A Letter from Jesus

It’s awhile since we’ve had a Compassion-related post, so if you’re new to this blog, you might wonder why ‘Compassion’ features in the title. Compassion as an organisation seeks to bring children out of poverty through child-sponsorship. Maybe you’re sceptical about child-sponsorship and thinking: How would they make sure my money got to the right place? To answer that, Compassion is Christ-centred, child-focused, church-based, and committed to financial integrity, so Compassion’s centres are run by local churches – those on the ground, who are best-placed to know the specific needs of their communities. My own Compassion-family are all around the world and I love them dearly.

One area I’ve never sponsored in though is South America. I’m delighted to be a Compassion-blogger and this week, some of my fellow-bloggers have gone to Ecuador. They’re there primarily to put their experiences into words – to share with anyone who’ll listen what it’s like in one of the 26 countries where Compassion works. Perhaps their posts are aimed at newbies, but as a seasoned sponsor myself, I find them just as encouraging. Ashley met a man whose sponsor had asked what his dream was (I think I’m going to ask my eldest that), and Ruth’s post on the theme of letters reminded me of something Paul said in the Bible.

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone,” says Paul. “You show that you are a letter from Christ sent through us.” Every time we show love to someone, we’re a letter from Jesus straight to them. My fellow-bloggers get to show that love in person this week in Ecuador; I get to do it through child-sponsorship.

And the exciting part?

You can too. Bri wrote that she waited too long to sponsor her first child. I know it takes some thought because it’s a long-term commitment, but please, don’t wait too long. Maybe now’s the perfect time to choose a child and start writing those letters of love, from your heart to theirs.

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A Special Week

I hope everyone had a good weekend. This week is a special one for Kristen, who blogs at Chasing Blue Skies. She’s one of those bloggers/writers you read, and you think of them as your friend (even though you’ve never met). Do you know any writers like that?

Anyway, Kristen’s written a book! (She’s already written a 31-day devotional for military wives, but this is a full-length, 10-chapter book for absolutely anyone.) And if you’re in the US, the paperback version releases today. I’ve been on the launch team and had the privilege of reading “Girl Meets Change” before its official release, and I’ve really looked forward to sharing it with you.

It’s a book about adapting to change, and includes personal and Biblical examples of people who’ve had to do just that. Perhaps you’ll learn something new about a story you’re already familiar with; I know I learnt something about the story of Lazarus when I read chapter 3.

You can go to this page if you want to read more about the book before you purchase, and why not send Kristen a message of congratulations on its release? While it’ll be an exciting time, we obviously don’t all have the same taste in books, but wouldn’t it be great if she had more positive feedback than negative? Let’s pray for Kristen and her family especially this week as her hard work finally hits the shelves.

Being a Christian – What’s it Like?

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a Christian? If you’re reading this blog wanting to find out more, today, I’m featured in Holly’s ‘Testimony Tuesday’ series. I wrote about when I became a Christian and how God changed my outlook on life. Come and have a read, and I’ll try to respond if you want to leave a comment.

February Favourites

I got this idea from Crystal Stine’s Friday Favorites post. I thought I’d share a few things that stood out from this month:

Podcast: I’ve just recently started subscribing to these on iTunes, and a takeaway from February was Gary Chapman’s interview with Lysa Terkeurst – author of “The Best Yes”. Wise words in there.

Discoveries: Did you know Moses had a brother-in-law? And one he must have liked very much, because Hobab wanted to go back to his homeland, but Moses was very persuasive and talked him into travelling with the Israelites (Numbers 10:29-33). I’ve also put the Goodreads app on my iPhone. I hadn’t found their website very accessible with my screen-reading software, but a friend suggested the app instead and it’s brilliant. You have shelves for books you want to read, have read and are currently reading, and you can see your friends’ choices too.

Blog-Post: I’ve had a real treat this month with all those posts from the Dominican Republic. I really liked this one from Ruth about how a young boy preached on the Bible-reading she ‘Just happened’ to have read that morning. I don’t believe in co-incidences, but I believe in God-incidences.

Quote: “Do not ask God to feed the hungry if you have enough food in your pantry.” That seems so characteristic of God. After all, how did Jesus feed over five thousand people? With five loaves of bread and two fish that someone gave. He used what was already there. I don’t think He would expect one person to solve world-hunger, but each person can share their provisions with another.

Bible-Verse: Haggai 2:4 – “Take heart, … and begin to work. For I am with you”. Someone shared this days before my appointment with the job-centre, when I was told there was no more help they could give me. Of course, God’s work doesn’t have to be paid employment. There are many things we can do for the kingdom of God, in and out of the workplace.

What’s stood out for you this month? I’d love to know.

