Receiving the gift…

Christmas is all about gifts. The vast majority of us will be giving and receiving presents. It was a delight for me when my youngest daughter was thrilled with what I got her for her birthday recently, even though it wasn’t expensive. But how do you feel if your gift is ignored or rejected?

For me the pain of this has been brought home recently. To aid my attempt to identify 60 different birds (now up to 49) I bought a bird table and feeder. I’ve tried 4 different positions-not a tweet! I have also put out a box with free bibles in it and put it in a prominent position-completely untouched.

I am disappointed. Both these cost me something. But I will keep reaching out. The gift of Jesus at Christmas is often overlooked, rejected and ignored. As a baby Jesus had to escape death by becoming a refugee with his parents. For persecuted Christians around the world this is one of the times of the year where they face the worst antagonism from those around them yet ironically it is when many non-believers find Jesus. The light still shines in the darkness…

More milestones this week as I passed one third of the way through the challenge. All on target at the moment; 20 activities done and 3 underway and thanks to your generosity, giving is on target too. The challenge is to maintain the momentum. I seldom mention 60 acts of kindness as part of 60@60 but that’s going well too.

So, as Christmas card deadlines get closer (I think I have got all my presents) may you enjoy the Christmas build up and not get too stressed. And do remember those for which this is a dangerous time and of course, Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

Of calendars and boxes…

The last calendar was sold today so thank you to all of you who bought one (though there are a couple of you yet to make a donation!) It amazes me how 100 have gone…Again, thank you. And here are a couple of sunrise photos from today as a bonus to the calendar!

Open Doors started out in 1955 when Brother Andrew started smuggling bibles behind the Iron curtain. Even today it is illegal in some countries such as North Korea to have a Bible. I was struck by a church I spoke at last week who had put a box outside their building where people could take a Bible for free. 85 have gone so far. As another 60@60 challenge I have made my own version and put it by the front pavement. Let’s see what happens..

I put up most of my decorations tonight. The Menorah reminds me of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah (which starts next Thursday). It celebrates a time when the lights in the Temple burned for 8 days without oil. I’m reminded that God is able to provide even when things look impossible. And for so many persecuted Christians you are being the hands and feet of God through your giving.

Finally, in my last update I asked if anyone was willing to suggest a song or a carol for inclusion in the blog for a small donation. Thanks to the lovely Jo for putting forward “O little town of Bethlehem”. Here is a new version below. Please feel free to put forward your own suggestions..

Opening locked doors.

7am on a cold winter morning. Standing outside a closed front door in my running gear; a sinking feeling knowing the key is in the lock on the inside. I grab the emergency key I keep in a safe place. An arrow prayer. The doors opens which hadn’t happened in similar crises. Hallelujah!

Open Doors! Hope in seemingly impossible situations. Where it doesn’t seem possible brave people bring help to those who most need it around the world. Prayer and resources are key to making this happen.

And to you, dear reader, may God give you wisdom, resources and faith to deal with any closed doors in your own situation. I don’t know what you are facing but with Him nothing is impossible .

So, looking ahead into advent and thinking of activities and fund raising….Yesterday was National Giving Day. Missed it! …But, I literally only have a handful of calendars left. I have set myself the challenge of reading the 24 chapters of Luke’s Gospel over the 24 days of advent. But I started to think of other little advent challenges and this is over to you to see if it sparks any interest. Is anyone out there willing to sponsor any of the following:

*Any Christmas carol or song of your choice-I will post a link of a youtube clip of this.

*A Christmas cracker joke?!

On a more serious note any gifts you give this advent could help persecuted young people and children receive a present when they most need to be remembered. £22 would get a Bible to a persecuted believer; £26 gives one person trauma care; £70 helps Colombia Children’s Centre care for and educate the children of persecuted church leaders. Each gift unlocks a door to hope.

To find out more about Open Doors Christmas resources go to



Well, today is the start of Advent, a time of hope and preparation for what is to come. Even more important in this challenging year. I wonder what will be behind each window on my advent calendar (besides chocolate!) Exciting!

Having said the above about hope I have struggled to forgive myself for a careless mistake I made this afternoon; carelessness being something I am very prone to. Do you ever get frustrated with yourself? But nevertheless the star of Bethlehem shines in the east and calls wise people to seek the child who brings light in the darkness and is the King to come.

In all the contradictions of this year and with Christmas being so close a rose has bloomed in my garden. A strange in between time we are in…

It’s a bit like that with 60@60. Virtually all the calendars are gone but that’s the current main big activity nearly complete. I keep doing more recipes and looking for more bird species. I’ve now bought a bird table but no success yet. I am working away at 60 Random Acts of kindness too.

I am looking ahead to new activities I can do. Quite a few ideas… If you are stuck thinking of Christmas presents I may also put a few things out there where you can make a specific support a persecuted Christian for Christmas.

Looking ahead a 60’s quiz is in there as an option but is Christmas the right time or is the new year better? Any feedback on this or anything else you’d like to see me do?

Have a good few days and enjoy your advent calendar chocolate!

Bits and pieces..

I thought it was high time for an update on what’s been happening over the last few days. I spent much of my time over the weekend posting out calendars and cycling/driving around Southend delivering them. Some posted first class Saturday arrived Monday; others still haven’t reached their destinations! Apologies on behalf of the Post Office. But I am amazed-well over 80 have now been taken (book now if you want one!) and they are going as far as Australia and Ghana. It’s quite something when I look back at your support and God’s faithfulness to see how far this has come in such a short period of time. Thank you!

