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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, September 25, 2018

I love you to the Moon and back

The September moon was stunning last night.

My iphone camera cannot do it justice, but I'm sure there are many beautiful pictures captured that will be posted today.

What is it with the moon that evokes such emotion?  My hubby and I love to stare at the moon, there is romance in a walk under its eye.  One of our favourite books that we read to the kids is "I Took the Moon for a Walk".  I'm sure we've read this hundreds of times; the moon becomes a faithful companion in this delightful story.

I thought about that the other day, as the moon stared through our window.  I realized it was September 23, a day that has always been imprinted on my heart, since my first husband died on that day, twenty-three years ago.  He is the father of my children, and we were married for almost nineteen years.

He and I too stared at that September moon, that late summer before he died and pondered the eternity that awaited him, that awaits all of us.

I think of the gifts of those conversations, and even the sadnesses of my life, and what that has brought me.

I've sat, just recently, with people in that thin place of being here, yet so close to their heavenly home.  And we talk about what that looks like, feels like. 

I've comforted those who are grieving, and I understand a depth of grief as well. 

As I stared at the moon these past nights, I wrote this poem:

Full moon
September moon
Peering through my window
reminding me of Septembers past
the ancient moon
living, moving,
faithful presence.
Do you hold secrets, moon?
As you hang and float and peer
through my window?
You’ve lit a million skies
And many
Have pondered your mystery.
I think of shared moments 
under the moon,
memories never forgotten. 
Oh moon, you evoke
such emotion in me, 
as you peer through 
My window.

Thank you O Creator for the gift of the moon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A melancholy life

Some years ago, I took a personality quiz where the outcomes were divided into four categories:

I ended up scoring high on the melancholy profile, not really a surprise.

Of course I romanticized it, thinking being melancholy likely meant being highly sensitive (in a good way of course), intuitive, reflective, artistic, just to name a few.  Some good traits indeed!

I had enough sanguine traits to take the edge off...

As I recall, the sanguine characters were outgoing, happy, charming...so a mix of the two is not a bad thing.  Although I always get confused whether I am an introvert or an extrovert... depends on the mood and the time of day. 

Cholerics are born leaders, bossy, take charge kind of people.  They get things done!

And Phlegmatics are those easy going sorts we all love... nothing much ruffles them.

At least that is the simplistic version of what I remember!

We were commenting on my bent for melancholy recently and I decided to look up this word.  I love words and I duly noted that the last part of the word is holy, that should mean something good!

But I was disappointed. The word in the dictionary is utterly sad... to the depths of despair.  Pensive sadness.. The synonyms listed are a sorry bunch:  discouraged, crestfallen, disconsolate, wretched, glum, morose... shall I go on? 

Just reading that was enough to crush my spirits.

So much for definitions.

I can be
What’s in a word?
It’s quite absurd
that labels thrust
can be unjust.
And yet I see
That I can be

Sometimes it is a good thing to laugh at oneself.

In seriousness, depression is a very difficult condition to live with. I recognize there are varying degrees and a sad state does not always equal clinical depression, which needs treatment. And those who are seriously depressed need hope.  This is an illness, not a personality trait. 

But some of us have a bent for sadness, the Eeyores of this world, longing for the carefree personality of Winnie the Pooh, or the bigger-than-life personality of Tigger. Life can often seem heavy, instead of light.  We can take things far too seriously.

It is good to understand ourselves. I have completed other personality tests, all helpful in understanding how I’m wired, my strengths and weaknesses.  It is good to celebrate strengths and work on weaknesses. 

Someone I loved used to tell me... I can't help it... it is just the way I am!  I disagreed.  I think we all can help it to some degree... and understanding ourselves is often the first step.  In no way can we use our personality uniqueness to be an excuse for bad behaviour. 

On the other hand, we do ourselves no favours by longing to be someone we are not. And on a day where I feel particularly sad or melancholy it is good to be kind to myself, as I try to be kind to others

We are wonderfully and uniquely made!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Things are Not Always as they Seem

We were having lunch at one of our favourite little restaurants, and I was fixing my tea.  I had ordered green tea, as I often do, and I absented mindedly opened the bag and put the teabag into the pot.

