Friday, 7 November 2014

Human Trafficking Head On // November Update

Dearest Friends and Family,

Apologies for the lack of updates from America! My first three months of mission have been very intense and now I am in the UK for a short break to organize some things for the rest of my stay.

In August 2014, I started my 6-month placement in Downtown Los Angeles, working on the frontline with victims of human trafficking. Currently, it is estimated that 27 million people are trapped in human trafficking (slavery) of some description. I have previously supported and researched organizations that deal mainly with victims of international trafficking, people who are kidnapped, sold or tricked into a life that they have no choice over: filled with brutality, poverty and cruelty that is way beyond the scope of what you and I could imagine. The demographic that I work with falls prey to the same shocking and terrifying brutality, cruelty and devastation, but with some crucial differences…

The victims that I work with and help to rescue are not usually those international victims that we are used to hearing about: the ones who went to another country, seeking better employment and opportunities. No, these girls and women that I work with are very different…

Their stories tend to start the same: their father/ grandfather/ uncle/ cousin/ brother (or a more than one of them) raped and abused them when they were very young. Step 1 in the breaking down of their self worth; in the normalization of abusive relationships and the realization that they will never loved, valued or protected any better than they were in that moment. Step 2: their mother/ grandmother/ aunt/ sister/ cousin (or all of the above) tells them that they are a liar, or that they are not special, that this happens to everyone and this is real life, so why do they think anyone should feel sorry for them or help them? - they learn that they should not reach out for help because they will be rejected and ridiculed and their hearts will be broken again by the crushing realization that they are not loved, valued or protected by the people who should be their safety. So they harden their hearts to that hope and open them to a future of ‘normal’ abuse, violence and sexual exploitation…

The average age that one of these girls is ‘turned out’ to sell herself and earn money for her pimp..? Twelve. 12. Not even a teenager yet. Whether she is courted by a ‘boyfriend’ (read ‘pimp’) who then forces her to work, sold by her parents (or often foster parents), turned out by her family to earn money for them, or kidnapped as a runaway who has nowhere else to go, these girls become slaves before their childhood is even over.

So where do I come into this horrific picture..? I am fortunate enough to be able to help manage and work in a safe house / shelter about 40 minutes outside of Los Angeles where these women can come and find safety, rest, love and an opportunity (if they choose to take it) to begin a new life. It is heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time and there is no ‘typical day’ at the shelter, but here are some examples of days that I have lived through with some of these girls already…

On Monday, I might be the ‘house mum’: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking the girls out for ice cream or a walk at the beach.
Tuesday, I could be breaking up fights or arguments in the house, or helping a girl to come to terms with the devastation she has suffered, or the overwhelming choices she now faces.
On Wednesday, I might get a call at 2am to our 24 hour hotline from a girl who is terrified and hiding from her pimp who has threatened to kill her; or a call from a social worker who has a girl in the Emergency Room who has jumped out of a moving vehicle, or was beaten her within an inch of her life..
Thursday, I may be at the police station, going on a sting operation with LAPD (yes, sometimes we even get to wear bullet proof vests!), or working alongside the FBI to help a girl to be strong enough to identify her pimp and help to uncover huge prostitution rings.
Friday, I could be collecting a newborn baby from court- already ‘in the system’ within the first week of her life because her teenage mother is the victim of this life she never chose (but has fortunately managed to escape from).
On Saturday, I might be driving the familiar ‘tracks’ of LA where these girls (some as young as 12) walk and wait for men to stop and buy them… We drive around, handing out gifts (including our hotline number) to these girls who are ‘in the game’ and telling them to call us any time. 12am – 3am is the worst shift… the girls and women walk around in literally lingerie and heels in plain sight and I always have to fight back the tears when we see a girl who has chosen to return to the life after being with us in the shelter…
On Sunday, I might be blessed enough to take the girls to church and for one of them to ask for prayer and feel for maybe the first time God’s love, or any love at all..

There is no typical day, or week, and no way to describe the pain that I witness on a daily basis… but there is also nothing that compares to seeing God reach in, or for these girls to finally make the choice to start their lives again: to see them go into a program, be reunited with their children, finish their education and get a job and a life that they can be proud of and feel valued in.

What we do in this ministry is difficult, but it is such an unbelievable blessing! So when my manager asked me to extend my contract to 12 months, I was absolutely thrilled!

My position is completely voluntary. That means that I will not earn anything for 12 months and will also have to support myself while I am there, including $4,000 for a year’s accommodation, some meals and any necessary training. This is currently where I need your support the most. I absolutely hate asking for money, but I have realized that, in order for this to be possible, I have to.

I have calculated that it will cost me $500 per month to live and volunteer in this ministry. That is roughly £350. If 10 people committed to £35 per month (until August 2014), that would cover my monthly costs and allow me to continue to do this work.

For one off donations and gifts, please either donate via PayPal:


Please feel free to pass on this information to others who may be interested in supporting me in the work that I am fortunate enough to do.

Thank you for your support in prayer, encouragement and finances. I could not do this without you!

Blessings,

Ronell x


Monday, 21 July 2014

Volunteerism- Please Help Sponsor This Mission

Dear friends and family,

As many of you know or have read, I have recently left my job as a teacher as I believe that God is calling me to serve Him in a different way. I applied for a Volunteer Missionary position at in LA and have been offered a place! 

