Why would you …. ?

There are lots of times in life that we might be tempted to ask that question, ‘Why would you’   Why would I do this or that?   Sometimes it’s a hard question to answer,  sometimes not.    Now I’m not really what you would call a seasoned traveler to be honest,  in fact the last time I visited a developing country  I was robbed at knife point the day after I arrived.    So a week ago when I was sitting alone in Edinburgh Airport waiting for my flight to be called I was asking myself just that question.  Why would I be embarking on a journey that would take me half-way round the world, with people I didn’t know, to a country that (if I’m honest) made me feel more than a little anxious!

Tanzania 2013 -2 031

The reason I was stepping into the unknown is simple,  I have been an advocate for Compassion UK for around 3 years and every time I attend an event or speak at a church I feel a little frustrated with myself  because I would like to answer questions better, more effectively and accurately and be more informed about how Compassion works.    This was my chance, a God given moment, that I could actually go to Tanzania and see, with my own eyes, the difference Compassion actually makes.

Tanzania 2013 095

Home again now there is so much that I saw and heard and felt, it will take a while to process.   However, if you are interested, I invite you to share in my thoughts, feelings and observations as I tell the story of my trip over the next few weeks.   I have many stories to tell, not my stories, but the stories of those I met,  those who touched my heart and soul.   Stories that will inspire and encourage you.   You can make a difference, you can change the story for one child and who knows where that might lead.

You can change the story….

When asked why they’ve chosen a particular job I have often heard people reply that they wanted to make a difference, to somehow contribute to making the lives of others easier, more bearable or better in some way.   All of us can do that in our own small way by being kind and considerate to those we encounter every day, maybe even going the extra mile sometimes.   But what if you really could make a difference, if you could change the future for someone, if you could help them realise their potential and have the opportunity to speak love and hope into their lives.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?   Wouldn’t you do that if it was possible?

Thankfully it is possible!   Below are 5 amazing children in need of sponsors.  They may look just like ordinary kids but who knows what they might become if they hadn’t been born into poverty.  Born into poverty that rips the heart and soul out of parents desperately trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads, poverty that tells kids they don’t matter and will never amount to anything, poverty that destroys their hope……

Who knows what these children might achieve, given a chance?  Sponsorship through Compassion will provide these children with physical, spiritual and emotional support, but much more than that it will give them hope for a better future.

You can change their story.    For only £21 a month …. 70p a day isn’t much to us but it could mean the world to one of these kids.  If you would like to sponsor one of these precious little ones,  please send me a message using  the contact form below, include your email address and I will send you all the details you need.

Introducing Aba-amissah from Ghana

Born on 19th Jan 2009 Aba-amissah lives with her parents and two other siblings,  she helps at home by running errands and she loves playing with her friends.  When she gets a sponsor it will help ease the financial burden on the family where adults typically earn around £17 a month.

Aba-amissah Aug 13

Next is Ezequiel from Dominican Republic, this lovely smiley young man is only  3 years old, born on 31st Jan 2010, however he still has to help make the beds at home.  He lives with his Mum and Dad and is an only child.  Like any young boy he loves playing with a ball, but he needs someone to sponsor him.

Ezequiel Aug 13

Next are two young lads from Haiti:

First is Claridson, he lives with just his Mum and there are five children in his family.  He is approaching 8 years old, his birthday is on 4th November and he helps his Mum in the kitchen and loves to play with his friends.

Claridson Aug 13

Lens (also from Haiti) has 2 siblings and they all live with their Mum.   He was born on 25th May 2008 and one of his duties at home is to fetch water.   His favourite things to do are playing football, drawing and playing with his friends.  Employment is scarce in Haiti and adults who are able to find work would only earn around £14 a month.

Lens Aug 13

Last but not least is Grace from Ghana.  Grace lives with her godparents, and helps in the house by running errands and washing clothes.  Her birthday is 31st March and she is 6 years old.  She has 2 other siblings and she like to play with her friends.

Grace Aug 13

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, use the contact form below for further info.

Why am I surprised?

Do you find that sometimes you have low expectations?  It’s a bit like when we share the gospel, sometimes when people respond we are surprised by it, not because we don’t expect God to work ….. it’s just that sometimes we don’t expect Him to work through us!

