HAPPY NEW YEAR – GOD’S BLESSINGS FOR 2015

 

IMG_2451Just a few hours and 2015 begins. I woke this morning to the sun dancing across the skiff of snow that frosted the rooftops and lawns. Wow! My dollar store flower is dancing joyfully powered by that same sun. Tonight we will celebrate with an evening of square dancing – food, friends, exercise and no alcohol. Driving home will be safe and peaceful. Precious family – Dave, Joanne and Jenna who live in Ethiopia – will be here for lunch today. Our home is warm and comfortable and filled with love. My latest book, Dipping Your Toes – in Small Group Worship Planning will be ready for my editor’s deadline. Life is good.

Some of us dream of winning millions in a lottery and of course that would be exciting. Today, I know that I don’t need it. Yes, I’d enjoy giving lots away and taking a trip or two but today my life is already full, overflowing with blessings. Regardless of the pain and disappointment that may lie hidden in the year ahead, my intention is to greet each day with this morning’s appreciation and love for life. And so for you I offer these three recommendations for 2015.

  1. CHOOSE JOY because that is a life choice. I learned years ago, that each of us comes to every life event with a perspective. Too often those events bring challenge, disappoint, sorrow. Even in the midst of our tears, we can hang onto the blessings that bring us the peace of inner joy. Nothing and no one can steal our memories of:
  • the love we have received in the past from friends and family.
  • tiny successes that come with everyday accomplishments like washing a dish, shoveling the walk, or an apology given.
  • Sunshine mornings, amazing sunsets

 In 2015 choose to begin every morning with a prayer for inner joy and peace.

  1. GIVE THANKS because gratitude is the world’s best kept secret for “the good life.” In the midst of the worst that life has to offer, we can still give thanks that our eyelids blink automatically to protect our precious eyesight, the sun rises even when we can’t see it, that somewhere in the world a child is laughing. Sometimes we have to search hard for it, but always there can be gratitude.

In 2015 choose to begin and end every day with your gratitude list.

 

  1. TRUST GOD because you are God’s beloved child. Whether or not you believe that God exists, live as if you do. Know that you are a truly valuable creation.

In 2014, every time you pass a mirror, stop, look at yourself, smile and say, “Well, I may not be perfect but I exist. God loves even me, just as I am.”

Every time you forget to follow any one of these recommendations just smile and say, “Oops, I forgot. Well, I’ll begin again right now. I CHOOSE JOY. I’M GRATEFUL. I TRUST GOD, WHOEVER OR WHATEVER GOD IS. You will be amazed at the inner peace that abounds in your life, as you open your eyes to life’s goodness.

Print the three thoughts – Choose Joy, Give Thanks, Trust God – on piece of coloured paper and post on your fridge.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU EVERYWHERE!”

 

 

Dipping Your Toes

Tonight I finished the first draft of my new book, “Dipping Your Toes in small group devotional worship planning.” At least that’s the working title. I will probably shorten it to “Dipping Your Toes” and then add a second sentence in slightly smaller print. I’m totally excited about this book. I know it is wanted and needed by lay people of every denomination. Already, I have had amazing feedback from those who have read the first few chapters. “Dipping Your Toes” is due at the editors on January 16th so I still have time to review, rework and revise. When I have the first service in close to final form I’ll send it out for all as a sample. This is a marvelous way to begin the new the new year. Thank you God.

Would you choose to place your newborn child in a “manger” to sleep?

Logos of Christmas – The Manger

There was no room in the Bethlehem Inn, the Bible tells us. So, Jesus was born in a stable and his parents laid him in the manger – the place where the animals were fed. As a child on the farm, I knew that a manger had high sides just like a crib. Our stable/barn, warmed by the animals that were housed there, was quiet and peaceful especially at night. Filled with soft, sweet smelling straw, a manger didn’t seem like such a bad place. After all my dad kept our stable relatively clean, although there were often big spiders and tiny mice living there.

By the time I was ten, I had soaked in the idea that we needed to make room in our hearts for the baby Jesus. That didn’t seem very hard. I loved babies. Why wouldn’t we make room for Jesus? I understood him to be loving and fun. After all, he played with the children, which was unusual for a famous speaker and healer.

Today, I’m aware of the much deeper symbolism of that manger, and of being born in a stable. I see people on the city streets wearing several layers of clothes, carrying all their belongings in plastic bags, sleeping on hot air vents and under bridges. I know there is a second face to homelessness. Loss of the income of one or the other or both wage-earners, through layoffs, downsizing, or out-sourcing, means no money for heat, or hydro, or shelter. Without extended family to take them in, whole families become homeless.

Mary and Joseph had come to their home town and still, there were no family or friends to care for them. Even money couldn’t get them a room at the inn.

The Christmas manger calls us to step outside of our comfortable world and remember the hungry, the homeless, the refugees. Jesus didn’t begin life in the wealth and luxury that many of us have living in Canada. It wasn’t his parents’ choice that he would be born in a stable, I’m sure. And yet, the manger bed carries a stronger call to love and care for all people, than a fancy crib in the finest palace would. This Christmas, listen to God’s call. Be generous. There is endless need.  

 “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)  NRSV

Don’t Forget About “Fireweed” & “Spectacular Stella”

Christmas is just a few days away. Some of you may be like me. My busy life keeps me hurrying and scurrying around with little time for shopping. If you are down to this last weekend and wondering what to buy, I remind you about my books. What better present can you give than a gift of a book of faith. If you live in the Peterborough or Lindsay area just email me    info@janetstobie.com   and I will deliver before Christmas.  You can order from my website but at this point I can’t guarantee delivery before Christmas.

