All posts by janetstobie

Happy New Year!!!

To Stumble or Walk with Purpose

For the last few months, I have been just stumbling along. For sure, I have accomplished everything that needed to be done. For sure, I’ve had some good times playing with Tom, and family. I have certainly been busy. But, underneath my busyness has been that wonder- what next? What is my purpose? I didn’t publish a book in 2018. Maybe I’m finished writing? I know that’s not true. Today, I read the reflection for New Year’s Day, in Our Daily Bread. It’s based on Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

What can my hand find to do, I wondered. I smiled and picked up my pencil and wrote:

  1. There’s your children’s story, “The Elephant at the Manger,” maybe it’s time that became a book. Immediately I thought, but I don’t have an illustrator. There are many avenues for removing that obstacle. It will require effort – “doing with all my might.”
  2. Last year you gathered a bunch of new biblically based short stories you have written over the years. Maybe it’s time you created a new short story collection. I chuckled when I thought, that too will require effort – “doing with all my might.”
  3. You’ve thought about writing a book for intermediate readers, even talked about it with your daughter and granddaughter. Maybe it’s time you gave that some real effort – “doing with all your might.”

I chuckled and said, “Okay Lord, I hear you. My purpose is to write and it’s time I got back to it on a regular basis.

Maybe this is an exercise for you, my readers to consider. As you enjoy the sunshine on this first day of 2019, pick up a pencil and start writing about the projects you might like to do, the things you would like to make happen this year. Just set your hand free to write. For sure, all of them will require real effort. You may believe you don’t have the time or energy to do any of them. Write them down anyway. For sure you won’t accomplish any of them if you just stumble along, wondering, feeling like something is missing. Take some time today to think about your life. Give yourself a chance to “Walk with Purpose” into 2019.

Happy New Year!!!

Trust – ‘Cause God Don’t Make No Junk!!

Image result for god makes no junkYears ago, I had a form of this poster in my office. I wanted people to know, that regardless of society’s judgement, or yours or mine,  that all human beings are valuable because God made us. No one is junk to be thrown away in the trash.

Today, as 2018 slips away, and I pray for family members who are walking the home stretch of their journey with cancer, these words carry an additional meaning. They bring the assurance of a new life beyond death. Faith in a loving God tells us that death is not the end, not the relegation of our beings to the trash heap.

My faith tells me that death is a transition into something new. Some faith traditions speak of reincarnation – an opportunity to return to this life as someone else – animal or human depending on how we have lived this time.

My christian tradition speaks of death bringing a new form of life with God where there are no more tears, sickness, hunger, thirst.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Although none of knows exactly what is ahead, today this poster reminds me that we will never become trash. There will be a new life. I think about this next life as a new adventure filled with forgiveness, understanding, and joy. We are God’s precious children, conceived in God’s love, carrying a spark of God’s love within us. The future, like the new year brings mystery, for sure. We can step out in trust, knowing God is with us, creating us and God doesn’t make junk!

” For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NIV)

A Special Christmas Gift

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My daughter’s family have a new puppy for Christmas. Today I met Oliver. He’s small and cute, full of bounce and energy.

Their old dog, Bear Paw, a family member for many years is already teaching Oliver, how to be a proper family member.  We went for a walk, Oliver, Bear Paw, my daughter and I. We laughed as Bear Paw chased the ball and Oliver chased Bear Paw. Bear brought back the ball. Oliver picked up a leaf and carried it almost to us. Pretty neat for an eight week old puppy, I thought.

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Back home again, both dogs laid down to rest. My daughter, sat beside the pup, bringing warmth to his tiny shivering body and love to his heart as she gently massaged his head. Oliver has been rescued, the animal shelter said. For me Oliver has been adopted. He’s come as a bundle of life and love, joyfully anticipated and wanted.

This morning’s experience reminded me of my life. I was adopted, at 18 months. Was I rescued? I suppose some could say that. But like Oliver, I was joyfully anticipated and wanted. Both Oliver and I were way more than rescued. We came to our families as precious gifts of love and life. I cannot remember my first moments or days in my new home, but as I experience the joy that Oliver is bringing to my daughter and grandchildren, I am sure that I too, brought joy and love.

Babies, human and animal, all bring responsibilities and so much more. Adopted, born into, rescued are only society’s terms. Loved, wanted, needed, those are the words that matter.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

Christmas Morning

Today, I am blessed once again with a beautiful quiet hour before the busy day begins. Thank you, God for waking me, calling me, to spend time in prayer. I offer all of you and all my readers, my thoughts this morning.

