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I don’t think Jill over at Compassion Family will be snoozing after her Christmas dinner; she’ll have eyes glued to her computer-screen, because she’s asked all of her readers to list the top 10 posts from our blogs for her to read over the holidays!  How do you choose?  In my case, I chose my favourite from each month (although to make it 10, we have to miss out a couple).

 

Very occasionally, something on the news grabs me and I get all political, like in January with my post about the European Court.

 

In March I was thinking about Easter, and the importance of not just hearing the Easter story but acting on it.

 

25 April every year is World Malaria Day.  2013 saw me advocating for Compassion and having some fun pretending to be a mosquito.

 

On 10 April, the Welsh Outpouring began in Cwmbran, and having wanted to get there for about a month, in May I went to one of the meetings.

 

In July, I thought back a few years to 2005.  I told you about George who inspired me and the album he’s released.

 

There was a moment in August, during the worship-time at church, when I was reminded that Jesus prays for me.

 

September was Compassion Blog Month.  I love to blog for Compassion, so Blog Month 2013 was a great privilege.  I think I enjoyed writing my ‘Story behind the child’ posts the most, but as I have to pick one, I’ll pick Allan (because that’s my dad’s name).

 

October was a busy month of blogging with my first-ever 31-Days series – 31 Days of Song.  I always really appreciate when you leave your comments to encourage me and others.  The song with the most was Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Fingerprints of God”.

 

Sue has been a wonderful asset to my blog with her new ideas, and she’s introduced me to the Daily Post.  In November I used one of their prompts to say what I’d cure and why.

 

And in the run-up to Christmas this month, I’ve focused on some of the characters in the Christmas story, like yesterday’s post about Joseph.

 

So there you have it:  My top 10.  I hope you enjoy them, either for the first time or all over again, and thank you for reading.  If you’re a blogger, what are your top 10 posts from this year?

Update on Blog Month 2013

Status

Are you curious about how Compassion’s blog month turned out?  4,255 children got sponsored!  No blogger got more than 4 children sponsored, so you can tell the number who participated and that it was a real team effort.  If you sponsored a child, prayed or shared the posts, thank you!

An Opportunity to Love

It’s the last assignment for Compassion Blog Month 2013, and this week the Compassion bloggers have been asked to think about a quote from Johnny Carr.  Having pastored several churches and written a book on caring for orphans, he says::  “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve.”

To be honest, I don’t find the quote particularly inspiring.  I know I’ve shared this video more than once before on the blog, but it is good to think how far we’ve come in the last 30 years and that we, as a generation, could end poverty in our lifetime.  For me, poverty is an issue to solve, and it’s also an opportunity.  Johnny says ‘An opportunity to serve’, but I wish he’d chosen a different word there; I wish he’d said:  ‘An opportunity to love’.  Because service to my mind is work:  Maybe waitressing in a restaurant, preparing a sermon or teaching a class of children, but the way Compassion tackles poverty is so much more than that.

Yes, they have tutors at their centres, but their focus is on the individual child – ‘Changing the world, one child at a time’ as the slogan says – ‘Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name’.  Jesus is like that too.  He spent hours talking to crowds of people, but what do we remember most about Him?  We remember how He treated the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), healed the blind man (John 9), and spoke respectfully of the woman who cried on His feet and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:44).  We remember His focus on that life … or that life … or that life – one life at a time.

Will you sponsor a child through Compassion?  In your prayers and the letters you send, will you be Christ-like to them, and make it your opportunity to love?

Story Behind the Child: Allan

“We don’t want you on our team!  You’re too slow!”  He still heard the words in his head as he watched his friends play on the field.  The boy who said them had been cruel, but it wasn’t far from the truth and Allan knew it.  Tears stung his eyes at the time, but he bravely stood and watched the game before going home to his family and acting as if nothing had happened.  Now he was watching again, but he didn’t feel so hurt today – because he knew there was a place he could play, where it didn’t matter that he walked with a limp.

“Allan, what’s wrong?” a tutor at the centre had asked one day, as he stood on the side-lines looking sad.  Allan explained and, seeing the hurt on the boy’s face, he gave him a reassuring tap on the shoulder.  “You like soccer?”  Allan nodded vigorously.  “Well, here everyone gets to play.  We’ll put you in as goalkeeper.”

Allan never forgot that first game of soccer – how he couldn’t stop smiling, and the ride home on his bike couldn’t pass quickly enough.  “I did it!  I played soccer and I stopped the other team scoring!” he shouted as his bicycle sped into view.  His parents could hardly believe their ears, but his father smiled as he went to meet Allan.  Cycling and soccer.  Neither seemed fitting for a cripple, but they were top on Allan’s list.  Sometimes he would wince in pain as he rode, but today the boy looked happily exhausted as he climbed off his bike and leant on his father’s arm to walk to the house.  Allan flopped down by the fire and his mother handed him a piece of hot toast.  He told them more as he ate and they listened, full of admiration for the love and compassion his tutor had shown him.

* * *

The story is only imaginary, but Allan is a real Guatemalan boy.  He’s nine years old and crippled in one leg.  You could sponsor Allan or another like him.  On Compassion’s website, you can select a child with special needs and be a supportive influence in their life.

Story Behind the Child: Fiski

It had been raining nonstop for days, but today, the damp was furthest from Fiski’s mind.  He imagined himself walking down that dirt track, caped in mud up to his ankles, but clutching a precious message from someone special.  His friend, Melki, knew all about these messages because he’d had one just a month before.  “Happy 7th birthday, with love from your sponsor.”  That morning, Fiski had walked into the centre full of hope.  Just days ago he, as an unsponsored child, had joined in the Christmas celebrations with all the others.  Today was his birthday!  Surely there would be a card waiting for him?  But there was no card; no news that he finally had a sponsor.  He rounded the corner, pushed his little shoulders back and held his head high, as raindrops dripped cold onto his neck.  There was still hope.  No child could spend two birthdays without a sponsor!  There would be someone – next year.

