Category Archives: Holidays

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hugs

This year as Mothers’ Day approaches, Robert Munsch’s poem keeps running in my mind, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, your mother I’ll be.” Our role as Mom continues as it changes over the years.

A month ago, my oldest grandson moved to Vancouver to begin a new life as an adult. My daughter shared, “I love receiving one line texts from Chris. I understand now what it’s like to have your child grow up and move away.” I nodded and thought about son, Dave and his family in Ethiopia. Even when being Mom of adult children brings challenges, I treasure the privilege.

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I remember being filled with wonder as my children returned home as young adults at the end of their first year at university. Lively conversation entertained us at our dinner table. I was proud and happy. By Mother’s Day two or three weeks later, the edges of that joy had frayed a little. This new adult, who had experienced eight months of total freedom from mother’s concerns, questions, advice introduced a new challenge to motherhood. Divorce, job loss, sickness, grief, and more drive adult children home to live, not just for the summer, but sometimes for years.

The challenges of motherhood keep changing. The continuous process of letting go requires the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient. Love is kind… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This Mothers’ Day, I offer the following prayer for families at every stage in a child’s development.

“Loving God, you created us to live in relationship because you know we need one another. Turn our minds and hearts to seek out and savour the moments of joy in every phase of our lives together. When tough times come, help us soak in your wisdom, patience and strength. Enable us to let go when necessary and to gather in and comfort when needed. Help us to let go of the guilt from past mistakes and begin each day anew. We want to love well. We want our relationships to be healthy. Help us to remember that with you there is hope. You are always with us, wanting and planning a future filled with joy and laughter. Amen”

 

 

Easter Is Coming!!!!

Good Friday?
Good Friday?

Christians are talking about Easter. What does it mean? For some, Easter is just another long weekend. For youngsters, the Easter bunny comes. For Christians, Easter is a journey from the pain of Good Friday to the joy of Jesus’ resurrection. We call this week “Holy Week” – the last week of Jesus’ life as a human being walking this earth.

Jesus begins his week angry with the injustice that is happening everywhere. At the temple in Jerusalem, he flips over the tables of the money changers who are cheating the poor. He sets the frightened sacrificial animals free. His voice thunders out across the courtyard, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.” And that is only Monday.

By Thursday, he has set up a last meal with his friends. He knows what’s coming. He needs their companionship in his pain. He offers them his last bits of wisdom. “Remember me. Serve others. Trust in God.” And finally after all the torture, all the pain, comes the relief of death.

Many of us have walked this journey with a loved one. My mother suffered with a cancer so excruciating the strongest drugs brought no relief. Yes, death can bring release.

We have named the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” for two reasons. It brought Jesus release from his anguish, and it was the first step toward his transformation, his new life. For Jesus and for all of us, death is not the end, it is the beginning: the beginning of a new life. That’s the Easter story.

This coming week, think about your life, pick out the glimpses of new life – of Easter – that mark the guide posts in your journey through joy and sorrow. Watch and pray. Know that Easter is coming as surely as the sun will rise every morning.

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!”  (John 20:18)

Don’t Forget About “Fireweed” & “Spectacular Stella”

Christmas is just a few days away. Some of you may be like me. My busy life keeps me hurrying and scurrying around with little time for shopping. If you are down to this last weekend and wondering what to buy, I remind you about my books. What better present can you give than a gift of a book of faith. If you live in the Peterborough or Lindsay area just email me    info@janetstobie.com   and I will deliver before Christmas.  You can order from my website but at this point I can’t guarantee delivery before Christmas.

Fireweed-Front-Cover

 

FIREWEED is a mystery story with a twist. For readers who enjoy an intriguing mystery, the story of faith will keep them turning the pages. For readers seeking learning as well, FIREWEED offers practical strategies for dealing with grief. It’s a great book for teens and adults. $20.00 plus shipping

Spectacular StellaSPECTACULAR STELLA  is a children’s book intended for ages three to nine. Stella carries the message that we are valuable just as God made us. God seeks us out when we think we’re lost and brings us home to our purpose in life. It’s a great book to read to your child at bedtime. Enjoy Marion Hills beautiful watercolour illustrations.  $10.00 plus shipping

Bring on the gifts!

 

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts I love them.
Gifts, Gifts, Gifts
I love them.

Gifts gaily wrapped with colorful paper, ribbons and bows are definitely a symbol of Christmas. At our family gathering, even one gift per person mysteriously results in a mountain of gifts under the Christmas tree.

The giving of gifts at Christmas began long before Santa Claus started his journey from the North Pole. The Christian Christmas story involves “Three Wisemen or Kings” who travelled from far off places to bring gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Today, the gold makes sense. We know its value, but Frankincense and Myrrh?  What are they? Frankincense and myrrh are both expensive tree resins valued for their fragrance and for medicinal purposes. Frankincense was often burned to release its aroma, especially at religious occasions. Its fragrant smoke symbolized prayers rising to heaven. Myrrh was often used in burials and symbolized death. Actually all three gifts were valuable and useful. Given by strangers, they speak of security and respect, faith and leadership, compassion and caring.

