Rest, reflect and repent. Be still, contemplate and turn around.
Shrove Tuesday has gone. Today is Ash Wednesday. Lent is here. A season of preparation for Easter. In a sense Lent is a bit like covid lockdown but in a voluntary sense. We can either resent the restriction it brings or within the challenge see the opportunities it brings.
Why do we-I-find Lent hard? Is it because we associate it with seemingly negative things, like giving up chocolate? There is no doubt that when Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness (at the start, not the end of his ministry) it was really tough. But it was the launchpad for all He was to achieve going forward. Interestingly, repent in Hebrew means to turn round but towards something that is good. Lent can be many things but above all it’s about getting our focus right first so that we can do right as a fruit of that.
I have been promising to tell you what I planned to do for 60@60 in Lent. So here are the ideas:
*Cook meals from different persecuted countries
*Live like a North Korean for a week on a basic diet
*Delete my BBC sport app
*Memorise Isaiah 60
Each of these will be quite a challenge (the app is already deleted). But it will be good to stand alongside my persecuted family food wise. The memorisation reminds me that many around the world are still not allowed bibles (it is forbidden to buy a Bible on the Internet in China, for example and owning one can get you executed in North Korea 🇰🇵)
I shall also be looking out for opportunities to bless others-it’s great to be positive during Lent too!
Rest, reflect and repent. I hope you get the chance to do that too.
Happy Valentines Day. I hope that it has been a good one for you whatever your circumstances; it can be a hard day for many. But what is love? For Valentine it meant giving his life in 269 for daring to marry Christian couples and tell the Emperor about Jesus. Legend has it that he healed his jailers daughter of blindness and before going to his execution left her a note signed “Your Valentine”.
Love is more than gushing emotions, supercharged with pheromones. While romantic love 💘 is important, the Greek word most used in the New Testament for love is agape, from which comes our word “agony”. True love has a cost.
340 million Christians around the world face rejection, imprisonment or death for their faith. Loving service to those in need or bringing healing can be a reason for suspicion or beatings, in countries such as India. It takes a lot to love when it is rejected and spurned. But as St Paul said, love always hopes always perseveres. Let’s remember all those who have difficult choices of love to make.
It was a great thrill today to see not one but two goldfinches. Along with a flock of Fieldfare and a Sparrowhawk chasing another bird it meant I reached 60 bird species. It’s taken about 4 months but I’ve quite enjoyed it and will see if I can get a few more. But another tick on the 60@60 list 🙂 😃 I also discovered I have written nearly 70 blogs now…
I said in my last post I would tell you about my Lent plans for the 40 days up to Easter. That will have to wait until Wednesday…I will keep you in suspense until then….! In the meantime enjoy your pancakes on Tuesday whatever you put on them!
This week has been cold! I haven’t risked running but decided in addition to the snow angel I would do something I hadn’t done in years-make a snowman! Trying to make a snowball bigger by rolling it around the garden proved pretty ineffective so I resorted to piling it up. Then the eyes wouldn’t stay in! Hardly a work of art but a 60@60 creation. I’ve seen some amazing snow sculptures (love to see your pictures) but this isn’t one of them! Nevertheless, it’s good to know that with all our imperfections and idiosyncrasies our creator stands back, looks at us and loves what He has made.
I’ve also been busy preparing for the latest round of greetings cards deliveries-the new stock should arrive tomorrow. I shall announce a bit more about Lent at the weekend-nothing dramatic but ideas welcome. The sixty day beard period will come to completion in early March and I’m already planning the culmination with the rainbow 🌈 beard. The first dyes arrived today..any suggestions on how best to do it are welcomed.
I am thinking today about a Pastor called Raymond Koh who was abducted in broad daylight four years ago in Malaysia 🇲🇾 His grieving family are still looking for answers. I remember sharing a meal with the man who Pastor Koh was travelling to meet up with when he was abducted; who told me the feelings of guilt that he experienced. If they hadn’t scheduled the meeting would Raymond have been safe? Pastor Koh is one of thousands of Christians abducted whose family and friends wonder where they are; who are hit with ransom demands or who are threatened if they pursue the case. Do remember the individuals today and Open Doors partners as they seek to support the families. Your contributions help make this possible.
Well, I’m now one twentieth of my way to 70! Or halfway through 60@60. So here is a short update of progress so far:
*26 activities completed so a bit behind target but 3 ongoing. Some ideas have been held back a bit by lockdown.
*£3 400 raised or 57% of target
So thanks so much, that’s fantastic. I am pretty shattered physically at the moment but have a few more ideas that I’m hoping to start implementing soon. So watch this space!
Today it snowed in Shoeburyness. Apparently the first proper snow ❄ here since 2009. Cold but beautiful! And gave me the chance to make a snow angel!
Today I saw a green woodpecker-only 4 birds to hit the 60. And recipes are well into the 30’s; last night I made broccoli and celery soup…
All of this is pretty peripheral to the main purpose of the whole thing which is to stand alongside and support persecuted Christians. The picture of the snow and berries above reminds me of blood and purity. Of Jesus’s death for us but also the suffering of North Korean Christians in the Labour camps.
I have attached another clip. This is another reminder of why you and I are doing this together:
In case you ever want to make a donation the best way to way to do so is via justgiving. I am under AdrianSmith6060. Thanks.
Were you on your doorstep at 6pm to clap for Captain Tom? Who would have thought a year ago that this virtually unknown 99 year old would be catapulted so dramatically into the spotlight and capture the nations heart?
2 500 years ago a young Jewish girl 👧 was similarly catapulted into the spotlight. Her name was Esther and she became Queen to a Persian King. She risked her neck to stop a genocide with her Uncles words ringing in her ears “Who knows if you weren’t born for such a time as this.”
