Category Archives: Giving Thanks

Where Do I Find Fuel for My Journey?

I find fuel for my life each day when I sit in my favourite chair, pen, journal, Bible, and book of reflections on my knee. This is my time with God.  I read, reflect and write in solitude. My day is always better when I give this time for prayer.  I’ve been practising a time of morning meditation for approximately forty years.  It’s special sacred time that enables me to remember that I am God’s beloved child, abundantly blessed.

Most days this week, God’s brilliant sunshine has created a halo around a vase of wild-flowers proudly gracing my Tibetan trunk.  Their regal beauty reminded me daily of two very important blessings in my life. First, they remind me to keep my eyes open all day to the beauty of God’s world that surrounds me. Second and even more important they speak of the love and care our grandson, Tim, age twenty-two, has for us. He picked them, brought them, arranged them and left them as a surprise greeting “just because”. They remind me to keep my heart open to God’s love that is offered every moment of every day, “just because”.

This week, God and Tim have worked together to touch my heart and fuel my soul. I am truly grateful. Without my daily discipline of prayer and meditation, I might have walked by those flowers and missed out on receiving the fuel I need for living.

My suggestion for each one of you is that you take a few moments every day to meet up with God in prayer. Why spend a day without acknowledging God’s presence, God’s power within you. God’s strength and power are there, available to you, whether or not you receive them, invite them into your life. There is no need to run on an empty tank.

 

God Works in Mysterious Ways – Monday, we arrive.

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t written all week. Well I have but only in my journal. Tom and I are enjoying London at our leisurely pace. We get up when we naturally waken, enjoy breakfast and then we’re off – 10 a.m.  We return here after supper. Yes, we could see more but this pace suits us. Now for the last few days.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

God’s angels have literally surrounded us.  We ended up taking a taxi from the airport to our Air b&b. Not our intention of course. We started by having a caring London information agent at the airport setting up an Uber ride for us. Tom and I are obviously not suited for Uber. The first one cancelled. The second one we thought was booked wasn’t. We gave up after an hour of failure, and called a taxi. The info agent was an angel for sure, but this taxi driver must have had direct instructions from the Almighty. He had to park his unmarked cab (Mercedes) and come searching for us, as we stood their waiting for a SkyX taxi. He loaded us and all our luggage and we finally pulled out of the airport, travelling in total luxury.

Tom looked around the cab, saw no credit card signs and said, “You do take AMEX or VISA, I hope. That’s what the cab company said.”

At the next traffic light and our driver looked around at us. “You paid over the phone?”

“No.”

“I have no way of processing a card in the taxi.”

“We have no English money.”

“Can we stop at a bank?” I asked.

“Certainly.”

“We stopped at a bank fairly close to our Air B&B. I hopped out. The bank machine defeated me. I went inside and waited in line. (Always lots of lines in London). At the wicket the clerk callously said, “you have to go outside to the machine. We can’t take your cards – not any of them. Even though I was desperate for the “loo” at this point, I had the sense to say, “Is there a limit on withdrawals.”

“Yes, 300 pounds.”

I returned to the machine and requested only 300 pounds. Almost immediately the paper money spewed forth. I tore back to the car, well aware of the cost of keeping a taxi waiting in Canada.

Problem number two – we couldn’t find the Air B&B. We found the street and drove back and forth. No sign of number 19. By this time Tom and I were both desperate for the Loo.

“We’ll check at this hotel,” the driver said.

“Good,” I replied. Throwing caution to the wind, I added, “Can we go to the ‘loo’ here.”

“Certainly,” he replied. “I need to go too.”

He shepherded us into the hotel and helped us find the appropriate places. By the time I returned to the foyer, the driver had instructions.

He parked the car, unloaded us and then dragged our two biggest suitcases, with a carry on top of one, to the bottom of 25 steps. We all looked up. “I’ll help,” he said.

He took us to our building. We had no key. We called. The person who answered said, “follow the instructions in the email, I sent you.”

We had no email. We, of course, were not yet on wifi and not using our cell phone because of roaming charges. “Please send it again.”

We turned on our phone and got the email.

“You’ll be ok then,” the driver asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “How much do we owe you.” In my head I was expecting the entire 300 pounds. Uber was supposed to cost between 60 and 70 pounds from the airport. This accommodating driver sighed and said, “Would 70 pounds be okay.” I grinned and handed him 80 pounds and we thanked him profusely. We even told him he was our angel for the day.

Eventually, we got keys, got inside and said, “We’re here, in London, a dream come true.”

