Link

Last year I read “A Year’s Journey with God” by Jennifer Rees Larcombe, and had the privilege of meeting her while I was in the middle of it! I’m currently reading Ann Spangler’s “Praying the Names of Jesus”, which lasts for 6 months and includes 26 of the different names for Jesus – Friend, Lord etc. I like the Monday-to-Friday format – explaining the name, praying you through it, and showing where it’s recorded in the Bible. It’s not date-specific, so you can break for a week here and there, or catch up at the weekend on the days you’ve missed. Next year, I want to read its companion – “Praying the Names of God”. If you started in January, you could buy both and let them take you through the year.

I hoped to finish the devotional I was on by the beginning of December, but it doesn’t look like I will now. There were a couple of Advent books I fancied trying – “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”, for one. This is the family-friendly alternative to Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift”. I know she’s quite a flowery writer, so I thought the family version might make the same points as the adult book, but in a less longwinded way! This year though, I was going with “Make Him Room” by Kirsten S Oliphant. I loved her Lent devotional (“Consider the Cross”) and wanted to give the Advent one a try, but two dailies plus my regular Bible-reading might be a bit much.

So, I may not read anything special to mark Advent this year. “Advent: A Gentle Journey to the Prince of Peace” could be good if it was on Kindle. Written by a busy single mum and illustrated by her sisters, this book teaches about the history of Advent and includes one devotional for each of its four weeks. Now that, I could do.

These are by no means all the devotionals you can get. ChristianityWorks do an eDevotional, and Bible Gateway publish several that you can subscribe to free of charge. Theirs can be seasonal or topical, such as devotions on marriage you can read as a couple. I like the sound of the Gary Thomas two-week one and may just sign up for it anyway, even though I’m not married!

And if you’ve read this blog for some time, you might remember I partnered with Jess to take you through “Unglued”, chapter by chapter. Well, Lysa has published a companion to the book – “Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress”. Quite a few Christians do this – write a book and then publish a devotional to go with it. My very favourite author has just done exactly the same, and Holley makes the point that all of hers is new content. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

Is there a particularly good devotional you’ve read? One I’ve missed out that you think I should recommend? Please tell me in the comments.

Link

I must share Robyn’s post with you, because it taught me something new about Jesus’ family. She writes about their stay in Bethlehem: “Why they didn’t make room for a girl about to deliver a baby is still a mystery”, which made me think. If she’s right (and I think she is) that the inn where they sought refuge was owned by Joseph’s relatives – after all, Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown; that’s why they were there, then surely under normal circumstances, those relatives would have made room for Mary. The fact they went out of their way not to seems to me like a snub: A statement that she’s not welcome in their home, this girl who became pregnant out of wedlock. It seems they had no faith in Joseph’s choice to stand by her, and no compassion for them after such a long journey, not to even give them a warm bed for the night. How different it might have been if their extended family had taken them in, and listened over breakfast the next day, as both Mary and Joseph told of being visited by angels and of their special child who was to come.

Instead, they and Jesus were ostracised; put in the stable away from the rest of the household. Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be despised and rejected by men, and He was, before He was even born into the world. I hope my heart doesn’t do the same. Please help us, Lord, to make room for You in our lives this Christmas.

Link

So, I’ve told you about the Compassion Bloggers’ trip to Uganda, and about all the posts that were going to be written.  I had quite a few to catch up on, and one of the stories that really stuck was of a mother called Sarah and her 11-year-old son.  Shaun and Jeff tell it so well. If (like me) you’re moved by this story, how about sponsoring a child?

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?

Link

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?

Link

Compassion UK sent their latest E-newsletter today.  In it was a link to Wess Stafford (Compassion’s former president) speaking at Spring Harvest.  I like this video; he speaks with such conviction.

 

And the biggest challenge for me?  When he asks what the cause is that moves us to tears in 30 seconds, either of great sorrow, or of joy because of the victories.  What does move us to tears, and is it something God would be pleased with?

Link

“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.

Link

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!