Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

What are you giving for Christmas?

December 8, 2012

A camel?

camel

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?

Ann Voskamp has an excellent post here on how to have more grateful kids.  She has some great ideas on how to change the culture from one of wanting to one of giving.

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 hereKarma 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.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Jude 2

Advertisements

Snorkelling at Shelly beach

August 5, 2011

I bought myself one of those ‘deals’ vouchers for a snorkelling lesson/guided snorkel early in the year. I LOVE snorkelling but just don’t make the effort to go unless we are on vacation, so thought this was a good way to get a snorkel in. (I can highly recommend Pro Dive Manly! ) After lots of procrastination (and some health issues), I finally booked myself in at the beginning of April before the weather got too cold. Sydney water stays warm till July at least but it’s nicer getting out into balmy air than chilly winds.  And I did choose the last warm day for several months!

It was amazing! I loved it. It was just me and the guide in the “group” and we snorkelled for an hour in the marine reserve at Shelley Beach (right in Sydney – at Manly.  How blessed are we Sydney-siders!).  Shelly Beach is apparently unique amongst east coast beaches in actually facing west.  Which makes it sheltered, calm and less windy and you can watch the sun set across the water.

The abundance of fish and sea life blew me away.  I didn’t see any leafy sea dragons (have to go further out to see them.. maybe another trip?)  But apparently one of the bronze whaler sharks that have become common in the bay since the marine reserve was established came within a metre of my face but I missed it.  I was looking the other way!  Which is probably good as I was a tad nervous about the resident sharks even though there haven’t been any incidents and there were SO many people in the water that I would not have been a logical target, even if one of them decided to turn mean.

I learned quite a few snorkelling tips and techniques as well as having one of those deeply pleasurable experiences that is almost spiritual in its intensity.  Who would have thought Sydney is home to such incredible sea life!

The sun was setting over Manly as I lingered on the beach, not wanting to do the hour’s drive back home in rush hour traffic.

Sunset from Shelly beach

Here is Shelly beach in the late afternoon (my lesson was at 4pm).

See the waves beyond the rocks?  That’s where you have the best chance of seeing the leafy sea dragons.  We snorkelled to the left of this photo, following the coast towards Manly staying close to the shore.

And the view looking north towards the Northern beaches:

towards the Northern beaches

Click on photos to get a larger view. You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here at Skywatch Friday.

Jude 2

Kiva – empowering people to escape poverty

August 2, 2011

You know the Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Well,  Kiva has a great promotion at the moment – join up and qualify for a free $25 loan.  You get to choose whom to loan to, and they foot the bill.  Don’t miss this opportunity to bless and empower the life of someone less fortunate than yourself. Our family has made a couple of Kiva loans and it’s empowering to partner with someone in a small way ($25 is less than the cost of 2 movie tickets) but know that you are helping them escape poverty.

Everyone will live in peace and prosperity,
      enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees,
      for there will be nothing to fear. (Micah 4:4)

What a goal to work towards!

Sign up here.  They only have 4000 1378 756 0 free loans so be quick!

Update: All the free loans are gone. Consider investing $25 in the future of a family in need. Once the loan is repaid, you can invest it again and again and bless other families. Continuous giving!

Update again: Looks like they just added another 4000 free loans!

Jude 2

What she wears, what she wears…

June 17, 2011

Today I am wearing:

green bead earrings bought in South Africa (2002)

green (dark khaki) cardigan bought in Positano (1999)

apple green top bought in Sydney (at my favourite-but-no-more-the-same-shop Von Troska) (2006)

blue jeans bought in Shanghai (at the fake designer centre on East Nanjing Road) (2009)

brown shoes bought in Hong Kong (2009)

My clothes tell of many amazing trips.  We like to travel!

I am so very thankful for the travel opportunities we have had, the places we have been, the memories we share.

Jude 2

Yay for the Australian medical system.

June 16, 2011

Today I am grateful for living in a country where medical services are freely available (in the cities anyway) and accessible by all, without being dependent on the ability to pay for those services. We have had a lot of medical expenses over the last 4-5 years and over the last year especially. I am thankful that Medicare covers the bulk of those costs (for non-Aussie readers most Australians pay a 1.5% income tax levy which funds the national health system) and our private health cover picks up a substantial portion of the rest.

I stopped counting when I got to 50 medical appointments (just for me) for 2011. My car “knows” the way to our medical practice and can get there on autopilot. So today I give thanks for a doctor who bulk bills my daughter’s visits.

Yes, I know the system has its faults. Yes, I know waiting lists in the public system are increasing and if you live in regional or remote areas, things can be very grim.  But it’s good to live in a country where a heart attack will not bankrupt you. My mother spent 6 weeks in ICU in South Africa after heart surgery (in a private hospital) and the bill was more than the value of my parents’ home. My dad never recovered from the debt.

So thank you, Dr L, for bulk billing MissN and thank you, Australia, for Medicare.

Jude 2

Stay at home mum

June 15, 2011

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.

Jude 2

I will give thanks

June 14, 2011

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.

Jude 2