Known or Admired?

My friend Becky just celebrated her 4-year blogging anniversary by sharing an update on Facebook, and mentioning in the comments some of the writers whose words had impacted her. Having blogged for about the same amount of time (for me it’ll be 4 years in June), I wondered if I’d be one of them. As it happened, I did get a mention. My comment said: “Thank you for the friendship we’ve developed. Thank you for supporting me so well and for truly loving my family.” She’s not wrong; I’ve kept a few of the videos she’s shared (like the one where the baby girl says her brother’s name for the first time), but that comment meant so much to me. Though I’d like it if people were inspired by some of the posts on here, I’d far rather be known as a friend who loves people.

Do you know God’s like that too? Yes, He does prepare good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but first and most importantly, He wants to know us. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends” (John 15:15).

When was the last time you came to God … not with any prayer-request or money or good work well done, but just with yourself?

Very Like a House Group: “The Beauty of Grace” Book-Review

Imagine for a minute that friends from all over the globe have gathered in your lounge (there probably aren’t enough chairs). There’s Joy Forney, the one who lives in Uganda; Annie Downs, who turns 35 this year (like me) and lives in Nashville; Kristen Strong, whose daughter’s accident gives her authority to write on sacrifice; Maggie Whitley, who’s focused on Compassion; Emily Freeman, author of “A Million Little Ways” and more; Holley Gerth, the one you feel like telling all your problems to, to name a few. You’ve handed out the cookies and mugs of coffee, picked up your pad of paper to make notes, and you go round the room asking each one to share their thoughts. Very like a house group your church might have midweek, and just as in a house group you’re faced with different personalities, you are here too. Perhaps you’ll like the hard-hitting style of Melanie Shankle, who maintains it’s too easy to sit on your couch and let life pass you by, or you might prefer a gentler voice – someone you sense has endured through tough times.

‘Stories of God’s love from today’s most popular writers’ is a lofty tagline. Really it’s a selection by a bunch of folks you will have heard of if you regularly visit the (in)Courage website. I would have preferred it if the contributors’ bios had been at the tops of their first posts. It would have given Sara Frankl’s added poignancy if readers could have seen at a glance that her illness was over and she was now with the Lord, but overall, I would recommend “The Beauty of Grace”. Many of its writers are familiar to me. It’s what my mum would call a ‘Coffee table book’ – one you can dip in and out of, and keep going back to … and I might do just that.

Now October is Over

Can I start by saying a huge thank-you if you’ve read my life-story throughout October? Every like and comment was appreciated, and a special mention for Melissa who commented so regularly. Space didn’t permit, but what I’ve really missed has been giving a shout-out to others who were also writing for 31 days. That’s why I thought I’d highlight some posts for you now:

I’ll start with Robyn. I’d never read her blog before, and she’s written what’s been my favourite series of the whole month (well done Robyn). Here’s a post from her adoption adventure.

Not surprisingly, my blogger-friend Becky’s also included. She and her pastor-husband and four children make me smile through the videos she shares on Facebook, and having grown up a pastor’s daughter and become a pastor’s wife, who better to write 31 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor? Way 3 was one of my favourites.

You’ll know from last month about my South African friend I’d love to meet. Because of her I have a growing interest in the country, so enjoyed Kate’s 31 Days of Life in South Africa. Who knew traffic-lights were called robots?! Kate also added an extra dimension to her challenge and wrote every post in 5 minutes, as did several others.

Here’s a taste of the most honest series I’ve come across – Caiobhe’s 31 Days of Hope for a Messed-up Marriage, and the most fun? Definitely Caroline and Greg’s on Truth or Dare.

I enjoyed these posts by Tobi and Annie in their series about books.

Several bloggers featured people who’d impressed them, like Joseph or the 31 Dayers Facebook-group, but let me really recommend Barbara’s Inspirational Biography series. I love snippets about Christians from of old, and this post about Susannah Spurgeon made me smile because of the lovely quote from Charles about his letters to her.

And the series I haven’t got around to but am looking forward to getting into? 31 Days of Writing as Worship.

Hopefully, in amongst all those, there’s something you’ll enjoy too. Happy reading, and if I’ve missed you out and you think I might enjoy your series, please tell me in the comments.

A-Z of Compassion: Zeal

For sheer dedication, for staff so polite,

For conferences organised here and worldwide;

For bloggers who write without any sleep,

For being a voice for those who can’t speak,

Thank you Compassion.

* * *

And thank you to you out there if you’ve joined me for this year’s challenge.  Clicking on the A-Z of Compassion tag will show you all the posts in this series, so please share if you’d like to; it would be lovely to see some more children sponsored.

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?