Can You Make A Difference

Can You Make A Difference?

by Janet Stobie

Refugee Camp
Refugee Camp

The news is full of misery. Because millions of people are displaced by the Syrian chaos, the United Nations is asking free nations to commit to accepting refugees, not by the tens and twenties, but by the thousands. Our world is on a direct path to destruction, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Or is there?

Stone Soup

The last few weeks, I have been reading “Stone Soup for the World.” This book is a collection of stories about people, individuals who have stepped beyond the paralysis, the hopelessness of seeing the need of the entire world. For me, reading these stories is my first step in believing I can make a difference. Each day for a few minutes, my mind is focused on hope.

Two weeks ago, I was at North Bramalea United Church for the United Church’s Toronto Conference Annual Meeting. While talking with church members, I learned about the community program Bramalea United runs for children and adults in one of the nearby neighbourhoods. A colleague from Midland spoke of her congregation’s record of welcoming and settling refugees. “We’re only about four weeks away from getting yet another family,” she said, her face radiating delight and excitement. Their words and emotions took me beyond reading about others who are transforming our world, to seeing the possibilities and joy that come with taking action.

Some assure us that simply thinking positive things will draw good things into our lives. I know it takes more than that. I know also that filling my mind with stories of hope will open my heart to see hope in action and eventually lead to seeing my own action or lack of it.

A song says, “Go make a difference. We can make a difference in the world.” I want this song to be my mantra. I truly believe that we, together with God, can transform the world, one step at a time.

Together we create peace.
Together we create peace.

This week read Jonah’s story in the Old Testament. Jonah reluctantly brought God’s message to the people of Nineveh, and surprise! The Ninevites were transformed. Jonah made a difference.

Why Aren’t My Prayers Answered?

Why Aren’t My Prayers Answered?

By Janet Stobie

Why?????
Why?????

It’s nerve-wracking to live in limbo, waiting on the decisions of other people. When our children were eight, eleven and twelve, we chose to return to university, my husband to study for ministry, and I to complete a Master’s degree in Education. We’d prayed about it and felt confident this was God’s will.

We had a plan. We’d sell our home to finance the first year. After that, well, we’d figure it out. Every morning, I cleaned the house for a “showing.” Every night I prayed for a buyer. September came, school was starting and still the house hadn’t sold. I remember yelling at God, “You said, ‘Sell all that you have and follow me’, but you didn’t say what to do when the house doesn’t sell.’”

The Clock Is Ticking!
The Clock Is Ticking!

We moved anyway. We waited on the action of God’s Spirit, and for four months, through bursaries and the generosity of others, we paid the mortgage in Fenelon, the rent in Kingston, and even ate. That experience changed my life. I developed a trust in God that has enabled me to answer God’s call to ministry, heal from a messy divorce, live through the death of both of my mothers, adoptive and biological, and risk a second try at marriage. I know I can commit my life to God’s will. God does carry us in very tangible and practical ways.

Waiting on God’s Spirit is tough. We pray, we research, we seek advice. We think we are following God’s lead. Then the obstacles appear. The road appears impassable. And still we wait.

My life experience has taught me that it is in these times that we need to pray for patience and guidance. We need to open our minds and hearts to what we can learn from this experience. When our prayers feel totally unanswered, it is time to wait and trust. When Jesus was leaving his followers for the last time, he told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4 ) We too are called to wait on the Spirit. Wait and trust. Wait for God’s answer to your prayers.

Help God

Are You Feeling Paralyzed?

Are You Feeling Paralyzed?

By Janet Stobie

Please help me!
Please help me!

This morning, I once again encountered the familiar story of the young girl walking along a beach, methodically tossing back into the ocean the starfish stranded in her path. “Why bother?” another beach walker challenged. “There are thousands of starfish washed up on this beach. You can’t save them all.”

“True,” the young girl replied. Then, she picked up and returned another starfish to the ocean. “But I did save that one.”

Faced by the ocean of need that washes over us every day, many of us feel paralysed. We believe that we can’t make a difference. Of course, some of us respond to relief efforts after natural disasters, or to a chosen charity. That is good, but for me, the starfish story talks about letting of go of our paralysis and cultivating a lifestyle of sharing. It’s the lesson our parents and teachers taught us about sharing our toys, so that our home and the playground could be a peaceful place.

We can’t all be Mother Theresa, but every day, we can all make a huge difference for individuals in this world. We know about supporting our local food bank every time we buy our groceries. We give weekly when we’re at church. We donate our used clothing at thrift shops. During our move, I discovered another way to share.

Instead of holding a yard sale to get rid of our unwanted items, Tom took our stuff to the Reuse Centres, one on Erskine St. near Lansdowne Shopping Centre in Peterborough, another on Mary St., W. in Lindsay. The proceeds of what they resell supports Habitat for Humanity. This organization helps build houses co-operatively with those who need homes around the world.

A life of sharing means that we are the quiet people who respond when leaders like Craig Kielburger start a new initiative and need donations. Without the quiet responders, the Terry Fox Run would not be a success. Without the quiet responders, our local food banks would have no food.

Remember, we really aren’t paralyzed. We can cultivate a lifestyle of sharing our abundance. Opportunities abound around us. Just choose one. Each one of us can be the young girl and save yet another starfish.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

 

 

 

My new mystery novel “Fireweed” is selling well!

A Happy Customer

A Happy Customer

Just a note to all my subscribers. This past week I attended three different conference annual meetings of the United Church of Canada. I was granted the opportunity to do a book signing at each meeting. The response to my novel “Fireweed” was wonderful. Moms, Dads, teens, adults in general, clergy looking for resources, came to purchase Fireweed and have it signed. If you belong to a book club, women’s group, men’s group, discussion group, grief group, you’ll enjoy discussing “Fireweed”. If you’re just looking for a good read, “Fireweed” will keep you up half the night. If you’ve already bought and read it, please send me an email telling me about your experience reading it. Here’s my new address.   revjanetstobie@gmail.com