All posts by janetstobie

Give a Gift of Faith

Marketing is not my strong point but it’s Christmas and time to sell my books. Friday evening I was at Maple Ridge Senior’s Centre here in Peterborough and Saturday I drove to Fergus, ON to attend the inaugural meeting of the Western Ontario Waterways Region. Between the two, fifty books flew off my shelf. Can I Hold Him? was my best seller at 16. The two children’s books Elizabeth Gets Her Wings and Spectacular Stella came in second. Grandma’s, parents, some of whom were church people, wanted my Christmas books, either as gifts for family or for use at Christmas events. It’s wonderful to know that my books, and my message of love and acceptance and faith would be in fifty new homes.

I forgot to take a picture at either place, which of course is what a good marketer would do. So I’m suggesting that even without the picture you consider giving a gift of faith this Christmas to family, friends and even a stranger. Tuck one of my books into the church baskets that go out to families in needs or as part of the church gifts for shut-ins. All you need do is email me. If you live in the Peterborough area I could deliver at no charge. Further afield, you can do an etransfer and I’ll mail them. My email address is info@janetstobie.com If you’d like to sample my books just check them out here on my website www.janetstobie.com Christmas shopping couldn’t be easier. Besides I sign them at no extra charge. Blessings Janet

It Was Good.

Last Sunday, I brought a new friend to church. Back home, she attended a different church. My mind focused on “What will she think of us?  Will our kind of church touch her heart?” Seeing our church family through what I thought might possibly be her eyes gave me some new insights.

We sing a lot during our worship service. In today’s world singing together is almost foreign to us. We might sing in the shower or along with the car radio. But singing together? Not so much. Therefore, many of us are very tentative about our singing. We go through the motions. We stand up. We hold the heavy hymn book. We sing, carefully, making sure our voices cannot be heard, hardly moving our lips with the words.

Why do we sing at worship? There are denominations who don’t. I am sure there is lots of science about singing but here is what singing does for me.

  1. First of all, the standing up to sing is good. If I was getting dozy, I wake up a little.
  2. Singing requires breathing more deeply. The more enthusiastic I am about singing, the deeper my breaths. I know deeper breathing is good for me. Increased oxygen in my bloodstream will help me think more clearly, have more energy all day.
  3. I have to pay attention. Singing requires that I look at the words. My mind cannot wander to my worries, what’s happening at home or with my friends, and still sing the words.
  4. The better I know the tune, the more attention and energy I can give to the words and the singing.
  5. The energy we give to singing warms up the room. A lively tune often brings smiles.
  6. Singing is something we do together. In the past, families traditionally gathered around the piano, or the family musician and sang. Those moments brought laughter and tears. We opened our hearts to one another
  7. Singing requires an action on our part. We’re not just sitting, trying to listen. We are participating.  
  8. When we sing God’s Spirit is released to grow in our being and fill the room.                               

No wonder we sing. I’ve learned that when we sing together, we open our hearts and invite God in. Maybe that’s why we’re often so tentative.

Even more important than our singing, I learned last Sunday, that I love these people. I may not know many of them very well, but I love them. I was proud of their generosity of spirit and their welcoming hearts. For me, church has always been a warm welcoming place. And last Sunday, IT WAS GOOD!

Today I want to tell the world. Being part of a church family is GOOD! Ignore the criticism you have heard. Choose a church. Make it your own.  You will be blessed.                                                  

Leaders for Peace

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. Whether or not we go to a local cenotaph and participate in a Remembrance Day ritual, all of us can take two minutes to Remember. Two minutes to remember and give thanks for the soldiers – many of European descent, some First Nations, some Asian, some African… who fought in wars in other countries on behalf of Canada. Two minutes to remember and give thanks for our peace keepers, who have risked their lives in so many countries. Two minutes to remember that we are blessed to live in this country called Canada.

Tomorrow and every day thereafter, I encourage you to think about your role. We may not be soldiers, but we can still contribute. For some weeks, I have been working on a children’s picture book. My working title is “Leaders for Peace.” Today, I am so aware that God is calling us all to be leaders for peace, in our communities and beyond.

Today, I listened to the radio and heard one of our government leaders shouting his demands for his province. Is that being a leader for peace, or is it sowing discord, inciting violence? In Canada, we have freedom to be who we are, to live our lives without fear of bombs. We have freedom to be different, to think differently, to worship differently, to look different. As long as we don’t bring harm to others, we are free. That is an amazing blessing. We give thanks for our freedom in that two minutes of silence. Tomorrow, take that opportunity to ask God for help in being a leader for peace.

A Gracious Woman

Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell drops by to chat at the Cobourg Festival of the Arts in St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Oct.25,2019.

