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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, August 29, 2017

Golfing with Mother

I took a trip down memory lane this week.  I was jogged by memories as I shared about my mom last week and thought it was time for a fun post.

Mothers are precious.  They are not perfect, as we all know.

I talked to someone just this past week who was pained by how she had not always appreciated her mom .... her idiosyncrasies, her unique way of doing things.  And she realized that her mother's heart was motivated by love.  How well I know this... my mom had a way of connecting with all her children and grandchildren and was the glue that connected us... through her we heard family news, and felt connected as a whole.

We also loved to tease my mom, and she would react with her innocent smirk, and continue to be her own person.  I loved that about her.

Which brings me to golfing.

Last week I shared how I like rules sometimes.  When it came to golfing, mom played by her own rules.  After a while we just gave up, and said we played by "Friesen rules".  You might want to try it!

Mother loved golfing.  Not any fancy schmancy courses, but the little ones where we were free to be ourselves.  She especially loved Highlands Golf course, here in Vernon, partly because she loved the hills and this particular golf course is perched on a hill.

I always found this course challenging, because of the boomerang effect, the balls would bounce right back at me as I tried to shoot them up the hill.  Coming down was much easier.

But that mattered not at all to mom, who turned her golf club into a walking stick and walked spryly up the hill.  If we went every week in the golf season, she was happy.

Of course, dad loved to keep score, and mother dutifully kept the score pad and pencil in hand.  But (sorry, dad), it was hardly accurate.

To start with we could begin as many times as we liked.  I know (by being knowledgeable about "the rules"), that you count every extra swing - or mulligans.  But that didn't apply when we played.  "Try again, honey!", she would look at me sympathetically, and so I did.

I have to tell you about her swing.  I can see her shaking her head at me now, but it was a thing of wonder.  She swung her golf club like a pendulum... and it went back and forth, more than once often, and then she would connect.  She was amazingly accurate, and could hit fairly well.  It was wonderful to watch, but you did need to step out of her way!!

If the ball happened to land in an undesired spot, Mother would think nothing of removing the ball and carrying it to a more desirable location.  She did this for me on numerous occasions, and if I protested, she just gave me that loving look.  And we played on...

She didn't like to lose a ball.  She had a wonderful thing-a-ma-jig that would fetch balls out of water or difficult places.  More than once we had to encourage her to let it go... and to be safe as she perched in precarious places trying to rescue her ball.  And it was always a great game when we came away with more balls than when we had started with.

And then there was the counting... we were never that serious about it.  Well, perhaps the men were, but we always stopped counting at 6 strokes... and then, maybe was that 5?  It didn't really matter.  And if you were frustrated with your putting, you could just plop the ball in the hole and call it done.

Talking of putting, there were times when mom could see the ball was going too far... and she would help a bit.  She would put her feet in a V and catch that run-away thing.  She was so very helpful.

I do have to admit, my attitude wasn't always good.  I wanted to play a good game, and wanted to play by "the rules" at times.  But as I look back, my heart aches, and tears come to my eyes, and how I wish I could play with her again.

A year after she died, we went with my dad to play at Highlands.  The proprietress as always was so friendly and welcoming and told us how she missed our mom.  "Her laughter would drift down the hill" she told us.

And that is what it is all about.  Loving the times we had.   Good memories, chasing a golf ball, enjoying incredible views from the hill-top, laughing about our silly golf game, and just being together.

So... cherish the memories.  I know I do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Breaking the Rules

I actually like rules.

In my early years, a preacher's kid, there were some that might have called me "goody-two-shoes".   Where that particular description came from I have no idea, but it wasn't flattering.

I think it comes back to my personality of being somewhat a perfectionist (ouch, it hurts to say that), and wanting to get things right.  Wanting to please.  Wanting to be liked.

Rule-keepers can easily shift to policing, and that isn't always pretty either.  One of my worst memories of this was in an uppity neighbourhood we once lived, where we shared a big house with my parents.  We were up, they were down. (in the house, that is!)  And someone down the street decided we had an illegal suite and reported us.

The day the city official arrived to investigate, we were all sitting outside, sharing a meal together, and it was very apparent that we all shared the house together.

But this blog isn't about suites, illegal or not!

My mom had a lovely take-charge personality, and although she worked hard at fitting into "her role" as a pastor's wife, she also took much leadership!  And she said to me, more than once, that rules were only rules if they made sense.  One late evening, we went to a convenience store together, and the parking lot was empty.  She parked in the handicapped zone.  I couldn't believe it, and told her so.  She couldn't understand my chagrin.

