A blessing to all….

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Goodness, it has been an action-packed few months.  St. Francis Seminary, our virtual hallowed-halled sacred space has started the summer programme of preparing deacons and priests for November ordinations in our church, and with every month that goes by, more Lay Pastoral Chaplains are coming forward for training.

Let me talk wedding2a little about the Chaplain’s course.  I usually write a little reflection in this blog, but I want to take a little departure and share a little about what I have been doing with the church.  I feel so blessed by those who are coming forward to study with us!

We all know people  who are helpers in our communities. There are those who are involved in outreach to the homeless, running hospital gift shops, driving people to medical appointments, helping with fundraising for any number of good causes…  These folks have the heart of service.  From their own experience they’ve come to know how rewarding it is to give back and assist where they can.  Sometimes it is through a church-affiliated group but often, they just want to help.

Not everyone wishes to be ordained, so the Lay Pastoral Chaplain course offers a way for caring people to be recognized in the community as a Chaplain and, we also appoint them to officiate weddings in the Province of Ontario.

The ability to perform weddings helps our church and it helps the officiant.  We are an inclusive, progressive community and we believe strongly that God loves everyone equally. Our chaplains and clergy perform same-gender marriages as a normal part of our ministry.
We uphold everyone’s right to marry the person they love, regardless of orientation.

ccccfb copyWe are certainly a part of the greater catholic church, but our community is based on the commandments of Jesus and not the dictates of human voices through the centuries.  I often get chastised because “we do not follow Church teachings, yet we call ourselves catholic.”  Yes – but we are not Roman, we are part of the Old Catholic church- a group of clergy and bishops who pulled away from the Roman Church in the 1800s.

Like the Anglicans, we do not follow the Pope (although we adore Pope Francis) and we do not follow Roman Catholic doctrine.  We follow Jesus and uphold his commandment to love one another.  It is that simple.

There are several companies in Ontario that give interested people training and a license.  They have helped many people create a wedding business to provide a second income or assist financially.  I want to draw a distinction.  We are a recognized church and our focus is helping people in their ministries.  As a chaplain, there are monthly reports to fill out – reflecting on charitable and spiritual work that was carried out.  And, chaplains report weddings that they have done and send along a tithe to the church.  After the initial registration and training fee, that is it.

Our chaplains are nurses, teachers, retired people, folks who work their day jobs but often volunteer in their communities as scout and guide leaders, hospital visitors, soup kitchen workers, who want to make the world a better place…. people like you.

Our next onsite session is her in Niagara on the Lake on August 28th.  Our two-night distance training course takes place on Aug 15 and 16.  If you are outside of Ontario, write and we’ll set some training dates.

I also want to stress that because we are a church, we want this to be a joyful thing and not a hardship financially.  There are payment arrangements available.🙂

For more information, please visit http://www.stfrancisseminary.com/lay-pastoral-chaplaincy 

Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone!
+Deb

 

 

 

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An un-virtual reality…

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TGIF, huh?

Some weeks feel like the waters pictured above – free-falling and churning, choppy and rough.  I sometimes wonder if life weren’t just a little better without all of our devices and access to instant information. We get overloaded with news of situations and events around the world over which we have no control, but we feel deeply.  Wildfires in Alberta, crazy politics in the US, bombings by terrorists, North Korea flexing its muscles… add all this to our own personal challenges, we can find ourselves stressed and struggling to manage it all.

I was talking to a friend last week who refuses to have a smartphone.  Many view her as way behind the times and rather a ludite, but she is quite deliberate about her choice. “If someone wants me, they call the cell number and we talk.  I don’t need to see a cat video or check my bank account. I want to see my surroundings not focus on a tiny screen. I want to live in the here and now, not through a handheld device.”

She has a point.  Since I got my iPhone, I find I pull it out while I am waiting in line at the store.  Instead of chatting with people, exchanging pleasantries, we are all checking our email or looking up the weather app while waiting…

For many this is a protective thing. It is much easier to text a friend than feel awkward as you wait in a line with strangers.  But, what I have discovered over many years is that those little conversations, those chance encounters, those little laughs with people whom you are never likely to see again satisfy something deep within us.  We need to connect with one another.  We need to have those exchanges.  We need to look into the eyes of someone and really see them.

More and more of us are spending time on the internet and social media.  I have facebook on all day. I have chats with family and friends throughout the day. Heck, I even message people in the same house as me.  It saves yelling or getting out of the chair to speak with them in person.  These conversations are important, of course.  We are able to keep in touch with people at great distances and Skype brings them right into our space where we can talk face to face.

