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.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Poetry for Christmas

This time of year I find myself looking for resources for Christmas events and services, and I have created some of my own.  It seems like a good time to share them!

Sometimes I just like to write about the weather!  :-)
Us Canadians are good at that, it is a common theme and topic for our conversations.  And right now, it is very very cold.

So I wrote this:

On a Cold December Morning

We wake in the dark
Early winter morning

As we stare out the windows
Christmas lights blinking
in the shadowed
vapoured mist.

Frost creeping
up those windows

and darkness fades
to muted light
through clouded panes
of glass.

A world of greys
   and shades of blue
with glimmering sparkles
of Christmas

It's cold.
We dress in layers
Wrapping up
Insulating against
 the bite
      of winter.

A snug inside day
Hot steamy drinks
And the warm glow
  of the fireplace
Cookies in the oven
 and the inviting smells
of Christmas.

these are the moments
  that make memories
warm and dry
  on a cold
Canadian December day.

- Grace Wulff 2016

I wrote this next short poem last year and it is part of my new little booklet: Poetry for the Heart, inspired by the Seasons.

Christmas Comes

In all the hurrying
In all the scurrying
For some even the worrying
   Christmas comes.

Right on time.

And as I let go
And shift
From the doing

To the being.

Enjoying the moments
cherishing each one
who enriches our lives.

May the love of Christmas
The hope of Christmas
Bring you peace and joy.

-Grace Wulff 2015

And the last poem I will share here is one I wrote for a Christmas Service:

A Not so Merry Christmas

They say “Merry Christmas”
but not all is so bright
somewhere there are soldiers in terrible plight
somewhere there is a child who is hungry and cold
And doesn’t know Christmas the way it is told.
There are those who are grieving someone who has died
And the empty space in their hearts cannot be denied
Oh they say “Merry Christmas”
but not all are well,
For those who are sick, in body and soul
Christmas can definitely take a great toll.
And yet, if you think to that first Christmas morn
Not all was that merry before Christ was born.
Mary and Joseph a long journey to take
A baby was coming, much was at stake
No room to be found, no comforts of home
The Christ child was born in the midst of a barn
The mystery of Christmas, that God would be man
Could Mary and Joseph really understand?
We look back to that Christmas with awe and with wonder
And like Mary, we stop and we ponder
Perhaps the true Christmas begins in the heart
Not always merry, but where hope finds its start
There is hope in the Christ child,
And faith, peace and love
May the true spirit of Christmas
Touch us from above.
  –Grace Wulff  December 24 2011

If you resonate with these poems you are welcome to use them.  I do appreciate that you acknowledge the author and let me know how you have used them.. 

I have blogged pretty regularly once a week, but will take a break now until the new year.  So if you receive these posts, I want to extend my warmest greetings through this Christmas Season, and may the warmth and light and love that God brings be very close to you this coming year!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Extravagant Gifts

I've been the recipient of a number of gifts lately - extravagant gifts!

Some of them have been for my workplace, the hospital where I serve as a chaplain.   Recently I was given a number of quilts, and I am always amazed at the women who quilt in our community.  Beautiful hand-crafted labors of love, and I am usually the one who hands them out!  There are no words for gifts like these, simply gratitude.  Others bring me shawls, prayerfully made, and the impact for those who receive these comfort gifts is precious.

A few weeks ago a parcel arrived at my door.  It was a big box, from my dear friend who lives on the island.  It was heavy!  And I wondered... what could it be?  And inside it was LOADED with her precious little books for children, and a pile of crayons and pencil crayons.  Her generosity filled me with delight!

It is such a pleasure to provide colouring books, crayons, and stuffed toys for children at the hospital.  These are all gifts, generous gifts.  Another group has created bags for me to put them in!

Other grandmothers lovingly put together bags of toiletries for those who need it in the ER.  The gifts are never-ending...

This Sunday (tomorrow as I write this) is the third Sunday of Advent.  And I've been thinking about Joy!  Joy often comes in the midst of challenges, and brightens our lives.

One of the bookmarks I made this year was a bookmark about Strength.  I've handed out many of these bookmarks, and spoken on this subject a couple of times this past summer.  The bookmark includes beautiful scripture verses, reminding us that even in our weakness God gives us perfect strength.

So it was a great surprise one day when I arrived at the hospital chapel to find a parcel with my name on it.  I love surprises!  And inside was this amazing little box... with the artwork from that bookmark etched on it.

I was moved to tears... that someone, who chose to remain anonymous, would give me such an extravagant gift.  I was encouraged and thrilled.  And grateful that this powerful word - strength - had also impacted another, and was inspiration for such a lovely art project.

The verse on the bottom right reads:  
"For my grace is sufficient for you... for my power is made perfect in weakness."  1 Cor 12:9  
I have experienced the truth of this, over and over again!

 ....and then I have to tell you about the boots.

We went to Banff recently for a conference.  Another dear friend was concerned about my footwear in the mountains.  So she generously offered to loan me her boots.  She thought they would be better than my options.  :-)

I was a little hesitant to accept.  Her boots, especially the RED ones were beautiful and funky and fun.  But I said yes, gratefully, and took them to Banff.  I wore them only once, and they were comfortable, and I felt, well quite fashionable!!

I returned them the following week... with gratefulness for her generosity.

A couple of weeks went by... and I was home recovering from a minor surgical procedure on my back.  To be honest, I had a mole removed, and I was feeling a little sore... but it also triggered a lot of memories... my first hubby died of melanoma... and in 2000 I had a melanoma removed as well.  I get a little edgy around suspicious spots.

And even as I tried to let it be, to rest in God's care for me, I felt fragile that day.

So I sat there... that afternoon and a delivery truck drove up.  "I didn't order anything" I told my hubby, but he said... it's for you!  And inside?  My very own pair of red boots.

Such an extravagant gift.  I knew immediately my dear friend had ordered them for me.  And again, I was moved to tears.