I believe that we truly understand this part of our Christmas story when we give gifts that reach beyond our family and friends to our unknown neighbours here in Canada and around the world. We can know the joy of the Wisemen when we deliver baskets filled with food, warm coats and mittens, a few toys and maybe even gifts of money to those who truly need them. I like to shop in the United Church’s “Gifts with Vision” catalogue for special gifts of education, food, community wells, farm animals, and much more.

I believe the angels sing and the hallelujahs sound in heaven when we give gifts of love to our family, for sure. But when we reach out to our “neighbours” near and far, the heavens resound with God’s joy. We have truly celebrated Jesus’ birthday.

Need ideas check out www.giftswithvision.ca

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of goldfrankincense and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:11)

 

 

Why Share Our Beautiful Country?

Hello Everyone,

First of all I do apologize for not including my email address when I asked you to contact me about your subscription. Thank you to those of you who knew my address and replied. I have now learned that since you had to subscribe to be on my list in the first place, you are already covered for the new anti-spam legislation. Also I cannot remove you from my subscription list. Therefore today I am sending out my reflection as usual to all of my subscribers. If you no longer wish to receive these reflections, please unsubscribe. If you have any questions please contact me using my new author’s email address:
info@janetstobie.com

 

Why Share Our Beautiful Country

By Janet Stobie

Canadian Mosaic
Canadian Mosaic

We’ve just celebrated Canada Day. To my mind, we live in the best country in the world. Beginning with the wealth of beauty and resources that come with this vast land and ending with our people, with all our faults, we live in peace and harmony with one another. We are truly blessed.

This past spring, I helped our grandson with a school essay about the issue of immigration to our country. He had done research so that he could argue both for and against immigration from the perspective of experts in the field. His final section required his own opinion about our Canadian mosaic that is so proudly projected by our government.

Tim compared our country to that of a living ecosystem.  He talked of the necessity for variety, and the interdependent relationships that exist in order for the ecosystem to continue. His metaphor illustrated the tremendous treasure immigrants can be for our country. Then he spoke about how Canadians are blessed by giving people the opportunity to begin a new life in Canada. He gets it, I thought. My grandson understands the true value of hospitality, the true wonder of this beautiful country we call Canada.

With all our faults as a nation and as individuals, most Canadians know that our freedom and peace are gifts to be shared with the world. We complain about our taxes, even as we send our children off to school knowing we have an educational system that is accessible to all of our people. We wait in the hospital emergency room, knowing we’ll not have to mortgage our home to pay the bill. We choose to play golf on Sunday morning secure in the knowledge that others can worship as they choose without fear.

Today and every day I give thanks to God that I live in Canada. I believe this blessing is a gift to be shared not hoarded, for the Bible tells us that blessings rot and decay in storage.

 

Exodus 16

“And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. (Exodus 16:18-20

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really Okay?

By Janet Stobie

Valentines of Love
Valentines of Love

In “Walk in My Garden,” I read Helen Ripley’s story of returning to teaching after her husband died. When her grade one class was dismissed for recess, Elena remained behind and asked, “Are you okay, Mrs. Ripley?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Helen replied, smiling at the child.

The child remained and said, “I know what happened. Are you really okay?”
That question from a six-year-old brought tears to Helen’s cheeks. Her heart touched, Helen said, “Thank you so much for stopping and caring. Yes, I’m sad right now, but I will be okay.” (p. 38)

God’s track record of caring for us always amazes me. During my divorce, God sent a parishioner to my study door, her arms outstretched in caring love. She held me while I cried.
When we need God with skin on, God never fails us. People of all ages, sometimes friends or family, sometimes strangers, appear and listen, offer a hug, an encouraging word, or a helping hand. God sends us angels in every size and colour because we are always God’s beloved children. Sometimes God even recruits you and me into his society of angels. Either way we know we are blessed by our loving God.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, a day set apart to honour those we love and who love us. For the last several weeks our commercial society screamed out, “Send Valentines. Buy gifts”. Regardless what happened yesterday, today is a new day. The opportunity to give a gift of love is not gone. I encourage you to search for the opportunity to be God’s Valentine, God’s angel, for someone, today and every day. Before February 15th is over, consider the angels of love God has sent to you when you were in need over this past year or years. Send God a prayer Valentine to say thank you.

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)

God’s Sacred Task

Creating a home is a sacred task given by God. 

For the child, that home begins inside the mother’s womb. Doctors tell us that what Mom eats and does affects her child, long before he or she is born. For example: When Mom doesn’t take in enough calcium in her diet, the calcium in her bones and teeth is taken for her unborn child. Today research has also shown that the fetus can hear.  Many mothers play music, sing, and read to their unborn child.

