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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Words of Faith to Live By - finding REST

Over the last few months I have been pondering words to live by.  Actually words have become a bit of a theme for me - I love doodling them, dwelling on them, and being encouraged by them.

There is power in words!  Words can bring healing, hope, encouragement.  Or they can tear down.

I was excited to put twelve of these words into my new devotional journal, which is available now.  This project is dedicated to the beautiful women I meet with each month who live with cancer, and each month we talk about a word to encourage us.

But these words are for everyone. 

I thought I would share a little excerpt from one of the words in the devotional journal, in this week's blog.

In our busy world rest can be seen as a luxury,
but truly, it is a necessity.
God teaches us to rest, giving us the first example as the Creator rested after creating the Earth.
How do we quiet our hearts, our bodies, and our souls?
As we still ourselves, practice deep breathing, take in beauty around us, we can begin to relax.
Our blood pressure goes down.  

Find rest, Oh my soul,
that I may be nourished in You!

Breath prayers:

Jesus, I relax into your loving arms, let me rest there awhile.

Let me be quiet with You, Lord, in You I trust.

Yahweh, I am here.  Yahweh, You are here.

Each chapter has a number of scripture verses to go with the word, some breath prayers, which are simply taking a simple sentence prayer and incorporating it with your breathing.  It helps us to slow down and focus on prayer. 

If you are interested in buying a devotional journal, they are now available on the website:  www.gracewulff.com

I'm hosting an open house this weekend  in Vernon, (Nov 2-3)  if you live close by, connect with me and I'll send you the details.  Besides the new journals, my other books, calendars, cards etc. will be available.  And some of the funds will go to the Chaplaincy Program at VJH.

Praying you find rest in your day, your week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pondering the Journey of Self-Care

The other day, my hubby and I were sitting outside in a beautiful place, looking at the lake after a brisk walk.  It was beautiful, and it felt so good to sit with him, sipping my cup of tea. 

I then said this bizarre thing:  "My life is so large in some places, I need to create smallness in other places." 

"Does that make sense?" I asked my hubby.... and because he is very kind, he said yes!

I had to think about what I meant.  My life is large, it is full, it is blessed.  At times, it is exhausting.  I know I need to create times of quiet, of rest, of reflection, of intimacy with God, with creation, with my husband.  Perhaps small isn't the right word for it, but it is a place with boundaries.  Spending time there, gives me freedom and energy to live my larger life.

I have almost completed April Yamasaki's new book "Four Gifts - Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength."  It is a great read and I would recommend it, especially for those with full lives.

I received my e-book this summer and it has taken me a while to read it, to spend time with it. 

One of the first things that spoke to me is that we can become preoccupied with caring for ourselves and lose sight of the fact that God wants to take care of us!  Yamasaki writes "Instead of focusing narrowly on caring for myself, I can cast all my cares on God, who cares for me and who cares for all of us."

There is freedom in pondering that.  I have long believed that if God calls you to do something, there will also be provision to do it.  So there can be a trusting in God's care, and asking for wisdom to manage our time, our schedules, our lives.  There is the provision for the work at hand, and also a call to rest.

Recently I was called to the hospital after a busy morning at church.  I was tired; I had just completed a full and intensive week.  But I went, and the joy I experienced being with this young patient was nourishment for my soul.  It was later that afternoon that we took time for a walk and a tea... and I recognize now that God gave me what I needed, joy in the giving, and also provision to rest and rejuvenate afterwards.

Setting spaces for quiet and rest is a challenge in our busy world.  The world can be loud, with many distractions, including social media, TV, lots of voices vying for our attention.  Can I be intentional about finding quiet corners to renew? 

I have found spending time with April's book refreshing.  It calls me from what I would could consider "selfishness" to "self-awareness".  Paying attention to the needs of my heart, my soul, my mind and my body (which she terms as strength) is a life-long learning.

I lean toward doing, I enjoy those ticks on my to-do list.  My mind is active.  As I get older, slowing down is no longer an option, but a necessary calling to care for the body God created, so I can also care for others.
"Be Still and Know that I am God.", is one of my favourite verses.  It is easy to recite, much more difficult to practice.  I know that becoming still and spending time with God gives me strength for my day.

Balance comes to mind, and April addresses that.  She writes: "Given both the strength and frailty of our physical selves, caring for our bodies would seem to require two movements".  She talks about building up our strength, and resting.  We need both. 