As many have said before, Jesus’ birth was not announced by royal trumpets. None of that society’s kings, emperors or government officials were present. Yet, God came and not silently. God came with the cries of a mother at birth, experiencing the pain and work of new life. Shepherds, society’s outcasts came to celebrate. They heard the angel’s voices – the heavenly trumpets.

This morning and every morning, God comes to us again. As I ponder the events of yesterday, these are my experiences of God’s presence. God started early by reminding me through Tom that I intended to give away two copies of my novel To Begin Again.  I saw God smile, on the face of the person who received them. God came to me in the quiet request of a beggar on the street downtown. I offered all my change, maybe five dollars and the plea, please use it for food not drugs. I could feel God groan. Leftovers given begrudgingly, I thought. God came again in the greeting of the Salvation Army band at the mall. This time God nodded as I responded with money for their bucket and words of gratitude to one of the musicians. God reached out and touched my heart yet again in the grocery store. A teenager voluntarily helped me with my groceries. I responded with smiles and thankyou’s, and words of joy to the check out clerk. This time I felt God’s joy. And the list goes on. All day yesterday, it seemed that God was with me. The culmination of my joy and God’s came as I sat with my daughter and grandchildren and Tom at the Christmas Eve service and then enjoyed food and fellowship at home with good friends.

There was so much more yesterday. Blessings rained down on me, warmed my heart all day. They weren’t huge. The blessing was that yesterday, even in the noise and rush of the crowds around me, in the multitude of tasks, I didn’t miss God’s presence with me.

Today, on this most holy day, take a moment to step into the shoes of Mary the mother of Jesus, ponder in your heart the times you have experienced God’s presence over the last week. Open your heart to God’s visit today. Whether you’re in the midst of deep sadness and fear or surrounded by celebration and love – remember the miracle of God’s presence is with you. Like the shepherds, listen for the angel’s song of joy. It’s Jesus’ birthday. Give thanks.

 

A Christmas Gift for You

For the last two mornings I have awoken with words wanting desperately to be written. They came from my fingers as poems. I offer them to you as my Christmas gifts. They are given with love.

A Christmas Dream

I dream of a world of peace,
Where all would be fed each day.
Where all would be loved and accepted.
If only I could give the world peace.

The Bible says that Jesus refused,
To feed the entire world by himself.
He refused using the power of force,
To bring acceptance, peace, love.

Instead, he issued invitations
He spread his love and healing
One person at a time.

This is our calling.
This is my calling.
I can write stories
That speak of love and acceptance,
Trusting that
One by one
Readers will receive God’s invitation.

I can live love and acceptance.
I can let go of judgment.
I can forgive, and forgive, and forgive.
With God’s help, I can become
Peace, love, joy, hope in this world.
With God’s help, I can live God’s love.

The Perfect Gift

Christmas for me is joy.
It’s fun to shop
To search for the perfect gift
For children, grandchildren, friends.

Christmas gives me permission
Permission to be generous
A reason to share.

I want to bring sparkles
To loved one’s eyes
I want to reach out and touch
A friend’s, a family member’s
A stranger’s heart.

What is the perfect gift?
This year maybe a plaid shirt
Warm crazy socks
A cuddly shawl.

And yet I know,
That best of all
Is a gift of love.
Feelings offered in smiles
In hugs, in words.
These gifts fill our hearts,
Touch our souls.

When tough times come
As they always do
These gifts are there
Within our memories
Holding us close
Giving us strength.

When love comes in simple gestures
Or elaborate gifts,
The perfect gift is given.
The Christ child is born.
Christmas comes once again.

Just Three More Days!!!

Three More Days to Christmas!!!

Today I am counting my blessings. To begin with, I’ve enjoyed the last hour in prayer. This is my favorite way to begin my day. Tom is sleeping – letting his body heal. The last few days have been filled with blessings. First and foremost, Tom is doing well with his new hip. Of course, he’s using a two-wheeled walker, but he is walking and putting some weight on that leg. At this point he’s doing well enough to wish he could do more. For me that is a great sign that he’s on his way to dancing this summer.

Our daughter, Connie and family have a new puppy for Christmas. They’ve added to the sacredness of this season by welcoming home a rescue pup. Oliver has brought joy into the household.