But, we need the personal contact too.  The connection of sharing a meal, a cup of coffee, going for a walk and talking about life.

I guess it is all about balance.  Whether we live with CNN on in the background as I tend to do or choose to listen to uplifting music, whether we want to check our messages while we stand in line or look up and see if there is someone in need of a smile or a little hello – the choice is ours.

I like the idea of having a day when everything is unplugged, where screens are dark and deliberately put away.  What would you do with a day like that?  Garden? Read a book? Go for a drive? Sleep?

I am going to try it tomorrow.  I will check email a few times in the day but otherwise take a break from social media.  I will get out the clay and get creative and listen to my favorite music.  If it is a nice day, spend some time in the garden planning for the wedding season. And, spend some time talking real-time with the people I love.  No tv, no computer; coffee and conversation.  Old school!

I think having “unplugged” days like this will help reduce stress and feed our spirit.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great day, everyone.
Deb

 

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Embracing Your Good

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Ah, Spring is here and everywhere colour is returning to the world.  What a welcome thing, this lift of the Spirit and a reminder that better days are here.   It has been a tough start to the year for many friends and people I have come to know.

We are constantly dancing with the stuff that life throws at us, aren’t we?  Sometimes we manage to dodge a heavy foot on ours, sometimes we can keep step, and sometimes we lose our balance,  finding ourselves on the floor,winded and hurting.

So often I hear how people feel alone. They feel overwhelmed, tired of the fight, weary of the struggle, feeling defeated and without hope.  I get there too and once there, it is hard to see a way back to the dancefloor.  But I do and you will too.  How do we shift?

Here is what I find helpful:

  1. Cut yourself a break.  I listen to my self-talk and monitor my thoughts. Often I find that I am being very critical of my choices, wishing things could be different.  I remind myself that things CAN be different if I shift my thoughts to more positive things. Dwelling on the negative only inflames it further.  So, I journal and pour out my fears and worries,then I give it to the angels.
  2. Remember that there is good here, somewhere.  If you are like me, the toughest times offer a place to see what we are made of.  My favorite saying was, “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”  Now I just say, “I have everything I need in this situation and it is good.” Find the good, even if it is a glimmer and embrace it.
  3. Get enough sleep, drink water, watch funny movies. Do things that will nourish your body and your mind.
  4. Read or listen to inspirational material.  Feed your Spirit.
  5. Reach out for help.  You are not alone. Chances are your family and friends know you are feeling low.  Let them help you.
  6. Surround yourself with positive people.  We give away our power so easily and tend to believe the opinions of those we trust. Make sure that the voices you hear are boosting you, not bashing you.
  7. Know you have everything you need, right here, right now.  It may not feel like it, but the answer is there, direction will come. Give yourself permission to know.
  8. Come to enjoy the dance. It is a matter of perspective.  When we take control, we can laugh and do a fancy spin.  We can take the lead, matching our partner step for step enjoying each beat of the music, with a dashing rose between our teeth.  And, when we find ourselves flat on our bum out of breath and exhausted, we may just find that there is a shiny coin or some other sign to show us to take heart and know we are not alone. We must learn to trust that somehow,some way, there will be a hand extended to help us up and a place where we can catch our breath.
  9. Affirm that all is well even if it appears not to be.  This is the hardest thing to do but is perhaps the most important step of all. Affirm that things are great, that monies are here NOW, that answers come, that peace fills your heart, that your life gets better and better.  Our thoughts are creative.  Our thoughts are measurable things.  Putting it out there, saying the words, trusting that it will work, letting go of control is a powerful action.

I know that when creditors are calling or a health challenge is overwhelming or a valued relationship is breaking down…. whatever has befallen, this kind of thing just seems like words. Baby steps.  One good thing will lead to another. Embrace the good and try to ignore the what ifs and the scary thoughts that lurk.  As you affirm the good, you’ll find that there is less to worry about.

Have a great day. Enjoy the blossoms and let the colours lift your spirits.🙂

Deb

 

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A Beautiful Friday in NOTL

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Hello from a very sunny and warm(er) Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It has been awhile since I have blogged – although I have been blogging on other sites.  Some weeks find me spinning plates from one end of the line to the other.😉

It has been an exceptionally challenging couple of months for so many people.  Some are ill or are dealing with loved ones who are facing health challenges, some have suffered relationship breakups, others have lost jobs.  This new year has ushered in a lot of transition and change.