For such a time as this….You rarely know when your special moment is going to come or what impact your choices will make. But it is important to step out, however small that might initially seem. I wonder what you are being called to do or when that moment may come? £33 million may be somewhat out of my sphere but I still hope to reach £6k.
I can’t remember if the straggly succulent in my kitchen has ever bloomed in all the years I’ve had it but it has this year. It’s moment has come….
I always remember meeting Father Douglas in 🇮🇶 Iraq in 2015. He had previously suffered terribly at the hands of kidnappers in Baghdad and had moved to Erbil. A few months later IS invaded the Nineveh Plain and thousands of people fled to Erbil. Father Douglas had to act fast. He accommodated 125 families in his church compound and set up a school, a library, training area, etc. He was so positive and set about, with support from Open Doors building what he called a family, not a camp. For Father Douglas it was “such a time as this”. One man, making a difference to the lifes of many…
This morning I went for a run. The wind was howling and the rain was lashing and I must admit there were moments when I would have like to have stopped. But it was important to me to keep going and not give up. Often we give up just when we are nearly there, in our work, our personal life or whatever. This video shows us that we should never give up (though sadly the whole event was probably caused by the drone operator scaring the bears)
I also love the song by Mandisa called”Overcomer”. The lyrics are great and a reminder to not give up however hard things are. And for many things truly are hard- if they are for you now I pray you will find strength to keep going.
Persecuted Christians around the world suffer everything from death threats; torture and beatings through to ostracism and rejection. For the 50-70k christians held in labour camps in North Korea it can be a life and death situation. It takes a lot to be an Overcomer in such a situation. But they have a higher call in their lives , one who they believe is worth it all. And when you’re struggling it means so much to know there are others there supporting you and willing you on, that you’re not alone…
I am thrilled to report I’ve nearly sold out of cards with 90% gone. Do let me know if you are still interested in buying any as I can order more. I know some were interested in the cross ✝️ card for Easter but maybe I should have a sunrise one too for the Resurrection (two suggestions though the bottom one is a sunset)! So let me know so I can gauge interest. Thanks.
If you ever feel you want to donate direct please go to the following:
A very quick one today. Exciting news is that the donation level reached £3k today. It’s halfway to the target so thanks for all your donations.
The cards are starting to go fast now with over half gone. Some designs are of course a bit more popular than others. But still quite a few left so let me know if interested.
So it’s a halfway there day and much to be thankful for day. So thankyou! But I’m reminded of running my one and only marathon-it was great to finish the first half but still the same to do again! But with perseverance, your support and God’s help I will get there…
Today I heard that attacks on christians in Democratic Republic of Congo by Islamic extremists are killing 100 people per month. It is causing great fear and anxiety. The needs are great worldwide keep spreading. Your donations enable us to make a difference.
An extra photo that I forgot to include yesterday. It’s of hops, essential to beer drinkers. So this is number 25 if it’s of any interest…
This morning a colleague sent me a video of winter flooding washing away the tents of Syrian refugees. Kids with limited clothing in the snow. It took me back to 2017 and visiting a refugee camp in Lebanon 🇱🇧. The heart breaking stories but the incredible work being done by a local church with help from Open Doors. Schooling, feeding medical provision; mental, physical and spiritual support. Making a difference. And that support is still so needed.
Or Amina in Nigeria 🇳🇬. Seeing her husband killed in front of her by Boko Haran and her sons seriously injured. Then about 3 years later being on a bus that was attacked, the men killed and being abducted for 8 months. Open Doors gave her physical support and trauma counselling. And she is one of many.
As promised, I’m letting you know that the greetings cards have arrived from the printers. Yay! There are over 20 different designs to chose from so no complaints about lack of variety please! All are pictures I’ve taken since August and come with an envelope and a biodegradable plastic wallet. I’ve only done ten of each design at present but can re-order if necessary though a bit more expensive than buying in bulk.
Ah, I hear you say, but I don’t send cards, I’m a digital person. At 5 inches x 7 inches they look very nice in a frame too!
Each card is digitally printed on 300gsm card so it looks professional and is slightly glossy (but not too much)!
I have tried to select a variety of views from East Sussex up to Northumberland. The majority are from around Shoeburyness though!
If you are interested in ordering any do let me know. You can chose any combination you like. For ease of numbering I have grouped the photos in the post in fours. Starting from the top they would be numbers 1-4 in a clockwise direction so the sunflower 🌻 would be number 3 if ordering. For the second group of 4 photos featured, Dustanburgh Castle top left would be 5 if ordering the cliffs at Beachy Head no.7. Etc, etc.
In terms of donations it would be a minimum amount of £1.50 each card plus p&p. If donating for the cards via justgiving.com please don’t gift aid as thats not allowed in tax terms. But you can for a normal donation so please feel free to do that too 😉
This is yet another one of the 60@60 activities! As ever, it’s had its challenges. However it’s not about me setting up a card making business (!) but another way of raising awareness and money for persecuted Christians. That’s what it’s all about! The number of persecuted Christians this year has increased from 260 million worldwide to 340 million. The need keeps getting greater and you and I can make a difference.
I hope that you have had a good few days. There is a lot happening in the world 🌎 today with the American inauguration; Covid and flood risk in the North of England. Lots of challenges in the world.
Not a lot of 60@60 news in comparison to that! I have received a donation for growing the beard though I don’t think I will reach the Zeus standard. Maybe a Geography teacher!
I have received my sample greetings card. It looks good! I shall be ordering quite a few more and letting you know how you can order them. Lots of other photo designs too. Tweets, Facebook and texts are now our preference for communication but a card is still nice to receive. 🙂
Thanks as ever for your support. Every donation makes a difference to persecuted Christians, which is what this is all about.