness we feel, 

a somberness
for as we live and breathe, 
we are all affected.

we feel it, 

we see it, 
we even smell it.

this can't be turned off like
tonight's news which just has more
of the same.

clogging our lungs
threatening our health
impacting our world.

This too shall pass

we look for hope. 

grateful for all the helpers
praying for their endurance
and health
and safety.

prayers for all affected.

Beautiful BC
We often take our home for granted
may we have wisdom
to be good caregivers
as we live in this place
of beauty.

smoky skies in Vernon earlier this week
on Saturday they said the air quality was worse that Beijing.

In Northern BC it is worse.

Praying for all our friends who are affected.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Pausing to give thanks on a Smoky Day

There are many tributes and gestures of thanks to firefighters this time of year... and there should be. I can’t imagine fighting in the heat, breathing in the acrid air, charging into dangerous areas encumbered with heavy protective garb and hauling heavy equipment.

This year there are so many fires and not enough manpower. The task is enormous and the threat real.  We can't thank firefighters enough for risking their lives to fight those fires.

We also offer thanks to those who must manage all these logistics... sending out crews, informing the public, making decisions about evacuations. Often a thankless job.

There are so many to thank, if you think of it.

First responders, search and rescue, ambulance crews all deserve our gratefulness. Being the first on tragic scenes takes a toll.

Hospital ER staff, Victims Assistance personnel, and support staff  all experience things we cannot imagine, seeing the rawness of life unfolding.  They respond to tragedy with professionalism and calm.  They are appreciated!

Working in a hospital, I often observe the challenges health providers face.  Vomit basins, bed pans and wound care are  just part of the job. What I am touched by is the sense of dignity a nurse can offer when a patient is most vulnerable. This takes inner strength and compassion.  Doctors make decisions we can't even fathom, the responsibility that rests on them is great.  The body and mind is complex and we expect much of them, not often giving thanks.

A whole blog could be dedicated to social workers; their workloads often overwhelming and the needs are great.. I’d like to thank those who clean surgical equipment (did you ever think about that), and those who keep the hospital clean.

While we are mindful of those who risk their lives, there are many who work challenging jobs that benefit us all. 

After a plumbing disaster last month I find myself very thankful for plumbers. I can’t imagine that is a fun job, but I was so thankful for the help I received that day. Watching roofers working on our neighbours roof last week got me thinking about the risks they face, working on steep roofs in all kinds of weather. It makes me think of my own hubby often climbing ladders up high to paint houses, and I pray for his safety!  These are all professions we can take for granted, but when we need them it makes all the difference.

Have you ever been thankful for a dentist?  Given my love for visiting them, I can’t imagine choosing that profession. But when I get a toothache... a year ago I had a weird growth in my mouth that even perplexed the dentist. But his calm manner and gentle treatment put me at ease and he was able to resolve it.

And then there are undertakers. Have you ever thanked one?  Or a coroner?  They too are touched by tragedy and offer professionalism while caring for bodies that held life...

So thank you... to the helpers. Too many to mention. To those who face the unimaginable, to those who face danger, to those whose jobs might be mundane but keep us safe or healthy, or provide the things we take for granted.

As I sit here on this smoky day, gratitude is a good exercise. Grumbling is easy, gratitude changes our frame of mind.

So, thank you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

To the End of the World and the Top of the World

It started with a walk with my grandsons some years ago now; my hubby and I had taken them on a wagon ride in our neighbourhood and at the end of the street, there is a deep gully and magnificent views of the lake and hills.

"Are we at the end of the world?" the oldest one asked.  In his four year old eyes, it certainly seemed that way. 

So the end of the world it became, and we have taken many wagon rides with them enjoying the world of imagination.  I even wrote a little book for them about it, complete with pictures. 

The story is about the little green wagon and how it finds the end of the world.  Of course all the grandchildren want to go, but some live far away. 

This past week two more little grandchildren got to see the end of the world.  They live far away and it was so wonderful to have them here.  The littlest one wasn't even born when I wrote the story. 

"Would you like to go to the end of the world", I asked the five year old?  I showed him the book.  "Oh, we have that book," he said!"  Well of course, I had sent it to them!  But now we dusted off the green wagon and with their daddy's help navigated our way to the end of the world.  So much fun!!

This spring we took three of our grandchildren on another walk on the hills behind our place, and as we climbed, I casually mentioned we might be now going to the top of the world.  Another place of imagination!  

I walked there myself today... the views from up there always stun me; the everchanging cloud formations, the birds soaring overhead, the grasses dancing in the mid-summer heat, the lakes shimmering below.  

It fills me with gratefulness.  And even though I can jest with the little ones that we are on top of the world, I'm also taken in with the vastness of God's beauty, the depth of the skies, the beauty as far as I can see.  And I know this is just a small corner of the world, and an even smaller corner in the vastness of the universe.  

And yet I am seen... and loved... by the Creator who made it all.  "I'm on the top of the world" goes that Carpenter song... yes that is true. Wherever I am, the One who made me is there too.  There is so much comfort in that thought.  

from the "top" of my world, August 8, 2018