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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.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why write, anyway?

  Why write?

  For one, it is much more fun than dusting.  (smile)

  I do love to write.  It comes easily to me, for the most part, although sometimes I need to really work at it.

  It is therapeutic!  It is a way to reflect on the outside what is happening on the inside.  Some thoughts are private and reserved for my journals, which I will probably burn one day.

  It is a form of art, of forming pictures with words, of presenting ideas and thoughts and even projecting feelings like justice and love and encouragement.

  I've come to believe that there is art in all of us.  It is said we are made in God's image and He is the creator!  I think to create is as important to our well being as breathing... it fills us, it completes us, it gives expression to all that is within.

  We can easily be intimidated by artists of great repute.  Those who excel at whatever:  music, sculpture, painting, writing, poetry.  It is so easy to say I am not good enough... who will read this?

  And yet, I realize more and more, that art is for ME... not a selfish act, but even an act of worship, as I express myself with writing, with clay, with paint.  It feeds my soul.

  I know there are some who would say they could never write, and I realize that for some the art of writing will be more challenging... just as I find math challenging!  But I truly believe that we all can find ways to express our creative inner selves... we just have to find it.

  Sometimes it is humbling to know others will read my words... and at other times it is exciting.  Lately this blog has had a number of readers from Russia, and to think that someone from the opposite side of the globe can read my words, it is a lovely thought and connection!  The world has become a smaller place, where through the amazing world of the internet, and e-mail we can communicate and learn from one another.

  We enjoy reading Henry Nouwen's thoughts quite regularly and this is what he had to say about writing in the meditation I read today:

Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say:  "I don't know what to write.  I have no thoughts worth writing down."  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

  His words inspire me.  (If you are interested in getting Henry Nouwen's e-mail meditations, you can join their e-mail list at http://www.henrinouwen.org/)

    Thank you for reading... and inspiring me to write.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisdom... and Guilt on the World Wide Web

    This picture has nothing to do with my post... but it was so startling beautiful, as I walked by it, on my walk home from work, that I took the picture with my phone... a tulip tree in all of it's glory. (Also known by some as a Magnolia tree - part of the magnolia family). I don't own a tree such as this, but certainly enjoy their beautiful blooms this time of year.

  I received an e-mail this morning, supposedly written by Regina Brett, a 90 year old columnist who heads the column by saying "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.  It is the most requested column I've ever written."

I read the life lessons, and they were great... I'll pass some of them on... but when I went to further investigate, I found out that Regina Brett was NOT 90 years old, but a mere two years older than I.  (which would make her a younger 50ish woman!)  She IS a columnist for The Plain Dealer, a daily newspaper in Cleveland Ohio.  Her first book "God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours" was published two years ago, in April of 2012, and her 2nd book "Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible", was published in 2012.

She sounds like the kind of lady I'd love to know... and I'm inspired enough to go out and buy her book!  What really got me, though, this morning, was how the World Wide Web can take something good, and somehow it becomes like that telephone tag game... exaggerated and misquoted... What is even worse is the guilt associated with this e-mail (and many others I receive)... that you need to pass it on.  Will you be one of the "good ones", the 7% who will pass this on - implying some kind of reward and a huge amount of guilt for noncooperation.

 And I don't want to put any more guilt on the person who sent it to me - in fact I loved the e-mail!!!!  I just didn't like the "you must pass it on" business... if I really feel something is worth passing on, I'll delete those parts...

I also realized today, that everything always needs checking out... we all have received the alerts about missing children - only to find out they are hoaxes.  Which is terrible, because when a child REALLY goes missing, we are immune, and just think it is another story...

  Google is wonderful, and today's e-mail at least had an author I could check out, and good old Wikipedia even commented that this lady had been misreported to be 90 years old.  Perhaps they think wisdom just comes from the very old??

  So here is Regina's wisdom - some of my favourites:

  • Cry with someone.  It's more healing than crying alone.
  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry; God never blinks.
  • Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don't save it for a special occasion.  Today is special.

  Today is special - seize the day!  With no guilt, of course.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

For the love of dandelions

It was three years ago in May when we had the opportunity to visit PEI.  One of the most lovely scenes was a simple one...a field of yellow - dandelions.  This picture really doesn't do it justice, but we had to stop the car and just stare... the contrast of the red earth of PEI and the yellow fields was really quite beautiful.

  Dandelions get a bad rap.  For as long as I remember, I see one, panic at the invasion, get out my trusty garden tool, and out, out, out, before they seed my whole lawn.  They are definitely thought of as a pesky weed.

