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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!

You can also find me on Facebook at Grace Notes, Thoughts and Prayers.

I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Finding Peace in a Fear-mageddon world

Growing up in the 70's we became familiar with the word Armageddon - describing the final battle many believe signals the end of the world.

Years later, I find the word still brings chills to me, and a haste to prepare for I don't know what...

Whatever theological debate is around this word, it is a place that is associated with a terrible time.

So I was amused (and somewhat frightened) when reading in my Facebook feed this past week that this word was used to describe other calamities to be sure to come to our neighbourhood, very soon.

One warning was about tick-maggedon, the other about mosquito-maggedon... and yes, this was the language used.  Other dire warnings this week have included recent reports about bed bugs infestations and one that is too close to home - exposure to the dangerous object in the sky, the sun.

I've looked forward to summer for a while now, but it has come fast and hard.  In our area many are experiencing the calamity of floods.  With the heat of the sun, and the melting of the snow, this late spring and feeling like summer is bringing a host of challenges.

A bad year for mosquitoes we've been told, and I've heard the same dire warnings about ticks.

Sometimes it feels like we live in an unsafe world from recent terrorist attacks to less insidious threats of disease from bugs and bats and the sun.  There is much to be afraid of!

Some of this hits close to home... and we do the best we can to live well, while taking great precautions.  Because melanoma has touched our family, sunscreen, and the shade are all part of our daily lives.

In this year where I have been deliberate about practicing joy, it has struck me how fear can rob me, and many others, of living relaxed, joyful lives.  And perhaps, in this broken world this is a daily quest, a choice, a deliberation to live in peace and trust in the midst of challenging circumstances, or perceived threats.

We can also suffer from compassion fatigue, as we hear story after story of calamities around the world, drought, terror, wars and refugee crisis.  There is a feeling of helplessness, as we seek in our own ways to help, and it seems so little.

As we deal with our own home-grown threats, I've grown to love using essential oils, which I believe are truly God's medicine, and if used correctly can be very helpful in prevention and treating things like insect bites and sunburns.  There are even oils for anxiety!  There are many resources available to us, and I'm thankful for them.

Some of us are more prone to fear than others.  Others seem to love living risk filled lives, and you wouldn't catch me among them!  No, I'll leave falling out of airplanes and racing cars to those with braver hearts!!

If you have a sensitive heart, like mine (which has wonderful and difficult qualities), we will be more affected by these fear-based forecasts.  Sometimes I just need to take a break from the news stories and find some peace by a lake or in a garden where I feast on what is beautiful and good.

I'm also reminded that there are 365 quotations from the Bible that remind us not to be afraid - that is one for every day!  I have always taken great comfort in this; that God knows my tender heart and our Creator reminds us that we are always assured of his love and care in any circumstance.

When I set my heart on these beautiful words, peace overcomes fear.  We cannot always control the challenges we face, but we know God will see us through.  And that is something I believe, with all my heart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Time to Breathe

Breathing is the most natural thing we do... all of us, or we are in trouble!

But I've been more mindful of my breathing lately...paying attention, slowing it down, taking deep breaths.

Life can come at you, full and fast, like the rain today, and the floods so many are facing.  Sometimes the adrenaline kicks in, sometimes we live lives full of adrenaline, till our bodies are tense with the next thing, the to-do list, with the pressures of life, or the heartaches we face.

Last week as we were studying our Bible lesson from Ephesians three, I was struck by these words from the Apostle Paul, which is really part of a prayer: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."  (3:20).  I pondered that prayer for a while, but more than thinking about it, God wanted me to put it into practice.

And the lesson I've been learning is... do I live life with dread or expectation?  Do I react to what is in front of me, or take time to slow down, to ponder, to ask my Creator (who is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine) for divine assistance?

Sometimes we have to ask for help in this!  The very next morning with those words in mind, I woke up with my back in spasms... and I had a full day ahead.  Panic seized me, and I wondered how I would get through.  I phoned someone I trusted and asked her to pray for me... and the miracle happened.  My body relaxed, and my day went well.

 I say this carefully, because I am not one to demand things from God, and I see people... often... who are racked with pain.  But as I listen, or pray with them, or just hold their hand, there can be a relaxing, and an easing of the tension.  And God can help us to do that, I believe!  The prayer states, to the One who is able to do immeasurably more that we ask or imagine!  These are heavenly resources that help me to face life with expectation rather than dread.

And breathing IS important... I don't believe we were created to be tense.  And when I am, I find that breathing exercises can help me immensely.  One exercise is to take a deep breath, counting to four as I take it in... hold it for the count of one, and release it in another count of four.  It slows you down, and this has even helped me to go to sleep.

