Thought for the Day

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May the Joy of 2015

be the spark you need for

Joy in Your 2016

It seems to be human nature to focus on the tough times and let the good times slip away unnoticed. I refuse to let that happen to me. I know it’s my choice. So, today, today as I think about the end of 2015, I’m focusing on the good times. Tom and I have celebrated a grade 12 grad in which grandson Zachary was valedictorian. We’ve had a wonderful journey to the west coast in which we enjoyed family and friends. I launched a new book, “Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals” that has sold wonderfully well. And there is so much more. My list of joys in 2015 is long.  Yes, there’s also been bumps in the journey, dark times, some of which are not yet resolved, but for today, I’m giving joy my priority.

On this eve of a New Year, I recommend you take some time to let your mind drift back over 2015. Pick out the good moments no matter how small. Relive them in your mind. If you wish, write them down.

Here is an example: Last week Connie, Chris and Ellie were at our house for dinner. We had a lovely evening. At one point Connie played a Utube video for us, that gave us all laughter. At the time, Ellie said, “Grandma, I’ve never seen you laugh so hard”.

Savor each memory on your list and give God thanks.

Now, before you dive back into getting ready for tonight or whatever, let your mind slip ahead to 2016. Give thanks for the possibilities of joy that lay ahead. Ask God for strength, courage, wisdom and laughter in this wonderful New Year. After all we know that life is fragile. We need God’s help in handling it with care.

 Happy New Year!

 

Thought for Today

christmas-1023851_1920The Work of Christmas

Christmas – the actual day is past. Most of us have enjoyed our family gatherings and opened our gifts. My sister Anne told me today that all her decorations are put away as well. For her everything is back to normal. Not so at our house. We’ll have our tree up for at least two more weeks, maybe even three. It’s merry lights and statuesque beauty greet me every morning. I love it. I’m in no hurry to see it gone.

There is a song in our hymn book, titled “I Am the Light of the World” by Jim Strathdee. The first verse says,

“When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and the shepherds have found their way home,

the work of Christmas is begun…

For us as Christians, Christmas is so much more than a family celebration that lasts at the most a few days. Christmas is a beginning. Christmas, like the new baby born in the stable, is filled with potential. Each year we travel to the manger. Each year we have the opportunity to begin again our attempt to live the “way” of Jesus.

This year with our response to the refugee’s as individuals, groups, and a nation, the work of Christmas has begun. These families that have come and are coming will need our help, will offer new experiences, new stories, new learnings all year long. This year we won’t put Christmas back in a box and get back to our familiar normal. For that normal is changing every day.

This year we will need to open our hearts to God’s strength and leading for “the work of Christmas has truly begun.”

Christmas Thought for the Day

Christmas 2015

May I Receive God’s Love for Me Today.

 May I Pass It On!!!

Rejoice! Rejoice!  Whatever is going on in your life, rejoice. Give thanks for live. Rejoice that we believe in a God of love who has created us to learn. We can learn to love more and more deeply. We believe in a God of love who trusts us with creation, who has come to us in a beautiful baby, in every beautiful baby that is born. We believe in a God of love who has entrusted us to care for all of new life, human, animal, plant. We believe in a God of love, for forgives us, who never gives up on us. We are truly blessed. In the deepest recesses of your mind today, accept the love that God offers. Your thought for today is:

MAY I RECEIVE THE LOVE THAT GOD OFFERS ME TODAY
AND PASS IT ON!!!

Blessed Christmas everyone.  Love to all, Janet and Tom

Thought for Today

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I Can Trust in God’s Extravagant Love.

My daily reading tells me to trust in God’s extravagant love. That sounds simple but I know it’s not. This Christmas, in our family, the fear that comes with serious illness is threatening to wipe out our joy. I know we are not alone. There are many among us who are afraid. Illness, loneliness, violence, grief – Christmas is often laced with fear.

Our precious Christmas story is filled with angels saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Over and over again in the stories of Jesus we hear his message, “Don’t be afraid.” Our faith tells us we can trust in God’s extravagant love. Yet as we journey to Bethlehem this year, many of us are afraid.

Years ago, I read these words in a tiny tattered book that has long since disappeared, “Pray as if.” At 3:00 a.m. yesterday morning I heard this message, “Listen to the angels of Christmas. “Do not be afraid. Come and experience God’s extravagant love in baby Jesus. ‘Pray as if’ you trust in God’s extravagant love”.