So I encourage you to read this book, if you are able.  To have a cup of tea, to enjoy a walk in the autumn air, and I'm feeling the need for a nap this afternoon.  Just saying...

A Sacred Pause in a full life... and thanking God for loving care and provision.

This drawing was originally inspired by April Yamasaki's other wonderful book: Sacred Pauses.  Also a wonderful read.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Living Lovingly in an Polarized World

It is election week in my world.  Civic elections happen in a few days in my town and in communities all around my province.

We are not the only ones faced with elections.  November elections in the United States are also in the news and it seems that much is at stake, for many.

Voting is a precious privilege.  It is challenging to get to know candidates and I'm reading as much as I can. I'm listening and paying attention.   It is one place where we can make a stand, where our decisions matter.

This blog however has been brewing for weeks.  Really it is a new twist on an old subject.  It seems to me that viewpoints are becoming more and more polarized.  Social media is probably partly to blame, but it also depends on your news feed, on which slant you believe; on what you hold true.

What saddens me the most is how polarized the Christian community has become.  People, deeply passionate about what they believe are at odds with one another.

There are a number of "issues" where there are deep divides.  One can throw labels on it, Liberal thinking versus Conservative is one.  I've always been confused by this.  My conservative friends find me quite liberal, and I think my liberal friends think of me as rather conservative.  I keep hoping that this will make me balanced!  All kidding aside, these rifts can be very painful.

There are some news stories that have affected me as of late.  The first is the "me too" movement, the movement of women who are speaking up and talking about abuse.  I've heard many conversations about Judge Kavanagh and Dr. Ford, but what has struck me the most is how this public event has deeply affected women who have experienced abuse.  Some of them have never had the courage to talk about it.  For others, it is the festering of an old wound and it is deeply painful.

Their stories need to be told, and listened to with compassion.  There is a need for healing.  I've read posts which have broken my heart - women who feel that they have not been listened to, who feel trivialized.  Abuse has been a deeply painful part of their lives, often hidden because there was no safe place to tell their stories.

Truth telling can be a painful process when a person does not feel believed.  And perceptions come into it.  My mother taught me this well... what she perceived and I perceived about the same event was often different.  But it is only in honest and loving conversation that we can begin to process what happened and find healing.

This becomes more complicated when a person of power takes advantage of another.  Denial and fear-mongering are troublesome weapons.  When an act of abuse is covered up and there is shame, truth-telling can become very difficult.

There are other areas of deep divide which trouble me.

If we truly believe that God taught us to love one another, do we put it into practice by truly listening to one another's stories?  We need to do this for the "other", for the person who is different than me.  For the street person who has no home.  For the person who has a different ethnic background than myself.  For the foreigner and the refugee.  For the person who thinks differently than I think and believes a different way.

I see this in our school system where many are threatened by changes in education and there are valid concerns.  What I see lacking is the ability to really listen to each other, to understand different points of view.  Sometimes I want to ask "What are you afraid of?"  Instead of defending "my position" can I listen to how another reached their point of view?  Can we reach a point of mutuality and respect even if we think differently?

I grew up feeling certain about many things.  I could easily get on a "soap box" and give my point of view, truly believing I was right.  What I have lost is my certainty about things.  And I don't see that as a bad thing.

What I AM certain of is that the God who created me, who created us all, is the Creator who loves me, and loves everyone.  We are called to love, not to division. Sometimes love is a decision, a way of responding even when I am uncertain. 

And certainly we need to voice concerns.  There is a place for healthy respectful debate.  We need to care about justice and mercy.  We need to protect the vulnerable. 

As I write this I am again reminded of the prayer of  St. Francis of Assisi. 
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light,
and where there is sadness, joy."

A good prayer to pray in this election time, in any time! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Life is like a Book and Self-Care for those who Grieve

I'm doing double-duty today, but as I was writing about self-care and grieving for the New Hope Support Group I facilitate, I realized that this might be helpful to others as well. 

I've also added a Poem/Prose piece I wrote about my life as a book... I've found this analogy very helpful.

All of us are affected by grief at some point in our lives.  If you know of someone that might find this helpful, please pass it along. 

The Importance of Self-Care

Grieving is hard work.  It is perhaps one of the hardest challenges a person can face.  It takes enormous energy and depletes you physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.

