How Do I Send An Act of Love?

How Do I Send An Act of Love?

By Janet Stobie

love letter

Today words tumble forth from emails, texts, cell phones, until many of us feel like we’re drowning. We see couples in restaurants, each of them lost in their cell phones or computers. At times, I’d like to turn off the world.

A number of years ago, my son called from Vietnam. “Joanne and I are getting married one week from today in Bali. We’ll pay all your expenses if you’ll come.” Five hours later, I called back with, “My flight’s booked to arrive Sunday evening at 11 p.m.” Short notice, cost and distance meant Dave’s brother and sister were left behind. In order to bring their presence with me, they each wrote a letter to be read on Dave’s wedding day.

After the ceremony, the sun dancing on the surf as it rolled in, the three of us sat down barefoot on the beach to share a glass of champagne and open those letters. God’s Spirit enveloped us as Dave read his siblings’ words of love. They shared family memories, pride in their brother’s accomplishments, and hope for a future filled with joy. Even though they weren’t there physically, their words written from their hearts strengthened family ties for a lifetime.

In this world where distance seems to have disappeared and connection is instantaneous, we need to remember the power of our written words. St. Paul wrote letters of love and support and direction to the churches he had begun. Today we still receive the wisdom and love of God through those letters. I encourage you this week to claim the power of the written word. Do more than send clipped, business- like emails and texts. Surprise your child, your spouse, your friend with written words of affirmation and support.  Share your heart and make the connection an act of love.

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you …” (Philippians 1: 3)

Let the Lower Lights Keep Burning

Keep your light burning.
Keep your light burning.

Let the Lower Lights Keep Burning!

by Janet Stobie

Over the last few weeks and months, I have often felt as if I were in a boat being tossed by a hurricane. Moving can do that to you. We’ve been tossed from possible homelessness, to trying to keep all our commitments in the new place and the old, to preparing for the new. Finally, we’re here, settled (well sort of) in our new home. Of course, we’ve not been on this journey alone. God has been our guide, our strength, our lighthouse beacon in this storm. Our families have given support. Real estate agents Jane and John Ross, and financial advisor Alexis Phillips have been steadfast guides. Our friends have been rock solid, especially Diane and Stephanie. We needed them all to find the way to shore. We are truly grateful.

In the old hymn, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning,” Phillip Bliss speaks of God as a lighthouse beacon, guiding sailors through the stormy night. He reminds us also that it’s our job to keep the shore lights burning, so that sailors can see to land their boats safely.  We are called to be God’s lights, to shine out in daily life. Through our caring, we can provide a guide and challenge around the shoals and rocks of temptation; through our compassion and love, offer the comfort and security of a safe passage in the dark.

Now we’re ready to begin again, marketing my novel, “Fireweed,” supporting and enjoying family, having fun, serving God in the church and best of all, being God’s lights along the shore for others. Whether it’s smooth sailing or choppy seas, we know we’ll be fine.  A life of faith is wonderful. Give it a try. God will surprise you with joy.

A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24 They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. Luke 8:23-24

Am I One of God’s Lost Sheep?

Am I One of God’s Lost Sheep?

By Janet Stobie

During my childhood, the story of Jesus, the shepherd, seeking and finding his lost sheep felt comforting. I’d picture myself as the sheep carried by Jesus in our church’s stained glass window. I welcomed the security that Jesus would look for me if I was lost.

When I was a teenager, one of my youth leaders said, “There is a spark of God in all of us from the moment of our conception.” Although it felt good to think of God residing within me, that understanding presented challenges to my growing faith.  If God was inside me, how then could I be the lost sheep? Why would Jesus need to come looking for me?

Today I believe being lost in terms of faith is not a physical separation from God. We make decisions that in our minds carry us away from God. Usually, the choices are small at first, sometimes just a thought, My friend always gets more than me. Sometimes an action. We look at the sign: Seniors 65 plus and rationalize: Many places classify seniors as 60 plus, as we ask for a senior’s ticket when we’re only 63. Small steps grow larger, and one day we are caught cheating on our income tax, or lying to our friend. We didn’t think of it that way, but we’ve stepped over the line and lost our way in terms of our faith. God is still with us, but we no longer know it.

I believe God walks with us on this journey, questioning our choices, calling us to turn around, waiting for us to see the light. It’s only one step and we’re home. If we need it, God carries us that step. We’re found. We open God’s waiting gift to receive God’s amazing Grace. Our forgiveness is complete and free.

“And surely, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)

 

When Can We Rejoice?

When Can We Rejoice?

Last month, on the morning of my colonoscopy, I read the following quote: “Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one always following the other. Rather they are two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.” (Ann Voskamp – The Greatest Gift)

Throughout the preceding day, I had given thanks that this colonoscopy preparation, although grueling, was nothing compared to the first time I’d had this procedure. There were even moments of actual rejoicing when during phone calls of support, laughter replaced exhaustion. Those brief good moments made the preparation easier to endure and added to my celebration afterwards. When the doctor wrote on my sheet, “Come back in five years”, I knew there were no signs of colon cancer.  “Hallelujah,” I cheered and phoned my family and friends.

. Often at funerals, we hear laughter ring out, see smiles amid the tears. We don’t have to wait until the road of grief has ended. In the midst of our journey of sadness, we can visit our memories and rejoice.

We all have struggles, some are desperate and painful, some are short-lived. Whether we’re writing an essay, shoveling snow, cleaning the house, it’s the moments of joy, however fleeting, in the midst of the work that make the burden bearable and add to the sweetness of completion. When we focus only on the drudgery, the pain, the struggle we miss the gifts God has given us to lighten the load. For sure, preparation for a colonoscopy is not fun, but there were moments of comedy and of thanksgiving. Letting myself experience them helped smooth the journey.

God doesn’t expect us to wait until the struggle is over before rejoicing can begin. In fact, God

offers us gifts of joy along the road, if we will only see and accept them.

St. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually.”  (I Thessalonians 5:16-17)

What challenge does the Olympics Give Us?

What Challenge Does the Olympics Give Us?

by Janet Stobie

Enjoy the Support
Enjoy the Support

Like many of you, I enjoyed following the Olympics. The athletes came thrilled to participate. A few had very real hopes of winning a medal. All hoped to surpass their personal best.

It may be just my perception, but this year I felt an increased emphasis on the army of people, parents, coaches, friends, neighbours, and even other competitors that accompanied each athlete throughout the Olympic journey. The videos were fantastic. Gold Medalist Bobsledder Heather Moyse introduced us to her home in Summerside, P.E.I., and the people who shaped her. At times I saw an athlete’s whole village gathered to cheer and share in a job well done. We were treated to a moment of kindness when the Canadian coach in the midst of the race, handed the Russian skier a new ski after his had broken. No one gets to the Olympics as competitor, coach or spectator without the help of others.

That’s an important message for all of us. We need always remember that an army of supporters accompany us on our life’s journey. Stop for a moment, right now, to give thanks for the myriad of folk who have made this day possible for you. People around the world have a part in the clothes you wear, the heat for your home and office. Consider a friend who has called with encouragement or just to say hello, a co-worker who has completed his part of your group’s task, the farmers whose hard work and prayers provide food for your meals. Like our Olympians, the list of people involved in any one of our days is phenomenal.

There is great truth in St. Paul’s words, “If one suffers, we all suffer. If one rejoices we all rejoice together.”(1 Corinthians 12:26) Each night as you crawl into bed give thanks to God for all the people who have brought you a blessing that day.