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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Honouring the Unseen

I have had the occasion to speak or share things fairly often as of late, and people are very kind.... encouraging me in my words whether it be written or spoken to a group. At times I have been self-conscious about this, although I am becoming more confident and joyful in communication.  

It is not always easy "being seen", and listened to, and I enjoy times when I am just the listener.  Being "up front" causes one to pay attention to words and detail, and as a woman, even dress!  I was quite amused this week to hear of a male mayor who wore the same suit to work for 15 months, without anyone noticing!  A woman would never get away with that!!  :-)

And there are times when I am distracted by silly things... like yesterday, I realized I had forgotten to put in my earrings, and have wished at times for better hair days!  But mostly I pray... let me NOT be a distraction... from the real message, from the encouragement.  

I thought of these things because of a conversation I had with someone I love... who wondered how I did it... and as I heard the admiration, there was also this sense that she could not.  And I knew instinctively that we both had been called to different things.  Important things, just different.

I recognized again as I thought about it, that we are all equal...  I know this well, but it has to be said, again and again.  We all have roles to play, we all are part of the body, we all have contributions to make.  All of us.  Some of it is seen, and much of it is hidden.

And do we honour those whom we don't see?  

I thought of that today, after church, coffee cups quietly being picked up and taken to the kitchen, washed and put in their rightful place.  And someone had cleaned the toilets... again.  

Mothers... mothers of young ones, wiping noses, kissing owies, cooking meal after meal - and cleaning up, often with ungratefulness, sleepless nights and you just keep loving... And not just mothers... there are caregivers to many, quietly, day after day, caring for the needs of those dependent on them.

Nurses and hospital staff, and I see the cheerful cleaning staff, cleaning the same rooms, over and over, so we can have a healthy environment.  Yes, it is a job, but I applaud their care to expelling germs.    So much of what goes on in a hospital is unseen, carefully presided over by careful eyes... the pathologist who reads the reports, the x-ray technicians, the lab technicians who take blood and urine, and these are the most critical reports to doctors who make diagnosis.  

I think of those who collect our garbage, and sort our recyclables, the many that serve us in restaurants and coffee shops, the paper person who faithfully delivers the paper I love to read, often in the dark and inclement weather.  Thank you.  

I think of seniors, our growing population, often feeling forgotten and unappreciated.  I think of how much they contribute to our society, I see them volunteering every day.  Our community could not keep going without them.  And as they grow even older, their sweet smiles, their quiet prayers, their generous contributions,  their encouragement needs to be valued, for all they have given to us, and continue to give to us.  

There is something in most of us which longs to be noticed and appreciated.  A mentor of mine once said that there are visible people and invisible people.  Some of us will like this role, preferring to be seen... or unseen. Others not so much. Sometimes it is a choice, and sometimes it is not.

Somethings should remain unseen.  I think of Jesus talking about those who pray... and he talked about the Pharisee who loudly prayed his prayer so all could see him.   This obviously was NOT a good example of how we should live.  No, we are encouraged to pray in secret, and there are somethings God only knows, about how we live, or act or think, when no one else is watching.

And yet, some are called to live some of their lives more publicly. Some don't do this well and our news is filled with examples of famous faces who make a name for themselves... either negatively or positively.  I admire those who are famous who hold on to their integrity, who lead with dignity.  Thankfully most of us will not ever have to live with such scrutiny.  

There will always be those who lead, who are more seen.  I am drawn to those who have servant hearts, who lead by example, who are humble-in-heart.  And I have such great appreciation for all who serve,  often in quiet ways, because the world would not revolve without them!!

This blog is really a thank you to all who serve and give of themselves... especially those who might feel unseen.  I want to notice, to say thank you, to be grateful for how we all play a part in a community that is much larger than ourselves.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Gift of Encouragement

Encouragement is one of the best gifts of all.

When I doodled the word "courage", it struck me that it is a root of encourage... that is to give courage to!  It is to give the gift of hope and determination to carry on, even through the challenges we face.

Recently I found myself the recipient of such encouragement.

And I was surprised at the source.  That particular week I had visited two elderly women, unknown to each other: two separate hospital visits in my role as chaplain.  Both were into that tenth decade, both bright and cognitive, even with failing bodies.  Both were experiencing incredible physical challenges and pain.

What I remember well was that as determined as I was to inquire after their health and encourage them, the conversation quickly turned around.  They wanted to know all about me!  Both were deeply interested in my life, my family, and one was quite concerned I was taking time for myself!

Yes, I was very encouraged by these visits.  As much as I brought to their bedside, they gave me so much more.  I was so impressed by their ability to think beyond themselves, and to show care for others, even though each of them was facing challenging times.  Their gift of peace and grace was evident.  They had a radiance and serenity that most of us long for.

These kind of visits always draws me to the question.  What makes the difference for some, who live life with an attitude of giving, of hope, of facing challenges with peace?  I believe faith can be a part of that, and we had joy in sharing about our common faith in a God who cares.

But as I thought about it, I also believe strongly that it is our attitudes that can make a difference.  We can always make a choice about how we respond to what life brings, even though some of those times are painful times of learning.    I've quoted it before, but it is so good... we can choose to be better, or bitter.  I've seen many frustrated people from all walks of life who blame, who are unhappy, and often miserable.

When our minds... and our hearts... respond in a positive way to life's challenges, I believe as we age we reflect those very choices we have made along the way.  Did I choose love?  Did I choose forgiveness?  Did I choose to really listen to those around me?