But some of my favourite childhood memories are picking those seeded dandelions and blowing away... it was magical.  It makes me want to try it again all over again with my little grandsons... I just hope the neighbors don't see me!  Maybe we'll blow it on the road or something...

And then are the lovely memories of my own children bringing me bouquets of dandelions in their sticky hands, beaming with delight and the gift of love.  Priceless.

  Today spring definitely showed its face - the dandelions seemed to show up all over town!  I was on a walk on East Hill at lunch time and saw my first dandelions of the year... in fact I took pictures because I admired the tenacity of the plant - coming through someone's driveway.  That shows amazing determination.

  The truth of the matter is that dandelions have amazing medicinal and healthy properties and are valued by many as a herb.. we have all heard of dandelion wine, but the roots are also known to aid in digestion and some use the plant in salads.  Now, I did buy some dandelion honey in PEI, but I have never harvested it... to be honest, I was worried about pesticides and am thinking twice about using any in my lawn this year.

God's amazing creation never ceases to create wonder in me, although this time of year it seems our whole earth sings for joy... perhaps in celebration of Easter?

  I'm not sure if eating the plant really appeals to me, but was again amazed today by it's simple beauty, the heralding of spring, the bright colors of yellow that bring sunshine to my world.  And when I came home from my day away, what should I see on my very own lawn?  A dandelion of my own.  It blooms still... and perhaps I'll just let those sunny blossoms turn to white magic globes which I'll blow away with my grandsons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring has sprung!

  Today was one of those lovely days where the warmth of spring showed up in our area and I just wanted to bask in it.  Perhaps my favourite moment was sitting in front of our living room window holding my littlest grandson (11 months already!), the sunbeam shining in through the window lighting up his baby-soft hair.  I just sat there and enjoyed it.  Warmth, love, all wrapped up in a sunbeam that moment.
 It was such a lovely contrast to the rainy gloomy day we experienced yesterday - although I know full well we need the rain.  Today we could go out and work in the garden, smell all the fresh new smells... I really love this time of year.

  Renewal, resurrection, revival of what seemed dead, now come alive... it is all around us!  Perhaps this is the reflection of Easter as we continue to celebrate.  In the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed crocuses, a butterfly soaring by, and bees waking up and smelling the flowers.  The pansies I planted smile at me every-time I walk up our sidewalk.  We sat for the first time on the deck today, with our tea and splurged with mini-ice-cream drumsticks - yum... and we were not even cold.  Hurray!

  The roses are letting out their leaves, as well as the clematis, and I love the forsythia in the neighbour's yard, always a sure sign that spring has surely arrived.  I saw someone wearing sandals today, another in shorts, and was it just my imagination that I saw more smiles?

  To me, it is a season to celebrate, to revel in all that is alive, that is renewed.  I think of the word "spring", it has a bounce in it; spring bursts out and spills all over.  It is full of joy and anticipation, and new hope.

  My sister Cathy wrote and sings a lovely song "Winter is Over".  I love the words, the hope it brings.  Life can have seasons of winter that have nothing to do with winter itself.  When hope springs new, it is cause to celebrate.  http://www.amazon.com/Winter-is-Over/dp/B006HPV9CA

  King Solomon put it well:
 'For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
 'The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
 'The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I hadn't really planned to clean the fridge...

  Today is Saturday, March 14.  (I stand corrected - it is April!!!!) I'm off by a day, a month... if I am superstitious at all - wasn't that yesterday?  But no, I'm not, even though I have some suspicions about the validity of Murphy's Law...

  We woke up with a list long of chores to do... usually hubby and I do it together, but he's on to a painting project... I walk into the kitchen to find a river of brown smudge emerging from the bottom of my fridge.  We were both quite horrified, the fridge seemed fine though - everything was frozen that should be frozen and the milk was still cold...

  So we pulled out the fridge, inspected everything; Steve started wiping things down, and the under-the-fridge spring cleaning got moved up to today... but I was still concerned - where did it leak?  It seemed dry enough at the moment, so we put everything back, and I dutifully phoned the appliance store - of course it is a Saturday and no one is available - and then I phoned a repair man who seemed quite busy but told me to just keep an eye on things.  So far so good, although my to-do list was calling.

  I ran off to Home Depot - because they have a one-day sale on soil (and if you happen to read this today you might want to check it out)  only $1.49 a bag, a limit of ten.  Usually Steve would go with me, but he had his painting, so he put down the seat of the car and tarped it, and off I beetled, in my little VW bug.

