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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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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Living in Simplicity... and Extravagance

  This blog was written on May 22, three years ago.  In an effort to simplify my life, I thought I might repost some blogs that I have revisited.  The beautiful gazebo I talk about below has been enjoyed for three years now, and my little garden is planted.  Mosquitoes are extravagant this year and I'm learning to make repellent without deet...

And yes, still working toward living a simple life in an extravagant and complicated world.  <3 Grace

 How I love this time of year.  The very season of spring seems extravagant.  Color, smells of spring and flowers and dirt and fresh rain.  Blossoms of every kind.  Bugs emerging; all busy, amazing varieties.

 I will confess I killed one fly and two wasps today, and really it was my fault.  I left the screen door open, just for a bit, and in they came to explore.  And they met their end, rather quickly.  No, I love nature, but don't hold out a welcome mat for bugs in the house.

  I've planted my garden.  One can become overwhelmed with the variety of choices... even for one species.  I wonder how many varieties of a tomato there can be?  And what will grow best in my garden?  And I think, is it genetically modified, is it organic?  So many questions.

  Life is complicated.  And when I have a question, I plug it into Google, and watch the screen fill up with a variety of answers, opinions, and those who hope to market something through my quest.  It takes time to sort it all out...

  My husband is building a gazebo right now, and I'm thrilled about it.  He found the plans on the Internet, (of course!), and we will be able to spend even more time outside, enjoying the beauty of our yard.

  The other day we watched a video with Tony Compolo talking about our North American extravagances and our need to accumulate and gather. Stuff can be a status symbol.  How do we simplify our lives when our houses are full, our closets overflowing, and in our neighbourhood anyway, the paper brings regular reminders through the flyers of all the stuff we yet still need.  And the paper is just one source.... there is the TV ads, the Internet, even our phones flash messages we try to ignore.

  I'm feeling called to simplify, but not even sure how to begin.  And I know I am not alone.  The art of purging, and cleaning has become common because we need to make room.  For more.

  And as a follower of Jesus, I look at his lifestyle and he lived with little.  He said once that he had no place to rest his head.  Security as I know it, seemed to matter little to Him...

  And yet He also lived extravagantly!  He was touched by the gift of expensive perfume, poured lavishly on his feet, symbolic of days to come.  He told the fishermen to fish from the other side of the boat, on a day when fish were scarce, and when they listened, their nets overflowed...

  And the God I love is lavish with His love... and creation bears witness to the incredible artistry and imagination and extravagance of the Creator.

  I looked back on my last blog... and realized I have not written in a while... but when I looked at the last title it was about Unity and Diversity.  And I laughed...it is often about balance.  Holding two opposites and pondering the mystery of it all.

  And as I ponder, I do want to live simply, and not being chained or ruled by stuff.  I was struck by an amazing quote that Tony Compolo shares by Herbert Marcuse about the state of North Americans:  "People have been seduced into a comfortable, attractive, tasteful, fully enjoyable form of slavery".

  It made me ask... does stuff rule my life?  Sometimes, I think it does.  Addictions to gadgets, keeping up with what we feel is the standard of living.  It makes me wonder...

  And yet, there can be an extravagance that I believe is spiritual and lovely!  To embrace and enjoy life, to take delight in the many gifts of creation, to celebrate with family and friends.  To be generous with what we have, generous in love, grateful for the gift of life.

  Embracing both, living wisely, living simply... and with extravagance.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Diversity and Unity

  I love our children, all adults now.  They are a diverse group, smart and talented, full of promise.  But incredibility different from one another, holding different philosophies, ways of life, values.  And yet, we are family, some physical brothers and sisters, but all brought together by marriage, by the love my husband and I share.

  I was pondering that yesterday, me the mom of this diverse group and how I hold that close to my heart and love each one individually.  And it came to me, that God, my heavenly father, must also hold his children in the same tender way.

  It is my privilege, as a hospital chaplain, to work with diverse groups of faith.  And I have come to love and respect and learn from those who hold different points of views.  This is not always easy, and as I have my own points of reference, and strong beliefs, I have had to practice a graceful attitude and an open heart and a listening mind.

   And sometimes it is so heart warming to have wonderful deep conversations with those who have experienced and know God through a more quiet and liturgical way, and then experience the passion of those who are more boisterous in their faith.  I am privileged to listen to the stories of many who come from different walks of life.

  It reminds me of my time in Boston Bar, where we also experienced a large diversity of population, a large native community, and other strong-minded people that had retreated into this little community to live out their lives in religious freedom, although the religious groups clashed badly at times.  And this saddened me, and others.  And I was thrilled when we began to gather, first as a small group of moms praying for our schools, and then later reaching out to young moms in the community, and I saw some of these walls begin to break down.

  And there will always be those in any community that are those who will build walls; others will build bridges.  And I think of bridges as pathways of love and understanding, building unity and learning to understand one another.

  We read the passage on creation yesterday and I let my mind go, as we read of all that God had made, and pronounced it good!  Have you ever studied bugs?  They are so diverse and colorful, and even comical in their appearance; some of them, and there is such a vast variety of them, some dull, some colorful... and this is just a small part of creation!

  God's imagination, so vast and creative and colorful, and in all our living days, we will probably not have seen a portion of all that is created on this earth.

  And I think of how God created us, so diverse and unique, and yet He says we are in His image, and He loves us, and asks us to be unified.  And truly we will be, someday, in heaven, where there will not be denominations and petty arguments and strong opinions.

  And while we try to figure it out here on earth, I am so deeply comforted that I really don't have to know it all, it is enough to rest in God's love and say yes to him.  And daily we can ask for wisdom to live this life, and as we experience the love of God, also share it around, because this too is abundant!  It gives me a very grateful heart.