It is good to learn from others.  To be reminded, even in their encouragement to me, that the choices I make each day will also give me gifts for the future, coping skills, and even the gift to encourage others along the way.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love and Loneliness

It is a day to celebrate love.

I heard two wonderful sermons on the subject today, one from our own pastor Dan Watt and one from Bobby Schuller of Hour of Power.  Bobby is a delightful young preacher and pastor, if you ever want to check him out.

And both talks were on loving, caring love for one another, unconditional, and they inspired my heart.

But I digress... because what has been on my heart today is the awareness of the loneliness a day like this brings.  Commercialization which is all around us creates this image of perfect love, a lover's day, which for the majority of the population is an exclusion.

I think of all the dear folk I know who have been recently widowed and how the their hearts ache with the memories of their loved ones and the longing to here those words just one more time... words of love.

And there are those who have been rejected and spurned... divorce and separation a grief all of its own that we don't always acknowledge.

And there are those who long for love...

I was thinking back to another pastor (Dr. Charles Stanley) whom we used to listen to, and I remember well this acronym he used often called HALT.

It is a wonderful reminder of the deep emotions in us that we need to pay attention to, emotions that can run higher than normal on days like this, days that can trigger us.

HALT stands for paying attention to when you are
1.  Hungry, or
2.  Angry, or
3.  Lonely, or
4.  Tired.

When you think about it, this is amazing advice. None of these things are wrong emotions or feelings, but when we notice any of these taking over in our lives, we need to pay attention!  And do something about it.  Or it can affect our behaviour and how we respond to others.

I always found it interesting how Lonely made the list.  I remember well a cold winter day, just months after I was widowed, when I sat by the ocean and I actually expressed to my mother... I feel so lonely that there must be a large L imprinted on my face.  It was an ache that I held and didn't know what to do with.

I honestly think that reaching out to others is the best antidote.  Caring friends, those who have been there and understand, safe places to share our hearts.  Two wonderful ladies whom I worked with at New Hope (support for the widowed), created a fun night for each other, called "Rotic" evenings.  That, by the way, is "Romantic - without the man!"

I believe with all my heart that God, the Creator, the one who created love IS love, and that kind of love is eternal.  I rejoice in the fact that I am loved by God, unconditionally, completely.

I also understand the need at times for love "with skin on".  So sometimes we might just need to phone up that friend (who also might be lonely) and have a telephone chat, or arrange to go for coffee or tea.  Time to hug those irresistible grand-kids if you are so blessed, and tell them how much you love them.  There is always someone to love, or even give the gift of a smile.

Love to you, whoever takes the time to read this, and I always love to hear from you.
<3 Grace

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Following my Calling

I had the privilege to speak this last week, part of a class that was preparing for possible ordination.*  We all gave presentations, and some of us shared in the devotional times.

It is something I have hesitated to talk about, partly because it might be misunderstood by some.  And it is not about "becoming someone" as it has been a very long journey of listening to God's gentle leading in my life.

I don't want to write about all the reasons why, but wanted to share some lessons I've been learning along the way.

This week I shared that we all are called.  And it is true.  There are seasons in our lives, I believe, that God, the Creator prepares us for and tasks we are called to.

As a teen I was vibrant and excited to share my faith.  To make a difference.

As a young mom I was passionate about raising my children.  And I'm still passionate about them.  I wanted to get it right, be the best mom, always wanting them to know how much I loved them.  It was a high calling, and still is!

I was called to be a foster mom - a season that for me was rich and satisfying.  And then to work with women, and there has been a season to work with the bereaved, even as I was bereaved.

I love the calling to be a grandmother, a faithful friend, a loving wife...

I talked this week about how one of my precious friends has been called to pray for people like me, people involved in ministry, in bringing care to others.  What a high calling this is - to be called to pray for and bless others.

I spoke this week of two underlying emotions as I have been preparing for this stage of ministry.  One is of incredible gratefulness.  Gratefulness to God who has carried me, loved me, been faithful to me, Who has prepared me for every stage of my life.  Sometimes the school of suffering has not been easy but it has given me my best lessons.

There is also gratefulness for others - for those who believe in me, those who teach and guide me, care for me, support me, pray for me.  If we look around, we will find those in our lives who care about us, our cheering sections!

I was filled with gratitude as I thought of each one.

The other emotion that I experienced this week as I presented my paper was one of terror!!

Sometimes when we embark on a new journey fear wants to become a partner.  We fear what others think, we fear stumbling.  And as I sat with these thoughts, I remembered the ancient story of Moses.

If you read in the second book in the Bible, in the book of Exodus, God calls out to Moses in the form of a burning bush.  It is quite the story.  And it becomes a place of holy ground.  God is calling Moses, and Moses is not at all convinced God has the right man.

Moses is around the age of 80 in this story, and I though aha!  I'm not so old after all!!!  And he is reluctant, and doesn't think he can do what God has called him too.  He pleads with God, more than once, to reconsider.

And what struck me the most was the beautiful assurance God gives Moses... that God would be with him, and that God would equip him for the task ahead.  (Although I'm rather glad God doesn't use snakes and leprosy in the convincing business anymore... if you haven't read the story check it out!!)

I found great comfort in this story.  For I have long believed and have experienced the fact that if God calls you to something, there will be provision for the task.

So whatever we are called to, we have a God who provides.  A God who assures us of His presence.

God with us, in every stage of life, as we say Yes to the One who created us and equips us for living.

* with the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.