We had other such conversations around canning and preserving... I was a "by-the-rule" gal, she did it the way she had done it for a hundred years, and no one had died yet.... ah yes, she lived to her own rules, and we all loved her.

Recently I wrote about compassion. As I was thinking about compassion, I realized that sometimes this involves breaking the rules.  Because Compassion should be a compass for any rule!  I remember talking to a Parking Lot attendant once, about a ticket someone had received in the hospital parking lot, and we were trying to get it voided.

We asked for mercy.  And in all honesty, parking is a real challenge for those in a medical emergency. Compassion should rule!

We live within systems or bureaucracies which create rules to make things work.  To keep us safe.  To create order.  But sometimes those rules have to be challenged!  Or at least looked at on a case-by-case basis.

I was thinking of Jesus, who is the ultimate example of this.  He lived with a lot of rule-keepers, the Saducees and Pharisees who did their best to keep all the rules and make sure everyone else did too.

But Jesus challenged that, saying he had come to free us.  He healed on the Sabbath.  He mingled with the poor and those society had discarded.  He showed great compassion to the women in particular, who were often marginalized in those times.  There is a lot of Gospel stories where he demonstrated that compassion should rule!

I love the fact that we can't put the God who created us, who loves us, in a box of rules.  This is not neat and tidy stuff, but a God who loves a messy world, who dares us to follow the steps of Jesus and show compassion to those who need it most.

And when Jesus was asked what were the greatest commands, he gave these very simple instructions:  to love God with all our heart, soul and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves.

As I live out my life, it is good to refer back to those important rules, rules that trump everything.  To seek God with all my heart.  To live a life of love and compassion.  And when I mess up, I can go to my Heavenly Father, and I am grateful for the grace and mercy I receive, always there for the asking.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rising Above Oppression

The air has been oppressive lately.

I woke up to gray, the mountains obscured by haze and smoke.

My  mood reminded me of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is usually a winter issue here in my corner of Canada, when the clouds settle in for weeks on end and we long for the sun.

I try to pay attention to what my body is telling me... sometimes there are things I can do to lift my mood.

And I realized that the sadness was deeper yet... there is an oppression far beyond smoky skies and all that entails.

I realized the news had affected me too... news that has shaken many, as we have watched in horror what has unfolded in the state of Virginia.  I have family there and it hits too close to home.  I have written often against injustice and bullying.  I believe in kindness and love. I don't need to describe what happened in Charlottesville, you can read that in the news.  It has created a deep grief in my soul, a sadness that just won't lift.

I also realized this morning that I live in white privileged skin.

Really, I don't have much to say.  Unless I begin to listen to my brothers and sisters, also part of God's creation, and hear their pain.

When I am sad, I often turn to art.  I actually believe this can be a spiritual experience, for we are made in the image of the creator... all of us... and God has made us to be creative beings!  Of course we are inspired by the handiwork and beauty we see all around us.

Today I did something very unusual.  I was intrigued by a collaborative art project at the Vernon Art Center, something that is sponsored by various levels of government, a way of community building and showing respect to one another.

I was curious.  So I showed up.  A lovely young artist in Vernon has the vision of creating a mosaic river - created by many hands.  Today I became one of those hands, working with another friend and a lovely group of people, both children and adults.

The artist explained that she chose the visual of water, a river ... a source of life for all of us, and how we need to care for our water resources.  This fall, as part of RespectFest, this mosaic river will take shape in downtown Vernon, and it will be a lovely piece of art for years to come.  You can read more about it here,  at https://respectfest2017.com/public-art-workshops/,  and even sign up to create a piece of this beautiful mosaic.  Participating is free!

It seemed timely today.  To work with people I never met, to share creativity, to be part of making something much bigger than I would create on my own.  This was healing for me.

The blue and white tiles put together by my friend and I will be part of a much larger "river" of tiles that will flow in our downtown, this fall.

We all do our part.  It might be speaking out against bullying, or sharing kindness with a stranger.  It might be volunteering.  It might be writing a letter to a government official.  It might be as simple as getting to know your neighbour.  It might be sharing a meal, or creating art together.

This is how we fight against oppression.  By praying, by showing kindness, by loving, by acknowledging the many good women and men who make a difference in our broken world.  

For me, today, it was placing broken tiles, one at a time, and knowing there was a bigger vision.  And I know God has a bigger vision too.  I can trust in that.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Will that be a complaint or a word of compassion?

My hubby has found a new show we've been watching lately called "Brain Games".  You can find it on Netflix.

We watched an episode recently on the subject of compassion and I found it fascinating.  The premise was that most of us are born with compassionate genes and generally will respond with compassion to needs around us.

