Listening for God?

WROTE THIS YESTERDAY.

I was thrilled yesterday morning to sit in our home with a group of friends at the end of a journey of listening, trusting, and persistence. We joined together at what became the beginning of a new path for everyone present, through using technology with all of its failures and wonders. The story is long, too long for a blog. I want to share the faith, the excitement, the learning.

I begin with my own practice of listening. For forty years, I have practiced listening for God and learning to trust that it really is God I am hearing. After all, my life like yours is filled with the noise of living. I call it every day static. In today’s world, it’s not easy to admit that I truly believe God speaks to us. I deeply fear scepticism and ridicule. Only fanatics claim, “God said to me…” Yet God does speak, and occasionally I hear and trust. The weekend of April 25-29 was one of those times.

In the midst of the most amazing church Conference Annual General Meeting I have ever experienced, God spoke, and I heard. I was sure God wanted me to put Rev. Wanda Stride forward as a nominee for Moderator of our United Church. Her gifts for leadership and inspiration surrounded me. I spoke out. There were complications. It was too late. Life is never simple. My motion was cast aside. I was sure of God’s Word to me but still, true to my personality I accepted defeat. God wasn’t defeated. God moved through others. My friend and colleague, Paul Reed brought his gifts of persistence and knowledge of church structure to the situation. Rev. Wanda’s home presbytery passed the motion anyway. Mine affirmed it. The obstacles persisted. Again, the Holy Spirit moved. The seed grew. More joined in. They listened. They trusted. They acted.

Yesterday morning, thanks to modern technology with all of its failures, frustrations and wonders, the procedural issue was resolved. God’s word to me has brought forth fruit. Whether or not Rev. Wanda is elected as Moderator at the upcoming national United Church meeting is up to God and those attending. For me, this journey has affirmed my faith. Over the years, my practice of trying to listen has changed my life. I’ve offered the words I was sure I heard to a few. This time, that message went out to many.

This morning I am cheering, laughing, excited, thrilled with God’s persistence and the faith of others. Thank you, God. Thank you, Wanda. Thank you, members of Bay of Quinte Conference. You have lived out Jesus’ mustard seed parable:  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

 

 

A Random Thought

The last few days the sun has shone. For me a sunny day brings good feelings. Here is a thought triggered by the sunshine.

The sun shines.                                                                                                                         I wake up.                                                                                                                          The world is beautiful.                                                                                                Everything sparkles.                                                                                                            I can see.

God’s Son shines.                                                                                                        Love lights the world.                                                                                          Beauty abounds.                                                                                                            Wisdom reigns.                                                                                                                      I am loved.                                                                                                                                We are loved.

You’re all invited!

Please Join me for the LAUNCH of my latest novel, 

TO BEGIN AGAIN

Wednesday evening, June 13th 7:00 p.m.

at Lindsay Public Library, Kent St., Lindsay, Ontario.

I’d love to tell you the inspiration behind my story, and all my writing. I’ve learned so much, writing this book. I’d like to share that too. If you have questions about self-publishing, and why I choose that route I’ll do my best to answer them. I look forward to signing a book specially for you or as a gift for your friends.  All will be done by 8:30 so you can get home before dark.

If you cannot attend but would like a signed copy or two or even more, of To Begin Again, or any of my books just send me an email. I look forward to talking with you. Blessings & Prayers, Janet Stobie

 

 

Is God a Helicopter Parent?

There’s lots to read about parenting today. In the news media we hear about “helicopter” parents. The metaphor is perfect. These parents hover over their children, sometimes nearly suffocating them with kindness, help, and protection. Up until two weeks ago, I too judged today’s “helicopter parents.” I was  never that kind of parent when I raised my children,, I thought. I gave them lots of room to try things, to live and figure life out without me hovering over them.

In less than one second, Saturday morning, May 11, my smugness evaporated. My strong, healthy daughter slammed onto the ground in a fall from a horse. Our lives changed. Her fall was no one’s fault. The accident happened. One of her vertebrae exploded as it crushed from the impact, and now protrudes into her spinal canal. The good news, the blessed news, is she has no paralysis. For that we are grateful. The orthopedic spinal trauma specialist said if the damaged vertebra remains stable she won’t need an operation. In twelve to eighteen months, she will recover.

