For the month of July, my very first book titled A Child Speaks is available as an ebook absolutely free om the Smashwords summer sale. Just click on or copy and paste https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=A+Child+Speaks . This link will take you directly to the book. A Child Speaks is a collection of short stories that offer my unique perspective on familiar bible stories. If you’ve never read the Bible these stories will give you an excellent introduction to it’s mysterious content. Take this opportunity to discover the relevance of Bible stories to today’s issues. A Child Speaks as a print book completely sold out.
Have trouble reading because you’re eyesight is deteriorating? Try the audiobook version of A Child Speak. Let me tell you the stories. The two CD set sells for $10.00 and is available at www.janetstobie.com or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org More than one thousand people have already enjoyed A Child Speaks.
While you’re on my website check out my other books, especially my Catalpa Creek Series. Two novels based in the mysthical town of Catalpa Creek. Follow Renee and her dad Steve as they live their lives and deal with many of today’s issues. Fireweed and To Begin Again are available on Amazon.com and .ca as well as from my website www.janetstobie.com. At $20.00 each, these two novels will give you hours of summer reading pleasure.
The last few days, my thoughts have focused on Jesus’ story of “The Lost Son.” In movies, books, and life, I seek happy endings. I smile when the lost son realizes his folly and returns home. I nod when the grieving father runs out to meet him when he is still a long way off. The elder son’s response of anger and righteous judgment feels good and proper. The father’s response also feels good. Will the elder son understand his father’s plea for love and mercy? We aren’t told, so I can fill in my happy ending. Both sons have learned how to love. Father is wiser.
How does Jesus’ story end today? Too often today, addiction swallows us up leaving us lost, sleeping on the streets, even murdered. Sometimes it’s our commitment to overwork, an extramarital relationship, total self-indulgence, that carries us away from family, loved ones, God. Unlike the lost son in Jesus’ story, we don’t return home. We may have started home many times but we stumbled again and again and again. We can’t stay on that homeward path.
And so, too often, as parents, spouses, children, friends, we are left sitting at the gate, still loving, still praying, still hoping, still weeping. The opportunity to run down the path, arms open wide, love pouring forth, never comes.
Too often, as elder siblings, we keep plugging away, doing our best, resentment hidden and growing, judgment made. We want to hang onto our rage, our self-righteousness. We’re sure we are right. We don’t want help forgiving those who are unforgivable. We don’t want to face God’s unconditional love, God’s endless mercy, let alone participate in it.
Today, whether we are the lost son, the elder brother or the loving parent, we go to our death still paralysed, still lost on life’s journey. And so we think there is no possibility for a happy ending.
For me, the Good News, the “happy ending” comes when we learn to trust our Christian story which tells us that the power of God’s love is so strong, God’s plan for each one of us so flexible, so creative, that even death cannot keep us paralyzed. In fact, death, in whatever form it comes, opens the way for “new life,” the happy ending.
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
Jesus’ own life story tells us that whether our death brings forth the possibility of new life, transformation, abundance.
Today, whether we are facing the loss of a beloved person, the ending of a life-long dream, the closing of our precious church,– wherever we find ourselves present in Jesus’ story, we can trust that the resurrection will come. God will not be defeated. We may not see the transformation, but it will come, if not in this world than in the next. Weeping will end. Joy will come with the morning. We are not truly paralyzed. We can open ourselves to understanding, forgiveness and love. We can receive God’s peace that is beyond our understanding because we can trust in God’s transformation, whenever it happens.
We have hope, for God has assured us there will be “a happy ending” in this life or the next. Our transformation is guaranteed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We can hear and live Jesus’ words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) For this, I am truly grateful.
The December 10, 2017 reading from the Daily Disciplines published by the Upper Room touched my heart. I will share it with you in its entirety. I typed this into my computer this morning before church. I didn’t have time to look for a picture, besides where would I find a picture of a tree covered with white envelopes. When worship was over we went to the church hall for refreshments. This tree stood by yesterday’s bake table, resplendent in it’s white notes waiting to be part of our tree lighting tonight. God incidents never cease to amaze me. I pray this story will speak to you as it did to me. Blessings as you wait for the Christ child.
“Mike hated the commercialism of Christmas. When forced to retire early, he checked out altogether. ‘Get me nothing,’ he crouched, ‘until people understand what Christmas is all about.’ That year, his wife, Nan, gave him a white envelope, which she nestled into the tree. Inside, Nan pledged to sew uniforms for an underprivileged wrestling team. Once she started, Mike decided to help. Together, they sized the children, cut the fabric and befriended the school kids. By year’s end, Mike was ready for another envelope. Each year thereafter, Nan gave him another envelope. The acts of kindness they shared together sprouted throughout their city: birdhouses for a refuge shelter, a playground for an orphaned children’s home, a community garden from a vacant lot. Those became the best years of Nan’s and Mike’s lives.
One year, Mike died just three days before Christmas. Friends and family gathered to share Nan’s grief. On Christmas Eve, Nan placed for Mike, one last envelope into the tree. She awoke Christmas morning to squeals downstairs. As she came down, she saw their Christmas tree covered in white. Dozens of envelopes from every child, grandchild, nephew and niece – pledged acts of kindness in honor of Mike, the man who had come to love Christmas.
How do we wait faithfully for God in today’s wilderness? The prophet Isaiah says, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” We pave a straight path for through acts of kindness, justice, generosity and compassion. When we love, God will come. “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me,’ John says. As sure as a baby’s birth in a manger, as abundant as Christmas envelopes multiplying into the future, God will walk the path laid out. Love will encompass the world.
PEACE WILL COME!!!!!
