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, April 30, 2019

Restore, Reboot... Rest!

Recently I attended a wonderful retreat which focused on returning to rest.

It was wonderful.  It was a time of renewal and restoration.

As I doodled, I was struck by all the delightful words that start with RE, have you ever noticed this?

I've already used eight of them right here!

As I continue to think on these words, I am drawn to return to rest.  There has become an urgency to rest, if that makes any sense, before I get too tired or overwhelmed. 

This is easier said than done, and I'm finding I must be very intentional.

One of the new practices I have created is to set little reminders on my phone...can I stop, pay attention, say a prayer at those times?

My fit bit... or as my hubby likes to tease me, my guilt device, reminds me every hour to take some steps.  I can also use those reminders to pray as I get up and move.

Our worlds are filled with distractions, pressures, and demands.  So many of those I love are going through difficult challenges.  We live with grief, with loss, with brokenness. 

We long for the soothing rhythms of rest and reassurance that All will be Well.

Recently (another RE), I read a book about Jillian of Norwich, who coined those words...  she had lived a life of immense suffering.  She came to a place of rest, in trusting in a Saviour who had also suffered and suffers with us.  The theme of her life became "All Will Be Well".  There is a deep rest in that statement. 

So I determine to keep coming back to rest.

To reboot, to restore, to renew.  It might be a few moments in my busy day, or an intentional day off once a week where I rest.  It is planning time away for restoration. 

Blessings as you find moments of rest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Consciousness - I'm Awake!

You know those first moments when you wake up and everything comes into focus... you think about what day it is, and what it holds. 

I'm very slow to wake up in the morning.  I've learned to be ok with that, to take my time.  I love gazing out my bedroom window, sipping my coffee, and to be quite honest, I'm probably still somewhat half asleep. We've made it a practice to listen to scripture, or read a devotional thought, to say a prayer.  It is a good way to start the day.

Consciousness is to be aware.   Awake. 

Sometimes this works against you.  I recently had to get up and speak in front of quite a few people, just for a minute.  I felt self-conscious.  Beforehand anyway.  Some people shine in the limelight; for me, it takes courage.  I've learned I can do it, and I was thankful for the words whispered in my ear that morning "Just show up."

One of the wonderful gifts of aging and maturing is that we become more comfortable in our own skin.  I can be who I am, thankful for another day.  I am not perfect, but I am loved.  We all are. 

Consciousness is noticing.  We had a early morning drive today, dropping off our daughter at the airport.  The world was waking up, the sun shafting light through clouds, creating shadows on the lake.  The balsam daisies were in bloom, everywhere.  Tree blossoms had burst in some of the orchards, so beautiful.  On the way home, a blanket of cloud rested on Swan Lake.  So picturesque.   We live in a very beautiful world. 

This beauty draws me to the Creator.  As I thought of consciousness, God-consciousness came to mind.  Do we see God - in beauty all around us?  I am learning to sit, to notice, and just soak it in. 

One of my breath prayers lately has been:  "I am here.  God, You are here."  And we can be together.  I need to notice this, to draw my attention to the One who is with me, who has promised to never leave or forsake me.  (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

In the midst of a full life, where I can be distracted by many things, it is good to practice God-consciousness.  To slow down and notice, taking a deep breath.

God is as near as our breath.

We are loved.

I am awake to the presence of the Creator.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Woven Together in Love

I enjoyed drawing this simple celtic cross, woven together. And I thought it was appropriate I use it for a blog this week leading into Easter.

It's not a typical cross, I know, but it spoke to me about connectedness.  I wear a cross, almost always.  It is a symbol of where I belong, of Whom I belong to, of Whom I love.

Jesus, who died on a cross, came to bind us all together.  He talked a lot about love and how we are to live in love, to love one another, and that He embodies love.  He spoke of his love for all.

So much of our lives can be lived in separateness.  Even as we are unique, we are also all connected by our heritage, by the One who loves us, who created us. 

Much of this is mystery, and theologians have been trying to explain it for centuries.  Which in many ways has splintered the church, many of whom feel they have found "the way", and in their "rightness" have lost the love for one another. 

One of the events I love at Easter-time is that some of the churches come together to celebrate this Easter story.  It is a bridge building time that draws different denominations together.  We experienced this in the Lenten services, and many will gather together on Good Friday.

In my work, in hospital chaplaincy, I see this on a broader scale.  I love the fact that different denominations of all kinds are called to work together to provide spiritual care.  We are also called to open our hearts with friendship to all... those with faith, those with a different kind of faith, those with no faith...to all people regardless of race, gender or religion. 

We are called to love.

We are all part of God's creation.

We are all woven together.

This week, we have reacted in horror to tragic events in our Okanagan valley, acts of violence that have taken lives.  This is hard to understand.

Something is broken.  There is tragedy to broken lives, to those who have not known love, or lived by love. 

The helper in me asks, "how do I make a difference?' 

I keep coming back to love.  And I ask the Creator of Love, Jesus who came in Love, how do I respond? 

