Category Archives: Family

We Can’t Make Our Children Join Us!

In today’s world, many of us who are long time church members despair at the lack of interest our children show towards church. We brought them to Sunday School as children. They’ve seen our example. Yet they reject it all. We tried to sow the seeds of faith but they didn’t take root. What can we do?

We know the value the church community has for us. Our church family celebrates with us when good things happen, cries with us in our pain and supports us as we step into the world trying new things. Some people think the church is a social club.

Yet the church is so much more than a social club. We gather together in faith. Sunday morning worship and bible study lead us to think about what we believe, to grow in our spirituality. As we gather together we are safe to face the challenge of living, to ask the questions that whirl round in our heads. As we share our resources and our gifts we can reach out beyond the church walls, and the boundaries of our community and country to make a difference in the world. Building a personal relationship with God, we learn that we are never alone, abandoned. God is always with us. We can experience God in others. Of course we want all of that and so much more for our children. And so we lament their refusal to join us.

As I have thought about this, I heard God’s voice speaking in my heart. “Jan, what is Christian faith. I answered, “Following the “Way of Christ.” Then came the question, “What does that mean?”

I remembered that Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. These are the two greatest commandments.”

Jesus’ Way, has TWO prongs. Our children may not be willing to accept the first prong of Jesus’ way. They are not claiming faith in God in any form but when we look closely, they are living that second prong of Jesus’ “Way” sometimes even better than we do.

My one son, who has rejected religion in any form, lives the attributes of Jesus. He is kind and loving. He is accepting – of people of every race, color and faith. He cares about the environment, particularly the animals. He volunteers at animal shelters. He’s a committed vegetarian. In most of the places he and his family have lived, they have volunteered at orphanages as well. He shares what he has generously with others. Oh yes, he lives the “way of Christ,” better than many who profess Christianity in any of its forms.

I’m sure if each one of you look carefully at your children you will see that they too live the “way of Christ”. Some of the seeds of faith have taken root and blossomed beautifully. Yes, they haven’t accepted it all. Maybe they never will. Still they are, and always will be God’s beloved children. God is with them, caring for them. As Christians our job is not to change them or judge them. Our job is to love them, and to live the “way of Christ” ourselves. God will take care of the rest.

I take this one step further. Because every person in the world is God’s beloved child, regardless of faith or non-faith, our job is to love them. Our job is to be the best we can be on the path we follow. God will take care of the rest. And I am grateful.

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.

Travelling with God’s Angels – South African Adventure

Travelling with God’s Angels

Our Adventure Has Begun

Day One: Travelling with God’s Angels.

Hi everyone, we have had quite a day, a memorable start to our trip. I’ve decided that during this trip I will keep my eyes and ears open for God’s angels. This morning God came first in grandson Tim. He stays with us, although he spends most of his time at his mom’s home, caring for the dogs. This morning Tim was with us. He lugged the two heavy suitcases out to the car. Of course the car was full of books which he had to carry inside. We heard not a word of complaint. It was almost as if we were doing Tim a favour by letting him help us. He came and went all morning.

Tim brought his sister, Ellie, for lunch. Two of our special angels to see us off. It was lovely. They took pictures. Their hugs were a great send off. Surely, God was there in them surrounding us with love.

On the way to the home of Tom’s brother, Bob, we delivered some books I had borrowed from a fellow writer. We had a wonderful conversation about writing and faith and church. We stopped much longer than we had intended. It felt like we had been God’s angels for each other. God was certainly present in our conversation.

We enjoyed our conversation with Bob on the way to the airport. We unloaded, hugged goodbye, and headed straight for Air Canada’s special care desk. We were four hours ahead of flight departure. Both Tom and Bob were amused at my need to arrive so early.

All was well until we stepped up to the desk to check our luggage. Tom reached for his passport. “Oh my God,” he said. “I’ve left my sports jacket hanging over the car seat. In the pocket is my wallet and my passport.” It would have been fairly simple if we could have called Bob who was driving our car back to his condo for a 3 week rest. Bob keeps his cell phone in his own car for emergencies only.

Without the passport, we couldn’t check our baggage and board the plane. Traffic of course was frightful at 5 p.m. and Bob took an hour and a half to drive across the city through supper time traffic to his condo. In the meantime, Tom was frantically calling Bob’s condo every five minutes . You can imagine our relief when Bob finally called to tell us he was on his way back through the traffic to bring the neglected blazer and documents.

The Air Canada agent assured us all would be well, because we had arrived at the airport so early. I just nodded and smiled. a trip that normally takes about 40 minutes. Bob’s first words when he handed Tom his jacket were ,”Brother you owe me big time.” And of course, we do. Were there angels in the midst of our turmoil Of course. The Air Canada reps who were so helpful and reassuring certainly felt like God’s angels. They couldn’t have been more understanding even as they kept shaking their heads and telling us we needed that passport.

For me, I thanked God that Bob went directly home after he dropped us at the airport. I thank God that Bob’s friend Anne made sure that Bob got the message. We had called her when we couldn’t reach Bob at home. Bob was definitely God’s angel. I’m sure it was only family loyalty and Bob’s native generosity that brought him back to the airport. Four times across the city during rush hour traffic was definitely angel work.