Dear God, Baby of the Manger, may each act of kindness be a straw in your crib, preparing the way for your coming. Amen
Change can be painful and exciting. Last month, George St. United Church congregation held their final worship service in the building that has been their Spiritual Home for 140 years. Many people in our Peterborough community have been baptized, confirmed, married, and had their funerals conducted at George St. United. Now, God has led the congregation to make a change to a new vision as they join with St. Andrews United to become a brand new entity – Emmaunuel United Church. For many congregational members, this is a sad and painful ending. For some of these same people and for others, this is an exciting new beginning. Both congregations will bring the best of their pasts – faith traditions and faith stories of work done here in this community and around the world. Together, they go forth in faith to serve God through a new vision. Both buildings may be left behind or maybe not. All the details of this immense change have not yet been worked out.
Change is like that for all of us. A move to a new community can bring stress as we seek to let go of close friends and familiar places and endeavor to begin again. Our long awaited retirement can feel empty and lonely without work to give our lives value. The anxiety of a new job with it’s unknown problems can make us wish we could turn back time. Often with change, we feel as if our world is ending. It’s tough to begin again.
Change comes to us as individuals whether we want it or not. I remember the year that my last child started university. I worried that our house and my life would be empty. After all, my life had revolved around my children’s lives for twenty-four years. I was also excited about the possibilities that lay ahead with my new freedom.
As Christians, we believe God calls us from the loss and fear of change to a new life that can be better, and for sure will be different and glorious. We spend time in prayer, talking the whole situation over with God. We spend time with family and friends, seeking discernment for the next steps in our journey. Just as two of our city congregations are seeking to let go and find a new form of ministry that will serve today’s community, so do we as individuals endeavor to let go of the past and seek out our new life. It is the process of birth, death and rebirth that is a part of living. Yes, it takes courage and trust. We have built that trust over the years because God has led us through each change that has come.
Check back through your history. Tell the stories of the times of change and new beginnings. Identify the goodness that came with your new life. Give God thanks.
“You will show me the path of your life;
In Your presence is fullness of of Joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NRSV)
Today our daughter Connie and family said goodbye to their much loved dog, Meg. She joined the family the same year as our granddaughter Ellie 14 years ago. She’ll be missed by all of us, including “Bear Paw” Meg’s daughter. Here is a picture of the two of them taken a couple of years ago. Bear Paw had hurt her leg, and Meg a wonderful mother, kept her close giving her comfort. Meg has been a blessing for all of us.
Pets bring so much love and support into a family. They love us just as we are, unconditionally. I believe God often offers us solace, strength and love through our pets. They too can be angels in our lives.
It’s easy to accept the inheritance of physical traits because we can see them. Friends tells us, “your daughter looks so much like you.” When it comes to character traits the old nature/nurture debate comes into play. As an adopted child who found her birth mother, I can tell you that our genes play a part in how we approach problems, our resilience in the face of adversity, our inner strength, and our attitude toward life. I lived with my birth mother for only the first year and a half of life yet I have developed many of her character traits, even my extreme determination to walk with as straight a back as possible came from her. Her characteristics that I treasure most were her resilience and her acceptance. They carried her through a tough life, and they have helped me in tough times as well.
Last week, once again we said goodbye to my son David, his wife Joanne and teenage daughter, Jenna. Although I tell myself how fortunate I am that they return home every summer and for most Christmas holidays, saying good bye gets harder every year. I hear my mom’s spirit speak, “You can’t change it. Accept it. Find the goodness in it and carry on.” I know she’s right.
Their travelling life has given them opportunities the rest of us only dream about. Our granddaughter Jenna has been on real African safaris. She understands the need to stop hunting for sport and poaching for greed. She has seen the animals in their natural habitat and experienced the beauty of their freedom. Her last two years in Ethiopia have shown her what true hunger and poverty looks like.
My main desire is that the three of them will find peace and joy in this new part of Africa and that their amazing experiences will strengthen them. I have Mom’s spirit of acceptance, yes. And still, I can’t keep back the flood of tears that are pouring down my face today.
This week, with school beginning, my focus is on my grandson, Ben, beginning second year at Lakehead University and grandson, Tim, entering first year at Fanshawe College. When I was their age, I remember thinking our beautiful world would last forever. I expected a job would be waiting for me when I completed my education. If I worked hard, that job would provide promotions and increased pay until retirement.
Today’s world doesn’t offer Ben and Tim such certainty. Even if they find work in their field when they finish school, there is little security. Downsizing or technological change could wipe out their precious job. Headlines about global warming tell us that even our world might disappear. Like young people going off to war, Ben and Tim face an uncertain future.
As a grandparent, I would like to smooth out the road ahead for them. I’d like to wave a magic wand and give them the world I entered in 1961, but that world is not mine to give.
Already our family has given Ben and Tim our best gift. We have loved them. When they were little and scraped their knees, we picked them up, dried their tears and patched their broken skin. As they grew their falls and mistakes had larger consequences, we stood by them, offering our support. We have cried with them in their pain, and we have celebrated their every success.
Today we can only trust that the love that has surrounded them since their very beginning will give them the strength to face tomorrow. Families are wonderful, but in the end we have to let go and trust God with our precious children.
I’m sure, if they could have, Jesus’ family would have kept him safe and secure. In order to fulfil his purpose in this world, he had to walk his own road, and make his own choices.
The Bible tells us that Jesus said, “Into Thy hands I commend my Spirit,” while hanging on the cross. (Luke 23:46) The humanity in Jesus trusted in God, and God brought him to the joy of resurrection. We too need to give God our children’s Spirits, trusting in God’s Grace for the gift of new life.