And I thought about God, who loves me so, who loves each one, how well God knew I needed some extra care that day.  The timing of such a lovely gift could not have been better.

So I wear my red boots... and laugh!  Because it is fun, because I have lovely extravagant friends, and a God who lavishes love on me when I need it most.

And I need to say... my spot was completely benign, as I found out ten days later, and I was so very grateful all over again.

This is rather personal... but I think we all need encouragement.  And I am again inspired to be generous, to give extravagantly, to live life with joy.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Peace in a Troubled World

I light the candle of Peace.
And I long for it to burn fiercely.

If I look at history, or current world affairs, peace seems illusive, a wonderful sentiment this time of year, and one I love to use on my Christmas cards.

For while we sit in our comfortable homes, and enjoy warmth and good food I am also more aware of those around the world who have so much less.  I think of the stories I've read this week about Allepo and other parts of the world.  My electronics bring the world into my living space and there are scenes I can't erase from my mind.

We've all endured the troubled times of the US election, and even us Canadians have felt the angst, the division, and the uncertainty of our future.  I think of Standing Rock today, where 500 faith leaders will join the peaceful protesters, and no matter what "side" you are on, there doesn't seem to be any peaceful solutions, but a war of wills.

And just the preceding paragraph will ignite passion no matter what side you are on.  People in families, sitting down to eat Christmas dinner and many deeply divided.

Peace on Earth? It seems a scarce commodity.

I love that Bible verse from Romans 12 which says: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." 

Yes, peace begins with me.  I light my candle and join it to yours.

There are many glimmers of hope, and I am grateful for faith.

And so I sang with gusto this morning:

"He is our Peace... who has broken down every wall!
Cast all your Care on Him... for He cares for you!"

The song refers to Jesus, of course, also known as the Prince of Peace.  He came as a little baby, helpless, in an upside down world.  God's ways are not ours, and I'm grateful there is a greater picture, and a promise of Peace for all time.

That is where faith comes in.

And in the meantime, I light this candle.  I choose to live a life of peace.

Peace to you, in this special Advent Season.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A favourite time of year

There is something about this time of year where we embrace the magical, the lovely, the hopefulness of a new season.

As my pastor pointed out, this coming Sunday is really New Years Day in the Christian Calendar - so Happy New Year!  And the Christmas season is full of hope...

We hang on to hope, like light in the dark, given what is often grim and challenging.  At this time of year I want to throw away the balance of realistic and difficult, and ride on a wave of hope and love and optimism.  It is like a dose of happy, good medicine.

Advent is part of that, for me.  It is a slowing down, even in the midst of busy, to really pay attention.  And the Advent calendar calls us to do just that.

I've practiced Advent for many years, at first with my children, and now with my grandchildren.  It has become more of a devotional practice which I enjoy.  And in our technological age, there are many apps for that!  I love reading the devotional thoughts of Henri Nouwen, and there are many others...

Last year I came across a simple sheet of paper with shapes on it to form a very modern tree.  In each shape you could write a reflection... or doodle as I am apt to do... or perhaps write down a word for the day.  I found this a delightful Advent exercise and instead of opening a window and finding a chocolate, I filled the "paper windows" with my doodles and words.

With that in mind, I have created two sheets, one a tree and the other an angel.  You are welcome to connect with me at grace@gracewulff.com if you would like a .jpg of  either of them to create your own.  

Each of these images can fill a regular size piece of paper and there are 25 spaces, for Dec 1-25 to write a word or thought or perhaps draw a symbol, or doodle away... 

I'm sending them to grandchildren with stickers to use... a simple form of an advent calendar.

I think of reflection.  We are drawn to light at this time of year, we long for it to dispel the darkness.  And in the busyness of all that is commercial, in the struggle of all that is broken, in the disappointment of that is difficult, we can reflect, we look to hope.

I love the idea of Christmas Pause.  Would you pause with me to look for hope?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Something to Say

For months now, I've disciplined myself to write a blog, every week, with occasional hiccups, but usually on time.  :-)

I've been continually amazed at how the thoughts and ideas come, and flow from my head into my fingers which press onto the computer keys, and amazingly appear on the screen...

(And I must add, I pray to God for ideas, and have to give thanks where it is due!)

And then the magic of the "Publish" button which I point to with my mouse, and voila, my words are public.  It is a far cry from pounding out on my old typewriter (which still sits in my closet floor), and sending out hopeful ideas and articles, wondering how long they will sit on the desk of a busy editor, much less be read by anyone else.

This is the passion of a writer, but there is also a terrible fear that one will run out of things to say and renege on the commitment made, if to no one but myself.  And even if I have joy in writing, and sharing of the heart, will my words make a difference?  I think about that; I think most who love to write do.

Words matter.  They flow out of most of us, by the hundreds, every day.  We speak, we text, we send Facebook messages and post things about our lives.

Some words are ugly, and we've all been overexposed to volumes of ugly hateful words.  There are times I just wanted to shut it all out and go live in the woods.  Of course, that would have not worked very well, since I do like my warm bed and creature comforts.  And I'm rather scared of the dark. :-)

As much as I enjoy to write, I love to read.  I like to hear the ideas of others, to be inspired by deep thought, to learn from those who have struggled and overcome, and have shared their stories.  I love to hear tales of faith and courage and love.  There is much to learn from one another, and we all have stories to tell.

Two brief stories for today's blog, both of gratefulness.  Yesterday I had a tea party.  I used my mother's tea cups, with yellow roses.  Yellow roses have been important in my life, and I've written about them before.  When my mother died, over three years ago, I ended up with her beautiful china set.  It was her birthday this week, and it is a lovely time to use them.  I was grateful to all who came to our open house, who shared a cup of tea or coffee, and who supported my now annual art sale.  It was a lot of fun.

But I have to tell you... when I opened the door to greet some of my guests, on this November day, what was blooming in my very neglectful little garden?  A yellow tea rose.  Those roses had not bloomed in weeks...  what a lovely gift!