When I see pregnant women regularly at worship, I give thanks that once again a child is beginning with the love of a church family. Hearing the hymns, prayers, words that speak of loving one another, and living in peace and harmony, can make a difference in that child’s life.

God entrusts mothers with the special role of being the “goodness and mercy” of God, that is claimed in Psalm 23.  Of course, mothers, fail at times. They’re human.

God’s intention is that mother, in her unique place in the family, will be a source of God’s love.

Like all humans, mother doesn’t fulfill her role in a vacuum.

Mom’s need affirmation and support. Mother’s day reminds all of us that it is our privilege to be that affirmation and support. On Mother’s Day and every day, really look at the mother in your life, your own or someone else’s. Let her imperfections slide by and focus on the wonder of her efforts to love and support her child. Give her a hug. Speak words of appreciation.

Mother’s Day tell the Moms in your life that she is God’s blessing for her child. 

 

 

Rejoice, God Has the Last Word!

When I was visiting in Tucson, a stranger walked up to me and said “Hi, what are you doing here?” At first I was totally puzzled. Who was this? Then she called me by name and said she was from Bethany, Ontario, my home at the time. Of course, I said. I didn’t recognize you. I guess I didn’t expect to see anyone from home here.

I think it must have been like that for Mary that Easter morning. She went to the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ body. When it was gone, she was sure his body had been stolen. That was her expectation. When she saw him in the garden, she still wasn’t ready to believe. Only when he called her by name did she recognize him.

When, like Mary we are faced with tragedy, we too struggle to believe that all is not over. God can bring new life out of the loss of  our job, the end of a marriage, even the death of a loved one. Easter reminds us that God will never be defeated. Jesus said,  “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

It’s not always tragedy that blinds us to God’s new life. Sometimes we’re so caught in what has always been, “we’ve always done it that way”, that  we haven’t room in our minds for something totally new.  God calls us by name and reminds us that with God, we can have the courage to step into something new.  This Easter, open your eyes and ears to the life God is offering you. Remember the past, not even death has the last word. God does.

 

Young children sometimes make poor choices. They run across the road without looking. They follow their curiosity down to the lake without supervision.  Sometimes, they just plain defy us by picking up a china knick knack they’ve been told not to touch, or a crayon and scribbling on the wall. Occasionally, they throw temper tantrums, screaming and hitting, Whether the misdeed is done by mistake or on purpose, once it’s revealed, our children come to us seeking and expecting forgiveness. Because we love our child, most of the time we have that forgiveness ready even before our child requests it.

With adults forgiveness isn’t quite so easy. We hold grudges. We judge and sometimes even crucify. The person we find hardest to forgive is ourselves.  It’s good that God is wiser, stronger and more loving than we can ever be.

Good Friday, the name we use to describe the day Jesus was crucified, gives us an amazing illustration of God’s forgiveness. Hanging on the cross, in excruciating pain, the human Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 34), because he knows we need forgiveness. And hanging on the cross, Jesus, God with us, offers that forgiveness, freely and with love.

Of course, we identify that sad day as “Good”. It’s the day we see and hear God’s forgiveness for our intentional and unintentional, individual and communal misdeeds. Each year, we tell that horrible story of Jesus’ crucifixion because we need to be reminded that God loves us even at our very worst.

We are called to receive God’s forgiveness and offer it to others not because anyone deserves or has earned forgiveness, but because we are all God’s precious children. God, the parent and lover of all, has forgiveness ready as a free gift even before we request it. This is “Good News”.

 

Love Letters

 

God’s Valentine Gift for All of Us

We receive very few letters in the mail anymore. Many of us have shifted to communicating in short notes by email and phone conversations. When I open the mail box, I expect to be greeted by bills, circulars and newspapers. I remember when the envelopes in the mail box contained stories of my friend’s life. She’d send lovely long letters, written like a journal over several weeks. I looked forward to those letters and the news and laughter they carried.

Last year, another friend gave me a bundle of letters she found in a desk in the home of her uncle Wes, after he died. Addressed to lady friend, obviously at the beginning of a relationship, they express a hope for a life together that never happened. Even though Wes married someone else, he saved the letters. Maybe he wondered what life might have been like if he had pursued that road.

For me the Bible is a love letter from God. In passages like Isaiah 43:1-5, God says “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you…” These are statements of commitment and love. Too often, we see the Bible only as a book of rules to be obeyed, or a story of judgment to be feared, or both. We set it aside to gather dust. We forget that first and foremost the Bible is God’s love letter to us. When we’re feeling hurting and alone, the Bible offers comfort and assurance. When we’ve lost our way, the Bible provides comfort. But like the letters in Wes’ desk, God’s Biblical letters can only speak of the promise of relationship. They’re only words on a page until we read them and accept God’s love.

“I have called you by name, you are mine.”  (Isaiah 43: 1b)

For more reflections by Janet Stobie go to www.janetstobie.com