Since the accident, I have been a total “helicopter” parent. With no thought of shame, I hovered at the hospital. I fretted as they fitted the brace on her body. I stood close when she stood for the first time, nurses right beside her to help.

It’s been nearly three weeks now. She’s walking with a walker. The brace supports her in the same way as a full body cast. Both she and I look ahead to the months of pain she will endure as her body inches toward recover. I realize I cannot remain the helicopter parent. I must give her room to heal both in body and soul. I have to trust that as a mature woman she can make wise decisions about the amount of activity she can do.

Once again, I am learning to trust in God’s goodness and love. As both my daughter and I face the journey ahead, one thing I know, “God’s goodness enfolds us regardless what happens. God’s strength and wisdom empower us. God’s love can bring joy even in the midst of our struggles.

Today, I consciously choose to trust in God, to give thanks that we are not alone. God is with us. Today, I cry out with the biblical father seeking healing for his child in Mark 9:24 “I do believe, Lord. Help me with my doubts and fears.”  (Mark 9:24)

Mother’s Day! What Do I Say This Year?

What else can I say about Mothers’ Day? Between preaching and writing columns, haven’t I already said all I have to say? I turned to my Bible.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is human kind that your are mindful of us, human beings that you care for us?”         (Psalm 8:3-4)

The psalmist is overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe and the generosity and abundance of God’s blessings given to us. I thought of my moms, very different from each other, yet generous in their love for me. God blessed me through both of them.

Being a Mom is a commitment that continues even into the next life. What do mothers do for us? When we are little, mom’s job is physically exhausting: feeding, clothing, sleepless nights. Then, our troubles were small, the “fixes” simple. And, we returned her love with hugs and words of love.

Mothering teenagers is emotionally tougher. Our troubles are bigger and we don’t always want Mom’s help. She job is let go a little and watch us make mistakes. That process intensifies in our young adult years. We know everything, Mom, nothing. Our hugs are fewer and further between. We often don’t notice her in the background worrying, praying and trying so hard not to interfere.

I’m sure today it amuses both my moms when I struggle to keep out of the way of my own grown children. When I succeed, I can hear both moms cheering for me. When I interfere and offer unwanted advice, I feel them reach through that veil that separates us and say, “Yes, leaving them to struggle is tough, but you’re doing okay.”

Neither of my moms was perfect, but I was blessed by their love. This year I celebrate Mothers’ Day by remembering the work of their hands, the abundance of their love. This year I thank God who blessed me with their care, their example, their ability to stand back and let me fail, their joy at my success. This year I offer my poem of thanksgiving to God.

Thank You, God, for Mothers

When I consider your gift of mothers in this world,
Their caring, the work of their hands,
Their loving, the gift of their hearts,
I am humbled that you have created mothers for us.

When I consider how hard it must have been for them,
To let us make our own choices                                                                  knowing the pain those choices will bring,
When I consider the abundance of support we have received,
I am humbled that you have created mothers for us.

Thank you, God, for mothers, some more perfect than others.
Thank you, God, for knowing that we need a mother’s love.
Thank you, God, for being a mother for us all.

A Leap of Faith

Anchored in Faith                                                         Spiced with                                                      Romance & History                                    Tears  &  Laughter                                                                                                                                             Janet Stobie’s new novel To Begin Again   will keep you turning the pages. 

 

Every time I release a new book, I experience a test of faith. Writing requires trust, yes, and it’s fun. I get lost in the creative process. Whether it’s a reflection, a short story, or a novel, writing feeds my soul. I feel God’s presence with me. My heart soars as my fingers fly over the computer keys. When the rough draft is finished, satisfaction reigns. I’ve responded to God’s inspiration.

Editing is not quite so much fun. It requires hard work and determination. Still, my editor, Ruth Walker, and I become a team. Once again joy begins to flow as she pushes me to use my intellect and creativity to polish the raw manuscript. Yes, it’s work but I’ve come to trust the process. For me it resembles pregnancy. It often takes at least nine months. Yet, I know the baby is forming just as God intends. Eventually, the time comes. I’ve done my best. “To Begin Again” is finally ready to be born.