If fear threatens to take over your life this Christmas, I offer to you what I am doing. I am praying “as if”. I am leaning on the love and faith of friends. Some days, trusting in God’s extravagant love feels solid. Some days my faith feels based in quick sand. Still, I will continue to pray. I will pray “as if” I am without fear and wait. I can trust in God’s extravagant love. I will open my heart to God’s peace for today.

Thought for Today

 

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Friendship Is a Special Gift.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a lunch with two of my long-time friends. We talked. We ate. We exchanged gifts. We shared what was happening in our lives. For two hours we ignored the world around us and found comfort and laughter together. Today, Tom and I are having another good friend for dinner. Sometimes, particularly at this time of the year, we begin to think that the special Christmas lunches, dinners, and parties are unnecessary. Why do we do this? After all we’re busy enough without squeezing in one more gathering.

Friendship is a precious gift that requires nourishment. In our chaotic world, with all the demands on our time, it would be easy to let friends slip away. We don’t mean to, but it happens. Christmas reminds us, pushes us, to reconnect. It’s Christmas and we haven’t seen our friends for months. Let’s make sure we get together. And because it’s Christmas we make that special effort. I’m grateful.

My thought for today is rather than complaining about our busyness, let’s use today to connect with one special friend. Make a phone call or send a text to set up a couple of hours together sometime over the next two weeks. Give yourself the gift of friendship for Christmas.

FRIENDSHIP IS A PRECIOUS GIFT.

Thought for the Day

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Fill Every Corner of Your Life with Love.

Washing dishes, vacuuming, changing a tire, taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilet – do every task with love. Even tasks that feel like they are just for you – taking a shower, cutting your nails – can be done with love. Sunday morning while Tom had a shower, I made the bed. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted the bed made.

In fact I knew we were both tired and would probably crawl back into it for a nap after church. Why then did I do it? For me, it was an expression of love for Tom. Order in his life when he was hurrying off to choir practice would help him find peace. We work as part of a team. He had made breakfast while I enjoyed my morning prayer time. Done with love, this tiny task was accomplished quickly and easily. I barely noticed the doing of it.

Insignificant tasks, performed with love, become precious gifts for God. It’s just that simple. Today, as you go about your daily routine, your day of work, your day of leisure, do each task with love, for others or yourselves. Offer up to God a prayer of gratitude as you work, gratitude for having this job to do, gratitude for being able to do it, and gratitude for life. 

As Christmas approaches

fill every corner of your life with LOVE.

Check Out the Story!!!

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“Live the Story. Let Love Enter Your Heart.”

Part of my preparation for Christmas is attending our Keene United Church’s live re-enactment of the Christmas story at Lang Pioneer Village. This year as always, the service was well attended. It’s become a Christmas tradition for many.

Whether you claim no religion, or Christianity or another religion, the magic of the Christmas story can make a difference in your living. During these last few days before Christmas, I encourage you to seek out a variety of ways of learning more about the traditional Christmas story. Google “Live nativity presentations”. Consult your local library or bookstore. They’ll have lots of books to choose from, that tell the Christmas story. Dust off your Bible(or borrow or buy one) and find the Book of Luke. Open it to Chapter two and read the story together as a family. Once you’ve heard the story this year, use the following guide to think about the story.

1. What would it be like today to be Mary, 9 months pregnant and unmarried? Imagine travelling a long distance on a bus, using all your money for the ticket. When you get to family/friends, there is no place for you. You go to the homeless shelter.

2. Who are the Mary’s, the innkeepers, the shepherds, the Herods, the Wisemen today?

Thinking about the characters as real people like you and me will make a huge difference in your Christmas celebrations, secular or religious. Let the story speak to your life. On Dec. 25, 2015 make room in the Inn of your heart for love to enter.

“…the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)

Thought for the Day

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Joy is an action as well as a feeling.

There are times when the craziness of our lives overwhelms us, when the problems of our loved ones leave our hearts aching, when the pain of this world – the destruction of the environment, the violence erupting around us feels like a burden too heavy to bear. During the times when we feel only sadness. we ask, “Where is our joy?” Beth Richardson in her book, The Uncluttered Heart, says, “It is in these times that we learn that Joy is not just a feeling. It’s an action.”

Monday afternoon, (I think), on CBC radio an interview concerning research on the joy of giving caught my attention. (I tried to find it on line this morning but failed.) What I remember was, an experiment to discover if there was more joy in buying a gift for someone else than for myself. Statistically significant results showed that giving a gift to someone other than self,  brought more joy to giver. Actually I didn’t need a scientist to give me this information. I learned this fact years ago. What’s new for me is Beth Richardson’s words describing this fact, Joy is an action as well as a feeling.

