Category Archives: Giving Thanks

Arrival in Joburg – Days 3,4,5

It’s Tuesday morning. I have three days to catch up. Our flight Friday night was excellent. I know that because neither Tom nor I slept at all. This time Tom had an aisle seat, praise God, and I was right next to him. We read, watched movies. I wrote up Day 2.

We chose to be the last off the plane. It meant we had lots of time to gather our stuff and hobble down the skinny aisle. Waiting for us as we stepped off was not one wheelchair, but two. I gladly appropriated the second one and collapsed into it for a long ride. Our wheelchair angels kindly stopped for a bathroom break along the way.

Luggage came through quickly. With our baggage in hand, they wheeled us to Dave and Joanne. After big hugs all around and a Canadian money tip for our angels, (all we had at the moment. They gave us huge smiles.  Probably was more than usual when exchanged for African Rand), we loaded into the car and drove to Dave’s. The weather of course was lovely – warm and sunny. We sat and talked on their patio for about an hour, then sank into bed. I slept two hours, Tom a little more.

Once awake, Dave made us a delicious supper. This is a vegetarian household. One of the blessings in that is both Dave and Joanne are excellent cooks. We managed to stay awake until ten.

Sunday morning was great. We started with Dave’s hearty breakfast.

Back home we had searched out on Google, the closest church. Dave and Joanne were busy that morning so Dave summoned an Uber driver to ferry us to All Saints Anglican Church. As you can see from the pictures, the architecture is a little different from home and quite beautiful. Inside everything was familiar except for the rows of clear glass picture windows that looked out on their parklike grounds. Being at Sunday worship grounded us. Anastasia, their new priest is a gracious and an excellent speaker. The highlight came at the end of the service. Anastasia invited one of the more senior members of the congregation to lead us in an African praise and blessing. The people’s voices came alive as they sang.

After church, we were welcomed, loved and fed, coffee, tea  and sandwiches. At one point, I looked out the window of the spacious reception area and spied a special visitor. A spectacular peacock had come to worship.

We didn’t have to call Uber to get home, because one of the congregation offered us a ride.  We were invited back  for our second Sunday. As always happens back home,Tom was told he was needed to help with the singing.  We will see what is on the agenda. A lot will happen between now and then.

We slept Sunday afternoon and enjoyed one of my favorite meals. Jo laid out a huge wooden tray filled with cheeses and sauces and crackers and bread and fruit and …..  We watched a little tennis with her while we ate.

Jenna stopped studying long enough to join us for supper. She is in the midst of her final exams. She’s in the International Baccalaureat program and a top student. Already she’s been awarded a scholarship to come to Queen’s in Kingston next year and study Kinesiology. We are delighted to have her back in Canada.

Monday was a quiet day. Jet lag had set in,V in earnest. We slept til ten, had a slow yoghurt breakfast. In the afternoon, Tom and I walked to a strip mall to the bank machine to fill our pockets with South African Rand. Problem: Back home in Canada I had been given the names of two banks that would accept our debit card. Neither bank was represented in the four machines available. We walked back to Dave’s. A Google search revealed the friendly Scotia Bank representative had given us the names of one bank in Senegal and one in Australia. Google told us to use Absa bank in Johannesburg. By this time, Dave was home from school and drove me back to the mall. My hip has been doing a lot of complaining.

The driver, Victor, for the next day’s excursion, arrived to check out Dave’s car and get his instructions. Victor is the father of a colleague of Dave and Joanne, a Phys. Ed instructor at the International School. He is also a retired driver for government celebrities coming to South Africa.crazy tourists. We will be in good, experienced hands.

That finished, Jenna, Jo and I slipped away to shop for a grad dress for Jenna. Of course, I had a grand time with that. It’s always a pleasure to take one of my granddaughters shopping. Once the dress was chosen and purchased, we relaxed at a restaurant for supper. I had crushed sweet potato and pine nuts on a delicious tangy white sauce and vegetarian falafels with avocado dip. Totally yummy.

We returned home to pack and get to bed early. Departure this morning was 5:30 a.m.

Angels, I didn’t mention our angels. Well, Dave, Jo and Jenna are certainly filling that role. It felt as if we attended a church full of angels on Sunday, especially the generous woman who drove us home. In some ways, Tom and I were visiting angels there as well. I did bring a couple of my books as gifts.