For me the next two steps require the biggest leap of faith. Ordering one thousand copies from the printer is a tough and painful process. It’s not just the investment of dollars. Yes, it usually pretty well empties my book business bank account. But that’s only money. As I wait for delivery I imagine all those boxes filled with books. This time my study closet will be crammed full, as well as shelves in the furnace room. My mind hammers, “What if they don’t sell? A novel isn’t a ‘how to’ book. Novel’s are hard to sell. What will you do with all those books. I know you’ve already sold one thousand books many times before, but this time. Will people like To Begin Again?

Then comes the biggest “leap” of all. Selling!! For me selling is painful. It requires sitting behind tables, catching people’s eye, talking to strangers, friends, family, offering my beautiful baby and risking rejection. Of course, not everyone will buy. Not everyone even wants to see my baby. This is the point when I cry out to God:

“Thank you for calling me to write. I love it. Thank you for the work of editing. It’s worth it. Thank you for your inspiration. Our baby is beautiful. Poster for blogBUT, THIS TIME GOD, you do the work of selling. Send me heaps of orders especially online. Everyone says that’s the easy way. Make it happen. After all this is book number eight. I’ve given them my heart and soul as food. you make them eat it.”

When I wrote that last line, I smiled and I imagined God smiled too. So here we are today, “God and I”, offering you the opportunity to purchase our baby, TO BEGIN AGAIN.

Buy one for yourself and for your friends and family. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy the story. Discuss it. The questions for discussion are right there in the back of the book. Use TO BEGIN AGAIN to open a conversation about life, your values, what you believe.                     A stand – alone novel and a sequel to Fireweed.

WELCOME BACK TO CATALPA CREEK

Rejoin Steve, Renée & friends.

 

 

How Will I Find God’s Peace

 

Luke 15: 11-32 Jesus’ story of “The Lost Son”

          The last few days, my thoughts have focused on Jesus’ story of “The Lost Son.” In movies, books, and life, I seek happy endings. I smile when the lost son realizes his folly and returns home. I nod when the grieving father runs out to meet him when he is still a long way off. The elder son’s response of anger and righteous judgment feels good and proper. The father’s response also feels good.  Will the elder son understand his father’s plea for love and mercy? We aren’t told, so I can fill in my happy ending. Both sons have learned how to love. Father is wiser.

How does Jesus’ story end today? Too often today, addiction swallows us up leaving us lost, sleeping on the streets, even murdered. Sometimes it’s our commitment to overwork, an extramarital relationship, total self-indulgence, that carries us away from family, loved ones, God. Unlike the lost son in Jesus’ story, we don’t return home. We may have started home many times but we stumbled again and again and again. We can’t stay on that homeward path.

And so, too often, as parents, spouses, children, friends, we are left sitting at the gate, still loving, still praying, still hoping, still weeping. The opportunity to run down the path, arms open wide, love pouring forth, never comes.

Too often, as elder siblings, we keep plugging away, doing our best, resentment hidden and growing, judgment made. We want to hang onto our rage, our self-righteousness. We’re sure we are right. We don’t want help forgiving those who are unforgivable. We don’t want to face God’s unconditional love, God’s endless mercy, let alone participate in it.

Today, whether we are the lost son, the elder brother or the loving parent, we go to our death still paralysed, still lost on life’s journey. And so we think there is no possibility for a happy ending.

For me, the Good News, the “happy ending” comes when we learn to trust our Christian story which tells us that the power of God’s love is so strong, God’s plan for each one of us so flexible, so creative, that even death cannot keep us paralyzed. In fact, death, in whatever form it comes, opens the way for “new life,” the happy ending.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

Jesus’ own life story tells us that whether our death brings forth the possibility of new life, transformation, abundance.

Today, whether we are facing the loss of a beloved person, the ending of a life-long dream, the closing of our precious church,– wherever we find ourselves present in Jesus’ story, we can trust that the resurrection will come. God will not be defeated. We may not see the transformation, but it will come, if not in this world than in the next. Weeping will end. Joy will come with the morning. We are not truly paralyzed. We can open ourselves to understanding, forgiveness and love. We can receive God’s peace that is beyond our understanding because we can trust in God’s transformation, whenever it happens.

God’s love will prevail

We have hope, for God has assured us there will be “a happy ending” in this life or the next. Our transformation is guaranteed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

We can hear and live Jesus’ words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) For this, I am truly grateful.