Tag Archives: Gratitude

Try a New Habit.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances?

In the Bible St. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (1Thessalonians 5:18 )  “Give thanks in all circumstances?” Impossible! Wrong! I can’t give thanks when I lose my job, my loved one dies. How then do we follow St. Paul’s words?

Check the prepositions. St. Paul says, “Give thanks IN all circumstances,” not “FOR all circumstances.” Search for the goodness of God, IN the midst of grief, fear, disappointment. There will be goodness.

When my daughter was badly injured, I wasn’t grateful for the accident. At first, I could only be grateful she wasn’t paralysed, and for the ER doctor who consulted the specialist in Kingston as soon as he saw the X-rays. As the days passed, I gave thanks for the young Mom who brought her two-week-old twins to my daughter’s hospital bedside. As Mom laid her baby on my daughter’s chest, I saw her first real smile, and knew healing would come. My gratitude list from that accident is long. When I opened my heart to the blessings, they were there.

In tough times, the search for blessings is easier if we have already developed a “gratitude habit” – a habit of seeking out and giving thanks for the blessings in our lives every single day. Internet research reveals the following two principles concerning developing a habit.

  1. New habits require over two months of repetitions and still they are fragile, easily discarded. Therefore, forget about the time required and do the repetitions.
  2. Make the commitment. Then failures won’t matter because you will just resume doing it. Neither your financial resources, your health, nor your age, nothing can steal your ability to give thanks once you’ve made the commitment.

Seeking out and recognizing our blessings is worth the effort and practice. This Thanksgiving, I suggest you develop a gratitude habit. It may not mean more money, or things, or success, but it will mean more joy in your life. The gratitude habit will shift your focus from not enough to counting your blessings.

Give a gift – Vitamin E


Every Friday I have the pleasure and privilege of taking my special needs granddaughter, Vanessa, out for lunch and spending the afternoon with her. We run errands, work on her scrapbook, walk, read, whatever she is able to do and wants to do on particular Friday.

Last week, Vanessa and her wonderful Mom, Janet, surprised me with a gift, the book Footprints by M.F. Powers. The card said, “Thank you for spending Fridays with me” and was signed with love by my granddaughter. Every day, I read at least one of these inspiring stories. I am so grateful.

I believe the Bible offers us God’s living “Word” when we come to it with our mind’s open to hearing. The amazing part of this is that we can read the same passage every month or year and hear a different message.

God doesn’t just speak to us through the Bible. Although the stories in my lovely new book seldom mention God, I feel God touch my heart as I read. Today’s stories focused on kindness. The message I received was that I pass on to you was,

Offer a dose of  “vitamin E for encouragement” to your family,                friends, and strangers today.

It sounds so simple. The list of suggestions contained 101 examples. As I read through them, I noted all the ways that God had been encouraging me over the last few weeks. Today I will bring my handwritten note of gratitude for Vanessa to our family gathering. Their gift is truly a blessing for me.

Hopefully my posts occasionally offer the same kind of blessing to you.


What Three Words Will Guide Your Life in 2016?


I love the feeling of a New Year beginning. Just think about it, 365 days – no 2016 is a leap year. We have an extra day, 366 days, 8784 hours. We can begin a new life. What a wonderful opportunity! Regardless of the mistakes or successes that surrounded us last year, this year we begin again. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions. That’s why we celebrate. Oh yes, sometimes the consequences of last year’s mistakes follow us into the New Year, but we don’t have to repeat those mistakes in 2016. Sometimes, illness and grief follow us into the New Year, but we can change the way we respond. We’re not chained to last year. We have a fresh new start at living. Just the fact that we’re alive is significant.

Instead of resolutions to identify all the things I’d like to do in this New Year, I have chosen three words to live by. I’ve written them on post-it notes. There’s one on my bedroom mirror, one on the bathroom mirror, one on the fridge, one on my front door and one on the dashboard of my car. My hope, my dream for 2016, is that seeing these words every day, will lead me to live them. The words are:

  1. Gratitude  2. Appreciation        3. Forgiveness

I know these are just words. But over the years, I have learned that the words we think, we see, we use every day gradually become a part of who we are.  This year I have consciously chosen to surround myself with the words –  gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness. I want them to become, not just a choice for me, as they are now, but rather a reflex response to living. I challenge you to choose your three words of life and do the same.

St. Paul said: “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…put (them) into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)


Thought for the Day


Fill Every Corner of Your Life with Love.

Washing dishes, vacuuming, changing a tire, taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilet – do every task with love. Even tasks that feel like they are just for you – taking a shower, cutting your nails – can be done with love. Sunday morning while Tom had a shower, I made the bed. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted the bed made.