This morning we’re driving into the sunrise. The grasses covering the land alongside the highway are dipped in gold. This 3 day adventure to Lesotho and into the Drakensberg mountains to hear the Drakensberg boys choir has begun. The air is misty. The moon is nearly full. We are truly blessed.

That’s it for this morning.

Celebrity for a Day!

I posted this on Facebook and then remembered the only way I knew how to post it on my other social media places was to post it on my website. Therefore, my Facebook friends received it twice. My apologies.

Celebrity for a Day

Last Monday was a special day for me. Emmanuel College, University of Toronto,  Alumni Association presented me with a service award for my writing and speaking ministry. I was humbled and delighted. As all of you know, I have been writing and publishing my books for the last fourteen years. I love the writing and publishing. Speaking engagements are great fun as I fly on the Spirit. The messages both in my books and my talks are peace, love, and acceptance of self and others.

Selling the books is not quite as much fun. One of the blessings of this award, is that the general public tends to buy books written by an award-winning author. So, I remind all of you who have enjoyed my books and my speaking over the years, to tell your friends about my books and my availability as a guest speaker. Of course, don’t forget that my books make good gifts for your friends and family. They will entertain and could begin a journey of faith.

I’ve posted a few pictures from my day. Years ago, there was a TV show called “Queen for a Day”. Well the name was something like that. I have titled this blog, “Celebrity for a Day”. I did feel like a celebrity. Everyone was wonderful. Best of all, my daughter and grandson, and three of my friends came to celebrate with me. It was truly a day to remember.

President of Victoria College, me, and Principal of Emmanuel College

All of us. It was a great day. I am truly grateful.

“A Gift of Love”

I offer you these thoughts for Mother’s Day.  As I post this I am very aware that not all women become biological mothers. Some are not able for many reasons. Some do not want to be mothers. Some take the place of mothers who for whatever reason are unable to fulfil their role as mothers. I was blessed with three fabulous children, and two mothers – one through adoption, and one biological. I needed to write this.

A Gift of Love

At the first of our Easter family gatherings this year, our niece told me she was pregnant. Her face radiated with joy as she shared her dreams and plans. Her youthful innocence and joy reminded me of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Like all young Jewish women of her time, Mary dreamed of being the mother of the Messiah. Her “yes” must have felt wonderful.

Being a mother comes with exhilarating, all-encompassing joy. Our hearts have moments of such intense feelings of love, purpose and caring that we have no words to express them. AND juxtaposed beside that joy are excruciating moments of pain, beginning with labour and delivery, continuing through the long nights of babyhood, the trials and worries of youth and more. Yet most of us in our darkest times would never give up being mothers.

In the Christian Easter story, the preciousness of the role of mother is lived out. Jesus spoke to his mother, Mary, from the torture of the cross, “Mother, here is your son.” And to his best friend, John, “Here is your mother.” In his culture, Jesus’ mother, a widow, needed her oldest son to survive. Even from the cross, Jesus ensured his mother’s security. Mary, her heart breaking at his suffering and death, receives also the joy of his love and caring.

Too many mothers, like Mary, have watched their child, ravaged by illness, physical and mental, for days, months and years. They know Mary’s pain. They understand the strength that Mary gained as she received her son’s gift of caring.

As Mary stood at the base of the cross, Mary still didn’t know the future. She didn’t know about the resurrection. She didn’t know that Jesus would still be living now, more than two thousand years later in the hearts of men and women who have come to love him.

We, Mothers, today, don’t know the future either as we live on the mountaintop and in the depths of despair. As I congratulated my niece that Sunday afternoon, I prayed that whatever the future holds for her and her child, she would always know the gift of love that comes with motherhood, precious beyond measure.

Yea!!!!!! I’m Seventy-Five

“YEA!!!! I’m Seventy-Five

Today’s my birthday. I’m seventy-five. Friends tell me that is a special, milestone birthday. For me, each day is a milestone and a gift. This morning, “Our Daily Bread” book of reflections asked me, “How has the light of Christ turned my life from darkness to light?” I could fill a book with answers to that question. This is what my response was several hours ago.