Fireweed-Front-Cover

 

FIREWEED is a mystery story with a twist. For readers who enjoy an intriguing mystery, the story of faith will keep them turning the pages. For readers seeking learning as well, FIREWEED offers practical strategies for dealing with grief. It’s a great book for teens and adults. $20.00 plus shipping

Spectacular StellaSPECTACULAR STELLA  is a children’s book intended for ages three to nine. Stella carries the message that we are valuable just as God made us. God seeks us out when we think we’re lost and brings us home to our purpose in life. It’s a great book to read to your child at bedtime. Enjoy Marion Hills beautiful watercolour illustrations.  $10.00 plus shipping

Bring on the gifts!

 

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts I love them.
Gifts, Gifts, Gifts
I love them.

Gifts gaily wrapped with colorful paper, ribbons and bows are definitely a symbol of Christmas. At our family gathering, even one gift per person mysteriously results in a mountain of gifts under the Christmas tree.

The giving of gifts at Christmas began long before Santa Claus started his journey from the North Pole. The Christian Christmas story involves “Three Wisemen or Kings” who travelled from far off places to bring gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Today, the gold makes sense. We know its value, but Frankincense and Myrrh?  What are they? Frankincense and myrrh are both expensive tree resins valued for their fragrance and for medicinal purposes. Frankincense was often burned to release its aroma, especially at religious occasions. Its fragrant smoke symbolized prayers rising to heaven. Myrrh was often used in burials and symbolized death. Actually all three gifts were valuable and useful. Given by strangers, they speak of security and respect, faith and leadership, compassion and caring.

I believe that we truly understand this part of our Christmas story when we give gifts that reach beyond our family and friends to our unknown neighbours here in Canada and around the world. We can know the joy of the Wisemen when we deliver baskets filled with food, warm coats and mittens, a few toys and maybe even gifts of money to those who truly need them. I like to shop in the United Church’s “Gifts with Vision” catalogue for special gifts of education, food, community wells, farm animals, and much more.

I believe the angels sing and the hallelujahs sound in heaven when we give gifts of love to our family, for sure. But when we reach out to our “neighbours” near and far, the heavens resound with God’s joy. We have truly celebrated Jesus’ birthday.

Need ideas check out www.giftswithvision.ca

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of goldfrankincense and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:11)

 

 

Thank you

Thanks to everyone who commented on my latest blog, “Who do you see the glass.”  Yes, I’m very aware that we need to remember to be grateful for our glass. In fact, today, I was doing a book signing at Chapters in Peterborough. I sold heaps of books which was wonderful. I am exhausted. Before I started the day, I had this conversation with God.

“Dear God, I really wish you would just sell these books for me.  After all, it’s your message that “Fireweed” carries. It was your idea to write the book.”

When I got home, exhausted and in pain from standing for four hours. My back still does not respond well to standing. I am aware that I need to be grateful that I can stand, grateful that I have written a wonderful book that people enjoy reading, and grateful that it is an amazing Christmas present.

Tonight, as I worked on yet another chapter of my next book, I know that when this my second order of 500 copies of “Fireweed” are sold, I will just order another 500. Obviously, I’m called to write. That’s what comes when you listen for Gods will in your life.

If you’re buying gifts for Christmas, please consider buying a copy of “Fireweed” for ages 13 to 105 or a copy of Spectacular Stella for ages 2-10. Just go to www.janetstobie.com or if you live near Peterborough, give me a call  at 705-340-9084. Both books have a bit of a Christmas theme, and both talk about God’s love for us. God’s blessings to you all. Janet Stobie

Do you notice the Christmas logos that surround you?

angel wings

Logos are big in today’s world. Advertising has taught us the meaning of the “Nike Swoosh”. We know the message it carries.

Today, I’m thinking about angels as a symbol of Christmas. For me they are one of God’s wonderful logos. Angels can be male or female, they can speak directly to our hearts, they can sing heavenly music, and they can touch us through other people and animals. Angels for me are somehow free of the limits of this world. They carry God’s message as they watching over us, prodding us, celebrating with us and holding us when we cry. In the Christmas story, angels bring God’s message of new life – first to Zechariah, then Mary and Joseph, then the shepherds.

Every time I see an angel on a Christmas card, atop a Christmas tree, in a Christmas scene, I remember our entire Christmas story. I give thanks that God came in Jesus to teach us how to live and love. I give thanks that God comes in each one of us today. As a logo, the symbol of an Angel feels great to me.

angels

In my home, I have “knick-knack angels” – black, brown, white, native, children, adults. They are a gentle reminder for me that God is here in my home. They speak of the amazing variety of God’s creation.  Into my life, God has sent human angels: family, friends, even sometimes strangers. Each one reminds me that God loves us and cares for us. Each one reminds me to treasure God’s beautiful world.

angels 2

As you begin your Christmas preparations, keep your eyes and your hearts open for God’s angels. Every time you see one, every time you experience one, tune into God’s love. And don’t forget, that you, too, are God’s angel. A spark of God was born within you at conception and has grown within you ever since. Enjoy God’s presence within you. Look for your opportunities to share God’s love.

christmas-angel-coloring-page
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’” (Luke 1:26-28)