Tag Archives: grief

Is Change Difficult for You?

George St. United Church
George St. United Church

Change can be painful and exciting. Last month, George St. United Church congregation held their final worship service in the building that has been their Spiritual Home for 140 years. Many people in our Peterborough community have been baptized, confirmed, married, and had their funerals conducted at George St. United. Now, God has led the congregation to make a change to a new vision as they join with St. Andrews United to become a brand new entity – Emmaunuel United Church. For many congregational members, this is a sad and painful ending. For some of these same people and for others, this is an exciting new beginning. Both congregations will bring the best of their pasts – faith traditions and faith stories of work done here in this community and around the world. Together, they go forth in faith to serve God through a new vision. Both buildings may be left behind or maybe not. All the details of this immense change have not yet been worked out.


Change is like that for all of us.  A move to a new community can bring stress as we seek to let go of close friends and familiar places and endeavor to begin again. Our long awaited retirement can feel empty and lonely without work to give our lives value. The anxiety of a new job with it’s unknown problems can make us wish we could turn back time. Often with change, we feel as if our world is ending. It’s tough to begin again.


Change comes to us as individuals whether we want it or not.  I remember the year that my last child started university. I worried that our house and my life would be empty. After all, my life had revolved around my children’s lives for twenty-four years. I was also excited about the possibilities that lay ahead with my new freedom.


As Christians, we believe God calls us from the loss and fear of change to a new life that can be better, and for sure will be different and glorious. We spend time in prayer, talking the whole situation over with God. We spend time with family and friends, seeking discernment for the next steps in our journey. Just as two of our city congregations are seeking to let go and find a new form of ministry that will serve today’s community, so do we as individuals endeavor to let go of the past and seek out our new life. It is the process of birth, death and rebirth that is a part of living. Yes, it takes courage and trust. We have built that trust over the years because God has led us through each change that has come.


Check back through your history. Tell the stories of the times of change and new beginnings. Identify the goodness that came with your new life. Give God thanks.


“You will show me the path of your life;

In Your presence is fullness of of Joy;

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NRSV)

A Safe Refuge


When my mother died, I received a wonderful letter of comfort from a church friend. She talked of the emptiness that comes when both parents die. Parents can provide a safe place of refuge. Many of us have learned that no matter what happens in our lives our mother, or father, or both will love us anyway. Even though we’re adults they still hold us as we cry, just as they did when we were children. That kind of safety is a priceless treasure.

As I read the letter my mind turned to Jesus’ story of the lost son Lost and alone, the results of his own life choices. This son turned toward home where he knew he would not be turned away. Even if he was reduced to the level of the lowest servant, he would be fed and sheltered. When he approached his childhood home, his father ran to meet him and gathered him up in a warm and loving embrace. (Luke 15: 11-32).

My mother had given me that kind of love. My safe refuge was no longer physically with me. I mourned her leaving. My church friend’s words reminded me of two things. First, I had already provided that same kind of home for my children. During the storms of life, they knew that they could find refuge with me. I remember actually saying that to one of mine. No matter what happens in my life or yours, you will never be rid of me. I will love you always.

Jesus said, “if your child asks for bread would you give him a stone?” If you can give that kind of love, then God’s love is so much greater.

As I grieved my mother’s death, I was comforted by this scripture. My earthly mother may no longer be with me, but God is with me. God’s loving arms enfold me. Even when I have turned away, God’s love is with me, waiting. In God we have a safe refuge. I’m grateful.

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? … If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Do you recognize the joy?

Years ago, on my first day at work in Dunsford United Church, Linda, the board chair handed me a list of eight names. “These people need visiting” she said. “See Jean first. Her husband died last year and she’s having rough time. You’ll like Jean. She’s a sweetheart.”

Starting in a new place is always difficult. I was grateful for the list. Pastoral care is such an important part of a minister’s work. About three that afternoon, I set down my pen and gathered up my purse. The sermon for Sunday is started, I thought. I’ll go see Jean now.

Jean lived just up the road from the church. When I rang the doorbell, a beautiful white haired woman in her early eighties greeted me with a big smile. “Come in. Come in.” she said. “I’m so glad to see you. To think that you’ve started with me. What a privilege.” With that, a precious friendship began.

Even though caregiving for the church or as a neighbour requires time and patience , it also can be a source of abundant learning and joy. Over my five years serving Dunsford United Church, and caring for Jean, she taught me an important lesson.

Every day, Jean misses Lawrence, her friend and lover of more than sixty years, and yet she is always ready to share her life with others. She believed that when grief threatens to consume you, turn your heart and mind to someone else who needs you. As you focus on giving to another, you will discover that healing has begun for you. Jean lived that wisdom.

Yes, I cared for Jean, and Jean cared for me. Her love and support carried me in my rough times. She has taught me to recognize the Joy and the Learning that comes when we step outside of ourselves.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)


My new mystery novel “Fireweed” is selling well!

A Happy Customer

A Happy Customer

Just a note to all my subscribers. This past week I attended three different conference annual meetings of the United Church of Canada. I was granted the opportunity to do a book signing at each meeting. The response to my novel “Fireweed” was wonderful. Moms, Dads, teens, adults in general, clergy looking for resources, came to purchase Fireweed and have it signed. If you belong to a book club, women’s group, men’s group, discussion group, grief group, you’ll enjoy discussing “Fireweed”. If you’re just looking for a good read, “Fireweed” will keep you up half the night. If you’ve already bought and read it, please send me an email telling me about your experience reading it. Here’s my new address.   revjanetstobie@gmail.com 


Just Your Presence Can Be A Blessing!

Just Your Presence Can be a Blessing!

by Janet Stobie

“What can I do to help?” Is a familiar question to many of us. Whether it’s a death in the family, or a flood, whatever the need, we want to help. Often we don’t think we have the right words, but we still want to do something, to make it better.

When my wonderful biological mother died I was far, far away and feeling very lost. I had had only twelve years to love her, and I wanted longer. Since I’d found her, I had travelled to Tucson, Arizona every year to visit her. Those were very precious visits. I wished I had gone more often and stayed longer. We hadn’t shared enough of either of our stories. I believed that my friends and family wouldn’t understand because they all knew I loved my adoptive mother totally while she was alive. I wasn’t sure if I should even tell others that I was sad.

Carved forever in my heart is my daughter’s response to the news of the death of this other Grandma she barely knew. “Oh Mom,” my Connie said, “It must be so hard for you to be here and not there. I’m coming over for the day. I’ll just get the children off to school and then I’ll be there with you.”

Connie took a day off work, came and sat with me. She held me while I cried. She listened. Her presence brought such comfort and peace. I needed her and she was here.

Today I remind all of you that your presence is the most precious gift you can give. Of course, there are things you can do – send flowers, bring food, help with the arrangements and …   But most important of all is the blessing of your presence.

Jesus reassured his followers with: “And remember I am with you always till the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)