Endings, Beginnings

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 

James 2:14-16 (NRSVA)

This was part of my bible reading for yesterday, 31st December 2018. It was particularly striking for me because it seems to be the summation of what God has been speaking into the lives of my family and I.

I’m beginning 2019 with Veganuary, for a combination of reasons. Going vegan is the single best action I can make for the environment. Countless studies have shown this. Here’s a recent one. I also wrote a blog post about climate change a few years back.

Climate change affects the poorest most, so addressing my contribution to this is something I can do that is concrete. I also don’t want to be party to the treatment of animals that takes place on farms and in abbatoirs. It’s violent whichever way you look at it and I can’t reconcile the compassion that I have learned through following Jesus with violence in whatever form. I also have health problems and veganism has been demonstrated time and again as the antidote to so many health problems that for someone like me, I can’t not do it.

We’re also developing a proper financial system for our family so that we can be more responsible and more accountable with our money. Not that we’re exactly irresponsible, but we’re not as mindful of all our assets as we could be. Our income has dropped rapidly in the past few years so it was necessary and long overdue. It’ll mean focusing on the important things.

So I prayed about what should be my phrase or word for 2019 and came up with this:

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Seems obvious, but Complex PTSD can make things feel overwhelmingly complicated, so this is a real blessing just on its own. Be blessed, friends, in 2019. Lay down your life for Him so that He can pick it up. Shalom.

Choices

One of the first things I learned at Celebrate Recovery is that I can make choices. I also learned that my choices affect my life and the lives of those around me. Childhood abuse robs the victim of the awareness of being able to make choices, and as an adult I am still learning this. On the other hand, it has given me a keen insight into how and where we make choices and how seemingly innocuous acts can be part of something that helps another human being, or something that actively harms them, even though we’re not actively aware of it at the time. I think we who call ourselves followers of Christ must take stock of our choices, particularly in our consumer-driven culture.

…the endless debates about the rights and wrongs of aid often obscure what really matters, not so much where the money comes from but where it goes…

No one in the aid debate really disagrees with the basic premise that we should help the poor when we can… The philosopher Peter Singer has written about the moral imperative to save the lives of those we don’t know. He observes that most people would willingly sacrifice a US$1,000 suit to rescue a child seen drowning in a pond, and argues that there should be no difference between that drowning child and the nine million children who, every year, die before their fifth birthday. 

~ from Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish…

Mark 14:7 (NRSVA)

For the first time in history it is possible to eradicate extreme poverty (defined as those living on less than US$1.25 a day). One thing we can do, as ordinary people who are not managers of NGOs or politicians or Bill Gates, is to make ethical choices in various aspects of our lives. I can choose to buy food that has been produced by someone who received a fair wage, I can choose to buy clothing not produced in a sweatshop, I can choose to be a good steward of the resources I have been granted. I can choose not to buy or use the services of companies that are known to exploit people or resources.

Part of this choice for our family has been to sponsor a child through Compassion UK. Compassion work with and through local churches in more than 30 of the world’s poorest countries and, because of this, people’s needs can be met more accurately. They are child-focussed, Christ-centred and compassion-based. Theirs is the only child sponsorship programme that has been proven to work and Compassion always publish their yearly accounts for the public to view. Click the link on the right hand side of this page to find out more. You may need to scroll down to see it.

Reblog: Advent Activities

I am so looking forward to using our advent wreath this year, with the accompanying book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. We are going to inherit my parents’ Christmas tree and we’ll decorate with home made ornaments created using origami and salt dough. Today is ‘make Christmas cards’ day, using cards from last year 😀

I am also thrilled to be trying out Ann’s guide to a grateful Christmas, where the focus is gently moved away from consumerism and back towards a celebration of the birth of the most special baby.

My Make Do and Mend Year

As Christmas of My Make Do and Mend Year approached a couple of years ago, I had a rant about advent calendars, and blogged about my idea for doing an activity each day with the Smalls.
I totally LOVE this idea, probably more than the kids do. They have been bought Lego calendars by a relative, which I am sure will be a billion times more exciting than my attempts to step away from consumerism, but I am determined to persevere with this idea!

So for anyone else wanting to do a similar thing, here is my list of 24 Advent Activities for you to pick from if you’d like 🙂
I’ve tried to vary it a bit from last years, but some of these things are becoming tradition.
(I know it’s probably too late now, but if you are still wanting a homemade Advent calendar, then there are…

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All Aboard the Number Two

I just want to share this here as well as on my eco blog. Innit marvellous!