I have had the great privilege of wearing my Compassion Advocates’ hat  quite a lot recently….. well it’s a t-shirt actually, but you know what I mean…. but I’ve attended a number of events and have had a few opportunities to speak at churches and groups.  I have been totally amazed at the way God has been working, we have seen lots of children sponsored  and sometimes in the most unlikely situations.   A few weeks ago I was invited to share Compassion at a very small church which consisted of about 5 or 6 families in total, as I shared about the work and the children whose profiles I had brought along I mentioned that as this church was partnering with a project in Africa the 10 child profiles I had brought along would be available to them exclusively for a month and after that would go back into the ‘pool’.   After I had finished speaking the Pastor rose to speak again,  his words blew me away!  He said….

 “As a church we will sponsor 5 of these children …. £105 a month is very little out of our budget.   My wife     and I will also sponsor another two children personally.   These children have been allocated to our church, I believe it is God’s will they have come to us and I am not sending them back…… so we are not going home until we get the other three sponsored” …… and Praise God they were!!   God is good!!

As if that’s not enough I was invited to a youth group last Sunday evening.   This youth fellowship had been group sponsoring a child for quite a while and those who began doing it a few years ago had grown up and moved on, so the leader wanted someone to explain to the newer members what the ministry of Compassion is all about.   I believe it’s good to tell young people about Compassion, even if they can’t afford to sponsor a child at the moment you plant a seed for the future.   I didn’t expect to get any sponsors but felt it would be a worthwhile visit anyway.  As it turned out it was a great evening, a lovely bunch of young people and some very godly leaders, including the church Pastor.   And guess what?  God surprised me again ….. I came away from that meeting with another 3 children sponsored.

I’m not sure what God is teaching me through this, many things I suspect.  But I’m going to try and stop assuming that I can guess the outcome …..  and I’m going to start trusting God for big things, I know He wants the children we advocate for lifted out of poverty and these words that we so often hold dear for ourselves are for them too….

jeremiah-29-11-plans-cover

Not much of a TV fan to be honest……

I’m not much of a TV fan to be honest, most of my free time is spent reading, doing stuff online or doing something creative.    I posted a few months ago about my favourite place in the house being my conservatory, that’s where I spend a lot of time and it has been declared a TV free zone, by order of the management ( well by me, that is!).    However in the UK there has been a programme on over the last few weeks that has tempted me to sit in front of the box (although I suppose they are not really boxes any more …. but let’s not get technical).

You may wonder what could have enticed me to do such a thing?   The good ol’ Beeb  (BBC)  decided to bring sewing out of mothballs and created a competition type programme called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’.   All I can say is that I am thankful I recorded it and am looking forward to watching it again in a marathon 4 hour long viewing session, accompanied by copious amounts of tea and biscuits and maybe the odd cucumber sandwich.

What a breath of fresh air, a competition that was marked out from the rest by the grace and kindness of not only the participants  but also the judges were kind, encouraging and well mannered.   I may be biased because of my great love of sewing in any shape or form BUT it is one of the best shows I have seen in years!   The contestants all produced brilliant work and when the winner was announced no-one was left sitting with their jaw hanging open wondering if the judges had been watching a different show.   The finalists all created work of a superbly high quality but one person’s work was of a consistently high standard throughout the series and she won……. how refreshing!

Great British Sewing Bee3

However, there is another side to this, I am a keen sewer and have many and varied projects on the go at any given time.   I have many PhD’s   (projects half done)  and there are frequent sightings of UFO’s    (un-finished objects) in my workroom (aka: the conservatory) but I don’t mind a  bit.      I’m a fabric ‘collector’ ….. my husband tries valiantly to distract me  when we pass fabric shops, it rarely works, I can sniff one out a mile away ….. but then he’s a bit of a wood collector so I think that makes us even, and my fabric takes up less space!

But this programme enthused me, and this from someone who is already over-the-top enthusiastic about sewing.   So  last week I had an overwhelming urge to start a new project ….. which I am delighted to say I also finished in a couple of days.  I made a handbag out of some beautiful Harris Tweed, which I bought when we holidayed on Harris a couple of years ago, and I am thrilled with the result.   And I’m sure I was not the only one in the country who was inspired to pick up a needle as a result of this programme either.