 

God’s Angels Saved the Day (or maybe the night)

Days 6, 7, 8

We left Johannesburg in the dark. Around six, an arc of orangy red light slid up from the horizon. The moon faded to a ghostly ball as the rising sun gradually grew into a blood red circle with a golden halo. Very quickly the light dispersed, giving us a glorious clear day.

The trip to Clarens through the flat golden farmland was lovely and uneventful except when we took a wrong turn. A little more than a half hour had passed before we realized our mistake. There was no real problem except the time it took to get back on track. As we approached Clarens (over an hour late) the road gradually started rolling up and down gentle hills.

Our guide Neels was waiting. After a pit stop we left for Lesotho. Crossing the border was a breeze. We did have to get out of the car and take our passports to be stamped. All was done without question. Neels said, “This is one of the most fluid borders in the world.”

This part of Lesotho is hilly and beautiful as is all of God’s world. Neels told us that contrary to South Africa, the people of Lesotho own their homes, even though the government owns the property. Most of the settlement  homes are built with blocks making them much more permanent. Although still tiny, one room homes, from the outside they  look much more comfortable than the tar paper shacks in the Soweto type settlements outside of Johannesburg.

Neels took us to Lesotho National Park, and the          Caves. Similar yet different from the petroglyphs near Peterborough, these cave paintings told stories of the aboriginal people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. The park officer, obviously enjoyed interpreting the paintings for us, and telling us about the caves.

He also took us inside a traditional aboriginal Lesotho home and explained the functions of many of the items we could see there. After about two hours at the park, there we were very ready for a late lunch.

Neals led us to a special restaurant, well not exactly a restaurant, called Mamohase Bed and Breakfast.  We had our lunch (actually more like dinner) prepared by the mother of our host and local guide, MoRuti. He showed us to their own family dining room table and sat down to eat with us. The food was delicious. We had fried chicken, special stewed tomatoes and onions, shredded spinach salad, pumpkin and parsnips mixed, papa (porridge made of corn meal somewhat like potatoes but much drier, and steamed bread.

Tummies full, MoRuti took us on a tour of the area. The main road was fine but the side roads? They were not just gravel roads full of pot holes, they were country tracks over rocks and boulders, not very well defined. Victor drove with great skill up and down hills, around switch backs over these sort of desert wilderness trails. We were grateful Dave had loaned us his 4-wheeled drive SUV for this excursion, although we wondered if maybe his range rover would have enjoyed the journey more.

Our tour over we headed for Clarens and our Mt Horeb Manor B&B. Night had descended and the three of us were exhausted. Neels made sure we found our bed and breakfast. On arrival our host said that a table at a local hotel restaurant had been reserved for us. Not at all hungry and desperate to relax in our room, we felt obligated to go at least for a glass of wine and something very light. The restaurant was lovely. Tom and I shared a meal of turf and serf and sipped a glass of wine. Not exactly a light meal but at least small, since we shared. Victor did not feel obligated. He returned for us and ferried us to our home for the night.

Tom and I would both recommend Neels as a guide. He’s pleasant, friendly, extremely helpful, knowledgeable. We enjoyed our day with him. (contact info below.)

Mt Horeb Manor is the best, offering luxury, more than luxury. Lit with tiny lights encircling the path and the archway we stepped into a room fit for royalty. Spacious, more than spacious, the room contained a king size bed, a love seat, comfy chair, and coffee table. The bathroom had a big jacuzzi as well.  Regretfully, we climbed into bed at 9:30 too tired to soak in the luxury.

In the morning we opened the curtains in our glassed in room, to a spectacular view of the Drakensberg Mountains glowing in the South African morning sun. Breakfast in the beautifully appointed dining room, was delicious. Mt. Horeb Manor has a resident chef. Tom had biscuits, freshly made that morning, with his amazing omelet. Of course I had rice cakes. Our omelets were loaded with mushrooms, cheese, bacon and tomatoes. There were sauces to add and a salad as well. Of course there were the usual cereal, yoghurt, juice, etc. We aren’t used to this kind of opulence but we certainly enjoyed every bite and every moment.

Breakfast over we headed to the Dakensberg Boys school for the afternoon concert. We were leaving way too early, but after our wrong turn yesterday, the three of us agreed it was wise. We drove through Golden Gate National Park, stopping to take pictures of the spectacular scenery. We stopped in Winterton for lunch. Shopping lacked interest but one of the locals suggested that we tried shopping at a mall close to the school. It was a mall, but unlike any mall at home. The individual shops with their reed roofs and stucco sides were cool in the South African sun. Still it was a tourist spot and we had fun being tourists.