The wonderful Air Canada staff cheerfully coped with two upset passengers. They loaded Tom into the wheelchair and delivered us through the long journey within the airport to our loading gate with a half hour to spare.

Yes, we are not alone on this journey. It could have started out as the trip from hell. Instead, with the help of God’s angels, we have weathered the obstacles without an unkind word to each other or from anyone else. We are truly blessed.

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.

     

Live Out Loud

Living Out Loud

I don’t often put large portions of something I have read on my blog. I worry about copyright issues. But today’s reading from the Daily Bread touched my heart, and I wanted to share it. David McCasland wrote:

“While staying at a hotel in Austin, Texas, I noticed a card lying on the desk in my room. It said:

                                                        Welcome                                                                                                       Our prayer is that your stay here will be restful                                                                   And that your travels will be fruitful.                                                                            May the Lord bless you and keep you,                                        and make his face shine upon you. “

This simple blessing touched David’s heart. When I lived in Bethany, between 1989 and 2003, a family owned gas station called Rangco’s was thriving.  On the walls inside were plaques saying that Rangco’s had sold the most gas in that part of central Ontario year after year. The business was located on highway 7A, so there was lots of traffic, even in the winter time. I remember asking Rangco when I first moved to town why he closed on Sundays. “Aren’t you missing out on a lot of business?” I asked.

Rangco just smiled and said, “We’re members of the Dutch Reformed Church. We work long hours Monday to Saturday. Sunday, we rest and go to church. We enjoy our church family. We don’t want to miss.” Then he pointed to the plaques and smiled. “We have lots of business.”

Like the hotel with the little prayer card in Texas, Rangco and his family quietly lived what they believed. They knew the commandment about Sabbath rest. Their faith told them that rest and attending worship were more important than money. They and their employees were free on Sundays to attend church. In Bethany, we made sure our tanks were full on Saturday evening.

 

In the reflection from Our Daily Bread, David McCasland said, “A friend of mine calls this, ‘living a lifestyle that demands an explanation.’ No matter where we live or work, may we, in God’s strength, live out our faith today – always ready to reply gently and respectfully to everyone who asks, the reason for our hope.”

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

(1 Peter 3:15)

 

 

How Do We Prepare for Peace?

This is Christmas!

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

Why Bother With Family Gatherings?

Vanessa, our granddaughter, is our family’s very own Canada Day baby. Her birthday party is unique in that both her dad’s (my son’s) family, and her mom’s family come to celebrate with her every year. And then there are fireworks, all over Canada. When Vanessa was little, I’m sure she thought those fireworks were just for her. For the past twenty-seven years, we have gathered as a family to celebrate Vanessa and Canada. I am so grateful.

Why are these family gatherings important to me? Especially on Canada Day, there are always heaps of other places to be, events in which to participate.

My parents didn’t have family gatherings, but Bruce’s did. I remember the thrill I felt at the age of 18 when I experienced that first White gathering 55 years agp. I’d never been part of a large group in which everyone loved each other just because they were relatives and the focus was to have fun and eat lots. As the years passed, our group of five became the only family that lived away. Still, we came back to Lion’s Head for every possible holiday, so the kids could learn to love their cousins, and so I could once again feel that love that special family feeling.

I believe that God created us to be in relationship with God and with each other. Being adopted I learned the value of the family relationship, first in terms of my adoptive family, and later after I turned fifty in terms of my birth family.

Of course, every family doesn’t live up to this ideal. Some of us try our best and succeed often. Some of us pull away, because of distance, grievances, huge expectations that aren’t fulfilled, and more. Over my lifetime, I have learned a great deal about the extended family. At its best the family represents unconditional God-given acceptance. You are loved, not because you have done anything special, but rather just because you exist and belong to us. The goal of family is to support, celebrate and grieve with you, to be your anchor in all the storms of life.

I realize that we succeed as family because we are committed, and determined. It’s not easy to make time for family, give family a priority year in and year out. I know it’s worth it, totally and completely.

“…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

Actually I recommend you pick up your Bible and read all of chapter 12 and 13 of 1 Corinthians. In this part of his first letter to the people of Corinth, people gives a beautiful picture of what family CAN be. Thanks be to God.

 

When I Thought I Wasn’t Looking at You, Dad.

Father’s Day celebrations dominated my thoughts today. I felt called by God to consider my adoptive father. He was a good man, respected, and yet, for many reasons, he and I were not particularly close.

There is a beautiful poem available on the internet titled, “When you thought I wasn’t looking,” (author unknown).  When I think about my dad, I need to write a new version of that poem. It goes like this.