The Un-paving Paradise Project

What a brilliant idea. That’ll get the job done. I was thinking only the other day how human waste is an unused, ever-renewable resource***. We must be able to utilise it more. Ingenious!

*** I really, really must get out more.

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Two Weeks In…

The Un-paving Paradise Project

Well we’ve been in our new house a fortnight and we’re s l o w l y getting sorted. We’ve had a quote for a new roof that would make you choke on your dinner, but thankfully the plumbing issues were (relatively) minor, as are the electrical problems. What can I say? In an old house these things are part of the ‘character’. Two weeks in and, despite there having been flooding nearby, we now have central heating, hot water and, as of a half hour ago, a brand new cooker! I like camping, but it wears a little thin trying to live the camping life in your home o_O Having said that, we have made good use of the bread-maker, slow cooker, microwave and halogen oven, skills which I’m sure will come in handy as we endeavour to lessen our energy consumption. After all, it’s a journey, not a…

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Funky Granny Square Jacket

First post of The Un-paving Paradise Project, my newly-launched blog for more eco-friendly living.

The Un-paving Paradise Project

I made lots of presents last Christmas and gave them to friends and family. In January I took on the slightly more ambitious project of crocheting a jacket for our little Fluff. It is, at long last, finished. I made so many mistakes along the way that it’s a wonder it did get finished. I got fed up with it at one point and made a couple of other (smaller) things as gifts. Nonetheless, I have hidden or snipped off the unsightly ends and crocheted a border around all the edges. I then added some large mismatched buttons from my craft box to give it an extra little je ne sais quois.

CAM00179

CAM00178

The pattern came from Kitsch Bitsch and can be downloaded here for a small fee (I have no links to the site – it’s just a good pattern). I adapted it to make a jacket suitable for my…

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The *^&$%#*£!!! Response to Climate Change

The passage below is from an email I received from campaign group Avaaz. As part of my degree I have studied climate change. I know this is something we continue to ignore at our peril. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Christians should be leading the way with our response to climate change. Reusing plastic bags and recycling a few tins is not enough (though it’s a good start). Read below to find out what you can do:

 

‘The last ice age happened in 6 months. 6 months for the planet to unleash an army of apartment-building-size ice blocks across Europe and the United States. It was a climate tipping point where the balance is knocked completely out of control and threatens the survival of everything — and three more tipping points exactly like it are on the verge of happening.

It’s our *^&$%#*£!!! climate moment according to a leading NASA scientist, and only a *^&$%#*£!!! massive coordinated day of action response, right now, can change the future we’re facing.

One agreement with common sense steps to end dirty energy can save us. That’s why the UN has called an urgent climate meeting in just over 100 days with all major world leaders — if we greet them on September 21st with the largest ever global climate mobilisation in history we can break through the walls of mega coal, oil, and business that prevent even the best politicians from doing what is right.

There’s no way to get around how big a task this is. But together, each small action will add up into a millions-strong movement that literally drowns out the opposition and gives our leaders the best reason to break free and build a hopeful, clean and green future. Click below to join in:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/join_to_change_everything/?bbGribb&v=41138 

“Tipping points” are feedback loops, where climate change feeds back on itself and causes rapidly accelerating, catastrophic consequences. Right now, methane gas that is 25 times worse for global warming than CO2 is frozen in our ice. But as the ice melts, the gas leaks, causing more melting and each melt loses us another layer of reflective ice shield that we rely on to keep the planet cool, more methane and less ice means more warming still, and everything starts to spin out of control. And that’s just one example… it’s why scientists are yelling from the rooftops that we have to act now.

We actually have the tools and the plan we need to make sure we don’t cross into a world where tipping points destroy us. And while it will take global cooperation on a bigger scale than ever before, our 36 million-strong movement already has the people power necessary to move leaders from every country to take the first steps. Just days ago, the United States and China announced serious new plans to curb their pollution — momentum is building ahead of next year’s critical Paris climate summit where a deal could be inked, and in just over 100 days we can take it up a notch further.

Taking to the streets in a record setting show of power and coordination is one of the most effective ways to create change — from the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa to civil rights in the US, it’s sometimes been the only way. This is our chance to bring that power to the most important issue of our time: survival and a thriving future for our families, and their families and the generations of people to come. Click below to be a part of it all:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/join_to_change_everything/?bbGribb&v=41138 ‘