Tag Archives: thanksgiving

This Mysterious Blessing!

Our Mysterious Blessing

Thanksgiving for many of us means a table laden with steaming hot, delicious food, encircled by a beaming family, content to be together. We give thanks for needs met, and the abundance of blessings that fill our lives. Even as we celebrate, we are aware that we, the middle class, are the privileged. Giving thanks is easy, particularly in this land of milk and honey that we call Canada.

This year, I want to remind you of another reason to be thankful. This blessing is available to everyone, rich and poor, young and old, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, health and economic status. What is this mysterious blessing.

We can give, and not just money and material wealth. We can try a little kindness. We can give thanks to God for the privilege of volunteering. There is so much need in this world. Lonely people who need a phone call or visit, homeless seeking help and the gift of respect, teens desperate for a kind word, store clerks stretched to the end of their patience who need the blessing of your smile and your thank you. The list is endless. Those of us who are ill, shut-in, in hospital, are also blessed to give. We have the opportunity to offer the gift of compassion, love, a kind word. Even when we feel totally isolated we can still offer the gift of prayer.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to let go of the belief that gratitude only comes from what we receive. This Thanksgiving take time to give thanks to God for all the moments of giving you have enjoyed, all the prayers offered, money given, time volunteered over the past year. Loving and caring for others is an honour and a privilege. Jesus taught there is nothing better than to lay down your life for others.

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.

Spread Your Wings and Fly!

Sun is pouring in the plane window. It has to be the middle of the day but my body feels like it’s deepest night. I finally slept for an hour or maybe two. Not enough my body is screaming. Yet sleeping sitting up is very difficult for me. It will be ten p.m. Tuesday (I think), Johannesburg time when we arrive. The eight hour time difference is not going to keep me awake. Of that I’m sure.

Once again, I have a lovely lady sitting beside me. Leslie is from England and is coming to South Africa to visit family. This plane is stuffed full and yet is extremely quiet. The screen on the seat back says we have 5 hours and 50 minutes flying yet. Through the plane window, I can see a brown ocean beneath the whispy clouds – the Sarah Desert. It’s just not clear enough for a picture.

So far, today’s addition to the world’s joy is Leslie and our chuckles over space, food, even our politics. I desperately needed this blinding sunshine. It’s bringing heat and summer to me through the plane window. There is positive energy here on this plane. Strangers visit, laugh and sympathize. Cabin crew smiles and accommodates. We are blessed.

I may be an exhausted snowbird but I am a snowbird. Hallelujah! As Ann Murray sings, “Spread your tiny wings and fly away”. And of course you know that if I could I would bring you all to fly away with me. Mind you Dave, Joanne and Jenna might be overwhelmed.

A Key to a Happy Thanksgiving

 surrounded 8

This morning we were surrounded by spectacular beauty as we drove to church. In our area the fall colors are at their peak. Even though we were hurrying for choir practice, we would have needed to be totally blind to miss the “wonder” of God’s world. Jesus said, “Those who have eyes to see, let them see.” I saw and I gasped in awe. “Thank you God,” I breathed. Tom said, “We are truly blessed.”

As I soaked in the sunshine and the view, I thought about these trees resplendent in their autumn finery. Our extremely dry summer has left them crying out for water. Yet, still they are glowing on this Thanksgiving Day, bringing joy to all who can see. Scientist’s have warned us the colour will be dull, and won’t last as long as usual. They may be right. For today, I can only gasp in awe. 

The amazing courage of these trees brought memories of my friend Frances who was 102 when she died last year. Like these trees Frances had times of drought, grief, difficulty in her life. Both her sons died very young, one with cancer and one in a car accident. And these were only two of the tragedies she experienced. And like these trees Frances continued to glow with God’s Spirit. Nothing could destroy her strength and gratitude for life. Her inner beauty shone God’s love on all who met her. I was blessed to have Frances as my friend.  

Today, I too am grateful, not because my life is perfect, but because God has given me a heart that sees and accepts the blessings that surround me. Nature is the trigger this morning, as I begin a day filled with love. I am extravagantly blessed with family, friends, and a church home.

Regardless of the troubles that plague you, seek out beauty on this Thanksgiving Day. Take the time and have the courage to open your eyes to God’s blessings. Look out your window, and search carefully for one moment or thing of beauty. Take a walk if you can, check out a nature book and soak in God’s wondrous world. Open your heart to the wonder of God’s love through people, animals, art. Let God’s surprises ignite the fire of gratitude and love within you.

It is my hope that together we can glow so brightly we will light up at least our own corner of God’s world.