Harris Tweed handbag 001

There is something so deeply satisfying about creating things with your own hands, whether it is with fabric, paint, or any other  medium ….. it does our souls’ good and for me it can be a very spiritual experience, I can get lost for hours working on a project, deep in thought, enjoying the freedom of not having to focus on mundane need,  but revelling in the joy of creating something beautiful.     I believe creativity is innate in all of us, we may not all be Monet or Da Vinci but we each have the ability to create something beautiful if we will allow ourselves the time and space to explore our potential …… when was the last time you followed your heart to create something new?  Carve yourself a bit of ‘me time’ and experiment , and as well as doing yourself some good, you might really surprise yourself with your own abilities.

I’M CHANGING MY NAME!

Names are really interesting; I wonder why you were given your particular name?  I was given the name Linda,  I quite like it now but there were times, especially in my youth, that I wanted to change it for something a bit more  trendy like Samantha, I guess that probably gives away my age a bit!   I think my parents gave me my name because they liked it, I never thought to ask and it’s too late now.  But my hubby and I gave our children their names because we liked them and for most of us, we choose a name because we like the sound or the association it has, or perhaps to honour one of our family or friends.

In some cultures, particularly in biblical times names had great significance and said something about the child or person who was given the name. For example when the ageing Sarah gave birth to a son he was given the name Isaac, which means ‘laughter’, because Sarah laughed when God said she would conceive.  At other times God changed a person’s name to correspond with a dramatic life change as when Saul, chief persecutor of Christians, became Paul disciple of Jesus.

At our homegroup recently we were asked to share a gospel story that we identified with in some way.  I chose to share the passage about Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42).  My honest response to this story was that I was firmly on Martha’s side!  Often when we have guests I feel like I’m the one rushing around organising food, tidying up, washing dishes etc while everyone else sits and chats with our guests (to be fair the family do help, but I always feel very responsible for the preparations).   I do this in my life generally even when we don’t have guests, I buzz around making myself busier and busier until I am dizzy with activity and then I complain that I’m so busy I can’t find time and space to spend with God because of all the other things I have to do.

christ teaching martha and mary anton dorph

However, over the past few weeks this passage has kept rolling around in my head, and if I’m being really truthful, I felt a little disappointed that Jesus seemed to rebuke Martha and favour Mary.   I would love to sit at Jesus feet but who would do all the ‘stuff’ that needs to be done?   Finally it bugged me enough to go and have another look!   Isn’t it strange that you can read a passage over and over and over again and suddenly one day something just jumps off the page at you!   I had one of those moments that Archimedes may have described as a ‘eureka’ moment ….. but I think for me it was more of a Holy Spirit moment!

 ‘But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came and said to Jesus,   “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.   Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”’      Luke 10: 40-42

It struck me that our lifestyles today are incredibly busy and we are often busy doing things that are good ….. helping others, supporting good causes, serving in the church, looking after our families, following favourite leisure pursuits….   but it reminded me that Jesus said that what Mary had chosen to do was the better thing, she had chosen to  sit at her Lord’s feet and listen.   It’s good to remember that we can be so much more productive when we take  time to listen to Jesus’ plans for our lives instead of frantically trying to make up our own.

I love the painting above;  I want to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of  Jesus, gazing intently into His face, listening to what He has to say, so……. I’m changing my name I want to be a Mary not a Martha…… I want to choose the better thing.

Would you describe yourself as Martha or Mary?

 

I’m still here…….

Oh my!   It’s been quite some time since I posted anything  here on my blog.   My last post was when I just discovered that I had pneumonia way back in November.   It took me quite a few weeks to recover from that and then there was the busy few weeks over the Christmas period.    Then came the long dark days of January and, quite unusually for me,  I think if I’m honest I felt a little depressed,  but I’m happy to say that I am now fully recovered.  

