And his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
A friend posted that her 6 year old had a tantrum over the Christmas present he thought he would be getting this year. In the first world we are focused on getting instead of giving, eating instead of fasting, consuming instead of simplifying our lives. How can be change that?
One of the things I have done over the last few years (since my daughter, then aged about 9, asked for a World Vision child sponsorship as her Christmas present) is to give goats, and fish farms, and cataract operations and mosquito nets as presents. Perhaps the cataract operations weren’t such a good idea. I gave them to my husband and he had his own cataract surgery (with complications!) the following year! It’s fun to try and choose an appropriate present. MissN was given mosquito nets (the mozzies always bite her!) My niece usually gets school supplies or sports equipment for third world kids.
Here are some places you can buy the kind of gifts that bless you, bless the recipient of the card and bless the recipient of the goods. You can’t beat that for giving!
Gospel for Asia – a weaving loom, a rickshaw, an outdoor toilet, a camel?
World Vision – soccer balls, a fish farm, a stable full of animals?
Compassion– toothbrushes, veggie seeds?
Tear Australia – tree seedlings, a smokeless stove?
Christian Blind Mission – glasses for children, a wheelchair?
There are a vast range of organisations which you can purchase from. There are some good ideas here. And here. Karma Currency enables the recipient to choose where their gift will be donated. And the wonderful Kiva organisation (just made my 20th loan!) have gift cards, which enable your gift recipients to loan to someone in the third world. And keep on loaning, once their loan has been repaid.
Let’s make giving the essence of Christmas this year. And giving to the least fortunate, those who haven’t been blessed to have been born into our affluent societies.
Peggy Powell is a Facebook friend I’ve only known a short time (less than a year) but is a darling lady with a Christlike heart. She is enduring pancreatic cancer with fortitude and grace. In the words of her daughter Rebecca
“Peggy has stage 4 pancreatic cancer with an average life expectancy of less than a year. She has written a bucket list and on the top of it is taking her whole family (kids and grandkids included) to Disneyland for a few days. To make memories for the grandchildren who won’t have their Nana around for long. With airfare, hotels, park tickets and food we have figured the grand total to be about… $10000. I know things are tight for everybody and I wouldn’t even ask if we had time to get money together another way. Thank you for anything you can do to help. Please help us make her dreams come true!”
Can you spare $10? $20? $50?
You can make Peggy’s Disneyland trip a reality by donating here.
For those of you who interpret Genesis 1-11 in a concrete manner (ie you believe that it is a factual account and that the details should be intepreted without considering metaphor, myth, symbolism or that the literary genre of Genesis 1-11 might not be historic narrative in the post-Enlightenment modern sense of ‘history”)… a question:
Genesis 9:2 says
The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.
That is not literally true.
So how do you reconcile that with a belief that the rest of Genesis 1-11 is a historic factual narrative wherein the details are to be interpreted in a concrete manner?
If this verse employs hyperbole, why is the rest of Genesis 1-11 pure narrative discourse to be interpreted concretely?
Today I give thanks that I do not have a paid job. Yes, I miss the sense of achievement. Yes, I miss the company. Yes, I miss feeling important and successful and the praise for a job well done and the satisfaction of being good at what I did.
But being available to care for my family, and especially my beautiful daughter, is so much more important to me.
Yes, you can do both… in an ideal world with support networks and super flexible workplace arrangements or your own business. But it didn’t work for me.
So I am thankful that I do have the privilege of being home with my girl when she is not well. Many mothers, probably most mothers worldwide, do not have that choice.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you wrote the psalmist in Psalm 118.
I’m going to try to post daily on something for which I am grateful. Some friends are blogging the 365 Gratitude Project and others posting daily gratiude updates to facebook. I will try to resist my tendency to overthink things and write long, illustrated blog posts. Nor am I going to commit to a photo per post. I’m not going to be adamant about posting every day (life sometimes prevents that and I am NOT in ownership of a smart phone to post from – nor do I want one).
Was pondering where I should start (thematically and practically) and weighing up if I should tweet, use tumblr, facebook or my good old neglected blog. And I realised had my first thing to be grateful for – the myriad ways I can connect with people over the interwebz.