We’re Home! Hallelujah! #travel #thanksgiving

Oct 12

We’re home! Hallelujah! Traffic on the drive home was pretty reasonable. We ran into bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic on hwy 12 just south of Orillia. Tom took my suggestion of trying a concession road. Because we know the area well, we were able to follow the smaller side roads all the way to Lindsay. By then the traffic had cleared and we came home.

We’ve had a wonderful trip and we’re glad to be home. I know snowbirds spend months away every year. I’m not sure I could do that. I love my home. This Thanksgiving day, I’m giving thanks for my home and our family. Tom and I are abundantly blessed.

When we arrived late this afternoon, the dining room table was beautifully set with my good china and silver, table cloth, cloth napkins and tiny roses from my garden. My daughter Connie, and grandchildren Ellie and Tim were coming with Thanksgiving dinner all prepared. We were so grateful. We’d stopped at the 24 hour grocery store and found it closed. Our fridge and cupboards were empty. Connie’s green thumb has kept our flowers beautiful as well. It was fabulous to see and hug the three of them. I talked with my son Brad (in Ajax) on the phone. We will see them later this week. We’ve missed him and his family too.

Thanks so much to all of you for coming along with us on our trip. Your comments and emails kept me writing. I’ve enjoyed sharing my trip and my pictures. Tomorrow morning we begin again our regular life. I’m leading a workshop on storytelling with children at the Canadian Biblical Storytellers Festival in Richmond Hill on Friday. Sunday I have the honour of preaching at the anniversary service of Norwood United Church. Over the next two weeks I have several more events. My life is busy and I like it that way. Blessings to you all. Janet

Happy Thanksgiving! #travel, #family, #thanksgiving

October 11, 2015 Happy Thanksgiving! Have a blessed day.

View from Sharon's visitor parking - Camera didn't deliver the gorgeous colors.
View from Sharon’s visitor parking – Camera didn’t deliver the gorgeous colors.

At 8 a.m. this morning, we delivered twenty copies of Fireweed to Rev. David Zub. His study group will be reading and studying it this fall. Hopefully, either I or UCRD, will receive many more large orders like David’s.

Goulais River between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury
Goulais River between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury – this is a panorama shot – 360 degrees

The drive from Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury was beautiful. Lots of tall spreading hard maples resplendent in their scarlet gowns, danced in the sunshine. As usual my sister Sharon welcomed us here with open arms.

Sharon an I on her balcony - warm and lovely in the breeze.
Sharon an I on her balcony – warm and lovely in the breeze.

view from Sharon's balcony

This afternoon Sharon and I sat in the sun on her balcony. The lake, the trees dressed up in beautiful bright colors and the warmth of the sun together with our conversation made those hours absolutely delightful. Tom slept peacefully in one of Sharon’s comfy chairs. It’s good to be with my sister again.

About 3:30, I skyped with my son Dave in Johannesburg, South Africa. As I said in my blog earlier this week, today is Dave’s birthday. It’s hard to believe he is 50. I’m much too young to have a son 50. I enjoyed catching up with Dave, Joanne and Jenna. I am grateful they are well and working at settling in to their new location.

Sharon, Tom and I had our Thanksgiving dinner at Swiss Chalet. It was delicious. It’s good to be with my sister again. This has truly been a great family day away from home and I’m grateful.

Tom and I wish you a wonderful holiday tomorrow. Whether you spend it with family, friends or on your own, I remind you that you are never totally alone. God is with you, always.

Why Do I Celebrate Thanksgiving? #Thanksgiving #children #memories

Thank you for children
Thank you for children

For me, Thanksgiving carries the indescribable joy and gratitude that comes with the miracle of new life. Monday, October 11, 1965, my son David was born. God’s second fabulous gift of love for our family.

The Thanksgiving David turned six, his grandparents came from Lion’s Head, ON to our home in Timmins to celebrate with us. While I was preparing dinner, Davy & his big brother Brad were outside playing in the yard with their Dad and Grandpa. Brad burst through the door yelling, “Davy fell out of the tree into the hedge. His face is covered with blood.” My heart pounds still today when I remember my fear, my prayers, followed by my gratitude when he needed only few stitches above one eye and in his cheek.

The Thanksgiving David turned 18, he and his brother returned home after their first few weeks of university. I remember celebrating these two wonderful young men who had stepped out into the world to begin independent lives. I gave God thanks for the blessing of their lives, both the joys and the worries. This year, we celebrate 50 years of David’s life. Even though he and his family live in Johannesburg, South Africa, I carry his Spirit and love with me to our family gathering.

Children, our own and those of relatives, friends, and strangers each bring a unique light into our lives. Whether that light is tied to worry and grief, or to cuddles and pride, it can bring love and gratitude. This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take a few moments to light a candle to represent all the children that have touched your life over the years. As you watch that candle flame, strong enough to bring light in a darkened room and fragile enough to be snuffed out in a summer breeze, let your mind rest on the memories, both difficult and good. Give God thanks for each child individually. Let your gratitude flow into God’s world.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)



Don’t Leave Home Without It!