The second story is of New Hope, an organization for the widowed I helped to organize 20 years ago now, after the death of my first husband Andrew.  Last night was their fund-raiser, and as a little organization, they work hard to maintain their office and provide support for those who need it.  Fund-raising is never fun, but it seems rather necessary for any non-profit.

So my hubby Steve and I arrived to find a car lot full of cars... and a hall full of people... and it was a wonderful evening of entertainment, dance and song.  I was moved to tears... as I often am... to see people continuing to support this wonderful cause, which was once just a little dream... now 20 years old.

So dare to dream!  Write your stories!  Share the good, the positive, the encouragements.  We need to share what is lovely and good and bright in our lives.  I am thankful to God for continued encouragements, and pray that you would be encouraged as well!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Focusing on the Fruit

Today, November 12th, I cooked the last of my ripening tomatoes from my garden and made a lovely roasted sauce for some cabbage rolls I had in the freezer.  Last fruits of the season always seem particularly sweet, and bring a bit of sadness that we wait for the next season to taste that freshness again.

This last week has been tinged with sadness and joy... for many I believe.  The US election sparked many emotions and left me drained.  I know I am not alone, because choices made will affect not only our American friends and all of us around the world.

It was ironic that we found ourselves in a spectacular place this past week, in the Rocky Mountains for a retreat and conference, and I found myself in a prayer room ... praying for many things.  How appropriate!!

Life goes on.  Today there was much joy in attending a tea with my daughter and granddaughter, who was dressed to the nines as only a three year old can.  It is so fun to be with her, to view the world from a child's eyes.

And I want to model attributes in a troubled world, attributes that speak to my grandchildren.  The last address we heard on Thursday, before we traveled home, focused on one of my favourite passages from Galatians 5, in fact in was my special verse when I was baptized so many years ago, and publicly shared my love for Christ.

My hubby had already suggested I "doodle" this particular verse, and I became inspired to do that this weekend.  If you want a really good read, I would recommend you read these verses in "The Message", a brilliant paraphrase by Eugene Peterson.  Just look up Galatians 5:22-23, The Message, and you should find it.

 These verses sank into my soul this week, helping me to refocus.  What am I known by?  Can I ask God to fill me with these gifts, breathe into me the very spirit of the Creator? It is an awe-inspiring thought, to think that God desires to indwell us through the Holy Spirit.

And the fruit of the Spirit IS Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control!

 I don't always find these fruits on my news-feed on Facebook, or elsewhere.  I don't always see them demonstrated by those who call themselves Christians either. I too can be blamed for this, it is easy to enter the fray...and I need to keep coming back to love, to choosing my words and actions thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Can I choose to live life with this focus, to choose my words with these attributes?  There are some things we are powerless to do anything about.  But we can always choose our reactions, our words, our focus.  I believe we can ask God to fill us... and to give us these gifts of love, joy, peace...good fruits!

Thanks, always, for stopping by and reading my musings!

<3 Grace

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bright Moments in a month of November

The sun is shining as I write this, so welcome and bright, after dreary days of gray and rain.

It is November, after all, the the darkness always seems to descend like a cloud, reminding us that winter is coming.

Although November can be dreary, it has become a month of social gatherings and creativity.  Craft fairs abound.  Often these are important fund-raisers and wonderful people are working day and night to make it happen.  We love this, especially in our North American culture, and it is fun to create, and to admire other's creations.

Lately, there has been so much focus on what is sad, and what divides us, it is good to have these healthy distractions and places we can experience joy and community.

I want to share about a few events in our own community; and if you don't live in Vernon, I'm sure you have a few of your own!

I have chosen to keep this blog advertisement free, but today I'm doing some advertising of my own!  I hope you will forgive me... I don't do it often.

On Nov. 19, if you live in my area, you are welcome to come by to our second annual open house in our home, and enjoy a cup of tea in a china cup, and have a visit!  If you are not able to come, and are interested in some of these items suitable for gift-giving, please let me know, and I can send you all the particulars.

Items available will include new calendars for 2017 (both wall and desk), magnets for the fridge, Christmas cards, art cards, a new colouring book for children, the booklet "Gifts for the Journey", a guided journal, and a new poetry booklet will be available!

Money raised on that day will help to cover printing costs, and allow me to give away colouring books at the hospital, as well as some of the funds will go toward the Hospital Foundation where I work.

There are many other events in our own community, but I wanted to highlight two of them.  The first is a wonderful tea, bake sale and boutique sale, held at my church First Baptist Vernon, on November 12, 1406 32nd Ave, between 10 and 4 pm.  They are calling it A Winter Tea, and knowing my friend Mary who organizes it with many helpers, it will be a lovely event.

The last event I wanted to highlight is also a group that is dear to my heart.  New Hope will hold its Annual Benefit Concert and Silent Auction, also on Saturday November 19th, at Vernon Christian Fellowship Church.  Featuring entertainers Sally and Holly and Zirka Ukrainian dancers.  There is a $10 admission fee.

New Hope has been supporting widows and widowers for 20 years now, and this fundraiser is key to keeping their little office going and their programs running.  So after you have a tea at my house, head on over for an evening of entertainment, 7 pm!

If you want more information on any of these events, or would like to order materials and have me mail them to you, please contact me at grace@gracewulff.com

And enjoy what bright things November has to offer, while supporting many worthwhile causes, wherever you might live!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

There's a Spider in My House (and other Scary Tales)

I don't need
   to be scared.

I seem to manage
 without the chills
(and for some the thrills)
  that come this time of year.

Just this morning
A big black spider
  the size of a Truck
(we have a lot of toy trucks around here)
appeared out of
and attached itself
    on my ceiling.

Thankfully, my patient hubby
 rescued me
but I was shaken,
  none the less.

Why is it (on another subject)
  that my darling grandchildren
think it is the best game
  to SCARE me?
They become dinosaurs,
and ROAR!!!