 Today I met our Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell. As you can see I was selling my books at the Spirit of the Hills Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario. Her Excellency came to speak with the artists and writers. She stopped at each table and talked with us, asking excellent questions, treating us with great respect. My Tom snapped this picture as she picked up one of my children’s books, Elizabeth Gets Her Wings. Elizabeth Dowdeswell is a most gracious woman.

Although I won’t be at the festival tomorrow, my books will be available on the Spirit of the Hill’s Authors’ tables. I invite you to drop by and enjoy the art, the books, and participate in one of the workshops. You will have an interesting day.

Hope for Us All

Save our climate. I was there with the kids. They are serious.

Today’s conventional wisdom is that there is no hope. That myth is spouted by news media and by our friends. Many of us lament that darkness – climate change, war, hunger, oppression, abuse – is engulfing the world. At times, we almost celebrate the hopelessness we feel. We’ve forgotten that how we think about the future sculpts how we live today. Is there any hope?

Yes! Today we know. Our TV’s, computers, phones hold the darkness up to us. Bad news sells, so we can’t pretend ignorance. We can’t hide from the horror. And so we respond. Fundraisers, protest marches, recycling, hybrid cars – little by little, one person at a time our kindness, our caring is beginning to make a difference.

 Yes! Goodness, kindness, caring are not slowly disappearing. What we have lost is the ability to recognize God’s light that is growing in the darkness. There is hope. As people of faith, it’s our job to open our eyes and intentionally seek God’s light, recognize and name it.

Our young people are rising up by the thousands and demanding politicians take action to stop climate change. Our country like many others is working to resettle the millions of refugees and displaced persons. The Canada Food Grains Bank and Food banks are trying hard to erase hunger. We see God’s light pouring from individuals, from you and me, as we volunteer for school breakfast programs, at food banks and so much more. Our arts community is creating books, paintings, poetry, carvings, all depicting the light, all full of hope. One person at a time we are seeing glimpses of God’s love and acceptance. God is using us to bring hope to this world.

Of course our world isn’t perfect yet, but God’s light is shining in the darkness.  Today we speak out for justice for our First Nations people, our women, our handicapped, our children. We have hope. I am truly grateful.

John’s Gospel tells us, “God’s light shines in the darkness and the darkness CANNOT put it out.”

Just Flowers? Not Always.

Just a few thoughts as I enjoy the remnants of my garden and wait for Thanksgiving Day.

During these magical sunny days, many of us are doing the fall clean up of our gardens. A few days ago, I discovered my Zinnia’s had fallen over as they stretched for water and sunlight. They looked desolate laying there on the cold ground. I gathered them into my arms, brought them in and lovingly arranged them in a vase. “There you go,” I said. “You’re warm. You’ve water.  You’re lovely.” As you can see from the picture, arranging them hadn’t been easy. In their effort to reach out, some of them had bent at unusual angles.

Now, as I sit with my computer, I’m thinking about my bouquet. At the front, four flowers stand together, grabbing most of my attention. Their full, beautiful flower heads resting together in a clump sparkle with life. For me they represent the “in group”, the popular, beautiful people. My eyes shift to the tall straight flower standing alone at the back. She reminds me of the people who seem to stand tall in every situation. They’re satisfied with who they are. They often have a leadership role in society. Also, at the back, two shorter flowers cuddle close together. Friends, strong and true. They don’t make much fuss. They’re happy to just be. And then there’s my two bent flowers. They’re a little smaller than the rest. The one on the right is holding herself at arms length from that front, popular group. She’s lifting her head high, even though she’s on the fringe of the popular crowd. She’ll be fine. Finally, my eyes slip to the little one on the left. She’s also on the outside but not at all happy about it. Her head is drooped. She really needs someone to lift her up.

It’s just a small bouquet of flowers from my garden, and yet it carries a message. It reminds me to open my eyes to the people around me, to watch out for the one who feels totally lost and alone. It says, “Don’t forget, it takes all of us to make this bouquet beautiful.”

Book Launch & Concert

I have a book launch coming up on October 26th. This time I’m blessed to be part of a group of Writers. Two of my short stories were accepted for the Spirit of the Hills writers’ group anthology, Your ticket to the evening includes a copy of the anthology of poems and stories titled Hill Spirits IV. Entertainment for the evening includes a fabulous concert with a jazz combo, a classical duo and a blues singer along with readings by some of the anthology contributors. The evening begins at 7:15 p.m. at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 240 College Street, Cobourg, ON. Please join me. We’ll have a great night. Tickets available from www.spiritofthehills.org

This Mysterious Blessing!

Our Mysterious Blessing

Thanksgiving for many of us means a table laden with steaming hot, delicious food, encircled by a beaming family, content to be together. We give thanks for needs met, and the abundance of blessings that fill our lives. Even as we celebrate, we are aware that we, the middle class, are the privileged. Giving thanks is easy, particularly in this land of milk and honey that we call Canada.

