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 24, 2019

Emotional Whiplash - Shaken by Death

I believe in the sustaining grace of God to keep us when we are broken, filled with unbelief and/or stricken with grief.

At times like this there are simply no pat answers.

Someone I know suffered severe whiplash recently; whiplash isn't a nice word if you think about it.

And I thought, as I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night, how many I know are experiencing emotional whiplash at this moment.

Death can do that, unexpected tragedy.  We are deeply shaken; we can feel lost, uprooted, filled with unbelief.

I am not unfamiliar with death, as it is part of my world as a hospital chaplain.  But it has hit hard this week and the image of emotional whiplash seems appropriate.

In one story there is relief of pain, the ravages of disease that overtook the life of a young woman so many love.

And yet her light was bright and will live on in all of our hearts.

Tragedy took the life of another this week.

There are fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and children, relatives and friends left to mourn, feeling the empty space that will be impossible to fill.

I, like many connected to these stories, to these precious lives, are deeply impacted.  We mourn with those who mourn.

As I was writing out words yesterday in preparation for a memorial, I looked for words to find comfort - and these words from the ancient scriptures came to mind:  "Where, O death is your victory?  Where O death, is your sting?"

We have known the sting of death this week; many of us.

On Thursday I received a devotional which highlighted this verse and it seemed as though God had sent it just for me at that moment.

It was the words of the apostle Paul who says:  "We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it."  2 Cor. 1:8.

Of course he goes on to say that he DID live through it, but I saw those words and felt them.  There are moments where we feel we will not survive this pain.

As many are reeling from shock and grief, it is a privilege to be with them, to sit with them in the "through" part.  This is the dark place and the weight of it is emotional and even physical.  There is a deep ache to grief, a heaviness that feels unbearable.

We hang on to the knowledge of hope, even if we don't feel it.

I cling to the words of Psalm 23 which I read often:  "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me."

Yes, Jesus who wept when his friend Lazarus died, our Jesus weeps with us as we walk in this valley.

May God comfort all who mourn.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:16.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

500 Club - Top Ten Posts

This is my 500th post.

It seemed a good time to pause, to thank God for words, and friends, and encouraging readers.

There has been an ebb and flow, but I am thankful for the discipline of writing, reflecting and this amazing platform of blogging which was an unknown not so many years ago.

I've almost quit a number of times and then hear such encouraging feedback that I keep going.  Thank you to those who have encouraged me!

I find it interesting that some of the top ten blogs are about people - the blog about my mother - Conversations with Mom - is number one.  So many people loved mom, and I write about her last days at hospice, almost six years ago.  She inspires me, and believed in me. 

I've been at hospice often lately, and I sense her presence there - so many of the staff remember her.  She was an inspiration and portrayed courage and hope in the most difficult of circumstances.

Number two spot goes to another of my role models, my paternal grandmother.  Part of her story is written in my book A Journey of Hope .  I wrote the story of my Grandma Annie a few years ago, on her birthday.  She will always be a special person in my life, and you can read all about it here:  A Woman to Honour and Remember.  

The third place blog goes to "God Cares about the Little Things."  This was written a year ago, and I share some of the every day miracles that I have experienced in my work as a hospital chaplain.  In fact, I'm thinking this one might make the cut for my next booklet of stories I'm hoping to produce sometime this year.

The other top blogs are these:
4.  Silent Night  One of my favourites, written in the Christmas Season, November 30, 2012.  One of the first of many blogs. 
5.  A Tribute to My Dad  Another role model, my dad, almost 88 - his birthday is this week!  He is going strong, and loved by many.  I think this attributed to the popularity of this blog!
6.  Things are not always as they Seem.   This was a piece I wrote about the labels we use, and how we need to be aware! 
7.  Living in the Land of Limbo  This is another blog about hospice, which I wrote during my mom's three month stay there.  I've been thinking about this much recently as I journey with those who wait for their final destination - a holy waiting that is not always easy. 
8.  On the Subject of Healing  This blog was written with much thought and preparation.  It was not easy to write, but generated a lot of good conversation.  I was thankful I was able to put the wrestling of my mind into words.
9.  An Invitation  This blog was written at the beginning of the Advent series in 2017, and also talked about the work of my sister Cathy who inspires other through her work of music and spiritual direction.
10.  A Grandmother goes Flying  Perhaps it is good to end with a humorous piece,  although the event of flying in this case was challenging to say the least.  But I lived to tell the story!

So there you are, the top 10 of 500.

If you are reading this for the first time, or have hung out with me in the last few years, thank you for dropping by.  I'd love to hear from you.

<3 Grace     

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Growing old is Beautiful

 Every so often I look in the mirror and am surprised... since I’ve reached sixty, there are certain changes I don’t always embrace. Sometimes it seems my mother is looking back at me, and I see the resemblance!

I remember mom well at age 65 mourning her wrinkles, and I was sad with her. I remember my own determination that I would ease into that stage... but I think, especially for women in our culture, it is a stage we avoid as long as we can. And we are fed all sorts of hopeful information to help us with that. 

Last week we came across this old window shutter and it spoke to me. 

Isn’t it beautiful?  Full of character. 

It sat in the middle of a historical site, and I wondered... if window frames could talk... what had this one seen?  Who had framed it; strong arms, wielding primitive-to-us tools to create this window covering, practical and protective. What family stories lie within these walls... and outside?  

It reminded me that we have all have stories to tell... and a life rich with story and memories and tales is a beautiful thing. 

This week we are celebrating the birthday of a dear relative, and it strikes me in the richness of his life, both difficulties and adventures , yes, and life-long physical challenges, yet there is this overcoming and joy that bubbles to the surface.  There is a focus on family and gratefulness and faith that God has seen him through. 

This morning as we listened to Pray as You Go (a lovely devotional site with daily prayers), the prayer of St Theresa of Avila was sung, one of my favorite Prayers. 

I like this translation of it:

“Let nothing disturb you
nothing alarm you
While all things fade away
God is unchanging
Be patient,
and you will gain everything.  
For with God in your heart
Nothing is lacking
God is enough.”

Yes, all things fade away. For those of us whose lives are long our bodies will tell the stories. 

And yes, our bodies will bear witness to our choices of living peacefully, and accepting our path with grace, or responding with bitterness. 

It reminds me of this encouraging verse from the book of Romans 5:3-4 which says 

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  

This brings me hope!  

May the lives we lead produce character and beauty that comes from within. 

Our lives will tell the story.