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, July 16, 2019

Reflections

Reflections 

My mind
can be a deep pool 
of thoughts
like water swirling 
ever moving 
dreams mixed
with reality. 

I want to avoid 
becoming a
stinky cesspool 
of negativity and 
ceaseless
repetitive anxiety. 

Rather,
still my waters, I pray 
Let me reflect 
light
and love. 

May my thoughts turn
upward
restful in stillness 
reflections of 

peace. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Living in the Tension, wrapped with cords of Love

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5

There are days where this verse reflects my heart.

I find myself wondering why I focus on the things that divide us, rather than what unifies us. I know that when I feel judged for how I practice faith, I am inclined to hold judgement in my heart against those who judge me. True.

Self-awareness is a gift, and sometimes I need to weed out the defensiveness and cynicism that rises in me.  Weeding is part of life! 

Self-awareness also helps me to recognize the sadness I feel when people I deeply care about are polarized and posture themselves to defend rather to listen and respond with love. 

How I would love to bridge the gaps that divide us, to help those who have strong views and opinions take time to listen to those who might not see their point of view.

When I listen to the wounded, I often listen to those who have been wounded with the barbs of certainty framed in Christian rhetoric.  It makes me want to weep. For that is not Jesus’ way. His was the way of love, and he reserved judgement for the religious zealots.

I also listen to those strong in faith but confused by the swirling dissension among us.  Often these conversations are framed in fear.  I have become convinced that when we are afraid of the "other", we lose our capacity to love, listen and understand. 

I often ask myself, what is the Jesus way?  He hung out with the broken, the marginalized.  His disciples were a struggling lot at times.  This actually encourages me.  Even though I struggle with "doing it right", I keep praying the prayer "Show me Your way."  And if there is any certainty, there is the compelling command... to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Those words of Jesus give me direction.

So I continue to live in this broken way, as I know many others do. Sometimes having more questions than answers, but living in the knowledge that God loves us. This I believe with all my heart. I live, claiming the peace that passes all understanding, knowing that I will understand someday.

I want to live with an open heart, listening to each one’s story, understanding how they are formed; often living and affected with wounds from the past. I pray for the ability to be a wounded healer, a follower of Jesus, who was wounded for us. All of us.

I am incredibly grateful for beauty all around us. I see it everyday,  in the people I observe who so lovingly give of themselves. I see this in creation which speaks to me in the sky, in the flowers, in the birds, it is all around us. This is an antidote for pain.

So when I am disquieted, I look to the one who understands the full picture. I love this verse, from Isaiah 30:15.  In quietness and trust is your strength.  


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Good Old Summertime

There are so many good things about summer and a question I often hear is this... what are your plans for the summertime?

We joke, my hubby and I, that we don't make plans because there is so much planned already, we just join in to what is happening!

We also agree we are blessed to live in paradise; we might not have a lake view, but we can walk to one within minutes.  There is beauty all around us.

This photo taken this past week on our neighbourhood walk.  The lake is in the distance.

I took some time away from work to just enjoy the season, to savor this time of year.  The garden calls me, and I love watching how things grow and flourish.  I agonize over the bugs, and rejoice in the blossoms.  Each new vegetable picked is a delight.

This year's garden... already eating a lot of kale and zucchini.  Grateful to Dan who helps me to tend my garden. 

I'm particularly thrilled that I have dahlias ready to bloom, the last few years I planted them, I got one or two flowers in October.  But this year's plants hold promise for summer bouquets.

I've made a plan - to create a bouquet every week from my garden if possible.  I've had three weeks already - roses and lavender, and beautiful gerbera daisies on my front porch.  And if the garden doesn't produce, there is always the farmer's market, or even a road-side stand this time of year.  This is food for the soul! 

We want to take in music - and we have done just that in this last week - enjoying an amazing local opera at our local Performing Arts Center.  Tonight we'll change it up a bit and go to a Gospel Bluegrass outdoor concert on the grounds of our church. 

Which will include a BBQ, always a great summer pastime.  Eating outside is a wonderful summertime pleasure.  We've had several great meals at local pubs on their patios.  On Father's Day, we even happened on some outdoor entertainment while we ate, it was delightful.