Breath prayers are also a wonderful way to practice calming the mind.  Simple prayers like "Help, Lord!", or "Have Mercy on Me", or "Thank you that you are with me", help us to focus on our source of help and strength.  I heard another prayer recently where I can breathe in a prayer, focusing on God's love filling me as I breathe, and with my exhale, I pray a prayer of thanks or love back to God.

Breathing in love, peace, calm, is another way to refocus the mind.  Breathe it in, and breathe out the fear, the anxiety.

Take time to breathe.  Today I am grateful for the gift of life, I am thankful for the air I breathe, for the beauty all around me.  There, that feels better already!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

We All Have a Mother

This is the week our calendar reminds us to think about our moms - and we all have one.

It was once noted that Mother's Day is one of the busiest days for churches, for florists, for restaurants... because nothing can play on our heart strings like a mom...

After all, it was her heart-beat that was our first symphony...and the safe place she carried us was our first home.

It is a week I miss my mom, now in heaven almost four years.  And as I attend many bedsides, where death is imminent, where children of all ages say good-bye, those are sacred moments.  There is something primal about saying good-bye to a mom - a final separation of the emotional umbilical cord.  It is hard to explain, but the feelings can be intense, and even physical.

Everyone has a biological mom... but not all get to know her. I also think this week of those who never got to know their mom - through death or separation.

I think of those who grieve... and I've joined those ranks.  Remembering a mom in heaven!

We need to also remember adoptive moms... brave and courageous, often sacrificing much to have a child of the heart.  We need to listen to their stories.  I admire them greatly.

And others who released their children to be loved by others, bearing wounds and holding stories not told. Some, deeply troubled, some addicted.... we need to listen, to show compassion.

And there those who cannot be mothers but long to be... and the travail of the heart for those whose womb is silent.  Others choose to share their love through fostering or being a loving auntie or neighbour, or surrogate grandma.

I also want to remember mothers who grieve... and the children who have died; children they will carry forever in their hearts.  And there is the disfranchised grief... those who mother those in trouble... children on drugs, or in trouble with the law.   Their grief is silent.  We need to acknowledge their pain.

Then there are the mothers of those with great needs... and their children will always need a caregiver.  Sometimes the care is around the clock, and exhausting.  They need our support and care!

I've been grateful for spiritual mothers in my life... those who mentored me, prayed for me, listened with unconditional love and open hearts.  These are precious women I am thankful for.  And I pray I can also be that kind of "mother"... heart open wide to love those who need extra encouragement.

I've heard it said the greatest joy... and the greatest sorrow... lay in the heart of a mother.  We've just celebrated Easter and we think of the heart of Mary, blessed and chosen to be the mother of Jesus, yet her heart broke for him as she watched him suffer.  A mother's heart is a fragile thing...

Emotions are stirred when we think of our moms... they can drive us crazy, and as we have pushed their buttons, we can be triggered by them too!   Moms are human beings, flawed, needy, while they are generous and caring.  The older I get, I see the human side of my mother... striving, yearning, loving, giving, serving.  She longed for peace in her family, she wanted to know how everyone was, and she cared deeply for each one.

I am also called to remember that we are not defined by the labels we wear... although there is great significance in them.  We are human, we are loved, we are flawed, we are created in the image of God, (both mother and father) we have purpose, we are blessed.  And we are grateful that God created moms - the path to life here on earth.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Knit Together

I am not a knitter.  I crocheted something once, long ago, and it turned out fine, but knitting is beyond me, at least for now.  But I greatly admire the knitting of others... and my daughter has become a master knitter in a very short time, creating lovely creations that are well made and beautiful!

Last year, exactly at this time of year she sent me a parcel for Mother's Day and in it was an exquisite shawl that I will treasure always.  I was about to face an examining council and the timing was perfect... I felt wrapped in love!

Recently I was reading a post (April 17)  from a prayer App put together by Shane Claiborne, an activist and Christian calling for simplicity.  He always inspires me.  He uses a translation put together by the book of Common Prayer, I believe, and verse 11 of Psalm 86 reads like this:  Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth:  knit my heart to you that I may fear your name.

(if you are interested in the app, look up Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne)

I was struck by the words... knit together... another translation uses the word "united".  Isn't that amazing prayer?  To ask our God to knit ourselves to One who created us?

I've long loved Psalm 139, which also speaks of knitting!  Verse 13 says "For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb."  

This isn't glue!  There is no unraveling!  To think God creates... knits us together is a lovely thought I've been dwelling on for days!

And then I found another lovely reference... to encourage us!  We are to be knit together in love!

Love is the wool... God perhaps is the Knitter?  However you picture it... and I think God loves word-pictures... we are connected, by God, with the Creator, and also with each other.

We are called to love... and really this goes back to my favourite words of Jesus... to love God with ALL our hearts, minds, soul and strength... and to LOVE each other as ourselves.

So there is my knitting lesson for today!  Even though I can't knit, I can use my imagination!

Written with love... <3 Grace