Which Choice Do I Make?

Which Choice Do I Make?

By Janet Stobie

Decisions, deccisions!
Decisions, deccisions!

This spring I turned seventy. I look around at my friends who have happy lives. They’re enjoying their homes, their families, their church. They have gardens and volunteer work. Their lives look good to me right now. I too have a life much like theirs, but with something added. I write – this newspaper column, short stories and books. At the moment, my supply of my latest book “Fireweed” is dwindling. It’s time to order another batch of 500. My website needs updating. It’s time to book speaking engagements for the fall and winter. I am poised between truly retiring and continuing my ministry.

I discussed my choices with Tom. I wondered if those greener pastures in which my friends live are what I want and need. I heard his encouragement for carrying on. He spoke of his willingness to continue being the supportive mate and his enjoyment of “our” ministry. I spent time in prayer. I wrote my daily letter to God with the pros and cons and the question, “God, what do you need of me?” I wrote some more and slowly the words came into my mind, “Use your gifts. That’s why I gave them to you. Enjoy, you’re not quite finished yet.”

I picked up a book, And Not One Bird Stopped Singing, by D. M. Jones, and read the words, “You cannot choose how you’re going to die, but you can choose how you’re going to live.” I thought, already, I’m the first customer in Greg and Andrew’s new website marketing business www.4hundred4.ca . OK, God, I hear you. Maybe next year or in ten years, maybe then I’ll slow down, actually retire. This is my choice, a good choice for me. Like many seniors, who keep on into their eighties and nineties, I choose to live to my fullest ability, to accept the joy of spreading God’s message. I choose to fly on God’s Spirit, to trust in God.

That’s how I make decisions. Try it.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”    (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Oh, What A Miracle!

Oh, What a Miracle!

by Janet Stobie

Life Is Great!
Life Is Great!

We have our vacation Bible School Program, VIBE, travelling throughout our Presbytery once again this summer. One of the songs we’re using this year is “Oh, What a Miracle” by Hap Palmer. It has glorious actions and a fabulous simple message – Oh What a Miracle Am I. That’s it.  Every adult and child who sings this song using their whole body finishes feeling good about themselves.

As Christians that’s a huge part of our message. Whatever words you use to describe or explain creation, the bottom line is that this world is a series of miracles – one of which is we human beings. Our bodies are made to heal themselves if at all possible. Scientists have learned that even our brains can develop new pathways when the old ones become blocked. We are truly and wonderfully made.

I believe it is important to know the beauty and delight of all creation. We can only receive that knowledge into our hearts when we accept and understand the wonder of our own bodies. We are miracles. Every time I see a new born baby I am overwhelmed with the beauty of creation. Even the persistence of weeds that return after we think we have removed the entire root, remind us of the desire to live that is built into our world. Whether you use words like creation or evolution or big bang to explain the existence of our amazing earth, I know that we all begin with God’s goodness.

In the beginning, before anything at the source of the splitting of the first cell, as the big bang happened, in the beginning there was God. And here today, there are you and I. Please take a moment to sing or shout, whisper or bellow, “Oh What a Miracle am I.”

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.                      I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.
I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

 

You Have No Fence?

You Have No Fence?

By Janet Stobie

Fenced In
Fenced In

Summer has arrived. Tom and I have moved outside to enjoy our deck and our yard. Compared to our old place in Dunsford, this yard is a postage stamp. Still I have a tiny garden brimming over with lettuce, peas and garlic. Pots of flowers add splashes of colour here and there. A maple tree, big enough to provide the illusion of shade, stands proudly in the centre, giving rise to dreams of spreading branches filled with the laughter of future great-grandchildren. There’s just enough space for our garden swing on its little patio. Already our yard is a sanctuary, a beautiful island for quiet conversation and contemplation in the middle of the city.

A friend came by and said, “You have no fence”

“True, I can look right into my neighbours’ yards and enjoy their flowers, see them at work in their gardens, hear their laughter, watch their children play. In fact, one day our neighbour’s beautiful 3 year old checked out our family gathering. He stayed less than a minute. Guess our conversation wasn’t interesting enough. Some people say that “Good fences make good neighbours.” There may be some truth to that. I don’t know. Being a permanent city resident is a new experience for me.

Right now, I’m glad there’s no fence. A fence would keep us in and friends out.  Living in the country has taught us the value of knowing our neighbours. Our back yard can provide a wonderful opportunity for us to make friends on our street.

Whether our visitors are children and their parents, or the birds flitting to and fro from the birdhouses to the feeder, or the wee chipmunk and soft white rabbit both stuffing their cheeks with birdseed, I’m glad our yard is open to guests. We are truly blessed and we want to share those blessings.

 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”                           (1 Peter 4:8-10)

Why Share Our Beautiful Country?

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Why Share Our Beautiful Country

By Janet Stobie

Canadian Mosaic
Canadian Mosaic

We’ve just celebrated Canada Day. To my mind, we live in the best country in the world. Beginning with the wealth of beauty and resources that come with this vast land and ending with our people, with all our faults, we live in peace and harmony with one another. We are truly blessed.

This past spring, I helped our grandson with a school essay about the issue of immigration to our country. He had done research so that he could argue both for and against immigration from the perspective of experts in the field. His final section required his own opinion about our Canadian mosaic that is so proudly projected by our government.

Tim compared our country to that of a living ecosystem.  He talked of the necessity for variety, and the interdependent relationships that exist in order for the ecosystem to continue. His metaphor illustrated the tremendous treasure immigrants can be for our country. Then he spoke about how Canadians are blessed by giving people the opportunity to begin a new life in Canada. He gets it, I thought. My grandson understands the true value of hospitality, the true wonder of this beautiful country we call Canada.

With all our faults as a nation and as individuals, most Canadians know that our freedom and peace are gifts to be shared with the world. We complain about our taxes, even as we send our children off to school knowing we have an educational system that is accessible to all of our people. We wait in the hospital emergency room, knowing we’ll not have to mortgage our home to pay the bill. We choose to play golf on Sunday morning secure in the knowledge that others can worship as they choose without fear.

Today and every day I give thanks to God that I live in Canada. I believe this blessing is a gift to be shared not hoarded, for the Bible tells us that blessings rot and decay in storage.

 

Exodus 16

“And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. (Exodus 16:18-20

Are You Having a Spiritual Heart Attack?

Happy Canada Day

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Are You Having a Spiritual Heart Attack?

by Janet Stobie

This morning I read, “Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day.” A healthy heart is amazing. Poorly treated, our hearts will eventually malfunction. Our whole body may shut down.

In the bible, the word “heart” is used to represent the center of our thinking, emotions, reasoning. Our spiritual heart is the “command center” of our spiritual lives. Again, poorly treated, our spiritual hearts will also malfunction and then our lives get lost, twisted, filled with misery.

Like physical hearts, our spiritual hearts need exercise, nourishment, and rest to function well. What does that mean? Caring for others through giving with love of our time, talents and resources is fabulous exercise. Reading bible passages and discussing their relevance with others is excellent nourishment. Time spent in worship and prayer, or relaxing with family and friends gives us the spiritual rest we need.

The other day I asked my upset friend, “Are you making time for the things you know help you to feel good about yourself and your life.” She smiled and shook her head. Then tears rained down her cheeks. “The demands of family and work have taken over. I just haven’t the energy.”

When we neglect our own self-care, we experience spiritual heart attacks. Suddenly, we’re struggling to be the loving, caring persons we want to be. Jesus offers us wisdom with “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” God has created each person to be spiritually loving beyond our wildest imagination. All we’re asked to do is love ourselves enough to keep our spiritual hearts healthy.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)