In fact I knew we were both tired and would probably crawl back into it for a nap after church. Why then did I do it? For me, it was an expression of love for Tom. Order in his life when he was hurrying off to choir practice would help him find peace. We work as part of a team. He had made breakfast while I enjoyed my morning prayer time. Done with love, this tiny task was accomplished quickly and easily. I barely noticed the doing of it.

Insignificant tasks, performed with love, become precious gifts for God. It’s just that simple. Today, as you go about your daily routine, your day of work, your day of leisure, do each task with love, for others or yourselves. Offer up to God a prayer of gratitude as you work, gratitude for having this job to do, gratitude for being able to do it, and gratitude for life. 

As Christmas approaches

fill every corner of your life with LOVE.

God Is Good! #travel #gratitude

Sept 10  Day 12

Today we travelled from Saskatoon to Edmonton. Once again our hearts were captured by the endless carpet of mature golden wheat that spread out before us and broken occasionally by lush river valleys. Although we had risen at a reasonable hour, we were late leaving. I needed to prepare and email receipts for yesterdays sales. Consequently, we drove straight through to North Battleford.

Five years ago we had stopped in this northern prairie town to visit Candleberry’s Internet Café. This attractive  community gathering place makes delicious healthy food and supports artists and writers. Last time they bought  Spectacular Stella and Can I Hold Him? to sell in their store. Today when I walked in and introduced myself as Janet Stobie, author to Richard, the owner’s son, he smiled and said, we bought some of your books before. I was amazed. This time he bought three of Fireweed and three of Dipping Your Toes. If I need more I’ll email you he said. I looked at his book shelves. He had mostly local authors. Every book was standing face out for people to see. He treated my work and myself with great respect. When book stores and restaurants are struggling today Richard and his dad have a thriving business. One of the reasons besides providing good food, I’m sure, is that they are interested in people and care about their customers.

2015-04-07 19.03.35 (2)Richard, his dad and I. Tom took the picture.

In my morning prayers I had once again spoken with God about trying to like the selling part of my ministry. My experience at Candleberry’s was an answer to prayer. I enjoyed my conversation with Richard. I recommend Candleberry’s to anyone who is travelling through North Battleford. Your mind, body and heart will be well fed.

Time was flying by, so we made only one other stop. We couldn’t drive by Vegreville and not stop to see the giant Pysanka. Most of you won’t know what that is. Follow this link and learn all about the sculpture. http://www.vegreville.com/visiting/what-to-see-and-do/vegreville-pysanka-easter-egg

2015-04-07 22.27.48When we were too far from Vegreville to return, we heard a sharp ding. Tom looked down at the gas gauge. We were on the last bar and the buy gas sign was flashing. I checked the map for the distance to the next town. There were no towns til Edmonton, about 40 + kilometers away. We had never experimented to find out how far the car would go on empty. I said a silent prayer and then told Tom. “We have CAA.” We both laughed as he kept driving. I pictured the gas running out and putting along on the electric motor at 40 kilometers an hour. I could almost hear the cars and trucks streaming past at 110 and faster. God was good. We made it to a gas station on the edge of Edmonton with gas to spare.

We arrived in Winnipeg in time for a lovely late dinner with my sister Dina and her son Ben. The best part of this whole journey is the visits with family. In this global society we are blessed with the internet for emails and Skype, but you can’t beat real tangible human contact. Dina moved to Edmonton from Tucson Arizona last spring. She feels much closer and yet she’s still far, far, away. I will treasure the next three days with her and her family.

Today we have had lots to be thankful for, family, interested store owners, safe journey. God felt close all day, especially, the last half hour of our journey.

“Surely God is in this place.”

August 31   Day Two

We have had a wonderful day. August’s last day has been fabulously hot, a day to relax. We slept in till 8 a.m. My morning prayer time talked about the United Methodist tradition of “Holy Conferencing”, listening to words of faith from the perspective of others so we can grow in our own faith. That’s what we do when we go to church, discussion groups or just in everyday conversations. God has provided those everyday opportunities for me today.

God began with a morning of conversation with Sharon and Tom. Our words ranged from family events to politics and back. I was reminded once again of the blessing of my birth family. We keep contact by email but enjoying one another’s actual presence is amazing. I felt my love and gratitude deepen as we talked. Sharon is sweet and sincere and wonderful.

We walked to the mall for a little shopping after lunch. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store for a bottle of wine. We had a good conversation with the clerk so I gave her my business card. She read it and said, “You’re a Rev. You must give hugs. I need one.” She walked into my arms for a long hug. As we left the store my sister said, “Guess that’s why we went in there.” I agreed. I pray to be God’s blessing for others and that was a totally concrete example of answered prayer.

Back at the apartment we went for a swim. I swam across and back our end of the lake. Superb!!! As I climbed out I said a prayer. Thank you God for the lake, for family, for my life. Thank you that once again I can walk to the store and swim a little distance. Thank you for the blessing of renewed health.

