Tag Archives: Prayer

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.

Is Change Difficult for You?

George St. United Church
George St. United Church

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)

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!!

THIRD PRINTING of  “DIPPING YOUR TOES” 

Dipping Your Toes front cover email

Sensational Worship Resource, Available Now

This morning I started my prayer time telling God, “Here we go again. I won’t whine or complain. I’m happy, excited, overwhelmed, scared.” All those feelings filled my soul because at noon today, we picked up another 500 copies of my latest book, “Dipping Your Toes”, my popular worship resource. Once again my study closet will be filled with books. Even though I have already sold 1200 copies of this book, I was anxious.

 

Ever since I published my first book, I have been taking these leaps of faith. Ordering and paying for, 500 books takes courage. At this point I feel fairly secure that all 500 will sell if I work at it. My experience has taught me that all I have to do is tell someone about Dipping Your Toes, and they will buy it. They don’t even have to see it. People of faith who are active in their churches immediately recognize the value of having 44 complete devotional worship services at their fingertips.

 

This morning God responded immediately to my anxiety. I picked up the new book of reflections, my granddaughter Vanessa gave me. The bookmark brought me to Part 2 – Hope, Trust, Faith. The first scripture verse reminded me that “with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) Directly following was the prophet Jeremiah saying, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to bring you prosperity not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I laughed out loud as I read. “O.k. God,” I said. “I hear you. We’re together on this. Just what I needed.”

 

God does speak words of encouragement to us every day, if we would only listen. I looked out my window and soaked in the life-giving sunshine. “Thank you, God,” I said. “We wrote Dippping Your ToesI together, so of course you will be with me as we sell it.

 

If you’re looking for a worship resource go to www.janetstobie.com, check out Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals. It’s available through UCRD or through David C. Cook Distribution. If you have any questions click on contact me. I‘m happy to help in any way that I can.

 

HOT OFF THE PRESS

THIRD PRINTING of DIPPING YOUR TOES ,

Sensational Worship Resource, Available Now

www.janetstobie.com   or  info@janetstobie.com

A Tip for Celebrating Father’s Day.

Pray for Fathers and their children.
Pray for Fathers and their children.

At least once every week, Tom’s daughter Bonnie calls with “Dad, have you time to Skype with me and the children?” Bonnie obviously loves her Dad and wants her children to develop a strong relationship with us. Three weeks ago, Tom received his father’s day card from Bonnie. Tom is truly cherished.

Fathers are important in their children’s lives. Most often, Fathers are like Tom, aware, appreciative and thrilled with that relationship. Today, with so many blended families similar to ours, that father-child relationship has become very fragile. When the children are small, fathers have to work hard to maintain the connection. When your children live with their mother and you see them every other weekend, it takes tremendous intentionality for father’s to keep up with all the sports and school events and all the other important things in their children’s lives. As the children mature, they can (like Bonnie) take some responsibility for maintaining the relationship.

God created us to live in relationship. Through Jesus, God taught us how to love one another.  And God is wise. God does not force us to nurture our family relationships. We have the freedom to choose. When we choose to work at those relationships, we open ourselves to the wonder and joy that is given and received.

This year as we celebrate Father’s day, and every day, I suggest we open our eyes to see and appreciate the beautiful father–child relationships around us. Give God thanks for creating these wonderful opportunities for joy. Hold each Dad and each child in your prayers. Prayer is powerful. All fathers need God’s strength to live their relationships well.

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6

Does God Have a Sense of Humor?

Does God have a sense of humour? The Bible tells the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. ( Exodus 16). They ran out of food. They asked God for a miracle. God sent manna. Manna was not what the Israelites had in mind to solve their hunger crisis. It didn’t look like food, although it did taste sort of sweet. You couldn’t use it for trade or for wealth. Why? It had a short expiration date. It went rancid on the second day and couldn’t be eaten.

Manna was a powerful illustration of God’s wonderful sense of humor. I can imagine God saying, “Here’s the miracle you asked for. Now learn the lesson in co-operation and sharing that comes with it.” God does answer prayers, but seldom in the way we expect.