  I must admit I was in a hurry, and distracted by my worries over the fridge, but I got to Home Depot without incident, and talked a nice young man, and went to pay for my dirt.  As I am handing over my Interact, I overhear someone saying.... we have a runaway car!  I looked out of the door and to my horror, my beetle is on a little joy-ride of it's own.... sheesh!  Could I have forgotten the hand brake?  The lot seemed level, but I always brake... but today, no, not today, the day after Friday the 13th...

  This nice young man stopped the car before it rolled to far, so thankful it did NOT hit anything or anyone; and it was still early and he planted one of those bags of dirt to stop it.  I was SO embarrassed, but everyone found it quite amusing and sent me on my way...

  So I come home to make birthday cake and soup, and as I'm rummaging through my fridge, I see this brown goop IN my fridge... I start flinging everything out and finally found the culprit - a tupperware container of olives had tipped over, and brown olive juice down the back of my fridge coating everything.  sigh...

  To be thankful, the olives were fresh, it wasn't a putrid mess... I now have a clean fridge, in and under, and more thankfully, we are not fridge shopping!!  In the big scheme of things, there is always so much to be thankful for... the birthday cake is in the oven, the house smells good, soup almost ready.  Tired, yes, but nothing a good nap can't fix.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Seven Sundays of Easter - dance with joy!

  This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, was a day of celebration.  Don't you love Easter Sundays where the air is warm, the sky is blue, the grass seems greener, and everywhere there are signs of life.  Easter is about resurrection, and it seems to be the whole earth celebrates!

  My dad brought up the point... why is it that Lent carries on for forty days, forty days of fasting, and contemplation, and even sadness, and we have only one day of celebration?  I've been mulling that one over this week; not that I have seriously participated in Lent for much of my life.  It is only in recent years that I am more aware of the significance of the Church Calender and the rhythms of remembering and reflection.

  So I looked it up.  Isn't it wonderful that we no longer live in the days of the old encyclopedia which gathered dust for many years in our living room; and always was a little outdated?  No, now we just "google" it and have instant information, and a lot of it, including opinions and experiences all at our finger tips.

  And to my surprise, Easter in the church calendar does not end with Easter Sunday at all!  No, there are seven Sundays of Easter, all leading to the Day of Pentecost, which this year falls on May 27.  And of course the day of Pentecost signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit which God sent, a spirit to comfort and guide His people.

  I have never heard of celebrating Easter for seven Sundays in a row, I don't really think it is done.  But dad had a point.  Should not our celebrations, our joys, overcome, and even surpass our sorrows?  We live a life that sorrow mixes with joy.  There is winter before spring.  Each spring, I want to dance at the new life around me.  Resurrection, new life... is displayed everywhere we look.

  One year, when I was newly in love with my husband at age 40, all I wanted to do is dance among the blossoms.  Now I realize this is rather unusual behavior for a Mennonite girl, but there was such joy welling in me after years of sorrow.  So yes, we danced among the blossoms, trespassing in a nearby orchard where my joy overcame my usually complacent heart - a heart that usually would not dream of such "improper" behavior.  It was delightful.

  The image, the memory stirs all kinds of feelings within; and it makes me want to celebrate.  Good Friday is past, Easter has come!  Dance with me!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Life

  My hubby and I were just sitting in our living room listening to music after going to the Easter Service this morning, and this song came on "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."  I looked it up on the net - the song is written by Albert King.

  I'd like to know more behind the story of his song, part of the lyrics also go, "but nobody wants to cry".

  Easter Sunday is one of the most joyous days on the Christian calendar, it is all about resurrection, about new life, about hope.  In light of those lyrics I was just listening to, I started thinking about how it must have been for Jesus.... heaven was his heavenly home, but He chose to come to earth... to die.  It was not a welcoming earth, but one that viewed him with suspicion and contempt.

  I wear the symbol of the cross often... and sometimes I think, really I am wearing a symbol of execution - it is not pretty.  And yet it has become a symbol of Christianity; our faith is centered on the cross - it is the holy bridge between us and a holy God, who loved us so much that He sent His Son to tell us so.

  And after laying His life down in such a terrible death, He also chose to come back in bodily form - history confirms this - to be with the disciples He loved, to comfort the frightened women at the tomb, to reassure Peter, who denied him.   His love for Peter, and for us, overcomes our weakest moments and convinces me that He is a God of forgiveness and mercy, who calls us to follow Him.

  I can't imagine it was easy for Jesus to return to earth again - but come He did.  For us who live here heaven can sometimes seem mythical, a place far away that holds perfection and pleasure, but it is hard to fathom.  When we have loved ones enter their heavenly home - we long to know more.  Currently there are a number of books on the market of those who report they have visited there during a death or near-death experience, and how reluctantly they returned to earth.

