Link

Can you believe it’s the end of January already?  I just wanted to share some things from this month with you.

 

Blog

 

I was reading Torch Trust’s Facebook page and unexpectedly came across a link to this post by someone unknown to me.  To be honest, I hardly read blogs about blindness, but this is so well-written.  It was interesting (and sad at the same time) to read about the run-up to Philippa’s wedding, its challenges, and the lack of respect shown to her by some.

 

Book

 

Ok, I must tell you all, I’m in the twenty-first century!  I’ve just (about a week ago) bought an iPhone – my first touch-screen phone, so I can read Kindle books again.  Finally, after over a year, I bought the book I had looked forward to and it didn’t disappoint.  Jeremy Camp shares about his upbringing, the loss of his first wife, and how many of his songs were given to him by God at a time when some would have turned their backs on Him.  It made me think about my own walk with God, and of course made me cry.  I haven’t heard much of Jeremy’s music, but reading “I Still Believe” has made me curious to hear more, and did you know he’s a Compassion-sponsor?

 

What are some of the good things you’ve come across this month?

Advertisements

A Special Anniversary

Do you celebrate anniversaries?  I have a pretty good memory for past events, so I have all sorts of anniversaries in my head – the day I started work on my first CD; saw my uncle for the last time; really met with God at a prayer meeting; even the day I joined Facebook.

Well, Compassion are celebrating a special anniversary in just a few days – 5 years of taking bloggers on trips to the countries where they work.  For their 5-year blogging trip, they’re going back to the very first country they visited – Uganda.

I’m particularly looking forward to this trip:  Firstly because after reading the book “Kisses from Katie”, who wouldn’t want to find out more about Uganda and the children who live there?  And secondly because some of these bloggers are familiar to me, like Emily Freeman, whose writing I’ve often enjoyed.  Her sister Myquillyn, who calls herself The Nester (and who started the 31-Days linkup for bloggers each October) – she’s going too.  They’ve both been on trips before, but never together.  Others on the trip are Bri McKoy (who sends out all the Compassion Bloggers E-mails), and Compassion’s former president Wess Stafford.  So, are you looking forward to it too?

 

They’re visiting only 2 centres – the first in northern Uganda where residents have been affected by Joseph Kony’s violence, and the other in Uganda’s capital.  You can read more about the trip here, and subscribe to have all the posts delivered to your inbox.

Please pray for safe travel and meaningful posts from the bloggers, for hundreds of children to be sponsored, and for any reading the posts who are thinking about sponsorship.

What Does the Badger Cull Have to do with Jesus?

Earlier in the week, I was reading a newsletter from Bible Gateway.  In it, Christine Caine encouraged us to look at the story of the lost coin a bit differently:  To think of all those who might have lost money, due to circumstances or their own choice – a single mum, an addict etc.

As I read Luke 15 today, I did the same with the lost sheep – thought of farmers who’d lost livestock.  The situation that immediately came to mind was all those cattle being lost to TB.  How zealous they are to keep their cattle – so much so that they’re prepared to see thousands of badgers killed.  I don’t agree with the badger cull; I think a vaccination programme would be a better way, but it made me think of Jesus and His zeal for us.  To Him, we’re like that lost sheep, and He was prepared to die so that we could be found.  He said:  “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from Me”, but there was no other way.  No vaccination programme could immunise us against the power of sin, but Jesus’ death meant that His Spirit could come and live in us, and we would have the power to conquer our old sinful natures.  Aren’t you glad He went through with it?

Do you want His Spirit to come and live in you?  You only have to ask.

My Beautiful Week

The week started off well.  It was the first Monday of the school-term here in the UK, so I looked forward to ‘Opening the book’ again in the school assembly.  We acted out “Jonah the Groaner”!  I narrated and one of the team had made a big fish out of tubes with material draped over-top, so our Jonah could be sucked into the fish’s mouth.  The kids loved it!  They were laughing so much, I had to wait half a minute before carrying on with the story; I knew I wouldn’t be heard otherwise.  How special.  But do they know?  Do they know how precious their laughter is, how beautiful they are, and did the team know how much I valued working with them?

 

It’s not easy to talk about beauty.  Not easy to say to a friend as she stands with you at your front door:  “When I spend time with you, it reminds me to appreciate life.”  My friends and family are beautiful – the one I haven’t seen for ages who gives me a hug; the one who comes to my rescue when the power’s off and I’m too short to reach the trip switch; the ones who take time to phone or E-mail or talk face-to-face.  Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I don’t.

 

It’s not easy to talk about beauty, but did an encouraging word ever do anyone any harm?  This week’s “Coffee for Your Heart” prompt is to let someone know they’re beautiful just as they are.  I don’t expect everyone I’ve mentioned to be reading this, but to those who are, I hope you get the message.

To Kevin’s New Sponsor

Status

Do you remember Kevin in El Salvador – the 12-year-old I wrote about a couple of weeks ago?  Well, if you haven’t guessed, someone’s sponsored him!  If that was one of you, I want to thank you so much.  I’ve never lived in extreme poverty, so I can only imagine how it must feel to have waited nearly a year and then, suddenly, to be told you’ve got a new sponsor.  Such joy!  If you’re Kevin’s new sponsor reading this, I hope you feel really good!  Sponsoring a child is amazing, and if you need some ideas on what to write in your letters, here are a few suggestions from another Compassion-blogger.