Why do we love the Christmas Spirit? Why does our joy tend to increase during the Christmas season? I believe we find joy in our Christian Christmas celebration because it pushes us to action. The tradition of giving gifts to others, that is based in the story of the Wisemen bringing gifts to baby Jesus, is the action that can bring Joy into the darkest parts of our lives.

Your thought and mine for this day is:

Today, I will act to bring Joy to at least one person because

Joy is an action as well as a feeling.

 

Listen for Sounds of Joy.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

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Listen for Sounds of JOY.

Yesterday morning I worshipped in the Unitarian Church of Montpelier Vermont. When we stepped inside the church, I wondered if it wasn’t already Christmas Eve. People poured through the doors around us. Joy filled my heart, this is church, I thought. Children and adults obviously excited about gathering for worship, feeling at home. God must be celebrating today.

Joy surged forth again when Rev. Joan quoted our Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as he greeted the first contingent of Syrian Refugees with “You are home!” Tears filled my eyes as pride in our country welled up within me. This too is Joy, I thought.

During coffee hour we all stopped and formed a circle around a departing member as she sang her farewell. When she began the last verse we spontaneously began to hum along, and then joined in on the last chorus. God’s Spirit touched each one of us – although I’m sure many hearts were aching at the goodbye, I experienced God’s Joy in the wonderful feeling of family and love that was shared. This is church, I thought. This is what Jesus intended when he said where two or three are gathered there will I be also.

There are so many sounds that bring us joy. When our grandchildren were little there was nothing sweeter than the “Grandma, Grandma” I heard as they ran to greet me with their huge hugs. The purr of the family cat as we snuggle her close, the deep belly laugh that comes when something has truly touched our funny bone are sounds of JOY.

Today, as we make the long drive home, eight hours or more, I will listen for sounds of joy from the radio, in the service centres, in Tom’s voice. I know that the most welcome, the most joyful sound of all will be the silence as we shut off the car, and open the door at home. The peace, the security of home will envelope us. Our hearts will fill with joy and thanksgiving.

Today list your sounds of Joy and soak in God’s blessings.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

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Let God’s Joy Fill Your Heart.

During the third week of Advent we light the candle of Joy. How do we experience Joy in the midst of our tears, in the midst of the chaos of this world?

Joy is God’s gift offered daily,  Like any gift, it is not received when we leave it wrapped in its sparkly paper and satin bow sitting on a shelf. God’s gift of Joy requires opening, gazing at the contents, feeling it’s texture, smelling its fragrance, even tasting it’s goodness.

God’s gift of Joy is more than feeling happy. Joy includes satisfaction in the midst of need, peace in the midst of chaos, love in the midst of grief. To experience Joy we let go of self and whatever is filling our minds and hearts at the moment, and let God in. These are high and lofty words. Practical examples bring clarity.  Each day this week I will offer you different ways that I receive God’s gift of Joy as catalysts to help you unwrap yours.

Today, I speak of joy in terms of the people I love.

Joy fills my soul, when I stop for a moment and truly look at our beloved teenage granddaughter, asleep on the couch, exhausted from her busy day. At that moment tears of love fill my eyes. Nothing else in the world matters at this moment. For that moment the wonder, the miracle, the blessing that she is for the us, for the world overwhelms me. She is precious. I give thanks to God that she is part of our lives. This is peace. This is hope. This is love. This is JOY unwrapped and received.

Joy fills my soul when I cuddle up to my husband Tom seeking the warmth and safety of his body. I listen to him sleep and let go of all expectations, worries, frustrations. I let myself relax and rest in the miracle of our love for each other. For just a few moments nothing else matters. This is peace. This is hope. This is love. This is JOY unwrapped and received.

Today, as I contemplate the miracle of friends, I am grieving the death of Howard yesterday. As my heart aches for Shirley, I remember their Grace as they floated around the dance floor. I see Howard’s joy as he step danced competitively, and experience again the wonder of his ability. I feel his hug of friendship at and know that he cared.  This is peace. This is hope. This is love. This is JOY unwrapped and received.

I look at a picture received on the internet I think taken at the airport showing a crowd of people, black, brown, white, young, old, turbans, hijabs, baseball caps. In their midst is our prime minister and our Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne. There must have been security people among them but what protection could they truly offer. The caption on the picture was “This is my Canada”. Yes, joy filled my heart to know the beauty of the Canadian mosaic and the safety of our country – a true miracle in today’s chaotic world. This is peace. This is hope. This is love. This is JOY unwrapped and received.

As you live this week, open your precious gifts of Joy that God offers you in the people that surround you. Write them down to be revisited and cherished.

Let God’s Joy fill your heart.