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is a long distance call…
I am thankful for how I can open my laptop and chat with my family who live in South Africa and England and Wales and Queensland and the USA and Canada and elsewhere. I am thankful that I have made and can communicate with friends in Kuwait and Bonaire and Brazil and Mauritius and other exotic and not-so-exotic places (as well as friends who live just down the road).
When we emigrated from South Africa to Australia in 1987, the idea of a videophone was a dream of mine and one I prayed we would be able to use with my family before the end of the century. Sadly my parents never had more than dial-up internet and so couldn’t video chat with us. But I am thankful that facebook especially has allowed families to re-connect. I love seeing photos of my nieces and nephews, chatting with my aunt and cousins whom I haven’t seen irl for far too many years and sharing the lives of those we left behind when we moved to Australia.
I’m sharing this story from my friend Steven Clark Goad in California. On Sunday 27 March, Jenny Gosch died as a result of an aneurysm, leaving a young husband and 5 children, the youngest just 3 months old. The family had just moved to Texas a month ago. The medical bills are horrendous, and there will be ongoing childcare and other costs. Can you make a difference to this family?
More details and information on how to donate are here. Let’s shower them with cards (email me at wjcsydney @ yahoo dot com for the address) and keep them in our prayers.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
A young man born without arms or legs who is not angry at God any longer.
A member of the Mafia deserts the Mob because of his faith.
A doctor tells how and why she and her husband went to Ethiopia and started a hospital for fistula patients.
Another doctor tells how he died for 55 minutes – and returned to life. Obviously. Or he wouldn’t be relating the account.
I loved Open House Volume 3. The range of interviews Sheridan selected from the program are varied, but almost uniformly inspiring. I was enthralled by Michael Franzese’s journey from mobster to living a life of faith – all through the power of the love of a faithful woman. I have been exposed to a lot of internet “hype” about the amazing Nick Vujicic but Sheridan’s interview showed his vulnerability. I was left with immense admiration for all Nick has accomplished but could still relate his journey to my very mundane one.
Joel Osteen faced probing questions from Sheridan, Caroline Jones’ unorthodox (in the Christian sense) grief reaction is handled sensitively, and there is poignancy in Bryce Courtney’s story – surprisingly not in the account of the loss of his son from AIDS. You will have to discover it for yourself just why.
Life, faith (or lack thereof) and culture. It’s great reading. And would make a perfect Christmas gift.
Get it. Trust me on this.
Did you see anyone with LOVE written on her arms last Friday?
We (MissN and me) had Love written on our arms:
I guess we could have been a bit more creative, huh? Colour would have been good. My friend Sam had photos on facebook of the most amazingly colourful arms on her and her friend!
Why did we use permanemt marker on ourselves? To raise awareness and show our support for the issues and more importantly to show support for those suffering from depression, self harm and addiction. And to celebrate that there IS hope and recovery.
Thanks to Melly – I copied the post below from your blog. I’m sure you don’t mind.
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The vision is that we actually believe these things…
You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.
You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen. We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change.
Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.
The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in Australia and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.
[ from http://www.twloha.com/vision/ ]
If suspect someone you know is self harming, please urge them to get professional help. It’s addictive and very common amongst teens, especially girls. Many will try it because it’s “in” (and the emo subculture is an almost-mainstream way for to express their pain) and become addicted to dealing with their pain and depression with self harm, instead of learning other ways of coping and managing their mental health.
MissN and I attended a Women’s Event at my church back in March where the men cooked for us gals and shared their recipes. MissN has been making Simon’s Thai red curry ever since, both with fish and with chicken! The session finished at 4 and we had 2 hours till evening service at 6 and so decided to go down to McMahon’s Point (I used to catch the ferry to and from McMahon’s Point to Drummoyne when I worked in North Sydney many years ago) and chill. We had fun!
I love how the clouds in this photo dominate both the bridge and the Opera House! Spot the train crossing the bridge! We watched the ferries
and the water taxis
MissN decided to act like a 3 year old and had fun rolling on the grass.
and behaving like a kid. She does that well.
She isn’t quite grown up yet. But then neither is her mum.
I think we will always have fun together.
You can see more Skywatch Friday posts here.