Tom and I start each day with prayer together. He begins with, “Thank you God for our life of faith together.” I am so grateful that we are together and that we share a life of faith. Tom has been God’s gift of Grace for me since we met.

After my divorce, I spent five years in counselling. It takes two to build and two to destroy a relationship. It was easy to see my spouse’s responsibility in that destruction. I wanted to understand my responsibilities as well. I wanted to learn about them, accept them, accept God’s forgiveness and grow past them. And I did. Then I spent another seven years learning how to love myself and others in a healthy way. All of that prepared me for God’s precious gift of Tom. After nearly 16 years of marriage, he is and always will be God’s gift of love and Grace in my life.

God has been my companion since birth. I have been blessed with the love of two mother’s. Today I am so grateful that I have learned beyond doubt that I am God’s precious child and so is absolutely everyone else.  That is such life-giving knowledge. It changes my perception of every moment of every day.

I know that my next 25 years (?) will have challenges for sure. AND for sure God’s love will be with me, comforting me, guiding me, empowering me. I’ll have lots of love and laughter. I’ll have tears and frustration. And I know that with God all will be well.

What a delightful gift this morning, to have this blog and the opportunity to share my faith and delight in living.  For me, the light of Christ, my belief in the presence of God’s love with me and with the world, brings light to the darkness of my world every day. I am truly grateful.

” Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28: 19-20

The Lenten Journey Requires…

 

Our Lenten Journey

In my morning prayer time, I’m working through the United Church’s Lenten Bible study. This is the question for March 12: “Is your faith in God strong enough to put your life in God’s hands without hesitation?” My first response is, “I don’t know. God hasn’t asked me to do that yet.” As soon as that  thought rippled through my mind, I pictured the boxes of books lining one side of my furnace room, and I chuckled. Over the last 14 years, I written, published and bought 9000 plus copies of my books. Today there are about 1000 books remaining on those shelves. Every time I write another book, pay for professional editing, design and layout, and then order a thousand books, I take a leap of faith. Will they sell, or pile up in my furnace room until I can’t get inside?

Yes, I do place my heart in God’s hands with each new book. Writing and selling takes courage. There is always the risk of rejection. I rent a table and lay out my books. Some people walk by without even stopping to look. These books represent a part of me, and rejection sends an arrow deep into my soul. Yet, I’ve learned that when discouragement sets in, someone stops me at a meeting to tell me how much they love my books, or I receive an email like the one I received today:

“… I don’t read as much as I’d like to.  However, I finished Fireweed a few weeks ago, and it’s taken me awhile to write and tell you how much I loved it.  You certainly have a way of making your characters seem real and I felt as though I knew and cared for Renee and Steve.  I found I’d smile with them and once got teary-eyed as well. It is a good reminder for all to pray and think kindly of all others, no matter what.  And so I just wanted to affirm you. From a reader’s point of view, your ministry is alive and well, and in such a gentle, loving way.   I have started To Begin Again and am delighted to revisit the same little family, and looking forward to what you have to share about our grandmother.  Your books bring a little joy and goodness into this crazy world.  Just as God has planned, I’m sure.  Love Francie

Emails like this lift the darkness. I think, God obviously wants me to keep writing, to spread Jesus’ message of unconditional love through my books. Gratitude fills my soul. Thank you,God, for giving me the courage to trust you enough that I risk using my God-given talents.  I am truly blessed.

Over this Lenten season, I encourage all of you to think about the gifts God has given you for spreading God’s message of love and peace to the world. When you feel discouraged, remember Jesus also enjoyed success with some, and disappointment with others. When the road was rough, he spent time in prayer seeking affirmation, solace, and strength. WE CAN DO THE SAME. You may feel hesitation, for sure, but you can put your life, your efforts in God’s hands. You can do it. Thanks be to God.

What Are We Eating?

                                               What Are We Eating?                                                     (Image by Geralt on Pixabay)

At this point in my life, I am blessed with nine grandchildren, ranging in age from twenty-eight to three. They are all wonderful of course. As I interact with them, I am aware that there is one principle about relationships and facilitating another’s growth that is universal.