But wait a minute... this tea wasn't green as I had ordered.  It was peppermint.

My hubby and I burst out laughing... because our very young waiter had brought me tea in a green package... made sense.  And luckily I like peppermint.

What made it more funny was we had just seen a hilarious picture on facebook of a sign that said "Green Vehicles Only", in a parking lot.  Parked under the sign was a very green old pick-up, probably gas guzzling to the hilt.  Perhaps the sign should have said Electric Cars... or Hybrid Cars... or some other environmentally easy to understand instruction.  But the green truck was parked under the sign "Green Vehicles only" .. looked legit!!

Things are not always as they seem, that is for sure.

I was reminded of so many people who we come across every day who could be in pain, who could be struggling with a chronic illness, who could be grieving... any number of things.  They look fine.  They got up that morning, and they are going about their business as best as they can...

It reminds me to treat everyone kindly... gently.  We simply do not know what people are carrying, even though they may seem as if everything is well.

It also brought to mind about the labels we carry, and how they can be misinterpreted at times.  We all have grids with which we view the world, some good, some bad.  Our perceptions can be just that, a perception of how things are, and not always the truth.

Recently I became aware of how an individual responded to the label "Christian", in a very negative way.  And it made me ponder what was her experience of "Christians".  I wondered if she was hurt in some way by those who wear that label, and if so, I want to say "I'm sorry".

I know from the many conversations I have had in my work as Chaplain that the Christian label is not always welcomed, and in some circles quite suspect.  It is sad for me that it is often acquainted with judgement, with self-righteousness, instead of love.  This is opposite to everything I stand for!

I've come to call myself a Christ-follower, for those who find the word Christian difficult.  People are flawed, Christ was not.

I know I myself can be a stumbling block because I am also deeply flawed.  We all are.  What I DO know is that Christ whom I follow and love called us to love one another.

Labels are not always what they seem.  Sometimes we have to be reminded that what we perceive is not always true. 

And above all, in all things, to live a life ruled by love.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Finding Freedom in Unexpected Places

I've been on a learning curve this year.

Actually, I think this learning is a regular thing, and I'm grateful, for I'm learning when I'm NOT learning I become stagnant!  Kind of like the stinky mess I found in my pail of weeds this morning... I should have emptied that out earlier.  But I digress... :-)

Sometimes the learning is difficult, and as a preacher we listened to recently often said:  "We are all enrolled in pain university...".  From the moment we are born until we exit... into a world without pain!

But life can also be full of joy, and I've thought long and hard about this word freedom... a word I felt God was wanting me to dwell on this year.

It would be so nice to have freedom from the hard things in life... and we all have them. 

But I realized soon that freedom would not give me reprieve... for life happens.  I have my list of difficulties, and I'm sure you could name your own.  Sometimes we live with pain, with grief, with challenges that make us weep.

Every week I send a prayer list to a dear friend who prays for me and the work I do.  She is an important and valued part of my ministry.  This week, after I sent her my list, I added a couple of prayer requests that were weighing me down.

And I was struck by her answer...she told me not to become distracted by these things but to stay on course.

I needed those words... because so often I do lose my focus. 

The verse that sits on my desk is so precious to me; it is from Exodus 10:4.  It says "I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself."

Yes, that is freedom.  It is rising above our problems and pain, and trusting in the One who created us, who loves us.  There is an old chorus I sang as a child and it comes to mind now:  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face... and the things of earth will be strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace." 

Ah yes... living in the light of the One who sees the bigger picture, in the larger scope of eternity.  "In this world you will have trouble", Jesus said... "but take heart!  I have overcome the world."

This takes faith to believe.  And trust.  But there is freedom in that.  A letting go from what tethers me, and trusting that the God I love is watching over me.  This lesson is a daily one, I think.  Letting go, trusting, and soaring to new heights... this is freedom!