In a complex, broken world, there are no simple answers.  Except for this:  I choose to live my life in love.  To love all I meet.  It is love which heals, which binds us together. 

There is that old song we sang as children:  Bind us together, Lord, Bind us together.. Bind us together in Love. 

May you know this love in this holy week.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Living with Grace

I can't seem to escape it, I live with Grace.  My hubby does too, and there are days where he has my sympathy!

My name is an easy one to joke about... how often have I heard, "Now could Grace say the grace?", and other variations. 

Living up to my name is another matter altogether.  For truth be told, I love my name.  It is what I want to be.  Graceful, gracious, showing grace to others.  It is good to aspire to. 

Recently one of my kind co-workers asked about how I got my name... I looked back on previous posts, and found I had written the story in March of 2016.  So here it is...

I do love my name… and the story goes I was not always named Grace.  No, my mother named me Dianna Grace, and apparently even baby announcements went out with that name.  But my maternal grandmother was dismayed, thinking that such a beautiful name might go to my head, and Dianna was the name of a goddess you know.  So the legend has it anyway, and my name was dutifully switched… to Grace Eileen.  Much more sensible.  J

And to all my friends who are named Diane or Dianna… beautiful name, glad you got to keep it!  (smile).

Eighteen years ago I fell in love… for the second time in my life.  Not quite forty, widowed, and into my life entered a wonderful guy named Steve.  We both thought it was hilarious that he had the same name as my son… and the same birthday, eighteen years apart.  And Steve is such a great name. 

We met at First Baptist… our current church, at a potluck Christmas supper hosted by a group called Singles for Christ.  He had noticed me before, and it is an interesting tale, too long to share here, but we came to believe that God brought us together in a lovely way.  That December night I invited him to sit by me (he looked lonely), and the rest is history.

That Valentines, our first together as a dating couple, he decided to buy me a present.  The present was a newly released book by Philip Yancey called:  “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”.

It was meant to be a sweet joke, but really, this book had an amazing impact on both of our lives.  We both were recovering from traumatic events in our lives, and anticipating starting a new life as a blended family was daunting as well as exciting.  We had a lot to work through.

And God’s grace had everything to do with it.  We needed grace for ourselves, grace for each other, grace for our families, grace for living.  If you haven’t read the book, I will say, it is one of the best I have ever read.  Phillip Yancey is honest, challenging and dares to ask the difficult questions we are often thinking but don’t dare to say out loud.

So there is my story on grace  God's amazing grace that has touched me so deeply.  It is from this well of grace that gratitude comes, grateful to God for His amazing provision in my life.  And I've learned that grace is to be passed on... in abundance!

Grace and Peace… beautiful gifts we can share with each other every single day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Looking Back to see How Far You've Come

I'm very good at self-analysis.  Well, let me rephrase that. 

I over-analyse, can be critical, even frustrated.  The target?  Usually myself.  Do you relate?

We live in a land of perfection, of lofty ideals, of reaching for the top.  We always want to do better, get thinner, be in shape, and do it all.  We want to be the ideal parent, the doting grandparent, the conscientious gardener, and prepare meals that are healthy in every way.  And taste good as well of course. 

If you are an idealist like myself (something I have tried to ditch since my youth), there is always this striving to be better, to do better...

And even though my name is Grace, there are days I show little grace to myself...

With this comes the sin of comparison... I see others doing well in a certain area and think... I should be like that.  What is wrong with me?

There is nothing wrong with working hard and doing our best.  Although I'm learning this also needs to be balanced with rest and play.

It is GOOD to strive to be healthy and live well. 

The reality is all of us are getting older, and as we age, there are declines... very unlike those golden years all of the magazines promise.  We don't do well with losses, with aging, with grieving our broken parts. 

It can take an accident, or the onset of disease, a diagnosis, and everything changes.  Or it can be the constant presence of chronic pain that takes its toll.  There are unseen ailments others carry that we have no clue about.. Lupus, MS, arthritis, and many others.  We need to show compassion to each one we meet, for we do not know their story.

We did an exercise recently in a study we are participating in.  We listed all the challenges/griefs/losses for every decade of our life.

I was surprised as I started writing for there were significant events in EVERY decade of my life... childhood illness, concussions, the death of my first husband, a heart attack. 

I looked at the list, and was surprised by the emotion I felt.  And then I felt something I was also surprised by - compassion toward myself.

And I thought, you've been through a lot, and look how far you've come! 

And yes, I'd love to be skinnier, but I recognize I've dealt with significant hormonal issues... I'd love to have more energy, but I live with chronic pain... and so on. I won't go into a organ recital I promise.

As I felt this compassion and understanding, I came to this conclusion. 

We can be our own worst critics.  I am guilty of being hard on myself.

And that is wasted energy.  Instead I want to focus on being grateful.  I want to focus on how God has helped me through really hard times.  I want to focus on being thankful for the gift of today.

I do ask wisdom for how to live, for we all want to live well. 

There is joy in this!  And gratefulness for life itself.  There is grace for today, just as I am.  Which reminds me of one of my favourite verses from 2 Cor 12:9:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness."

May this grace be yours in abundance today!