We are blessed to have access to wonderful music - much of it free - in outdoor venues around our city.  We have beautiful parks for picnics.  One of my favourite things to do is walk along the Rail Trail, along Kalamalka Lake and Wood Lake.  Along Wood Lake they have even created some lovely picnic areas which we would like to try out soon.

And then there are the fruits in season... right now we can't get enough of raspberries and are so blessed to have them grow in our yard.  Blackberries are forming and won't be far behind.  My dad is coming soon for his annual cherry trip and we don't have far to go to pick buckets of cherries to enjoy. 



Summers are to be savoured, I reckon.  I want to take time to read my book on the deck, to listen to the fountain, and be aware of the butterflies fluttering by. 

So I'll keep this short... Here's to summer!




Tuesday, June 25, 2019

It's all about Perspective

I've been thinking about perspective.  Recently I went on a walk and took some pictures, something I love to do. 

I was climbing UP this path and took this shot.


I realized after I was home that there was no way you could tell if you were walking on a level path, going down or going up. 

So I had to return and take one with perspective:


Same path, and yes, I was heading up.  Quite a steep incline, actually. 

It spoke to me of how we view things.  So often our vision is limited and we don't see the whole picture. 

We see things from our frame of reference.

One of my class assignments when I was studying counselling some years ago was to write down my frame of reference.  It was such a good exercise.  I realized that my thinking and way of being were very much shaped by my upbringing, my culture, my surroundings, and even the way I practiced my faith.

We were then told to put our frame of reference "on the shelf", as we listened to others.  In order to listen with an open mind we needed to hear other's stories without our own bias.

I have never forgotten that.  It is GOOD to self-examine, to have a strong sense of what we believe.  Sometimes we need to look at that, and I often ask in prayer, "God what is YOUR truth?, not my own" 

Because God sees a far bigger picture, and simply cannot be put into a box of our own understanding. 

That is where trust comes in.  Just like the steps above, we don't always know where they will lead.  But I can trust in a loving God who goes before me, one step at a time, all-knowing and loving.  And that is a good perspective to hang on to.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Hope: Fuel for the Journey

This week's blog is from a meditation I shared on Sunday about Hope.  I hope it will encourage those who read it!

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Lately I’ve been painting butterflies.  They are amazing miracles of flight, of beauty, of restoration. 
Did you know a butterfly can’t see its wings?  And yet it flies anyway, soaring into the skies.
Butterflies speak to me of hope. 



Although I’ve written about hope for many years, I’ve found myself pondering its meaning in recent weeks. 

I thought of the word optimism, and I don’t think that is accurate.  It is good to be optimistic, to look at life with a positive outlook.  But the truth is, no matter how optimistic we are, life happens, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

I do believe that when we approach all we do with a positive attitude, and a cheery outlook, it can affect how we see the world.  It can affect our mental health.
I love the story of Winnie the Pooh.  He was so amicable, easy going, and kind to his friends.  If I was to pick a character from his story, I’d want to be Pooh Bear.

Tigger, on the other hand, is a bit too much for me… far too bouncy, cheerful and in your face.  Quite exhausting, although I admire him from afar.  If only I had his energy! 

Quite often, I’m with Eeyore.  There is a great cartoon that has gone around on social media, depicting Eeyore as clinically depressed.  He's just a melancholy donkey.  But he is part of the story and his friends include him and love him.  He’s a sensitive guy!

The fact is, I really don’t want to be Eeyore.  I want to be optimistic.  The truth is many of us can be weighed down by circumstances; life can be challenging when we are ill, or grieving, or sad. 

When I need hope I often go to Scripture, which is filled with Hope.  At the hospital I give out Hope magazines…. a wonderful publication put out by the Gideons. It is filled with beautiful pictures and the Psalms, and I love to hand it out.  I always leave some in the chapel too.  It is a wonderful resource to use to encourage others.  The poetic words of the Psalms often filled with hope – and comfort. 

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Psalm 62: 5 -6 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

From Psalm 71:   5  For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6  From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mothers womb. I will ever praise you. 14  As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

I love the thought that as I visit people in hospital, one of my tasks is to give people hope.  Hope in the midst of despair, hope while they wait, hope for things to get better.  Hope even in the midst of grief.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with sad stories, our own heartbreak, with grief and loss and illness.  After experiencing a lot of trouble, we can become pessimistic… what else is coming? 