Tom and I were square dancing in Marlbank. During a rest break, we told Pearl about our encounter with a deer on the way home the week before. After hearing a detailed description of the accident and giving thanks that we weren’t hurt, Pearl said, “Driving can be dangerous. My husband and I say a prayer each time before we get in the car.” Then she laughed and said, “Never leave home without a prayer. Never leave home without it.”

We both chuckled, and the conversation moved on in another direction. On the way home, we joined the holiday traffic parade on the 401 instead of the more remote Highway Seven. I thought, that’s good advice, Pearl, not just for travelling, but for going to work, to the doctor’s, to school, anywhere. Always take your awareness of God’s presence with you. God is our companion. We can do more than stop for prayer before we go out the door. We can keep the conversation going, giving thanks, asking for guidance and strength. Our approach to life changes when we acknowledge God’s presence right beside us, God’s hand on our elbow, patting our back, holding us.

There is a plaque that says, “God is a guest at our every meal.” For me, God is more than a guest at meal times. There is a wonderful old hymn that talks about Jesus as our companion. The chorus says, “And he walks with me, and he talks with me. And he tells me I am his own.” Whether you walk or drive or fly, don’t leave home without reminding yourself of God’s presence in your life. Say a prayer, and not just for safety. Give God thanks for your blessings, and ask God to help you be God’s blessing for someone else. Give it a try. Don’t leave home without it. Prayer will make a difference in your life.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV)

Let’s Give Thanks for God’s Gift of Faith.

Let’s Give Thanks for God’s Gift of Faith

by Janet Stobie

Let's go to church together.
Let’s go to church together.

Sunday, we celebrate thanksgiving. This year I am particularly grateful that God has blessed me with the gift of faith and a husband who joins me in that faith.

Over the years in my role as pastor, I encountered many couples for whom only one lived a life of faith. When we’re young and in love, we think this difference won’t matter, but it does. As our lives unfold, this difference can become a thorn. When we are blessed with children, that faithful member wants the child baptized and brought to Sunday School. Teaching the faith without your partner’s help, even sometimes with your partner’s opposition, is a very lonely process.

When tough times come, faith offers the strength not only to survive, but to grow through the pain. The knowledge that God is with me, I am not alone has carried me through tragedy, and severe illness. I seek God’s wisdom when I have decisions to make. Having a partner walking this path with me is wonderful. Tom keeps me on track when my steps falter.

Tom and I enjoy participating in the work of our church family. Together we decide how much of our time, our energy and our resources will be given to our church. We carry the same faith message to our friends and our family. It’s wonderful to pull together as a team. As we age and our relationship deepens and grows, our faith has deepened and grown as well.

This week, when you count your blessings, give thanks for your faith. If that faith is shared with your partner, know that you have received a special blessing. If you don’t believe, give thanks for those who do.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2Timothy 1:5)

How Do We Give Thanks?

I apologize for the erratic nature of my blog posting lately. I was pre-posting blogs and they were automatically being published. At the moment that is not working on my blog. Therefore I will return to posting them each week on Friday morning. Thank you for your patience.

How Do We Give Thanks?

By Janet Stobie

How do we give thanks in a world that:

  • uses poison gas, bombs and guns;
  • condones violence;
  • bases success on greed and competition?

I can give thanks because I know that in the midst of this hell created by human beings, God is active every moment of every day creating good.cropped-rainbow-more-blue-pink.jpg

Creation is God’s gift.

I am grateful for the many people who have hearts that see and contribute to the goodness in this world.

This year, let’s shift our focus. We don’t have to join the darkness and hopelessness that exist in this world.

We can open our eyes to see and be the light that is shining in the darkness.

  1. Soak in the fall beauty that surrounds you. Count the number of beautiful trees and shrubs you encounter each day. Take pictures at least with your mind. Every day describe a moment of natural beauty to a friend and/or family member.

    God's Amazing Beauty
    God’s Amazing Beauty

    It lasts for ten minutes before disappearing.
  2. Be an instrument of goodness. Each day offer a smile, a thank you, a hug, a compliment, a word of praise to at least one person.

    He's my honey!
    He’s my honey!
  3. Add to the light in this world by opening a door, offering to pray, taking time to listen, baking a cake, making a telephone call.

    Care about someone.
    Care about someone.
  4. Collect moments of joy that you have given to an adult, teen or child each day, or even each hour. Put them in the album of your mind.

    Enjoy a child's laughter
    Enjoy a child’s laughter

Changing our world requires an intentional choice. Begin each morning with the famous words, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” End each day giving thanks for the goodness you have seen, you have given and you have received.