Myth or Reality? Your Choice

Stars and Angels on Christmas Eve

Myth or Reality? Your Choice.

Is Christmas just a myth, an ancient story of something that maybe happened long ago and far away? Is the traditional story of God taking on human form just a repeat of the Greek myths from the past.

Not for me. I believe that the message of our beautiful and tough traditional Christmas story is true, not just for back then but for today as well. I’m not sure about all the details, but I truly believe that God, our Creator, did join the human race, did become human flesh in Jesus. God came as Emmanuel, God with us, to teach us how to love one another, to save us from ourselves.

Our Christmas story is so much more than a story of the past. God is born in each and every child all over the world. That means that, even in you and me, there is a spark of God. We have this camp song:

                It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

                And then all those around can warm up to its glowing.   

                That’s how it is in God’s world.

                It’s fresh like spring. You want to sing. You want to pass it on.

Our traditional Christmas story carries this truth of Christmas. God was born in me and everyone at our birth. That spark is so strong that nothing can put it out. I believe the angels rejoiced and sang at our birth. We did nothing to earn that spark of God. Our job is to fan the flame. Last Sunday, Rev. Nancy reminded me of an ancient Cherokee story.

A young boy and his grandpa were talking. “Why is there evil in the world?,” the young boy asked.

Grandpa thought for a long time and then he told this story. “I believe there are two wolves within each of us. One wolf leads us to be selfish, to lust for power, to lie, to be greedy, mean and cruel. The other wolf leads us to kindness, sharing, loving, caring. These wolves are always fighting each other.”

“Which wolf wins?” the boy asked.

“Well, you see, son, the grandpa said. “The one you feed becomes the strongest and wins.”

Our Christmas story tells us that God is born within us. When we feed the spark of God’s Spirit with kindness, sharing, loving, caring, the spark becomes a flame and brings light to all we meet. As each of our flames grow, peace and love grow in this world.

I encourage you to fan the flame that is growing within you. I remind you that nothing you can do or say, or anyone else can do or say, will ever be able to completely kill that spark within you. It may seem very tiny at times, but it will always be there, waiting.

Come Join the Advent Adventure

Come, Join the Adventure!

Flying standby can be an adventure. It’s Friday. You’re flying standby into a busy airport. You find yourself watching plane after plane take off without you. That’s when your mind needs to shift to adventure mode. What new and exciting things are happening around you? After all, you will eventually get on a flight, today or tomorrow.

December’s here. Many of us are “flying standby,” hoping to catch the “right plane” to be ready for Christmas. As we scramble around, shopping, cooking, cleaning and more, it’s easy to lose touch with the amazing adventure that is the Christmas journey to Bethlehem. 

Our traditional Christmas story celebrates the birth of the baby Jesus, who came as God to walk beside us, to live within us, to teach us how to love this world. I know that’s a miracle.

As I prepare for Christmas, I’m asking that mysterious Christmas Spirit to lead me to hope for your life and mine. I know the gifts I give can bring joy and love into the darkness of this world. With each Christmas light I see, I can remember that kindness and generosity do exist. I can remember my experiences of them. Kindness and generosity don’t often make the headlines of newspapers, but these acts can remain headlines in my heart.

This Christmas, I invite you to join with me on an adventure to Bethlehem. I offer you this prayer of hope and love to guide your journey. Print it out and tape it to your fridge or mirror. Pray it every day.

Loving God, open my heart to pour love into this world. May every decoration I set out, every gift I give, every party I attend, every cookie I bake, bring love’s light. May our home be filled with the joy of love and laughter to all who enter. Focus my mind and heart on the adventure of loving this year. Thank you for this season of light. Amen

Even if we’re “flying standby,” we can live an adventure to Bethlehem. There is hope for a new tomorrow.

“God’s light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

 (John 1: 5)

Christmas is coming.

And many more.

November 30, from 1-4 p.m. I will be joining a group of local authors at the new Peterborough Library. The library has opened its doors to showcase our books, invite people to come and meet us and discuss them, and allow us to sell them. Books are a gift of literacy, not just for children but for people of all ages. There will be lots of variety. Please come join us. An autographed book makes a wonderful gift at Christmas and anytime throughout the year.

On Saturday December 14th from 9-3, I will be joining with a group of other vendors at Keene United Church. It is the annual Christmas in Keene event. Come to the parade and then over to the church to get warm, and to do your Christmas shopping. I will have all eight of my books there. In honour of Spectacular Stella, one of my favorite children’s books, you can sample a gluten free shortbread star cookie. Come, taste and see how could gluten free can be, while you shop for my books. An autographed book makes a great Christmas gift. Besides, I’ll enjoy visiting with you. Blessings to you all. Janet Stobie

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 If you’d like to sample my books just check them out here on my website 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