Maybe you have been feeling as though your life is in a blender.  It can be a time of great stress and wilderness.  It can feel as though you are all alone.  I have heard many people wondering where God is in the midst of their trials.  When life is dark, it can be hard to see light or a way though to a happier place.

When I have gotten to this place where prayers seem to go unheard and things get more stressful, I remember to take a big step back.  I can get so wound up in my own fears and worries,that I forget that I do have support.  I forget that I do have much for which to be thankful in my life.  I realize that I have really cut myself off and I am really not alone at all.

There are many tools we have that can assist to help us restore balance – meditation, EFT tapping, deep breathing, going for a walk in nature, talking to an understanding friend or counselor.

As people of faith, we can choose to trust and believe that Creator is walking with us and that angels are helping.  Direct your prayers that way:

“Gracious God, I know that you are with me in this time and that you are working for my highest and best in this situation. I give thanks for the blessings that come.  I give thanks that even in this challenge good things are happening.  I ask for your guidance and love to fill my life, replacing all fear.  With You all things are possible. In the name of Jesus, I trust that my prayers are being answered now.  Send your holy Angels to help and to heal me. Amen”

Shifting from fear to trust makes any situation better.  Remembering times in the past when you were given assistance or when blessings came is also powerful. I have spoken to those who received windfalls when they were most desperate.  They received news of remission when surgery was imminent.  A chance conversation led to the job of their dreams….

We have to remember that we are part of something bigger than what we see and feel with our senses.  We are spiritual beings living in a physical world.  We have to remember that our spirit is great within us.

Today, try to take that big step back.  Look objectively at the challenge.  Look for the good things, the loved ones, the happy things that have happened even in the midst of the issue. Focus there.

Here is a prayer that I have always loved and reminds me that God is with us in the good times and the bad.  It is written by a priest named John Shea.

A PRAYER TO THE GOD WHO FELL FROM HEAVEN
~ By John Shea

If you had stayed
tightfisted in the sky
and watched us thrash
with all the patience of a pipe smoker,
I would pray like a golden bullet
aimed at your heart.
But the story says you cried
and so heavy was the tear
you fell with it to earth
where like a baritone in a bar
it is never time to go home.
So you move among us
twisting every straight line into Picasso,
stealing kisses from pinched lips,
holding our hand in the dark.
So now when I pray
I sit and turn my mind like a television knob
till you are there with your large, open hands
spreading my life before me
like a Sunday tablecloth
and pulling up a chair for yourself
for by now
the secret is out.
You are home.

Have a great weekend, everyone
Deb

 

 

 

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Two Coffee Morning…

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Well, there are signs of Spring everywhere.  Snowdrops are blooming.  Birds are getting louder. People are not as grumpy…

Today it is grey and mild.  I am meeting some friends for lunch in a bit and am currently looking at the trainwreck of my office.  I have just shipped out some crosses to a school and another order is waiting to be started.  I want to record some meditations, redo The Angel Ladies website, upload ebooks and get to another 10 projects calling for my attention.  Add in promoting the upcoming Chaplain’s course, training clergy and writing courses, you have an idea of why it is I just grabbed another cup of coffee and decided to do a blog.

Oh yes, I am a procrastinator.  I have also been told I am a perfectionist, but I am not, really.  I am a Virgo and we like attention to detail. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

I think I come by it honestly.  I remember my mother sitting in the living room drinking instant coffee and chain smoking.  “I will just have another cigarette and then I will (fill in the blank). With 4 kids and a hectic household, I understand why she was reluctant to get off the chair some days.  She was pooped!  And, maybe she was more than a little depressed that she hadn’t been swept off her feet by a millionaire instead of a blue collar kind of guy.

Anyway, I digress.  I do not drink instant coffee and I am not a smoker and I am very content, but I am kind of pooped.

I just had a terrific angel workshop with some engaging people on Sunday.  They are all on wonderful spiritual paths and exploring many elements of healing and connection with Divinity.  This is a hat that I haven’t worn for a while with Jean’s health being so fragile over the past few years.  We are such a team and it is strange to be doing this work without her present, but it went very well.  I am looking forward to next Sunday’s gathering.