I am flattened
  with apparent fright
which is greeted by
 uproarious laughter.

(Grandmothers ARE amusing, it seems).

There are many things
  that send a chill or shiver
Real things like
Politics for one,
   Germs this time of year
      Threats of violence
and our world doesn't feel safe at all.

I calm myself and remember the ancient words
"Be Not Afraid."

Good words for scary times.
Good words for every day!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Looking Up

It was one of those beautiful fall Saturdays, the sun shone blue, and many of the leaves on the trees hanging on, colouring the world around us.  

There are always many things calling my name, including garden clean up and laundry, but my hubby thought we shouldn't waste the beauty and suggested a ride in the country.  He is often right about things like that!  

So we went, enjoying the country side, pumpkin patches, trees in various stages of colour and loss, enjoying our conversation, and taking pictures.  We even took a little walk in our local cemetery where my mother is buried.  It is spectacular this time of year with huge trees towering over the grounds.

I've been thinking about beauty today, this gift of the Creator.

This, in the midst of weariness, for if you look for it, there is also heartache around.  I, for one, am election weary, and sense that many are stressed about many things happening in our world.

For many, that is the least of their worries, as they struggle through health challenges, deep grief and the troubles of life.

The seasons, and particularly the trees are good teachers on life.

My ponderings today:

The world is beautiful
This late in October day
And coloured trees dot my landscape

If I look down
rotting leaves abound
covering streets and allies
some mushed brown
sunk back into the earth.

I can choose where to look.

Can I turn off the screen
Shut off the noise
And drink in the beauty?

Can I look up into a canopy of leaves
drink in the beauty of the sky
take in ever-changing scenery
all around me?

At least it deserves equal time
really, much more
for it feeds a 
weary soul.  

This is the renewable
History marches by

but beauty remains
and the promise of
new seasons
springs hope within the heart.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Election Weariness

This is the year of the US Election.  In case you had not noticed.  :-)

Not particularly a topic I wanted to write on, however it has been very much on my mind.

On many minds, I think, judging from my Facebook feed, and the constant news updates we see on every channel.

We might be Canadian, but we are very affected by this US election.

I'm not going to spout my opinion or add more feed to tired minds, yet after we watched CNN yesterday for a bit, I could keep quiet no longer.

We first watched Trump give a speech in Florida, and then tuned in to hear Michelle Obama give her stirring speech.  We listened to Hillary Clinton as well.  I was especially surprised on how these speeches impacted deep emotions in me, and at one point I was moved to tears.

I think we in the North feel somewhat helpless, like we are watching a Soap Opera on the World stage gone terribly wrong.  And yesterday I felt violated as a woman, and wondered how many felt the same way...

Are we really helpless, I wondered?  And as I've been pondering about it all this week, some things came to mind....

As a Christ-follower, I often think.... how do I live?  I know Christ encouraged us to pray for our leaders, our governments... so I am compelled again to pray, to pray for wisdom, for discernment, for those making decisions in the countries in which we live, wisdom for those who vote.

Christ also called us to LOVE.  It is the part of the greatest commandment.  One of the aspects that appalls me is how divisive this US election is... Christians turning against Christians, and I sometimes wonder... where is the respect, the honour, the love that we should be known by?

We are also called to care for all:  the poor, the sick, the foreigner....  With Christ there is no respecter of persons.  We are all loved equally.  How do I live my life where I stand up for those who are bullied?  Is there a right time to speak out, to champion values that care for those who feel trampled on?

That being said, I believe we are also called to Peace.  Peace seems unattainable some days, but I love that verse in scripture which says: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)

No, I was not going to write on this topic. My thoughts are few.  I am weary of it all.   But there needs to be voices that call for love, for justice, for peace, for compassion.  As much as we are able.  And I will continue to pray... for those who lead here in Canada, and for our neighbours in the USA and all over the world.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Giving Thanks - and missing those we love

Another Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, and as we were walking today, we noted it felt like Thanksgiving today... the air crisp, the hills alive with colour, the lake muted and chilled in the distance.

We just had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend together with my extended family here in Vernon.  One of the most poignant moments was gathering at the graveside of my mother, who has been gone just over three years.

How I miss her at times like these, because she was the ultimate hostess, and knew how to prepare for a family gathering.  She was a true matriarch, and the empty space at the table was felt.  We also missed my nephew Chris, and others who have gone before us, including my first husband, and the memories of grandparents and other loved ones linger at times like these.

Grief was fresh this past week, as we gathered with my Uncle John to honour and remember his sweet wife, and grieve with their children.   I was also impacted by another loss this week, a sweet mother who I had the privilege of knowing, slipped away to heaven just before Thanksgiving.

Life is brief, and fragile, and it is these times of gathering that the missing can feel even more intense, even as the memories are often sweet.

I couldn't sleep one night this week, with these thoughts on my mind, and I wrote this especially for those grief is new and deep.

Her Presence

The walls echo loneliness
Dense with memories
Her presence
So vital
Filled these spaces.

Living in the void
Yes, living
Can be the hardest
Task of all.

She coloured her world
with grace
The fabric of all
she left behind
is a constant reminder
she was here.

And the space
she filled
so empty

Yet filled with
gifts she shared
Great love
courage, spunk
faithfulness and faith

in a tomorrow
where we will be
Once again.

<3 Grace. 2016

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Comforting Words from Psalm 23 - 3 P's to remember

Recently I had the privilege to lead three memorial services in one week.

Two were in the community, and one was a memorial service for residents at a care facility attached to the hospital where I work as a chaplain.

I've long been drawn to Psalm 23 as a source of comfort in these times.  It is often used at memorials, often printed on memorial cards.

The words are life-giving, familiar, and comforting.  I also read them often at bedsides, and the familiar words ring with comfort to those who are dying, to the families who love them.

As I prepared for these services, two words came to mind, and so I spoke of them.