“When I Thought I Wasn’t Looking”

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, I experienced you driving my sister and me into town for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. You then returned to the farm, collected our mom, and returned for the 11:00 worship service. Dad, your commitment to Sunday worship as a family, is a strong part of my faith today.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, you wrote the cheque and put it in the offering envelope. It lay on the kitchen table every Saturday night, along with our Sunday School offering. Dad, your generosity to the church and its programs is the yardstick by which I measure my own.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, you planted a garden much too big for our family. You tended it lovingly. At harvest time, you took so much pleasure in eating the tasty vegetables, and just as much in giving them away. Every time I make a salad, I see you with a huge bowl of lettuce sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Dad, your love for your garden has shown me the wonder of God’s beautiful world. A tiny, spindly blueberry plant, baking in the hot sun, produces a whole handful of luscious berries. I take nothing for granted.

When I thought I wasn’t looking at you, Dad, someone crept into your garden and stole your entire crop of cantaloupe melons. I remember the tears in your eyes when you said, “If they’d only asked, I’d have gladly given them all they needed.” I learned from you, Dad, the pain that comes when we steal, lie, or deceive.

These are but a few of the things I learned from my Dad. We learn even when we think we are not conscious of what is happening. On this Father’s Day, I encourage you to go back through your memories. Regardless of who your father is, whether the world identifies him as good or not, there will be things you learned that have been helpful in your life. Give thanks for those things.

Even if you don’t know who your father is, you can give thanks that his DNA is part of you. Fathers, like mothers, have given us life.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, my dad taught me lots.

 

 

 

On the Road Again. This Time Vancouver and Calgary

Last fall when we were booking these flights, it seemed reasonable to find the cheapest. Travel is expensive and we’ve done a lot of it in the last seven months. We set up a flight to Vancouver that stopped in Edmonton. For the difference in dollars it sounded like a great idea. In actuality it hasn’t worked out quite as well as we had hoped.

We left Toronto last night one hour late, due to mechanical difficulties. In my desire to follow the words of St. Paul and think on whatever is good, whatever is lovely, etc. I have decided that it was much better to miss our connecting flight in Edmonton than to have our plane fall out of the sky over the prairies, especially in winter. I don’t like the cold. When we finally arrived in Edmonton we learned that the later flights for Vancouver were fully booked. Westjet set us up in a beautiful room in the airport Comfort Inn and Suites. We phoned Bonnie. She was supposed to pick us up at the airport in Vancouver. It was already midnight there. She was grateful that she could go to bed.  We had time for 4 solid hours of sleep in a king-size bed. Much better than stretching out on the airport floor.

This morning we’re aboard a Turbo Prop Dash Eight or Q400 .The tiny wings are loaded with a huge engine and propeller, so they have their own set of wheels. Flying in a small plane, feels much like being aboard a bird. On the big passenger jets it feel as if you are just boarding a bus, even though it’s hard to believe those monstrous contraptions ever get off the ground. With the Dash 8 we didn’t even have a boarding ramp. We walked out into the snow, across the tarmac and climbed the stairs into the plane. I let myself imagine I was one of those famous people, or politicians who wave at the world as they board their private jets.

It’s very cold here in Edmonton, so our plane was totally de-iced before we could leave. That is certainly an interesting thing to watch. This trip has been an education. Once again something good on which to focus. There are only thirty passengers. The plane can carry 50. Loading was quick and efficient. Deplaning will be the same.

My last good thought for you this morning. We are flying over the snow-covered Rockies. The clouds have parted and we can see them. Spectacular! Just Spectacular! What a bonus. We’re flying high but not quite as high as in an airbus. Thank you God for parting those clouds. Thank you for five minutes of soaking in your magnificent creation.

Yup St. Paul has the right idea. “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 these things and…the God of peace will be with you…

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want… (Philippians 4: 8 and following)

A Lazy Day – Feb.16

It’s only been a week and already the inches are piling up.

Today Tom and I enjoyed a slow day at the “White House”. I slept till 9:00 a.m., Tom quite a bit longer. For most of the day, I worked on yesterday’s very long blog, writing the text and organizing the pictures. We went for a walk to a strip mall up the street to buy a thank you card to send to Leone and a box of just plain tea. The tea of choice in South Africa is Roibos and Roibos Chai. It tastes good, but my digestive system hasn’t been all that happy. I decided the familiarity of good old English Breakfast tea might help a little.

Tonight we went to a tiny Chinese restaurant for supper with Dave and Jo and their friends Lee and Russell. The food and the company were both grand. It’s good to meet some of Dave and Jo’s friends. Jenna stayed home to do homework. Lee and Russell’s three boys didn’t come either. I guess the teens thought the old folks could use a night without them. Homework does rule a teenager’s life. Tonight we went on online to look at things to do in and around Johannesburg. We picked a couple. Tomorrow we’ll set them up.

One of my joys today was the pleasure of returning to my daily routine. I actually started the day with my meditation/reflection/prayer time. And I did my physio exercises. Routine has its advantageous. I felt a bit like I was home and I needed that.

A second joy of course was meeting Lee and Russell and sharing a meal.

Best of all was the grand conversation we had with Jenna after school. We were in the pool. She came out to talk. It’s wonderful to be a part of her life. Yes, even on this lazy day, we have had opportunity to give and receive love and add a little light to the world. Sometimes, we just have to be intentional about noticing it.