I love this verse from Hebrews which says:  Hope is like an anchor.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  This is different than optimism which seems hinged on everything going well. 


Hope gives us an anchor, a firm and secure place to hang onto in the midst of life, no matter what our circumstances are.  In the midst of a raging storm, or a peaceful calm sea, the anchor remains.  Faith, to me is that anchor, my faith in God who stays by my side, and is present always…

Those wonderful words from Psalm 23 say it so well… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,a
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
In all of life… even in death, we don’t have to fear because God is with us.  This is the hope we can hang on to.

One of my favourite verses comes from Psalm 62, where it says: Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 

Visualize with me a picture of a huge rock, a fortress where we can run to and be safe.  My friend puts it so well… we might be shaking, but we can stand on a rock that doesn’t move.  It is solid… this brings us peace and rest.

There is another beautiful verse that says “Though our bodies are dying our spirits are being renewed EVERY DAY!  2 Cor 4:16

Even though we don’t like to think that our bodies are dying, we all know it is going to happen… to all of us.  As we get older the aches and pains remind us we are not young anymore.  Our conversations start to go to organ recitals, and it isn’t very musical. 

But there is this incredible hope – that our spirits… our very souls are being renewed… day by day!

Just like the butterfly… who as a caterpillar curls up and could be left for dead… emerges into the most beautiful of creatures… free and light, soaring with hope.  
This is hope we can hang on to.  A hope that is as secure as that anchor we read about in Hebrews.

This is a hope that is solid like the rock that won’t be shaken.  A hope that brings freedom and joy. 

How do we live in hope?  Or bring hope to others?  It might be an encouraging smile, or a listening ear.  It might be a gentle touch or a short prayer.  It might be a quilt or prayer shawl, given to someone who needs hope, and these practical gifts are reminders of the fact that someone cares, God cares.

It might be a friendly exchange in an elevator or hallway and asking someone how their day is going.  We can all do that!  Hope can be delivered with a phone call to a shut-in, or a word of encouragement to a busy parent.  It can be a plate of cookies or a bowl of soup to someone who needs nourishment.  It can even be a smile to a homeless person, who just is longing to be seen. 

Hope is available for all of us.  When we are filled with hope, it doesn’t mean we are guaranteed an easy life.  It is those challenging lessons that often shape us, where we come to know how much we need God’s help. 

Rather, Hope is trust in God who is with us through all of our lives.  Hope is the knowledge of eternity, a time where we will have new bodies and our mourning will be over.  Hope is knowing that with God in our hearts, all is well, no matter what our circumstances.

There is hope for each one of us…a gift from our Creator, a gift of forever.  I love the saying Hope Springs Eternal.  Hope is eternal.  It is solid. 

We can be filled with hope.  How?  By reminding ourselves of God’s promises.  By singing about them, and reading words of hope from sacred and inspirational readings.  

This gives us fuel for our days, energy, if you will, filling us with hope to live joyous expectant lives. 


We can trust God knows the whole picture and He is faithful Phillipians 1:6 says, : “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  

There is hope in that, a confidence that God will supply all we need.

 May you be filled with Hope today!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Food for the body, Food for the soul.

Tuesdays are often a catch-up day for me.  I write, I catch up on errands, and there is always a list of what I should do...

Today I worked on a message I will be giving on Sunday... I'm thinking, it might be good content for next week's blog!

And then, I had salads on my mind.  On hot weeks, like this one, I like to make a variety of salads we can just help ourselves to at meal time.  I had five salads in mind... three were made, another one part-way.  There is always tomorrow!

There have been days where I've aspired to be a food blogger - but I never have enough time or energy for the kitchen.  (and I have a lot to learn!)  That being said, I love to create healthy food, and enjoy reading other people's recipes and ideas.

I've been teased, I'm happiest when reading a recipe book with a cup of tea... and certainly that is always enjoyable.

Food is nourishment.

So I was motivated to do some  pre-prep this week... Sunday I made a slow-cooker full of black beans, because I wanted organic and buying it in cans (which I often do) seemed expensive.  Really, it doesn't take much time... I soaked the organic beans overnight, rinsed them well and set them to cook all day in my slow-cooker.  By the end of the day I had six containers full for salads or whatever...