The first was the word PROVISION, which is quite appropriate as we enter into this week of thanksgiving in Canada.  We are thankful for God's provision.  The verses are clear... we shall not want, for we are provided for.

We are led by quiet waters, there is a place for rest, there is refreshment for our souls, we are guided.  There is a table prepared for us, even in the presence of enemies.  This speaks of provision through all of life... the peaceful times, and the challenging.

The second word that came to me was PRESENCE.  The verse I cling to is verse four, where the psalmist says: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

I never cease to be in awe that the Creator is like a Shepherd, and he wants my company!  He is present with us.  This is comfort.  And as sheep need a shepherd, God wants to fill that need.  In a shepherd's world, the rod and staff are tools of protection and guidance.

Which brings me to a third word, which I have to credit my Uncle John with.  He is in my heart this week, because his beloved wife, our Aunt Lenora has gone to heaven after a very short battle with cancer.  We grieve with him and their family!

He and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about this Psalm.  He is a pastor, and had preached a sermon on Psalm 23 the day before we talked.  And he shared with me a P word I had not thought of... it is PROTECTION.

For those in the midst of grief, this could be a conundrum.  And yet, I believe it to be true.  We are not promised a world without trouble or pain.  Jesus himself said "In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world."  

Knowing we are loved deeply by the One who created us, who carries us as we allow it, who is Presence in this life, this is protection from evil as we also prepare for the life to come.  We who are tethered to this earth can scarcely imagine it, but when a loved one slips away we think about heaven.

We think about being free from pain, of deep joy, of sweet communion with our loved ones.  We think about God, and some envision God as a loving Heavenly Father, calling us home.  Or Jesus as the tender Shepherd, carrying us.

So, three simple words:  Provision, Protection and Presence.  This has brought me much comfort in the last few weeks, and I believe has helped to bring comfort to those who grieve.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley 

of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me 

in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall 

follow me all the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kind Words

When I turned to Social Media yesterday, I was reminded that the Royals were visiting our beautiful province.  Our Province's capital city was in waiting for this monumental arrival, and crowds of dignitaries including our prime minister and premier were all on hand, as well as half of Victoria.

To be honest, I have always been fascinated by the Royals.  My mother followed the Queen, and had clippings of her visits to Canada.  My dad talks of a royal visit.  When my children were little I followed Princess Diana, and I think there is something in every girl that wants to know a real live princess.

So I had coffee books about her, and followed her wedding and the birth of her two little boys.  I felt the heartbreak when her life unraveled, and yet admired her compassionate heart.  It is a princess tale with a sad ending.  I see her courage and compassion in her two sons, especially William.

Most girls love a princess story...

I laugh at my little three year old granddaughter with a closet of princess dresses, she is our royalty for sure!  And when she twirls with her lovely smile, we are all smitten.

We can only imagine what it is to be born into that kind of living, and I actually felt for the young couple, William and Katherine yesterday as they got off the plane, every eye on them and their two adorable children, the same age as my grandchildren.  Where most normal people would be bedraggled and pooped, they were expected to look glamorous and the children behaved.  Although it was quite humorous that little Prince George refused to give our Prime Minister a high five.  A true three year old, I thought!  

And then off to speeches and formalities, and I admired how they took time for people... genuinely listening, asking questions.

What I found appalling as I watched all of this was the news feed on my screen... there was the welcoming remarks, but there were a number of people that were spewing unkindness and rather rude remarks. Negative, hateful, jeering remarks about the events of the day.  This is one side of social media I do not like.  Ever.

It is one thing to have an opinion, but another to publicly vent unkind words, often about things we don't fully understand.

It reminded me of words often preached to my children when they were little... "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all!!"  

Our pastor spoke on Proverbs this morning and on the power of words.  I loved the picture he used of a filter... if we are truly wise we will use a filter for our words.  Are our words pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy, impartial, sincere?  

I enjoy Facebook and other social media for the connection I feel with family and friends, and even what I can learn from the rest of the world.  But sometimes the meanness just gets to me...  and I have to remember, when there is a fly in the ointment... we notice the fly!!  

Still, it is good to make a choice to be kind.  To be positive.  To be peace-loving.  To be considerate and full of mercy.  To be impartial and sincere!  

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  "Proverbs 16:24

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I've returned to Mitford

In last week's blog, I talked about pain and poverty.

Sometimes, in a broken world, one has to take a step back and find some time for self-care and soul-care.  I have found myself in that place in the last weeks, even in the midst of a full schedule, back pain which has slowed me down more than I would like, and just the busyness of life as it comes...

This Sunday, a lovely day of rest, I find myself on a day between Memorial Services.  I was privileged to lead a memorial service and graveside for a family yesterday, for a gentleman I had met as a chaplain.

And tomorrow we will remember five more lives at a Memorial Service I hold for the Seniors Residence that is next to the hospital where I work.

It is always a sacred privilege to share in people's lives, to remember lives lived, and to comfort those who mourn.

It is good to rest in between.  Perhaps that is partly why I love going back to Mitford... because there I am in love with a Parish Priest named Father Tim... who is as human as I am, who loves his parishioners, who seeks God with all his heart.  Of course it is the fictional book series I am referring to, starting with "A Home in Mitford" written by the talented Jan Karon.

This is the third time I have "escaped" to Mitford, and I find as I read, I relax, I laugh, I feel at home, and I delight in the goings on of this little town with all it's wonderful characters.

Reading has always been a great escape for me, and even though I value and have a read a variety of books: inspirational, challenging, devotional, and yes educational, I do delight in a wonderful novel that inspires me.  Some of my favourites include the Anne of Green Gables series, Great Expectations by Charles Dickons, and some of my other favourite authors include Angela Hunt and Lynn Austin.

Almost every room in our house has a bookshelf, all brimming with books.  Every once in a while I try to weed it out, but it often feels like I'm discarding old friends.  I do have a kindle I use... great on holidays... but there is truly something about sinking into a chair and turning the pages that I absolutely love.