We have even seen the sun here in Scotland in the last couple of days, a little!   And despite it being cold, sunshine always has the effect of lifting the spirits.   There is a definite feeling that Spring may be just around the corner after all,  I have a sudden urge to de-clutter and do some long needed cleaning around the house. 

daffodils  

This, I have decided, is going to be the year of new beginnings …..  New beginning number one …  after some conversations over the last couple of months which centred around us deciding that our home decor was in need of a bit ‘freshing up’  dear hubby has already started the task of  painting. 

I have been assigned the job of stripping some very old wallpaper off the living room walls.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to it as I’m not sure what I will find, there may be holes or decay or even dampness  in the plaster beneath that really needs to be fixed but we won’t know until we strip away the accumulated coats of paint.  We have lived in this house for almost 10 years, the paper was on the walls when we arrived and we have painted it at least twice in that time,  I don’t know how often it may have been painted before.

That set me thinking, our spiritual lives can be a bit like that too.   The decay of bad attitudes or long held grudges can get buried under a protective coating too and it’s often easy to keep a veneer in place so that others don’t see what is really going on in our hearts.  

Spring is a good time to de-clutter to get rid of all the baggage, material and emotional, that is hindering us from moving forward and living life to the full.  So whether you need to sort out your physical space so that you can use your home more fruitfully …… who wants to invite friends round when you have to clear a seat from them to sit in!    Or whether you need to de-clutter your inner life so that you can live the life God intended for you.  Give it a bit of thought. 

What will the coming promise of Spring inspire you to do?

If you need some help to get started here are a couple of suggestions:              Physical clutter … click the link to Flylady’s website she has great ideas for organising your home     http://www.flylady.net/

Spiritual clutter … try reading Joyce Meyer’s book   ’100 Ways to Simplify Your Life’

Thankful heart

It’s true to say that you don’t miss something until it’s not there.  I am someone who has enjoyed robust good health all of my life.   Having never suffered a major illness or accident I count myself blessed.  So it was with great surprise and dismay that I found myself feeling very unwell a few days ago,  so unwell that I felt a trip to the doctors was necessary.    It was no comfort to know that I was indeed, unwell, in fact I had managed to contract pneumonia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this week I have been confined to the house, except for two trips to the doctors surgery and one to the local hospital for a chest Xray.    This has given me time and space to think, to ponder and to be thankful.

Thankful that in my little corner of the world here in Scotland we are blessed with free health care, well we pay for it in our taxes but  its free at the point of use.   So no matter how minor or serious my illness, or how little money I have,  I can access medical care and treatment at any time of the day or night if necessary.    In Scotland we don’t even pay for prescription medicines.   So two trips to the doc, an xray and antibiotics…. that’ll be ….. oooh let’s see! ….  No charge!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever the failings of our National Health Service   (and we know there are some)  it still means that whatever your circumstances you have access to health care whenever you need it.    What a blessing, especially when I think of the children we sponsor who live in countries where health care is not available unless you can pay, and illness often means a choice between medication or food.

Compassion provides health care for the children in the sponsorship programme can you imagine what a relief that must be to impoverished families to know that they will be cared for and treated if they are sick?    I cannot imagine how it must feel to see your child sick and not be able to afford treatment for them, it must be heartbreaking.

Compassion provides holistic care for the children they work with, here’s an excerpt from their website:  

“Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Programme is the heart of their ministry to children living in poverty. It aims to disciple, equip and enable children to develop into fulfilled and responsible adults.

The Child Sponsorship Programme is operated through a Child Development Centre which is run in partnership with a local church in the child’s community. Child sponsorship is a one-to-one relationship between a sponsor and a needy child living in desperate poverty in the developing world.

The faithful financial support of the individual sponsor equips the child for the future by providing for their core needs – spiritually, economically, physically, socially and emotionally.

Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Programme offers: educational opportunities, including literacy and life skills training; health care and health education; and, if required, supplemental nutrition. Children are also given opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel.

The unique structure of the one-to-one sponsorship model allows sponsors and sponsored children to have input into each other’s lives by writing letters, and through prayer. Many Compassion sponsors also take the opportunity to visit their sponsored child.”

There are so many children of all ages and in 26 countries around the world waiting for  sponsors today and for just 70p a day you can change the story for a child living in desperate poverty.   Click here to meet them.

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