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I’ve been specially blessed over the last two days. Two grandchildren, Jenna, age 17 and Tim age 22, have spent a day baking Christmas cookies with me. They’ve filled my heart with joy and memories of baking with my kids.  In the midst of the crazy busyness of living, when there are so many demands on their time, they want to be with us. What a true blessing!

And yet, as is always true in living, there is sadness and worry as well. My brother-in-law, sister Gayle’s husband, is nearing the end of his journey with cancer. Today I give thanks that Gayle’s daughter Tracey, is being their anchor. Although we’re not together, Dina, Sharon and I are sending our love and our prayers to Gayle. The love of family is a precious gift. I am grateful for my faith and theirs. I can trust in God’s comfort and strength for all of them. I can trust that God will welcome Bruce home when the time comes.

And those are just the tip of the iceberg. Always I give thanks that I was born in Canada. I give thanks that my mother who raised me lived the Christian faith, and so I too had the opportunity to become a person of faith. All my life I’ve known that God is with me, guiding, comforting, strengthening and challenging me. I truly believe that God is there within all of us, all we need do is open our hearts to let that knowledge grow. Not everyone, lives in a family where the opportunity to learn about God is present. Yes, with three more days before celebrating the birth of Jesus, God with us, I am overwhelmed by the blessing of faith.

This morning I suggest that you take time out, for prayer and gratitude. I promise it will bring smiles and sunshine into your heart.

What Do You Expect This Christmas?

 What do you expect this Christmas? Society has painted a picture of a happy family gathered around the dinner table by the Christmas tree.  Abundance prevails – gifts, food, laughter and love. This may be the reality for a few, but not for all of us.

Years ago, Bing Crosby sang “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” Loneliness, sickness, grief, job loss, hunger and more, do not disappear just because we’ve flipped our calendars to December. Our Christmas story reminds us that on the first Christmas, Jesus was born into poverty, not abundance – in a stable, not the Best Western, and far from home. And yet I am sure there was abundance – the abundance of love and joy that can come  with the birth of a baby. Christmas is the celebration of love and new life in the midst of whatever life offers at the moment. There is truly no ideal Christmas for us to expect.

Instead, each year at Christmas, we receive the peace, hope, joy and love that come from new beginnings. Regardless of our circumstances, even if we are in the midst of deep sorrow, anxiety, fear, we can expect God’s presence among us. We can open our hearts and feel God’s love enfold us. We can pick up a baby, hug a loved one, drop money in a Salvation Army bucket, bring a meal to someone in need. We can expect God’s presence on the street, at the food bank, in the palace, in our homes.

When we expect to meet God, we will.  God is always with us, in the people we meet. All we need do is open our eyes, our ears and our hearts. God will come in stranger, enemy, friend.

I suggest that you expect an opportunity to hold the Christ-child this Christmas. Let me know how Jesus came to you this year. Your experience will be a blessing to me. Thank you.

Hypocrites

It’s Advent and I have been out selling books at church craft sales. For me, it’s a struggle to sit behind a table, try to catch someone’s eye and say hello. I’m not a salesperson, but I do want people to read what I have written. Very often, people glance at my table, read the signs and keep right on walking. I can only think that they see the words “anchored in faith” and make the judgment – Don’t look at those books. They’ll be selling religion.”

One of the biggest heartaches for me as a Christian is the judgment of today’s world that all Christians are fanatics and hypocrites. As I talked with the people who had the courage to stop at my table anyway, I heard stories of difficulties experienced with “religious people”. One man said, “I used to be involved with a church, but the people weren’t helpful. They said they were being followers of Jesus’ way, but they weren’t. They spoke the words, but they didn’t live them. I didn’t leave God, I just left religion and the church.” He walked away his mind closed to my message of God’s peace and love because, in his mind, all church people are hypocrites.

Today, it is widely believed that church people should be able to totally live as Jesus taught. They should always be compassionate; never judge; always accept everyone. The list of “should” goes on and on. Christians should be perfect. When we’re not, our message is thrown away.

My suggestion, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31NIV) Christianity is a life journey. As Christians, we go astray at times, some of us further than others. We get tired; we are grumpy at times. We are passionate; we get lost in our enthusiasm and overwhelm others. We have all the temptations to greed, violence, whatever and we make bad choices.  We are not perfect.