So today, on this season changing day, with autumn hanging in the air, a pot of soup on the stove, my hubby's music playing in the background, you'll find me in Mitford.  It truly is a wonderful rest, something to enjoy regularly!

And I'd love to hear from you... what is your favourite book, or a favourite way to escape?

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Potpourri of Thoughts including Pain and Poverty

I don't like to write just for the sake of writing.  And I've been grateful I have not experienced a lot of writer's block.

But there are days when one just has to start writing, and get the juices flowing.  One of my "spiritual mentors", is Henri Nouwen and he talked of this very thing:

"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 (or computer!) 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."  - Henri Nouwen

In fact, if you are interested in daily inspiration from Henri Nouwen, I'd encourage you to do so!
  Henri Nouwen Daily Meditation

This summer I have had an unwelcome teacher.  The teacher's name is PAIN, and we have not been on friendly terms.   But it has drawn me to a deeper life of prayer, of questioning, of seeking God for strength, and looking for wisdom as I daily help others... in pain.

I've come to the conclusion that while i wholeheartedly dislike my weaknesses, and desire to be strong... and I know I have written about this before... it is in the acceptance of our infirmities, our aging, of accepting what we cannot change, that we come to serenity.

I think this will be the cry to my generation... we are aging, and a lot of us are not doing it well.  I am at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, who have been blessed in many ways.  But we are also an entitled bunch, and have bought and taught the "God of Entitlement Theology" to our children.  

Health and Wealth have high value in our culture.  And even though I fight that in my spirit, I know I practice it, it is part what I know, it is how I have lived.

And I hear the young prophets like Shane Claibourne calling our names, calling us to embrace poverty of spirit, to speak up for justice, to live differently.  We need to turn from building empires and bank accounts to caring for others.

And as I see these words spilling out on the screen I say yes... that is true.  But it is so much easier to write it than to put it into practice.

Sometimes I think embracing my weakness, my fragility causes me to ask these hard questions.  To say, how do I live in a broken world, and how do I truly care for and encourage others whose lives are spinning out of control?  Perhaps that is a little over dramatic, but I do believe so many of us struggle with the achievement of perfection, of the happy life, of feeling wonderful, or having it all.

And if I am a truly a follower of Jesus... and I say I am... is that what life is truly about?  I think of Ghandi who lived in poverty to help others.  And Mother Teresa.  I'm a far cry from that kind of devotion.

When Jesus says to deny ourselves and follow Him... what did he mean?  Somehow I think my poverty of spirit includes weakness and total dependency on the God who created us. We are not in control.  We are not entitled.

With that I can be exceedingly grateful.  This weekend, I just soaked it in.  We spent some time lake-side, and I said to my hubby... I just want to drink it all in.  It was so beautiful.  He quipped that I would be more than sick if I drank the lake... and we had a good laugh.

But to drink in beauty.  It is an antidote to pain.  There is beauty everywhere.  It is free and abundant.  There is beauty in creation, and we live in paradise.  There is beauty in people around me, I see it in a smile, or in a child's laugh.  It brings hope... not in a perfect life, but in the provision of a Creator who cares deeply, knows deeply and loves deeply.  I can rest in that.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Strength upon Strength, a Sun and a Shield

It has been my spiritual practice to sit with words or phrases and this summer I have spent some time with Psalm 84.  I was drawn to it when I was thinking about strength, and even spoke on strength twice this summer, once at Knox Presbyterian and once at my own home church.  (You can check it out, if you like, at First Baptist Church, Vernon, under sermons, on August 7)

Perhaps, because I have been confronted with my own weaknesses, that these lessons have been very important to me.  I'm encouraged by scripture that God cares for those who are weak, because our very dependency is on the One who gives us life.

Last week, during a retreat time I thought I would revisit Psalm 84 and was drawn to the latter verses, 11 and 12 where it speaks of the Lord God being our sun and shield.

It brought back memories of twenty years ago when I was newly widowed, living in an isolated community in a big creaky house and feeling very responsible for my three grieving children.  Every night as I prayed I would pray these words... Be my sun and shield.

I know I was thinking more about the shield part, and in my active mind (or was God giving me spiritual eyes), I would imagine hosts of angels surrounding my house, covering me, protecting me from any harm.  And then I would sleep.

I've thought about these words this past days, what do they really mean?

For God to say He personifies the sun, brings me pictures of warmth, energy, light, provision, and a fierce radiance that permeates all He touches.  I thought of my friend who is undergoing radiation treatment, and I prayed that God would permeate, radiate light and love throughout her body.  It is a good prayer to pray for me, for those I love, for those I minister to.

I don't think of God in purely masculine terms, although that is how we have come to see it written.  We who are created in God's image are both male and female.  I think of the warmth of a mother's love, of her fierce embrace, of her compassion and protection.

A Mother is like a shield against the world.  And God, who is Holy and Just and Pure would know that we also need a shield... even Moses hid his eyes from God.

This is truly an oxymoron, a mystery.  An all powerful God, holy... like the sun we are drawn to the Radiance, the Heat, the Energy.

I know I cannot sit in the sun for long... I need my sunscreen, an umbrella, some shade, a shield.  And God provides the protection I need!

Even though this is beyond understanding, all that is required is trust.  The psalm says "Blessed is the one who trusts in You."

I am an expert at trying.  Trying to get it right, trying to live healthy, trying to live my best life, physically, spiritually, mentally.  This can be exhausting!

To change trying to trusting... this is the challenge.  I might not always get it right, but I can rest in the fact that God is my source... my Sun, and God is also my protector, my Shield.  Trusting and resting in that promise is a good word for me this week, and I hope it will encourage you as well.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Could I buy some Serenity?

There has been some intention on my part in recent days to pay attention to self-care.  I set aside a day for that recently, spending a day up in the hills at a retreat center, with time to reflect, time with God, and time with two delightful soul-friends.

