Last week I travelled to North Bay for the first leg of my three week book launch at five Ontario Quebec Conference Annual Meetings of the United Church of Canada. Manitou Conference which covers the “near north” and east of Ontario was a wonderful way to begin. I shared the bookroom with Jackie Childerhose manager of the Five Oakes Book Store. I sold lots of my latest book, Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals as well as a number of my novel, Fireweed. I renewed old friendships and met lots of new people. What a wonderful way to begin this book tour. The picture was taken by Eunice Laporte, the designated photographer for the conference.
Some treat prayer as
a crutch. “When you can’t stand on your own two feet, lean on God.” Others see prayer as a last resort. “Well I guess there’s nothing else we can do but pray.” For me, prayer is also a means of celebration. “Thank you, God. Praise God! To God be the glory, great things God has done.”
Henri Nouwen, a modern theologian, calls prayer an adventure with God. “This new relationship (with God) is greater than we are and defies all our calculations and predictions. The movement from illusion to prayer is hard to make since it leads us from false certainties to true uncertainties, from an easy imagined support system to a risky surrender.” (p. 34, The Only necessary Thing)
We may think we know the best way to fix the problem. We may think we are talking with God about the only possible paths ahead. Bottom line – When we truly pray, our shopping list of demands, requests, pleadings are put aside. We surrender. We wait upon the Lord.
The problem with this kind of prayer is that God’s response can be perplexing, beyond comprehension, lead us down a totally new path, make even greater demands, and even give us cause for an explosion of celebration. True prayer, true submission to God, is an adventure. Isaiah said, “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
We don’t have to live as if we’re hanging onto a rope over a deep ravine, praying for rescue in a particular way. We can join life’s adventure with God. We can give up putting limitations on God and let go of control. God is as limitless as outer space with its endless galaxies. We can live prepared for God’s surprises. We don’t have to be careful what we pray for, because we can trust in God’s endless love.
Hi again, I discovered I had left a letter off the link for my Oberver story. Here it is again with the correction. Sorry for the incovenience.
Please check out the Spirit Story in the May issue of the United Church Observer. My personal true story titled “Twice Blessed” has been published as the “Spirit Story” in the May issue of the United Church Observer. Please check it out. You can also read “Twice Blessed” on line at www.ucobserver.org/opinion/2015/05/spirit_story/ At that site you can click to hear me read the story as well. When you are finished please leave a comment. That helps both the magazine and me. Blessings to you all. Janet
This year as Mothers’ Day approaches, Robert Munsch’s poem keeps running in my mind, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, your mother I’ll be.” Our role as Mom continues as it changes over the years.
A month ago, my oldest grandson moved to Vancouver to begin a new life as an adult. My daughter shared, “I love receiving one line texts from Chris. I understand now what it’s like to have your child grow up and move away.” I nodded and thought about son, Dave and his family in Ethiopia. Even when being Mom of adult children brings challenges, I treasure the privilege.
I remember being filled with wonder as my children returned home as young adults at the end of their first year at university. Lively conversation entertained us at our dinner table. I was proud and happy. By Mother’s Day two or three weeks later, the edges of that joy had frayed a little. This new adult, who had experienced eight months of total freedom from mother’s concerns, questions, advice introduced a new challenge to motherhood. Divorce, job loss, sickness, grief, and more drive adult children home to live, not just for the summer, but sometimes for years.
The challenges of motherhood keep changing. The continuous process of letting go requires the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient. Love is kind… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This Mothers’ Day, I offer the following prayer for families at every stage in a child’s development.
“Loving God, you created us to live in relationship because you know we need one another. Turn our minds and hearts to seek out and savour the moments of joy in every phase of our lives together. When tough times come, help us soak in your wisdom, patience and strength. Enable us to let go when necessary and to gather in and comfort when needed. Help us to let go of the guilt from past mistakes and begin each day anew. We want to love well. We want our relationships to be healthy. Help us to remember that with you there is hope. You are always with us, wanting and planning a future filled with joy and laughter. Amen”
I’m pleased to announce that my new book, “Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals has arrived.
This new resource will relieve the anxiety we sometimes feel when it’s our turn to lead devotions at our local UCW meetings. “Dipping your toes” has 44 devotional services with everything you need – reflection, prayers, hymns, call to worship, right down to the benediction. There is even a discussion question if you choose to make the worship part of your meeting participatory.
Dipping your toes will help you gain confidence in sharing the joy of spreading the “Good News” because it contains tips for leading effective worship and teaches you the “why’s” of each part of the service – Why we have a Call to Worship? The value of corporate prayer and so much more. When you work through Part II that I have called “Wading in a Little Deeper”, you will have prepared your own service – the prayers, the reflection, the scripture, all of it.
Besides bringing life to your small group devotions, this wonderful resource can be used for nursing home services, Bible study and personal devotions.
Dipping Your Toes is an excellent resource for your own personal library and your church library. It sells for $20 plus tax and shipping. To receive a signed copy send me an email – email@example.com It’s that simple. I’m going to the post office tomorrow to find out the cost of shipping. It can also be ordered through Pat Gilmore, director of United Church Book Displays – firstname.lastname@example.org
Get yours today. Build your confidence in leading devotionals.
Income tax time is over today for most of us. Did you begrudge paying your income tax? Many of us do.
This year, the day I was paying my taxes, I read the story of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural presidential speech. The quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” jarred my dissatisfaction. Kennedy’s words reminded me to let go of my complaining. Like many others, I can point out the places that I know or suspect our government is wasting our tax dollars. I, too, listen to the news as they cover the trial of Senator Duffy. It’s easy to see the mistakes, and what looks like dishonesty.
Still, as I think about Kennedy’s words, I am drawn to consider why we pay income tax. Almost every day I hop into my car and drive either downtown, or to Toronto, Lindsay or… Somehow those highways have to be paid for. I turn on a tap, and there is clean water. I am able to pay my bills today because of the education I received as a youngster. If I’m sick or injured, I can go to the hospital without worrying about cost. I listen to the CBC. I love camping in provincial and national parks. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most important is the fact that our tax dollars help to spread the wealth of this nation a little more evenly among our people. And there is so much more.
Of course, we have complaints. Still, I wouldn’t live in any other country. I want the infrastructure, the luxuries that are here. Yes, I am willing to pay my taxes even when it pinches. I want the security of employment insurance and Canada and Old Age Pensions. I’m willing to pay for the social and health security of all Canadian citizens. By myself, I could do little, but together with the rest of Canadians, I can do so much and I am grateful.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)