  It is earth we know well, we can see it, we smell it, we live our days with what we know.  We cling to our lives, with all its joys and sorrows.  There is so much that is mysterious.  The wonder of Easter is the new life it brings; Jesus returns to earth with the gift of life and now lives in heaven with the promise of life to come.  I see new life all around; in the baby buds, in the fresh green of grass coming back to life; the earth awakens - a picture of resurrection and life that comes from death and darkness.

  So this Easter Sunday to me is also a celebration of new life, of resurrection, of joy in a faith that I am loved by a God that is personally interested in my life.  Out of that comes gratefulness and celebration... that there is life beyond death and joy that comes with the hope of the eternal.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday - calling us to love!

   Today is Holy Thursday - also called Maundy Thursday.  I've been following the church calender a little more closely in the last couple of years, but had never paid attention to this day.  In our tradition, it was Good Friday and Easter Sunday that were the highlights.

  So what is it anyway? I looked it up today, and learned a lot!   It is remembering the last supper - the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples before His crucifixion.  It is the night we think of when we celebrate communion, the night He was betrayed by Judas.  It was at this supper, that Jesus humbly washed the disciples feet, as Peter loudly protests.

  Some churches hold feet-washing ceremonies on this day.  I have never experienced that, but I have taken part in the celebration of a Passover supper and loved learning about this ancient tradition from the Old Testament that many of us believe points us to Christ, the Messiah.

  What I never knew before I looked it up today was the meaning of the word "Maundy".  It comes from a Latin word "Mandatum" which means command.  The commandment Jesus spoke at this supper was one of love, written in John, which says "And now I give you a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another".   

  I've been thinking about love a lot lately - love in contrast to fear, love in contrast to hate, love in contrast to judgment.  We are called to love, love casts out fear, but it seems to me that we often live in a culture of fear; fear of the unknown, fear of what others think, fear of failure.  

  I've also observed judgement instead of love; it is so easy to criticize, to have opinions about another... instead of truly love, to make room for, to listen to.  

  So with my new knowledge in hand, I will see Maundy Thursday in a new light - a day that calls us to love, as Jesus showed His love to his disciples that night, and ultimately paid the price of His own life to share His love with us all... For God so loved the world, that He gave His own Son... He loved us first, so we can love Him back, ...and learn to love one another.

  A blessed Easter, with love!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Gift of the Labyrinth, Part Two

  My visit to Bowen Island and my little walk in the labyrinth in 2008 was a lovely experience, and I didn't think much about it afterwards.

  So when I found myself visiting the retreat center at Rivendell, on Bowen Island two short years later, I was as surprised as anyone.  It really wasn't a planned excursion, but a series of events that brought me there.  I was searching for new direction after leaving my job that I loved, working for my church family for more than eight years.  We were still reeling from death of our precious nephew, and my hubby also left his workplace of more than twenty years to hopefully find more secure work in a restless economy.

  When my friend suggested Carey Theological College as a place to study; a place to look for spiritual direction, I really didn't think the college would take my application seriously.  But my application was accepted and in a few short weeks I found myself on Bowen Island, of all places, for my first intensive of a two year course in Spiritual Formation.

  I arrived somewhat fragile, to say the least, and I have written some about this in my blog post called "Courage".  It is the story of me and a yellow bug!  So I found myself immersed in a new world of self-discovery, of searching for God, and coming from a place of brokenness.

  During that week part of the course requirement was a 24 hour silent retreat.  This was not totally foreign to me, because my sisters had talked about these retreats, but it was a new experience for me.  It was during this retreat that I made my way down to the labyrinth, just to have some time for prayer and reflection.

  As I walked on the little stony path, I took delight in the stone formations and the mossy plants.  My heart was full of questions,  looking for a way through this crossroads in my life.  As I walked I came upon a beautiful rock; it was shaped like a heart.  The beauty of it struck me, and I realized I had left my camera behind.  So I went back for it.... and then searched and searched.... couldn't find the rock.  Instead of feeling peaceful I felt frustrated.  

  I found a string... which I found ugly and out of place.  And then it hit me... it was kind of like my life at that moment... messy, searching, feeling rather out of control.  And I realized that God loved me, how he loves all of us, even in my mess.  I didn't have to do anything, I didn't have to fix it... I just had to receive His love. Those moments of prayer and reflection have stayed with me.  And moments later I found the rock I had first discovered, and snapped one of my favourite pictures.  To me it is a reflection of God's love; He is always there, all along.