As I came down the mountain, I thought to myself... I need to drop by my naturopathic doctor's office for I had run out of a supplement that supports the adrenals... also part of self-care!

The office where I needed to go was surrounded by road work, and I took one road, then another, only to find I was blocked and had to go the long way around.  I finally found my way, and announced to the girls at the desk, "I need to buy some Serenity!"

It made sense to me, the product is called Serenity Pro, but as soon as it slipped out of my mouth, we all realized how funny it was.  "Make that two", I said...

As we all lamented about the lack of access to their office and the general stress we all felt, it was great to laugh about buying a little serenity!

If only it was that easy...

The other day I lamented to my hubby... I'd like to go to the store and buy some new body parts.  I was done with the aching.

There are lots of things we would like to "buy".  I'd be first in line to buy a cure for cancer, or a large dose of hope for someone I know who is depressed.  I'd like to tidy up the world, fix all the problems, and where could I go to buy some contentment for today?  I'd like to lift the stress off those I love, those who work hard and give it their all, day after day.  And peace in the world... well, you know where I am going.

I sat with a quote the other day from a book I picked up at the retreat center.  The book... which I didn't read fully, but skimmed, is called "The Spirituality of Imperfection" by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.  A book I'd like to add to my reading list.

 In their introduction they quote: "The spirituality of imperfection speaks to those who seek meaning in the absurd, peace within the chaos, light within the darkness, joy within the suffering - without denying the reality and even the necessity of absurdity, chaos, darkness and suffering."

Choosing serenity is an acceptance of imperfection, or resting within the chaos of life, of seeing beauty even in the midst of life's challenges.  It always comes back to the beautiful serenity prayer,
 "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."  -Reinhold Neibuhr

May God, the God of peace, grant us the wisdom to do just that.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Zucchini Tango with a Mango - Peachy Salsa

Every once in a while I feel like writing a food blog.

I generally love cooking, but baking has gone by the wayside.

I wasn't going to preserve much this year, it has been a very busy year for us, and finding rest time is a priority!  But my salsa had run out, and it is one of our favourite things...

Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with Zucchini, but I've discovered a couple of awesome recipes, one a Zucchini Tomato Salsa which I have made for a number of years now, and another for Zucchini relish. Another of our favourites is Zucchini Quiche.

And so when I had a Zucchini on the ready, and peaches that need some attention, it seemed like a good idea to marry the two. If you have a food processor, this doesn't take long to put together, and today was a good day to use things up, I really hate wasting food.

I'm also learning to preserve food in small batches.  I remember the days when we had canning marathons and the counters would be filled with gleaming preserves.  We don't need that much food, and I don't have the time or energy for bulk canning, although I admire people who do.  Small batches, using up what I have, makes more sense to our current lifestyle.

I had already experimented with Mango a couple of weeks ago, and was pleased with the result.  I was inspired by a jar I bought in the store and thought to myself... how hard could this be?

Using a couple of recipes as guidelines, I came up with this.  And you might as well know, it is helpful to write this down for my sake... I will be looking for it next year!  I tasted the results and I thought it was quite good!

Peach-Zucchini Salsa

Process in a food processor, or grate, or finely chop:
3 cups zucchini
1 large Walla or sweet onion
1 large pepper, red or orange
3 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed.

Add 4 cups chopped peaches (and I added a mango to this as well, just because I had one).
2 garlic cloves chopped fine
a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
3 T. Lime juice
1/2 cup white pickling vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T. salt (I used Himalayan)
1/4 cup sugar (I used Date Sugar)
1/2 cup liquid honey

Mix well together in a large stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Process in hot sterilized jars for 30 minutes.  Yield, 7 small jars.

I find this kind of salsa tasty on chicken, either in a stir-fry or in a crock-pot.  It would also be tasty on rice, or with crackers.

If you try it... let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Early morning walk
In the August sunshine

Sun already warming my shoulders
Birds happily
here and there
Before the midday heat.

Another day
I walked
Grandchildren and me
And we danced with our

"I'm stepping on you, Grandma!"
"Ouch" I reply!

Life casts shadows
Sometimes long and deep
Sometimes shadows hold
heartache and pain,
and seem larger
than life itself.

And then I thought of the Creator God
Creator of the sun,
Author of the shadow
Does God have a shadow?
A shadow so vast
I can hide.

And my own shadow fades
overtaken and protected by
the large and sacred
of the Creator.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
 Psalm 36:7

Early morning walk on the Commonage, Vernon BC
August 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Love-Dislike Opinions of the Olympic Games

So I'll admit right off this is an opinion piece.

I wrote about it four years ago... I just checked!  I was reminiscing then, on a article I had published when I was seventeen... in Seventeen magazine about my not-so-favorable opinions of the Olympic games.

You can read about it here!  Why Olympics?  Through the eyes of a Seventeen Year Old.  

The truth is that I am quite mesmerized by the games.  Especially the human-interest stories.  I love that there is a refugee team this year.  There are amazing stories of personal achievement, hard work, sacrifice.

There is enormous pride in our country and a sense of patriotism.  And beyond that there is a sense of Global community, of coming together, of celebrating the best of the best when it comes to athletic and physical ability.

I guess what got me going this week was a newscast that had two Olympic stories.  They were not related, and not reported as such.

The first story was about the poverty in Rio and the surrounding areas.  The reporter talked about the many slums and walked through some of them telling the story of deep recession, poverty and anger.  She talked about the huge expense of the games and how it was impacting the Brazilian people.  And it was not positive. Many of them live in slums, without much hope for tomorrow.  Many residents are bitter that money is spent on the opulent, not on the needs of the people.  These games will not benefit the locals, according to the story.
The second story was about the opening of our Canada House in Rio, to house and showcase our Canadian athletes.  It was posh, decadent, filled with Molson Canadian fridges  (not that I am against beer) .  It seemed like a little oasis, a temporary one at that, and perhaps it is true that is what Canadian athletes need to perform on the world stage.  But after the first story, it seemed opulent and indulgent.