What we have learned through experience is that together, we can more often make good choices. Together we can encourage one another. Together we are stronger, more able to live that unconditional love that Jesus taught. Together, we learn and grow in our understanding of Jesus’ message. Our religious rituals help us on the journey. Being church people helps us live the faith. Christmas is a perfect example. As we gather this Christmas, to hear once again the story of the baby born in difficult circumstances to ordinary parents, our hearts will soar at the peace, hope, joy, and love that fills our souls. Once again, we will be renewed and drawn back to the journey of a life of Christian love.

Here Comes Christmas 2018!

My November started out dreary. My world felt as grey as the cloudy sky. Where was the sunshine? We may need the water, but day after day of rain, then snow felt endless. I tried counting my blessings. Tom’s five week wait for surgery is half over already. And the miracle of a new hip is amazing. In our wonderful province, our public health insurance pays. And there are so many more blessings. My gratitude list was long. Still, I needed something new to lift me out of the doldrums now that Christmas 2018 is drawing near.

Another day dawned. I rose early to pray. I gave thanks for a magical evening the night before with our Vancouver grandchildren, Lise 2 ¾ years and Alex 4 ½ years. Once supper is over their nightly routine includes baths and storytime. One at a time, Tom and I cuddled our beautiful little grandchildren and read book after book. My love exploded and filled my soul as I soaked in the warmth of their young bodies between us, their relaxation, enthusiasm and laughter as they pointed out special parts of the pictures.  When we’re old and sitting in our rocking chairs, the memory of that evening will bring smiles and joy.

As I poured out my gratitude to God that next morning, God spoke, “Create a book for them.” Immediately, I remembered a story I started a few years ago, I had titled An Elephant at the Manger. I smiled. Of course, I could finish it. Maybe Tom would help. Could he do the illustrations? He’ll have time as he recuperates from surgery. A new book created with love by Grandma Jan and Grandpa Tom. What better gift of love for these two precious children, God’s gifts to us! It could be our Advent project, maybe not ready for this year, but possibly for next. I trusted that God would help.

Today, I suggest to you, regardless of your state of mind – dark and gloomy, overloaded with busyness or relaxed and at peace. Seek out an Advent project that uses your creative gifts – growing things, woodworking, cooking, whatever – create a special gift for someone you love. Yes, it will be work, and it will take time. Trust that God will be a part of your project, helping, applauding, welcoming your efforts to share your love. After all, giving gifts at Christmas is our response to God’s gift of love to the world in Jesus. God’s gift required a long journey, struggle, pain and risk. So why shouldn’t ours? Remember, God will walk with you as you prepare your gift of love.

Give a gift of faith this Christmas. Check out Janet Stobie’s books for children and adults at www.janetstobie.com

Snap Judgments

We have all made snap judgments of persons by the way they look. I am often initially influenced by others’ dress, hygeine, tattoos, piercings, I notice the way they behave or interact, be they bossy, cranky, or inappropriate. After spending some time with them, I  later discover  they live our values of caring, love, and gratitude. As part of my morning prayer time with God, I am reading a wonderful book titled Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp. Today Joyce talked about “walking a mile in another person’s shoes,” so that we can look upon their heart rather than judge their outward appearance and/or behaviour.

Shifting from judgment to compassion is not easy. I tend to call the process acceptance: letting others just be themselves. After years of working at it, I am becoming better at seeing the person within, rather than their outward appearance. At times, fear can still overwhelm me when I meet with a  tall, assertive man whose size or color feels intimidating.  When it comes to behaviour, I am still at the self-talk step. At least my first response to a person’s sharp tongue is no longer hurt or anger. Instead, I feel surprise. At that point I choose to imagine reasons for their behaviour, my first step in looking on their heart.

Today’s reading from Boundless Compassion reminded me of the importance of continuing on my journey into acceptance. As I focused on Joyce Rupp’s words. I felt affirmed in my progress so far and challenged for the journey ahead. She reminded me that I did not want to lapse back into self-righteousness, just because I was better at ignoring the outward appearance. In fact, my goal is not to ignore, but to accept the person as I encounter them. This will give me the courage and the freedom to search out the story behind the tattoos or the crustiness. Those stories will lead me to the person’s heart. And there I know I will discover God’s presence.

  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Give a gift of faith as well as fun for Christmas this year. Check out Janet Stobie’s books for children and adults at www.janetstobie.com