The next Chaplain’s training day is coming up quickly as well.  I have been so excited by the response for the course.  We train you to be a wedding officiant in the Province of Ontario. You become part of our vibrant community but not necessarily a member of it.  It is a way to get recognition for the spiritual work you are doing, help couples in their journey together and make extra income.  Win win win.🙂

We have a training day coming up here in NOTL on March 19.  We gather about 9:30 and spend the day  learning about the process, getting practical training and then at the end of the day there is a commissioning ceremony.  We award each person with a certificate, a manual with ceremonies, a chaplain pin and a warrant of appointment.  If this sounds interesting pop me an email at revdeb@sympatico.ca.

See?  I can’t stop promoting even when I am in the midst of procrastinating.  *sigh*  I am so excited to be able to offer this on behalf of our church.

Okay.  Time to get the day rolling.  I will let you know when the latest version of theangelladies.com is up and running.  Thanks for having coffee with me!

Have a great day, everyone.  Enjoy the blessings awaiting you!

Deb

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Dreaming on a Snowy Afternoon

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Well, we were lucky in this part of the world.  The wind howled and the snow swirled but all things considered, the major winter storm that swept through was fairly light-weight.

I was prepared though.  I bought extra groceries and organized my workload so that I could play catch up with things on the list that I have been meaning to do.  I am doing them anyway, even if there isn’t four feet of snow against the door.

Those who know me will tell you I am always on a steep learning curve.  I am currently uploading e-books to Smashwords, having done that a few months ago for Kindle.  I didn’t know that it would involve going through my copy, reading a style guide and applying it to the e-book so that it would get through the aptly named Meatgrinder editing tool.  *sigh*

The first version came back, so, I have read the very entertaining Style Guide written by the Smashwords’ founder and I have learned many new things. I made changes and the latest edits have gone to be vetted for inclusion in their catalogue. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I did it correctly this time because I have several more to upload.

What I want to do today is take some time to dream but it is already 3 p.m and I haven’t even had lunch yet.  Maybe there will be time to contemplate things over a steaming cup of tea and sandwich.

Dreaming is essential to moving things along in your life.  It is like the little key that winds up the mechanical toy.  You have to keep winding it to keep the momentum going.

Dreaming keeps energies high and the feeling of possibilities in play.  When you are embracing a dream or a goal, optimism and confidence grow.  Good things are sparked because of it too.  It is uncanny how blessings come when you open to ideas.

Today I want to take some time to dream about the wedding officiant training that has been a part of my life lately.  I love sharing my experience and helping people train to be wonderfully warm celebrants.  I am so proud of the course we’ve build for St Francis Seminary.  And I am looking for ways to offer it to those outside of Ontario.  A wedding is a wedding is a wedding after all.

So, time for lunch and then time to sit with my notebook and see what comes.

What dreams have you had that are sitting on the sidelines or getting dusty in the corner of your mind.  What have you always wanted to do but just didn’t have the time, money or energy to accomplish it.  Maybe now is the time!  It has been my experience that when we dream it, when we nurture and let ideas grow, they do become realities.

What is holding you back?

Oh – by the way, if you need someone to help you brainstorm, Jean is absolutely brilliant.  Her Dreamsmithing process has helped me launch so many ideas.  You can find out more about her here: http://theangelladies.com/ under Jean’s Services.

HUH!  Just as I was writing this, the phone rang and a school made an order of 98 crosses! See?  Good things come when you open to possibilities!

Have a great day everyone,
Deb

 

 

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An Extra Day!

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We are saying goodbye to February, a month that is challenging for many, myself included.  While this winter has been kinder and gentler (in Niagara anyway), the return of earlier sunrises and birdsong is welcome.  Spring is closer each day.

Leap Day.  It can be said that every day is a gift — just the fact we wake up and plant our feet on the floor can be cause for gratitude — but today really is a gift that has been four years in the making.  What will you do today to make it special?

I heard a young girl interviewed this morning who is taking the next 24 hours to do random acts of kindness for people.  What a brilliant idea!  She plans to go out of her way to go that extra mile – smiling, holding doors open, treating someone at lunch perhaps and just doing simple things that we all can do to make another person’s day brighter.

What if we did one kind thing for someone else today?  What if we squeezed outside of our comfort zone and took an opportunity to brighten someone’s day?  A bouquet for the walmart greeter, paying for the order of the person in the drive through behind us, offering to babysit for a new mom or caregiver, visiting an elderly friend, smiling at people you pass…  the list is really endless.  It could be habit-forming.  Our collective spirits would be lifted if we intentionally looked for ways to bring joy into our own life and the lives of others.

On this extra day, what can you do to honour yourself today?  What can you do to make your own life a bit happier.  And yes, a nap counts.🙂

Have a fabulous day, everyone!

Deb

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