The contrast was stark to me.  I felt like the rich Canadian looking on, but I wanted to look further.  I thought, what are Canadians doing as they visit this country, with their contingents of reporters, medical teams for their every need, healthy food and water, and who knows what else?

I would dare to ask, what do the rich countries do, coming into a place of poverty and need?   And perhaps there are those who have gone to help.  I want to hear those stories.

I WAS grateful for the first story, for awareness.  The question is always, what do we do about it?  It is always a good question to ask, because there is poverty in my back yard.  Do I care?  Do I do anything about it?  Do I notice?

These are never easy questions, but I believe that we need to have conversations, brain-storming conversations about how to care for the homeless, to bring real solutions to those struggling with mental illness and additions.

I felt anger as I pondered these things this week.  I've seen the raw side of the underprivileged in our community, and I wish we had better solutions to help; to make a difference.

So much need.  I am reminded though, that we can help, one person at a time.  We can raise awareness and speak out.  Because we are part of a global community, privileged to live in a wonderful country.

As always I'm grateful for the helpers.  For those who care, those who see, those who help us to know how to help, thank you!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Life is Hard AND Life is Beautiful

It is over twenty years ago now that my friend Carol died tragically in an ambulance accident.  She was a paramedic, and was coming back to her ambulance station from a transfer to the city.  It was pouring rain, a miserable night in January.

The next evening we gathered at our church, shocked, and grieving.  Carol and her husband had four children, all at home.  We had walked together and studied together.  It was hard to take in; to believe she was actually gone.

And I remember well our Youth Pastor uttering these words that night, "Life is hard, and then you die."

I have never forgotten those moments.  How we all grieved, as we also tried to be the helpers, the comforters.  And we also tried to make sense of it.

Sometimes life IS hard.  As a chaplain, I see it regularly.  And as I seek to bring comfort and hope and faith, I find it is also helpful to just admit it...life can be HARD.  It is hard when a person struggles with unbearable pain or depression.  It is hard when a young child struggles with a difficult disease.  It is hard to sit at the bedside of your parent and know you are saying good-bye.

Life is messy.  We see it in the political storms around the globe.  We see it in a world rocked by terror.  We see it in the youth who I've read about recently who experience child-labour and slavery.  It is hard for women in the middle East and other places who don't have a voice, and we were shocked to hear lately that some are still stoned... these things are horrific.

There are days it would be nice just to bury one's head in the proverbial sand and pretend it isn't happening.  I'm so incredibly proud of my niece Jessie who flew to Africa this week with International Justice Mission to help some of the most marginalized children who have come from slavery.

Recently I read this incredible book The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams, where she chronicles the stories of children who have come from horrific torture in the Congo.  She believes their stories need to be told, and she seeks to bring healing to their lives.  It is not an easy read, but an important one.

This week my hubby encouraged me to doodle the words, "Life is Beautiful". I struggled with that at first, as my heart had been full of concern this week for loved ones, with sadness for many I knew who were going through difficult times, with anger at some of the injustices we see and hear about.

And yet... I thought back to the amazing movie "Life is Beautiful" about a Jewish family who become victims of the Holocaust, and their incredible courage and passion for living; you watch it and your life is changed because you realize that even in the hard times... Life is beautiful.

My hubby was also inspired by the life of Etty Hillesum, also a Holocaust survivor who is called a Celebrant of Life.  Isn't that beautiful?  Her writings and journals of her positive spirit under horrific circumstances are documented in the book: Etty Hillesum: An Interupted Life and Letters from Westerbork.

I wandered outside the other day, thinking about these things, and was immediately captured by a birdsong.  We have one larger tree in our front yard, full of green, but at the top a naked branch reaches out to the sky.

Atop this branch sat the most beautiful little yellow bird, and I was convinced it was singing to me.  I stood there, entranced, and the bird sang on...it was one of those mystical moments, personal, comforting and it felt to me that God was singing... or at least sending me the message "I see the bigger picture.  I care."

As I enjoyed the beauty of this song, I was truly grateful.  And mindful.  That even in the hard times...

...that life truly can be beautiful.

The LORD your God in the middle of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Accessible Strength

It is Sunday as I write this, and I spoke this morning of strength, something I've been sitting with and meditating on this summer.

Instead of a lengthy blog, I thought I'd share some of the verses that have spoken so deeply to me as of late:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13

"He gives strength to the weary.  And to they who lack might, He increases power."  Isaiah 40:29

"The Lord will give strength to His people, the Lord will bless his people with peace."  Psalm 29:11

"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isiah 41:10

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor. 12:9

"I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being."  Ephesians 3:16

May these sacred words encourage you this week!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Cry of the Heart

My heart has been sad this week, on many levels, and as I was reflecting on some of this, this past weekend, these words came to me.

I grew up believing Christians should be happy victorious people or something was wrong with them.  It was a deeply flawed way of thinking, part of the culture I was part of.

As I have sat with many who suffer, and have gone through my own difficult challenges, I have come to appreciate the laments of King David and Job who dared to ask the hard questions.  I often refer people to Psalm 13, a wonderful Psalm where David pours out his heart... and ends with trust... trust that God is faithful, even in the hard times.  Yes, I too have come to that place...

So my ponderings this last few days:

Sometimes I want to cry
I do.
And if I emptied myself
of all the tears
It would not be enough.

for even my small
of the world.

seems to come in

Those I love
Friends I care about
Those I meet

Tear-stained mothers
on my TV screen
over their lost children.

Some-days it is too much to even

Come to me
Jesus said

I go

Knowing that my God
  can handle my questions

And hold the pain.

We can come
come as we are

Holding hands open.

And find rest
  for our souls.

-July 2016

Psalm 13
How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord, my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say "I have overcome him"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
and my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise
for he has been good to me."
- a Psalm of David