“Stay Calm and Content”: A Book-Review

“I wish it were easy to give feelings of self-esteem to children, young people, and the adults they become.  If we could, many of society’s problems would disappear” – Cat Williams, author of “Stay Calm and Content:  No Matter What Life Throws at You”

 

I heard Cat interviewed about the book on my local radio-station.  Thinking she talked a lot of sense, I wrote to thank her, and she sent me a copy to review.

 

As the quote suggests, the book’s main focus is self-esteem; how it shapes us; why we act the way we do.  As soon as I read the blurb on the cover, I looked forward to getting into this book.  If (like me) you’ve read “The Five Love-Languages” by Gary Chapman, I think you might enjoy this one too.  There are lots of personal stories in here and, although fictional, Cat is a relationship counsellor and some of the changes took place in the lives of her clients.

 

True to life, some situations are presented to us with no resolution, but my particular favourites are those where counselling has brought about positive change – an abusor being forgiven; a teenaged girl’s relationship with her mum; a marriage falling apart, now restored.

 

Cat says of the book:  “I know that not everyone will like it and that some people might find faults or omissions.  However, I hope you find it interesting and perhaps useful”, which I did.  Things jumped out at me that I hadn’t thought of before, such as:  ‘Old memories replaying can make you feel what you felt in the past, even though the circumstances are different’.  Or:  ‘An argument is 2 people experiencing low self-esteem, because it’s centred on defensiveness and/or criticism’.

 

So, if you buy this book, it’ll make you think.  The only thing I found it lacked was the Christian perspective, so I might have phrased some of the assurances differently.  For example, Cat says:  “We can handle anything because we can choose how we respond to it”; I would add to that by saying:  I can handle anything because God says however many days I’ve got, I’ll have enough strength for them all (Deuteronomy 33:25).  Cat’s statement that we’re good enough when we’re born, before we’ve achieved anything, is such a rare thing to hear and really resonated with me, but I can’t think of that statement without being reminded of Jesus at His baptism, where God said He was pleased with Him before He’d even started teaching or doing any miracles.  For me, my Christian faith is what’s got me through the last 14 years of my life; I can’t imagine how people cope without God, but I’ve certainly learnt from Cat’s book, and I like her style of writing.  It’s very easy to read.  She’s covered such a range of topics in this first book of hers, but I really hope we’ll see other books in the future.

Because Love is the Most Important Thing

Wednesday was a sad day for me.  I had the unexpected news that Jennylyn had stopped attending her Compassion-centre, so I couldn’t sponsor her anymore.  According to Compassion, they visit a family on several occasions to remind them of the importance of their child being at the project.  Do you remember the post I wrote last June, giving an example of a child-letter?  How I loved that letter!  We seemed so close then, but things went very quiet after that and I had the feeling something had changed.

I don’t want to share too much personal information about Jennylyn or speculate as to why this has happened, but I thought you might be interested in the process of writing a final letter (Compassion do their best to make sure these reach your child).  One huge plus on the part of Compassion is that because I’ve written regularly to Jennylyn for several years, they’re willing to pass on my contact-details once I’ve signed a consent form, so perhaps we will stay in-touch, but that’s not guaranteed.  It might be difficult too without someone to translate for us, so I tried to put all I wanted to say into this last letter.

I wanted to get across how precious she is to me, so I wrote that I’d enjoyed her letters and told her a couple of my favourites.  I said I’d never forget her and would always love her.  Then I thought about what I wanted her to remember from her time at Compassion:  I wanted her to remember God and the love He has for her.

I’ve recently discovered that Bible Gateway allows you to search for verses in different languages, so I looked up a verse for her in Tagalog (the main language spoken in the Philippines).  I was thinking of my favourite Bible-verse, but it didn’t seem to fit, and I really felt to tell her God cared, so I decided on 1 Peter 5:7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

* * *

I don’t know whether I got it 100% right, but in the end, letting someone know they’re loved and cared-for – isn’t that the most important thing?

If you like, you can join in Holley Gerth’s “Coffee for Your Heart” series too.  This week, she wants to see how we’ve gone about telling someone they’re loved.

Your Must-Know for 2014

Happy new year everyone!

One of my favourite writers is Holley Gerth.  I like her because she’s such an encourager (I think you’d struggle to find a post on her blog that wasn’t uplifting), and this year, she’s homing in on that even more with a challenge called “Coffee for Your Heart”.  This week, she’s asked us to pass on what we’d like people to know at the start of 2014 (it could be through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or in real-life).  I took awhile to think about that one.

I’ve told you before about Kelly, a songwriter I know in the US.  I think what I’d like you all to know at the start of every new-year comes from one of her songs:

“If God brings you to it,

“Then He’ll bring you through it.”

I know others have been through far worse, but my 2013 wasn’t the best:  My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer; a friend had significant health-problems; I had all my jewellery stolen.  Those would be 3 stand-out moments, but you know, my favourite Bible-verse is Jeremiah 29:11:  God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future – and none of those things did me any harm spiritually.  I’m still walking with the Lord, and guess what …  I got to another new year’s eve (and, praise God, so did my mum and my friend).

No trial comes into our lives without God’s permission, and whatever we have to face in 2014, if we’ll trust Him, He’ll see us to the other side.  It’s going to be ok.

Would you like to follow Holley’s blog and join in her challenge to give people’s hearts a lift this year?  What would you like your community to know at the start of 2014?