Twelve years after my divorce, I asked God for a companion to grow old with me. In a book I was reading, one of the characters prayed, “God, I need a parade of men, so I can choose a mate wisely.” I laughed at the idea. At fifty plus, I knew there would never be a parade of men for me. Not long after I finished that book, a friend suggested, “Try one of the date matching sites on line.”

My first reaction, “Oh no, not safe. Bad idea.”

“Give it a try,” my friend suggested, “Just be careful.”

I went on line and, to my delight, I discovered God was offering me a parade of men. At the time, I called it “window shopping.” I applied all the cautions everyone suggested and sampled a few. The end result, of course, is my Tom, the love of my life. In June, we’ll have been married thirteen wonderful years. As usual, God answered my prayer, not as I expected and not without some effort from me. Yes, God answered my prayer with, I’m sure, a twinkle in God’s eye.

 

The Election Is Over, Now What

I'm what you have. Pray for me.
I’m what you have. Pray for me.

Our federal election is over. As a nation we have chosen a new leader. We have more choices ahead of us. We can join the crowd across our country who are waiting for Justin’s first mistake so we can descend like vultures and say, “I knew it. That’s why I didn’t vote for him.” What will that accomplish except to fill our hearts with negative thoughts and send negative vibes to Ottawa.

Today, I challenge you to choose a more positive path, to let go of adversarial thinking and focus on goodness for our country and the world. After all, we do want the best possible government for our country. For the next four years, these are the leaders that can bring that hope to fruition.

There will be times when we disagree with decisions our government makes. At those times we can choose to do the research on the issues and write letters or be part of delegations bringing alternative suggestions for what we believe is a better way.

As Christians we believe in the power of prayer. In his book, “The Only Necessary Thing,” modern day theologian reminds us that too often we wait and turn to prayer as a last resort. He challenges us to begin with prayer because prayer makes a difference.

For now, I challenge us all to use this new beginning for our country as the moment we begin to wrap our nation and its leaders in prayer. Let’s ask God to give them gifts of wisdom and compassion. Let’s send positive thoughts to surround our newly elected MP’s as they make decisions for our people, the environment, the world. Let’s use the power of prayer to make Canada a strong and loving nation.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

 

God Is Good! #travel #gratitude

Sept 10  Day 12

Today we travelled from Saskatoon to Edmonton. Once again our hearts were captured by the endless carpet of mature golden wheat that spread out before us and broken occasionally by lush river valleys. Although we had risen at a reasonable hour, we were late leaving. I needed to prepare and email receipts for yesterdays sales. Consequently, we drove straight through to North Battleford.

Five years ago we had stopped in this northern prairie town to visit Candleberry’s Internet Café. This attractive  community gathering place makes delicious healthy food and supports artists and writers. Last time they bought  Spectacular Stella and Can I Hold Him? to sell in their store. Today when I walked in and introduced myself as Janet Stobie, author to Richard, the owner’s son, he smiled and said, we bought some of your books before. I was amazed. This time he bought three of Fireweed and three of Dipping Your Toes. If I need more I’ll email you he said. I looked at his book shelves. He had mostly local authors. Every book was standing face out for people to see. He treated my work and myself with great respect. When book stores and restaurants are struggling today Richard and his dad have a thriving business. One of the reasons besides providing good food, I’m sure, is that they are interested in people and care about their customers.

2015-04-07 19.03.35 (2)Richard, his dad and I. Tom took the picture.


In my morning prayers I had once again spoken with God about trying to like the selling part of my ministry. My experience at Candleberry’s was an answer to prayer. I enjoyed my conversation with Richard. I recommend Candleberry’s to anyone who is travelling through North Battleford. Your mind, body and heart will be well fed.