I went to my pastor in despair, just weeks after my husband died. 
"Why am I so tired?" I asked.  He was a wise man, and drew a little diagram for me.  It was pie shaped, and in his opinion 95% of the pie was consumed by grief.  Which left 5% for everything else.

I was a busy mom, involved in my community, but grief brought me to a stand-still as I began to learn a new life as a widow, a single mom, as a grieving spouse.

I was asked just recently - how do people get over such deep loss?  My answer is usually the same.  You don't "get over it".  You learn to adapt, to live a new life, and come to a place of acceptance that this too is part of your story. 

Getting to that place of acceptance is a journey; a journey of hard work, of making good choices, of finding gratefulness and joy even in the midst of grief.

It involves self-care, perhaps more so in this season.  When our brains are consumed by any intensity in our life, we can go on auto-pilot.  Self-care at this point has to be very intentional.  Do I have nutritious food in the house?  Am I drinking enough water?  Perhaps this is a time to take those extra vitamins.  A walk every day is good for physical and emotional health. 

Reaching out to others is not always easy when you are grieving.  But choosing to make that call, reaching out to a trusted friend on a regular basis can make a big difference. 

Being kind to yourself, allowing yourself to rest and renew is critical to healing.  It might mean letting go of some things and focusing on the absolute necessaries.  Grief is not an illness, and yet we also need time to heal, with no time-lines.

My Life is Like a Book

My story takes a lifetime
it would fill a book
Some chapters full of laughter
and others very sad.
Each chapter filled
with learning
for Life's lessons
 come our way.
Do I cherish every moment
of every single day?
I sometimes read my history
for it is my life
I remember all that 
has shaped me
both the good times 
and the strife.
Today is a new day, a new chapter to write
I hold it gently, gratefully
and ask for wisdom; insight
to move ahead with courage
no matter what I face
The book that I've been given
the life that I embrace.
        © Grace Wulff

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Turning a Leaf This Thanksgiving week

I’ve been turning the pages... on my calendars that is, and am I the only one surprised that we are entering the 4th quarter of 2018?

Leaves are turning too.... in a hurry this year, it seems to me.  Tonight I scrambled to get the last of my tomatoes in before a forecasted frost which seems rather early to me.

My hubby watches that forecast carefully, trying to get his outside painting jobs completed before winter. And we are hoping the roof we badly need redone will get done too... we look to the skies to cooperate!

I’m sitting here cozy with my cup of tea, contemplating what I should write this week.  It’s random thoughts this blog, I’m afraid... conversational style!

Thanksgiving in Canada is only days away, and I’ve been thinking of what I’m grateful for. I’m excited that my new journal is finally at the printers after hours of work. I’ll be sharing more about that soon!

I’m grateful September is done... sometimes it feels like a month to survive... do you have months like that?  There are memories that invoke melancholy thoughts, and the intensity of start-ups of all sorts of committees and commitments. There is the garden that seems to need extra attention, and of course I tend to want to preserve tomatoes, plums, and bring in those greens. It is a month of busyness!

Perhaps too there is that desire to hang on to summer... to eek out every ounce of warm sunshine and take pleasure in being outside before the darkness of fall takes our light away.

Besides sorting tomatoes, I’ve been sorting out priorities. What is important?  Where do I want to spend my time this coming season?  Am I scheduling time for quiet, for reflection and prayer, for self care? I want to make time for friends and family, those moments to enjoy relationship.

One of the activities I’ve enjoyed most this year is creating a bullet journal... I have two pages for each week and start afresh each Saturday planning for the week ahead. There are my scheduled events, a menu plan, a record of the steps I’ve walked each day, and a verse for the week to focus on.  I have a to-do list too, and when I’m done here, I’ll check off that my blog for this week is complete. Don’t you love check marks?  I doodle, I use stickers... great fun...and I’ll paste in a picture or two, if I’m in the mood. I find it keeps me on track, in a creative sort of way.

I’m thankful for the life I live, for wonderful friends, for precious family, for abundance. I’m thankful for words... the ability to articulate, to speak, to write, to share. I’m thankful for faith, and hope, and love. I’m thankful for you.

So thank you for dropping by... and as always I love to hear from you, whether it is a comment here or on Facebook or a note by email. It makes it more conversational don’t you think?

With a grateful heart, in this Thanksgiving season.