This year, I want to remind you of another reason to be thankful. This blessing is available to everyone, rich and poor, young and old, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, health and economic status. What is this mysterious blessing.

We can give, and not just money and material wealth. We can try a little kindness. We can give thanks to God for the privilege of volunteering. There is so much need in this world. Lonely people who need a phone call or visit, homeless seeking help and the gift of respect, teens desperate for a kind word, store clerks stretched to the end of their patience who need the blessing of your smile and your thank you. The list is endless. Those of us who are ill, shut-in, in hospital, are also blessed to give. We have the opportunity to offer the gift of compassion, love, a kind word. Even when we feel totally isolated we can still offer the gift of prayer.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to let go of the belief that gratitude only comes from what we receive. This Thanksgiving take time to give thanks to God for all the moments of giving you have enjoyed, all the prayers offered, money given, time volunteered over the past year. Loving and caring for others is an honour and a privilege. Jesus taught there is nothing better than to lay down your life for others.

The March

We are never too old to take action!
Over 100,000 marched over this bridge in downtown Vancouver. Millions marched across the world.

“The March!”

Friday, Tom and I marched for Planet Earth in Vancouver, B.C. Never before have I taken part in a protest. This time I had to participate. Our climate is in crisis. Denial means death.

Joining the protest wasn’t easy. A cold wind swirled around us on our uphill walk and half hour wait for the bus. People poured past us as we limped down two flights of steps to the sky train. We let two trains go by. They were beyond full. We wedged ourselves into the third train, with Tom barely clearing the door. Only two stops, and we joined the sea of humanity flowing up the escalators to the exit turnstiles. We plodded along like worker ants towards city hall. There were speeches we couldn’t hear. A protest band played.

We waited, restless, until the crowd began to flow down onto the street towards the bridge. We walked. We chanted. We talked with young, middle aged and seniors. All of them worried, fearful of the future, determined to make a difference.

Our march was typically Canadian – full of passion, but governed by good will and good manners. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to young people crying out for change, demanding that our government take action. I was proud.

Our youth are giving us leadership. We have to keep the pressure on. My message to all of you, my readers is: God has given us an amazing world. It’s our job to care for it. We must do everything we can as individuals. We need to vote for leaders who will co-operate with one another, even step over party lines. OUR VOTE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

People of all faiths need to PRAY. Pray for our planet. Pray that God will keep us motivated. Pray that we will let go of selfishness and support efforts to save the world even though it will cost.

Pray that our leaders, both governmental and business, will have the courage to make policy and pass laws that will stop this climate change.

We need to SPEAK OUT. A sixteen-year-old girl has mobilized the world. Our own Canadian activist seventeen-year-old, Autumn Peltier is teaching the world that everyone has the right to clean safe water. She’s been nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize. These two young women have already proven the power of one individual to make a difference. We can follow in their footsteps.

It’s Your Job!

I have not been politically active since I was a young mother in 1971, but for this coming election, I feel that it is doubly important that all of us be educated voters. We’re only two days into this campaign. Most of what we are hearing is the party leaders slamming each other. Personally, I am more interested in a party policies than what the other guy did, especially when the policy pertains to saving our environment.

Yesterday, I received an email sent out by Clayton Thomas Muller, a First Nations environmental activist. He has compiled a list of thirteen candidates that he and his supporters have investigated and found to be truly willing to deal with the climate crisis. He says they are “bold leaders who will take risks, organize fellow Members of Parliament, and work across party lines to tackle the climate emergency. And, they’re running grassroots campaigns connected to movements in their communities.” I wondered if this was a “Green Party advertisement,” so I followed the link provided. I was surprised to discover that there were two parties represented among these candidates who want to save our planet. Here is the link for you to see for yourself.  Here’s our list of candidates from across the country who will champion a made-in-Canada Green New Deal.

For me, the main message of Mr. Clayton Thomas Muller is to teach us to be politically knowledgeable voters. His group are encouraging other independent sources to document and publicly identify any other candidates worthily committed in a similar manner to the environmental cause. 

Here is my hope: that both you and I will take some time during this election campaign to check out all of our local candidates. Are they aware that our earth is in crisis? Are they willing to work across party lines to deal with this crisis?  As voters, we need to let go of party loyalty. We must each award our vote to the candidate who will stop the squabbling, the put downs. We need representatives who will get down to the business of leading us to maintaining our beautiful world. We need representatives that will put people first, rather than influential corporate interests. We need representatives who are courageous enough to listen and debate in parliament rather than yell, and mock, and oppose on principle. There must be more than thirteen candidates across this country who truly care.