We all grow best when we are fed healthy, positive thoughts. What a difference it makes when we envelop a child or an adult in praise. I remember years ago when my own children were young, we arrived at a point where we were experiencing problems with our middle child. Each morning, when I placed my feet on the cold floor, I would promise myself – Before I scold my beloved son today for doing something wrong, (for I knew it would happen), I will find something positive to praise in what he has done or who he is. Some days that was a difficult promise to keep. Once I got started, I discovered that gradually the task became easier. As I fed my son healthy positive statements, his behaviour began to improve. The reality is we all respond better to love and praise than to criticism and denigration.

Today, I’m considering this principle in relation to our world. For the last decade and longer, the news media has fed us mostly information about the violence and destruction in our world. Many of us have reached the point that we try not to listen to it anymore. Some of us seem to delight in repeating the horror that is happening. WE ARE BEING FED HOPELESSNESS.

I believe it’s time to introduce some healthy, positive knowledge into our diet. It’s time to hear about the good things that are happening in our world. It’s time to be presented with the love and generosity, the random acts of kindness, the loving responses to disaster, the goodness that is present in our world. I believe that over time, the people of our world will hear the good, take it in, and rise up to become the people that God created us to be.

How can this turn-around happen? Once again, it will take each of us to promise to to search out and identify the positive things, the moments of honesty, caring, compassion, generosity that are happening. We can do it, because God is with us, and nothing is impossible with God.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NIV)

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

Try a New Habit.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances?

In the Bible St. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (1Thessalonians 5:18 )  “Give thanks in all circumstances?” Impossible! Wrong! I can’t give thanks when I lose my job, my loved one dies. How then do we follow St. Paul’s words?

Check the prepositions. St. Paul says, “Give thanks IN all circumstances,” not “FOR all circumstances.” Search for the goodness of God, IN the midst of grief, fear, disappointment. There will be goodness.

When my daughter was badly injured, I wasn’t grateful for the accident. At first, I could only be grateful she wasn’t paralysed, and for the ER doctor who consulted the specialist in Kingston as soon as he saw the X-rays. As the days passed, I gave thanks for the young Mom who brought her two-week-old twins to my daughter’s hospital bedside. As Mom laid her baby on my daughter’s chest, I saw her first real smile, and knew healing would come. My gratitude list from that accident is long. When I opened my heart to the blessings, they were there.

In tough times, the search for blessings is easier if we have already developed a “gratitude habit” – a habit of seeking out and giving thanks for the blessings in our lives every single day. Internet research reveals the following two principles concerning developing a habit.

  1. New habits require over two months of repetitions and still they are fragile, easily discarded. Therefore, forget about the time required and do the repetitions.
  2. Make the commitment. Then failures won’t matter because you will just resume doing it. Neither your financial resources, your health, nor your age, nothing can steal your ability to give thanks once you’ve made the commitment.

Seeking out and recognizing our blessings is worth the effort and practice. This Thanksgiving, I suggest you develop a gratitude habit. It may not mean more money, or things, or success, but it will mean more joy in your life. The gratitude habit will shift your focus from not enough to counting your blessings.

My Hope for Our New Moderator

We have a new Moderator, Richard Bot, serving our United Church. Our Moderator is like our ambassador bringing the face of the United Church to the world. His job will be to work with all of us as we endeavour to love God, love the world, and love ourselves. Richard has a big job, requiring deep faith, commitment, lots of creativity and no real power.

One of my hopes and prayers for Richard’s three years as Moderator, is that the world will learn that the United Church of Canada is made up of people who are doing our best to follow the way of Christ. I would like the world to “know that we are Christians by our love”. I would like the world to accept that following the “Way of Christ” does not mean we are pious, judgmental people who think we know the only way to live. I would like the world to believe that as Christians we are walking beside people, regardless of their race, beliefs, culture, whatever – walking beside people, committed to loving and caring all people, seeking justice and peace in this beautiful world. We are people filled with hope and love, who find courage and strength through our experience of God in all people.

We are not perfect. We have made so many horrible mistakes in the past but we are doing our best not to repeat them. We are spiritual people who feel called by God to love all people as they are, not change them into ourselves. This is my hope. This is my faith. I am grateful for the United Church, the group of people who live this hope with me. I want the world to know we are Christians by the love we share.

Free Ebook – A Child Speaks by Janet Stobie

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 info@janetstobie.com  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.