At the school, we were welcomed and given a tour. When the concert started, I gave thanks to God for this opportunity. The sound, the boys expressions, the choreography – we were in the presence of  approx.. 80 of God’s angels dressed in blue and singing from their hearts. The Holy Spirit sent prickles up and down my arms and brought tears to my eyes. On my right sat a couple from Holland who come twice a year just for the choir. I understood why. These young people go on tours. They’ve been to Canada. If they ever come again we will certainly be there to welcome them.

The choir was the highlight of this little three day tour. The concert ended at dusk. When we went looking for the Cathkin Bed and Breakfast, down a very dark, rough gravel twisting side road we felt once again we were on an adventure. Our adventure turned to high stress, as we struggled to find our way in the inky black of a South African night. Finallym after consultation with a gatekeeper, we pulled into a driveway. We had arrived, we hoped. I foolishly volunteered to make sure this was the place. It wasn’t well lit. The front of the cottage had no doors. I followed a path along the side. As I rounded a curve I was blinded by a green light and stumbled. I didn’t quite fall down. As I struggled to get my balance I shifted my body away from the light and saw four shallow very wide steps. At the top was grass and a few lights illuminating sliding glass doorways to three rooms. Up ahead I saw the dark shadow of a dog coming silently towards me. As usual I panicked. I turned and retraced my steps to the car. By this time, Tom and Victor had found a sign saying we were at Cathkin Cottage. At least we were in the right place. Tom took my hand and we went back around and up the steps. At that point we were by a young woman. She identified herself as Laura and said she wasn’t the owner. The owner had left because of an emergency. She would find out what to do. Tom and I returned to Victor and the car.

In a few moments a young man, Byron appeared with Laura and a telephone. He was talking to the owner. He handed the phone to me. “You are not registered,” Leila said.

“Yes, we are,” I declared. “My son David made the reservation and paid for it.”

“ You must have the wrong day,” she said. “It’s Wednesday May 22nd. Is your reservation for next week.”

“No!” I said.

“Well, I can give you a room since you’re here.”

“I have a receipt,” I said. “It’s already paid for.”

“Alright, I’ll talk with your son. You can leave the receipt in your room.”

“Thank you,”  I handed the phone back to Byron. Once again we traipsed around, up the steps to the back of the house. Laura produced a key to room too. We dragged in our luggage. At this point Victor was feeling nervous about his accommodation. Would he be able to find it. Would his reservation be ok. The three of us were hungry as well. We had passed the Drakensberg Sun Resort just down the road. Victor wasn’t enthusiastic about coming for supper with us. He just want to get himself settled for the night at River Crossing wherever that was. Byron volunteered to drive us to the hotel, since they were going for supper there as well, so Victor left.

Byron and Laura owned a truck, a two seater. Laura sat on the transmission housing, Tom took the passenger seat, and I sat on his lap, my head bent against the windshield. I was grateful that it was only five minutes to the hotel. We enjoyed a beautiful buffet. When we called Victor, he was fine. All settled in a lovely place and already eating dinner. At the end of the meal Byron came to our table and assured us he would take us home and return for Laura.

This time I sat on the transmission housing, which was much more comfortable compared to the last trip. Byron offered to make two trips but I said, “Oh no, we’re already putting you out enough”.

At breakfast the next day, we learned that Byron and Laura were guests of Cathkin B&B, and friends of the owners daughter. They had come for Leila’s daughter’s wedding last Saturday and decided to stay a few extra days. When we arrived they had just volunteered to help.

They were certainly God’s angels for us. They couldn’t have been more helpful. We will remember them as we rock in our rocking chairs.

Cathkin B&B we will try to forget. Our room was small, and not even a little luxurious. It was more like staying a tiny motel. After the sumptuous Mt Horeb, we were obviously spoiled. When I checked the receipts for the two places, I was surprised to discover that the cost was the same. Booking on line can give you surprises. It gave us an experience, and we did have a place to stay. I’m sure the Drakensberg Sun Lodge up the road would have been triple the cost.

Breakfast was good, not as fancy as Mt. Horeb but just fine. Today we are trekking back to Johannesburg. The angel’s of the last two days? Byron, Laura, the Drakensberg choir and Neels have shown us the goodness of humankind.

If you ever are in South Africa, I would recommend a side trip to Lasotho led by Neels who is based in Clarens, the Mt. Horeb Manor Bed and Breakfast in Clarens and the Drakensberg Choir.

More pictures tomorrow.

Neels Lesotho Tour Guide:  Cell: 076 392 2605

Mamohase Bed & Breakfast hosted by Moruti

Cell:5904 7042   WhatsApp: +266 5904 7042

Mt. Horeb Manor, 139 Roos Street, Clarens, S.A.                               Phone: +27 76 392 2605

 

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