* * *

The story is only imaginary, but Fiski is a real Indonesian boy.  Born on 27 December 2005, he was an unsponsored child on his 7th birthday, and in fact, he’s been waiting 442 days (that’s nearly 15 months) for a sponsor.  Will you end the wait for Fiski and make sure that, on his 8th birthday, he feels loved and cared-for?  On Compassion’s website you can sort the children by longest-waiting, and find the ones who’ve waited over a year for someone special.

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“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17) is a verse that encourages me in my child-sponsorship, and one of the other Compassion bloggers also urges us to be generous in her post.  I wrote about glory this week; she chose poverty.

I’ve loved being able to write my own post, then go to the #CompassionBloggers hatchtag on Twitter and read other people’s.  The Compassion Bloggers network was formed 5 years ago, and it’s a real privilege to be part of it.  If you’re a blogger, would you like to join us?  September is a particularly good time because it’s Compassion blog month (and the focus more than ever is on getting children sponsored), but you can join the network any time of the year.  I saw a tweet just today from someone who said they didn’t have a purpose for blogging before they joined.  It might seem like I’m really piling on the pressure this month, but I wouldn’t have known about the Compassion Bloggers network if someone hadn’t told me, and I’ve had a lot of enjoyment out of it – pretending to be a mosquito for World Malaria Day amongst other things.

What about you?  Do you blog?  What’s the cause closest to your heart?  Maybe like me it’s helping children in poverty, or maybe not.  I know not everyone’s calling is the same, but I’m interested in every one of you reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

3 Things About 1 Word

That’s our assignment for week 2 of Compassion blog month, so my word?

 

It’s glory.

 

One important aspect of glory is that it’s the reason why we were created.  Here’s a good verse to remember:  “Bring to Me all the people who are Mine, whom I made for My glory, whom I formed and made” – Isaiah 43:7 (New Century Version).  I’ve written here before about the time somebody told me the most important thing was to glorify God in whatever I did, and so it is.  It’s the very reason for our existence.

 

Another big thing about glory is that it’s present in the small things.  Don’t you think that’s true?  Take a butterfly, for instance.  If it stays on your hand it’ll only stay for a moment.  You won’t feel the length of its wings or how many there are, and yet so many appreciate them and their beauty, and God (who’s bigger and more glorious than we can imagine) is pleased to associate with smallness.  When Jesus talked about little children, He said their angels always saw the face of God (Matthew 18:10), and He told us that to come into God’s kingdom, we needed to be like one of them (Mark 10:14-16).

 

A third part of glory is that to glorify someone requires action.  I can’t be glorifying God if I wake up in the morning and lie in my bed the whole day thinking about nothing, but if I chose to read my Bible, or pray, then I would be.  Through the choices we make, we can glorify God in all sorts of ways:  In what we read or listen to, how we use our time, and how we spend our money.

 

Would you like to use your time to write to a child on the other side of the world, and to pray for them regularly?  Would you like God to use your money to help meet their family’s needs?  Would you like to sponsor a child?

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As it’s Compassion blog month, I thought now would be a good time to post this.

 

Have you ever heard of LZ7?  I had because they did a single with Matt Redman to raise awareness about human trafficking.  Well, I’ve just found out they’ve done the same with Compassion.  The song is called “Give out the Love”.  I’m really not into this sort of music (one positive thing is it makes me think about getting on the exercise bike!), but I love that they’re using their songs to do others good, so have a listen if you like.  Or if you want to give your ears a break, you could just sponsor a child!

When Nobody’s Looking

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might remember last year’s Compassion blog month.  Well, this year it’s back, and our first challenge is to write to our childhood self.  So, what would I say to me 25 years ago?

* * *

You’re probably sitting on the floor right now, in between the bed and the radiator, where you do all your thinking.  You spend a lot of time there by yourself, pretending you’re not really you at all, but you’re Australian and your name’s Charlene.  Well, let’s think about something different for a minute …

 

Let’s think about school.  Maybe you don’t like school that much, but you do like being given something to do, and the feeling that you’ve done a really good job at the end!  That’s right isn’t it?  But there’s a little problem.  Not many people can see it, but your favourite teacher can.  She sees you narrating in the school play, talking really posh because you know your mummy likes you to speak properly, and she saw you the other day when you handed her those pieces of paper.  “I’ve written four pages!”  She told you to stop showing off because she knew that if you let yourself, you could become proud, unkind to other people, and not a very nice person.

 

You see, you can do a lot, and you can feel good when people notice what you’ve done, but the most important things are the ones you do when nobody’s looking.  I say ‘When nobody’s looking’, but really there is someone looking.  God is always looking at you, and He likes the inside of us more than the outside.  When He sees you being really kind, really taking care of somebody else, just doing things quietly even when people don’t see, then He’ll be happy because He knows what’s really important.

* * *

Did you manage to stay awake to the end of that one?  Maybe you’re wondering what the point is of writing to your childhood self.  It’s not as if you can turn the clock back and teach yourself a lesson – well, no, you can’t … but maybe you can teach another child.  If you sponsor through Compassion, it’ll take time to build a relationship with your child.  Not every sponsor can talk to their child in such a personal way, but perhaps in time, you will be able to share some of the lessons you’ve learnt.  I know I have.