Time was flying by, so we made only one other stop. We couldn’t drive by Vegreville and not stop to see the giant Pysanka. Most of you won’t know what that is. Follow this link and learn all about the sculpture. http://www.vegreville.com/visiting/what-to-see-and-do/vegreville-pysanka-easter-egg

2015-04-07 22.27.48When we were too far from Vegreville to return, we heard a sharp ding. Tom looked down at the gas gauge. We were on the last bar and the buy gas sign was flashing. I checked the map for the distance to the next town. There were no towns til Edmonton, about 40 + kilometers away. We had never experimented to find out how far the car would go on empty. I said a silent prayer and then told Tom. “We have CAA.” We both laughed as he kept driving. I pictured the gas running out and putting along on the electric motor at 40 kilometers an hour. I could almost hear the cars and trucks streaming past at 110 and faster. God was good. We made it to a gas station on the edge of Edmonton with gas to spare.

We arrived in Winnipeg in time for a lovely late dinner with my sister Dina and her son Ben. The best part of this whole journey is the visits with family. In this global society we are blessed with the internet for emails and Skype, but you can’t beat real tangible human contact. Dina moved to Edmonton from Tucson Arizona last spring. She feels much closer and yet she’s still far, far, away. I will treasure the next three days with her and her family.

Today we have had lots to be thankful for, family, interested store owners, safe journey. God felt close all day, especially, the last half hour of our journey.

Don’t Leave Home Without It!

Prayer
Prayer

Tom and I were square dancing in Marlbank. During a rest break, we told Pearl about our encounter with a deer on the way home the week before. After hearing a detailed description of the accident and giving thanks that we weren’t hurt, Pearl said, “Driving can be dangerous. My husband and I say a prayer each time before we get in the car.” Then she laughed and said, “Never leave home without a prayer. Never leave home without it.”

We both chuckled, and the conversation moved on in another direction. On the way home, we joined the holiday traffic parade on the 401 instead of the more remote Highway Seven. I thought, that’s good advice, Pearl, not just for travelling, but for going to work, to the doctor’s, to school, anywhere. Always take your awareness of God’s presence with you. God is our companion. We can do more than stop for prayer before we go out the door. We can keep the conversation going, giving thanks, asking for guidance and strength. Our approach to life changes when we acknowledge God’s presence right beside us, God’s hand on our elbow, patting our back, holding us.

There is a plaque that says, “God is a guest at our every meal.” For me, God is more than a guest at meal times. There is a wonderful old hymn that talks about Jesus as our companion. The chorus says, “And he walks with me, and he talks with me. And he tells me I am his own.” Whether you walk or drive or fly, don’t leave home without reminding yourself of God’s presence in your life. Say a prayer, and not just for safety. Give God thanks for your blessings, and ask God to help you be God’s blessing for someone else. Give it a try. Don’t leave home without it. Prayer will make a difference in your life.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV)

Is Prayer An Adventure or a Crutch?

Some treat prayer as

Join the Adventure
Join the Adventure

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.

Can I Pray? Yes!!!!

Talking With God
Talking With God

Is praying a human rights violation? Our Canadian Supreme Court thinks so.

I have another question for the Supreme Court. As a person of faith, “Is NOT being allowed to pray also a human rights violation? Is this atheist’s right to NOT hear a prayer more important than my right to pray?

Since time began people all over the world have struggled to gain the right to pray publically without interference. In our country today we fight to maintain our right to freedom of expression. Somewhere along the line we have lost sight of the fact that freedom of expression applies to people of faith as well as people who have no faith.

Maybe the problem arises from fear of the power of prayer.  Over my life time I have learned that the power of prayer is real and effective. Consulting with God makes a difference for me and for the group.

One thing I know for sure. No law in our land can keep anyone from praying silently. Taking away the right to all outward signs of prayer, cannot take away our ability to pray or the effectiveness of prayer.

Try arriving early for your meeting. Sit in each chair around the meeting table. Pray individually for each group member (including the atheist) and for guidance for the group as a whole. If for some reason you cannot arrive early, practice your prayer at home. I have personally experienced the peace, the wisdom, the harmony that such a prayer ritual can produce.

Even with this Supreme Court Ruling, gov’t leaders can begin meetings with a time of silence, leaving members free to pray, or make a grocery list. The world can drive us quietly underground as we pray, but the world cannot keep us from praying. For that I am truly grateful.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18