Food can conjure up memories.  Potato salad is one of our favourites, and it always makes me think of my mom and how she made hers.  Buttermilk mixed with mayonnaise was the way to go.  Lots of eggs and sliced potatoes, and always radishes.  To this day I love radishes in my potato salad, and was glad I had some in my fridge.

Another recipe always makes me think of my son.  Some years ago I headed to Vancouver where he was living at the time to attend a conference, and he made this delicious soba chicken salad for me.  I still remember the little chinese like take-out containers we put the salad into and headed to the beach to eat it.  It is one of my favourite memories.  And I make the salad to this day.

The soba noodles are buckwheat which I can eat and it has a lovely mixture of carrot and basil and a lovely sauce.  The original recipe called for a chicken breast cooked with a bay leaf, today I just chopped up a barbequed breast my hubby cooked last night... I think it will do.

My new salad to go is a beet salad, unheard of in my growing up days, but what a delightful way to eat beets!  You just cook the beets until barely tender, then cool and chop into cubes.  I add the juice of a lime (my latest favourite salad flavouring), some salt and pepper and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.  Add some feta cheese and mix together... quite yummy.  I decided to add a little maple syrup, which was tasty, but I think I'll try balsamic vinegar next time.

I also tried a kale/quinoa salad last week, which is half prepared now.  Kale always reminds me of my wonderful younger friend who taught me to "massage" kale.  How we laughed about that.  So I chop my kale and put in some beautiful flavoured olive oil and rub it in for about 30 seconds, creating a softer, bright green leaf mixture.  Add some cooked quinoa, and a lovely dressing and it is a wonderful summer time salad.

So... this blog has turned into a conversation about food.  Hope you don't mind, and that you will be as inspired as I've been lately to create healthy food for hot busy days.  What is your favourite summer salad?  I'd love to hear about it!

Every week I create a menu plan for the week in my bullet journal.  Sometimes I follow the plan, and sometimes I don't... life happens.  I also pick a verse for every week... food for the soul.

This week my verse is this one:  "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live.  I will sing praise to my God while I have being.  May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord. "  Psalm 104:34

Food for the body, food for the soul.  I'm so thankful for the abundance we have and the creativity to prepare wholesome meals.  We are truly blessed.


bean salad, a new recipe, so excited to include our first zucchini from the garden!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The sky is the limit

The sky is the limit.

Or, it might be more accurate to say, the sky is limitless. 

I love the sky, the artistic hand of God, a fresh canvas every day, often every hour.

On my early morning walk I enjoyed clear skies today.


A plane buzzed overhead, small yet visible, and I wondered what the pilot could see. 

Some years ago we listed to an amazing video about the vastness of the universe; how small our planet and home is compared to endless galaxies.  It is really beyond our imagination. 

In contrast when you think about micro-organisms, even the small bugs and life we can't see which make up our earth, it is mind-boggling.  When you think about the complexity of our bodies, with all it's cells and parts, I am awestruck. 

This morning I sat with a woman who is close to heaven.  The air in the room was sacred, it felt we were close to a veil that separated us from eternity.  These are holy moments, these good-byes, as children say good-bye to a mother whose life was well lived, whose love permeates the room.

I don't fully understand.  But I do know that God is there, and gives us the promise of forever.  When I look at the sky I wonder... where is heaven beyond that beautiful blue?  Sometimes, I think, it might be closer than we realize.

I've come to believe that as much as I don't know, I have become certain of a few things.  I believe that God is present.  Our Creator is much closer than we think.  And in this time of year, when flowers are riots of beauty, the trees raising their leafy hands toward heaven in praise, the birds singing with all their little beings, I see God everywhere.

I see God's hand in the ever-changing sky, a paintbrush of whites and greys and blues, ever changing. 


stormy skies over Vernon BC


amazing cloud formations, June 3

Ode to the sky

Sky
you are my covering
an ever-changing
ceiling of beauty
of storms filled with rain
riotous thunder
flashes of lightning.

And seas of blue - 
fathomless.

The clouds tell stories
some still, 
cushioning who knows what
others scurrying across the sky
in a hurry
crossing themselves with
jet streams.

You speak to me of
forever
a vastness beyond my imagination
and even though I feel small
under your presence

I know,
yes, I know
that I am seen
by the One who Created it all
even me.

gw.  2019