The calendars have taken up much of my time but I did manage to see a duck I’d not spotted on my travels. On the guitar I’m getting better at playing “brown eyed girl” and finger picking “Michael row the boat ashore”. Also tried three new recipes but I don’t think I will be invited on a cookery programme…

At the weekend I hit 30% of the £6000 target. That is nearly £2000 that wouldn’t have been available to feed hungry families; provide trauma care and help marginalised women and children. All now possible with your help. So thank you! The journey of 60@60 still has a long way to go yet however so please spread the word…

Today as I write is exactly a month to Christmas. It seems unreal! This year will be very different for many of us but for lots of persecuted Christians it brings different challenges. Like for Daniela in Colombia…

Cracked pots…

How do you cope with intense disappointment? When your own failure stares you in the face and emotionally you can’t cope with it? That’s the tension of having a perfectionist tendency but not being great with details.

The calendars arrived today. The quality and the printing are great and there are no typos. They are A4 as stated but I thought the picture would be A4 with a separate A4 calendar sheet. No. The picture is A5 and the calendar sheet A5, all on a side of A4. So disappointed as I really wanted them to look great. How did I misunderstand so badly? Maybe that’s my pride.

In these sort of situations I struggle in my faith and get into verbalising very negative self-talk which I then have to apologise to God about. Not good. But even worse if you don’t don’t get up, dust yourself off and ask God for grace to keep going and try to learn from mistakes. Amazingly though the calendars are selling…thank you.

Sometimes it is possible to put persecuted Christians on a pedestal. And there are many amazing examples. But some do compromise their faith under pressure or false promises only to come back to the Lord, like Iris and Muluken in Ethiopia. We are each jars of clay. Please remember those bowed down in desperate situations and those who feel they have failed. Thanks.

Something’s cooking..

Well, after a full day’s work I seem to have spent most of the evening in the kitchen, not that it was planned that way. As part of the 60 recipes challenge I decided to cook courgette and feta frappes along with a roast pepper and couscous side dish. It was actually very nice! Then I realised the double cream I had bought needed using up so for the first time in my life I have prepared home-made apple ice cream. It tastes nice before freezing so I hope it is after!

The guitar playing continues too-I’m on lesson 7 and trying to master the rhythm to “Brown eyed girl” and finger picking the G scale and “Michael row the boat ashore. Eric Clapton has nowt to worry about though!

None of these are new challenges but like Russian dolls, challenges within a challenge. The same is true for the calendar-just waiting for it’s arrival now-probably be sometime next week. Just under half are now accounted for so if you haven’t signed up for one now is the time to order yours! For those who didn’t see it on Facebook, here are a couple of (better quality) sample pages.

I cleared out the vegetable patch on Sunday-no, not one of my 60@60 but it did make me think in various ways. The purple sprouting broccoli had grown to a height of about 5 feet then blew over in the gales about 6 weeks ago. It kept growing lots of leaves but no broccoli. It may me think-I am actually fruitful in how I live or do I just bear lots of leaves? Am I actually fulfilling the purpose I am planted here for? Jesus told a story about a vineyard owner who gave the non-producing vines one last year to produce grapes before he ripped the vines out. A sobering thought. Many persecuted Christians are living in very hard contexts (soil) but so many impress me about how they live their lives to make a difference.

A bird in the book…

The end of another weekend. Yesterday we went again to Rainham Marshes and I was able to add lapwing, shoveler and widgeon (the latter two are pretty ducks-widgeon in the photo) to my list. Over 40 bird species now spotted. The reeds really swayed in the wind and rain!

About 30 calendars sold so far so still plenty of time to get one. An ideal Christmas present or something attractive for your own house. I hope to receive them from the printers in about 10 days..

Well, before I go and eat my avocado and tomato pappadele (another one of the 60 recipes) a quick reminder that today, 15th, is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church. This is what 60@60 is about-standing alongside those who need it most. Thanks again for all your support-it means so much to me but more importantly, to them.

2021 Calendar..

Yes, I am pleased to announce the 2021 “Sunrises and Sunsets” calendar is now at the printer’s and should be with me in 10 days or so. It will be professional quality printing with card cover and heavy paper. Each page is A4 size with a picture and calendar for the month. I have ordered a 100 so having takers for them all is a bit of a faith exercise. Having said that I really hope that people will buy them. They really will look good on any wall. Countryfile calendar type of quality; the photos are quite nice too! Here’s a sneak preview-very poor phone pictures which look much darker than the real thing. Technical glitch-I can’t work out how to download the .pdf into wordpress. Ah well!

If you would like one or more please contact me. Minimum price would be £5 as they are not cheap to produce but if you can afford more that would be fantastic. I will pay the price of printing and postage so you can be generous to those who need it. It would be great if we could raise hundreds of pounds. Just let me know how many you want; your name and address and make a donation through my just giving page (if you can’t do that, it’s fine, cheques or similar are fine).

Finally, your giving does make a real difference to those for whom following Jesus is a daily challenge. Here’s one example (pre-covid)

Birds and recipes

Just a few outings after a lovely warm weekend. Got a few more photos yesterday and with advice have selected the ones that are going in the calendar.

Went across to Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve and got five more bird species. There were more but I just wasn’t quick enough to see them properly. So up in the mid 30’s now. The Brent Geese were very loud yesterday on East Beach.

Also pleased to say that I’m up to double figures on new recipes.

All these seem small things but as they say a long journey starts with a single step. So it’s a case of keeping at it, just like our persecuted family need to do. Thanks for your ongoing support.