We sat on the shore and talked with Sharon’s friends. Our conversation was fun as they welcomed Tom and I into their group. It was obvious to me that this group loves and cares for one another. I was reminded of the value of close friends. That message was emphasized as we sat down to a supper of yummy meat loaf, homemade spaghetti sauce, provided by yet another of Sharon’s friends.

Tonight I am thinking like Jacob in Genesis 28:16, “Surely the Lord is in this place…” It feels like God has been speaking with me all day long. I am grateful.

The Gift of a Cross


Last month, our youngest granddaughter confirmed the baptismal vows her parents made for her as a baby. I prayed that she would feel God’s Spirit lift and carry her, not just on that day, but every day of her life. Tom and I gave her a gold cross to mark her commitment to follow in the “Way of Jesus” and her formally becoming an adult in her church family. We want that cross to be a symbol of faith for her. Every time she puts it on, and all the time she wears it, we hope she will be reminded that she is totally wrapped in love, the love of family and particularly God’s love. No one and nothing can take that love away.

We hope it will help her to look for and recognize God’s presence in her life in the multitude of little joys that surround her every day. At the moment, she knows the pleasure that comes when she offers Grandma and Grandpa a spontaneous hug. I watch her pour her love on her animals – cats, dogs, horses. I experience her joy as she flies on her skates at hockey. Together we can sit and read, leaving conversation behind, solid in our love for each other.

We hope it will remind her to live a life of gratitude. She knows how to say thank you. She knows how to express her joy. That cross is a sign of our hope and trust that no matter what comes in her life, she will continue to live that confidence. There will be times of questioning, disappointment, hurt as well as times of great celebration. That cross is a symbol of that sure foundation of faith and love she has today.

As Christians, we wear a cross as a symbol of the love and teaching we have received, as a symbol of the Way of Christ. Whether plain wood or solid gold encrusted with diamonds, the cross is worn to remind us that each and every person on earth is created as God’s special beloved child. In the words of St. Paul, “You are God’s temple. God’s spirit lives in you.” (1 Corinthians 3: 16)


Cultivate An Attitude of Gratitude



The last few months, as I have struggled with a badly damaged back, I have had to work hard to appreciate our wonderful world.  Darkness has been lurking on the fringes of my world and at times has been encroaching closer and closer to the center of my thoughts. Pain does that.

Whether physical or emotional, pain can change our perception of our lives.

In order to cope I’ve focused on living an attitude of gratitude. Each day, I seek out the good things in my life. I’m choosing to focus on the beauty and wonder of the stars, rather than the weight and stickiness of the mud beneath my feet.

Whether or not you are in the midst of struggle, I encourage you to:

Begin a gratitude journal.

Choose a notebook that feels good in your hand and appeals to your eye. Begin by giving thanks for this book and the people involved in producing it. Express your appreciation for your ability to read and write. Already you have listed three things in your journal. Use this journal to give thanks for at least five persons, things, events every day.

Over time, you’ll discover that you do indeed live in a wonderful world. Even in the midst of your pain, disappointment, grief, you are surrounded with abundant opportunities to be grateful. Try it for a month.

Make the choice. Enjoy your blessings. After all, you are blessed with the gift of being a Canadian and living in this wonderful country.

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19)

For More on Living a life of Gratitude go to: http://dougkasper.com/self-help-articles/create-a-gratitude-attitude



Thanks Living

One of our family thanksgiving traditions involves a walk in the woods or across the fields. The youngest among us collects red, gold, and oaken brown leaves to decorate the dining room table.
As I walk, I consciously collect reasons for giving thanks. I am thankful for:
• sight – God’s world glowing with the colors of autumn. I am surrounded by beauty.
• sound – birds’ songs, squirrel chatter, laughter and words – entangle to create the music of life.
• Family – My youngest granddaughter slips on the muddy path. She holds up her hand, slimy with mud and giggles. Her big brother groans. I smile. Love fills my soul.
• Freedom – to live in this wonderful country where we can speak our minds, go to worship, attend school, get medical care without fear. As Canadians we are blessed.

My son speaks about a friend who has cancer, and my mind shifts to the grief and pain that comes from illness and death. What would I do if one of these who are with me, had cancer? I shiver with the darkness that enshrouds my mind. Because I love them, I feel this pain. Yet nothing could induce me to trade the joy of their presence in my life for the absence of that pain. Yes, I can give thanks even in the midst of sickness and death.
My minister identified these thoughts and feelings as “thanks living” I encourage you to try “thanks living” not just for one weekend but every day all year. Search out the goodness in the midst of the trials and the joys of life and give thanks.
As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Thessalonians , “Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 .