But... if we are treated badly, we are likely to respond in kind... and compassion goes out the window.

This is a simplistic overview, I know; you'll have to watch it for yourself.

But it had me thinking...how choosing to be compassionate can change me and the world around me.  And that spurred me into action.

Recently I have heard a lot of complaints.  Some of them were legitimate, I get it, but I recognize that listening to a complaining person is draining indeed if it is not balanced with the positive.  There are some people who look at life with dark shades indeed, and have no trouble voicing their dissatisfaction to anyone who will take time to listen.  This is exhausting.

I'm always amazed when I visit people at the hospital... some of them need to talk about their troubles, and it is my job to listen!  I get this. Interestingly I find that is often those who have the most difficult of situations who are the most grateful.  Even though they might be suffering, there is room to be grateful for the medical care, for a visit, for the support they receive, and some of them are very grateful to God in the midst of their circumstances.  I admire their attitudes, and their very countenance often reflects their inner life.

And then there are those who tend to complain, and find it hard to find the good in life.  I recognize it is much harder to show them compassion.

We live in a negative world... but when we find the positive, and recharge the serotonin in our brains, we are able to cope, having a much brighter countenance.  I have come to believe that gratitude is a key to finding that positive way of living.  Gratitude to the One who made us, gratitude for breath, gratitude for the beauty around us, gratitude for so many things... clean water, plentiful food, loving relationships.

The other day I was quite impressed by a video blog originally released on Twitter by Chris Hatfield who listed 25 positive things that were happening in our world.  It was inspiring!  He is not a complainer or someone who shouts doom and gloom....

I found myself greatly encouraged by that.  Not that I'm going to stick my head in the sand (although some days I'm sorely tempted to do just that), but one needs to counter all the negative press with some positive news.

So back to compassion.  The Brain Game episode we watched scientifically proved that the more compassion you show, it affects others to also behave in compassionate ways.   How cool is that?

It reminds me of those two words... react or respond.  When I react with my emotions and speak without thinking, there is often a negative response or outcome.  When I stop to think it out, I often can respond in a thoughtful manner.  And if we choose compassion as a way of life, it can change the way we think, the way we respond, the way we even feel.

Respond with compassion.... my new goal for this week!  And thanks for taking time to read my blog!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Signposts and Billboards and Painted Rocks

I wonder if we would be surprised at the number of messages, both blatant and subtle that assail our brains every day.

From road-signs and billboards, to the television, to our ever-ready phones and social devices, and I'm sure I've forgotten a few.

These signs shape us and influence more than I would like to think.

In our North-American culture which has affected many parts of the world, beauty and youth is in.  It is big business.  My granddaughter told me seriously today that she hopes to be a princess when she grows up.  In her world of influence, this seems totally possible!

And it is wonderful for children to live in their imagination, but the world is far less kind as we age.

I viewed a new wrinkle this morning and fought the urge not to panic.  Age seems to be creeping up, well rather falling down as I get closer to the big 60.  I remember my mother's own angst at those wrinkles as we kept telling her how beautiful she was.  And truly she was, a beautiful lady full of dignity.

Another day recently I was with a group of women and one of them, slim and tall left for a minute.  And it was commented on how fortunate she was... and I found myself saying no.... we are all beautiful!  And I shared with them that when I need to convince myself, I tell it to my face in the mirror.  You are lovely... you are precious, you are valued...

I truly believe these words are from the Creator who made us, who delights in us,... who loves us all equally, and sees beauty in a far different fashion that we do.

Sometimes I feel we fight against the social current, but many voices do speak out.  I love the ads that help women to love themselves, no matter what shape, what background, no matter what...

And so perhaps we need to create new signposts.  I can often be tempted to see the negative and be affected by it.    It has become important to speak things that are true and right and good, and to tell them to myself, as well as to speak them to others in my sphere of influence.

There is a lovely movement in our city right now where people are placing rocks with lovely messages, and randomly people find them.  How fun!  I've been painting on rocks for a while now, and enjoy putting them out on my front porch.  Some are silly, but many have a message.  They are signposts and reminders to me.

Recently we repainted our bathroom cupboards and I asked my painter hubby if I could paint words on our on-suite bathroom cupboards.  If I botched it no one would see, but me!

And the words etched on those cupboards have spoken to me, again and again, as I leave the house.  "Be Strong and Courageous - The Lord is with you Always!!"  I drink in those words, and the truth of them, and they give me hope and courage for the day.

What signs have you created to feed your soul?  I'd love to see them.  Or perhaps you'll be inspired to hunt for rocks and create messages on them.  The possibilities, the encouragements are endless!