How soon I am able to go depends entirely on how quickly I am able to raise the funds to go. Please go to my online fundraiser and donate as you feel led.  For those of you who know me outside of the blogosphere, you can also donate to me in person if you would rather not do so online. 

Whether you are able to donate financially or not, I would very much appreciate your support in prayer in the lead up to and throughout my time in mission.

Thank you! 

Blessings!

Ronell x






Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fall in Love with Life (via Upworthy)

I found this video on Upworthy (originally Tedx) and it is just absolutely INCREDIBLE and BEAUTIFUL! I sincerely suggest you watch it! - http://www.upworthy.com/clear-your-next-10-minutes-because-this-video-could-change-how-happy-you-are-with-your-entire-week?g=2&c=ufb3

It is about the work (time lapse photography on http://movingart.com/) of an artist named Louie Schwartzberg, where he goes deeper to explore how we can fall in love with life and find happiness. No easy feat! But he begins to explore the topic through beautiful imagery and a new project he is working on, introducing it from the view point of a little girl and an old man.

Truly beautiful! Do yourself a favour and watch this! :)

Blessings!

Ronell x


“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” {Psalm 19:1-4}


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Mission, Testimony and Other Musings...

Recently, I have been doing a lot of research about mission work, as I believe that this is what God is calling me to in whatever capacity, in the immediate future. I have found some interesting articles about short term mission placements and things to be aware of that have made me think and I decided to share them here, along with my testimony in this area. 

Here are a couple of interesting articles for you to read:


  • Things No One Tells You About Going on Short-Term Mission Trip: A few ways to make sure your mission trip is effective 
  • The Good Missionary: An African orphan on what he loves (and doesn't) about short-term mission teams


  • So here goes with my testimony about being called to mission! As it stands, I have 3 weeks left in my current teaching post, and then I will be moving on to where God sends me!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I have known that God has a calling on my life since I was a teenager and a few years back, He began to really stir that in me again. I remember standing in the big top at Soul Survivor in tears as God showed me images of the children that He wanted me to rescue and care for, and there and then, I just surrendered and prayed: “God, here I am, use me…”. 

    Last summer, I spent several weeks developing and changing the indoor and outdoor areas for my class at school. It was a huge process and when I finally got to the end of it, I was so relieved and excited! Literally in that moment as I looked around at the finished areas, God asked me: “If I asked, would you be willing to give it up?”.  After the initial shock and horror passed, I replied’ “You know I will” and He responded, “good, I’m asking…”. I didn’t know when, where or how, but I knew it was finally happening.

    In September 2013, God began to make my calling clearer. I had prayed for my ‘Schindler’s List moment’ of seeing the need He wanted me to tend to and He did. He also reminded me of the prayer I had prayed at Soul Survivor and the promise I had made in that garden a month before. 

    At that point, I had not shared this calling with any of my friends yet, but that night, God used 3 of them to speak to me about it independently: My friend Hannah stood at the front in the middle of worship and said, “I believe God is calling someone to leave their job… you’re thinking ‘I can’t afford to do that!’, but God is saying, ‘can you really afford not to…?’”. I knew it was me and I went up for prayer. 

    My friend Cassie prayed for me and after she said, “I don’t know if this is right, but I got the words ‘children’ and ‘abused’ for you” – another confirmation as this lined up with what God had stirred in my heart. 

    I wanted to know if God had shown Hannah anything else with the original word, so I went to speak to her. She said He had not shared any more, but she asked if she could pray for me. As she prayed, she named my worries spot on and at the end, she said, “I don’t know if this goes with what God has been saying to you, but I got that you are supposed to work with children”. So I’m thinking ‘I DO work with children’ and God says to both of us at the same time (I was thinking it and she said it out loud), “Yes, you work with children, but they’re the wrong children”.

    After church, I told my friend (and accountability partner) Anne-Marie, and she just smiled and said that she knew in that moment that Hannah’s word was for me, but she knew she had to be the confirmation, not the catalyst. 

    By February of this year, God confirmed to me that it was time and I knew I had to tell my Head Teacher. I also began to have California impressed on my heart. When I went to my Head Teacher, she told me that God had prepared her heart that weekend for the news and she knew that I was coming to speak to her that week– what a blessing!

    In praying for direction, God has brought the a specific organisation, based in Los Angeles, into my life through my friend who is currently their summer mission program. Everything that I have heard and read about it over the past month has worked together to confirm that I believe that this is in fact where God wants me in this next season and so I have applied!

    I would very much appreciate your prayers that God will help to clarify whether I am on the right track with this and for favour for the placement that I have applied to already.


    Blessings!

    Ronell x

















    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    Who Should I Vote For..? // European Election 2014

    Today is Election Day in the UK (22nd May). And as usual, I have a vague yet unclear idea of who to vote for! I know that things are not going as I necessarily want them to go, but I am not quite sure who would do a better job... Today, I found the answer to my previously somewhat uneducated voting!

    I found a VERY useful website! https://www.tickbox.org.uk

    You simply do a very quick survey of where you stand on the big issues. They will then give you your top 3 party matches and some further choices. They give very good summaries of each party’s top 4 policies, candidates and links to party websites and news and information about them. I also found out from this site that there is a Christian’s People Alliance running (shows how little I know about politics!).

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful! Remember to vote today if you are in the UK or Netherlands (see below for further dates)! :)

    Blessings!

    Ronell x

    “Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” {Abraham Lincoln}



    Saturday, 10 May 2014

    Keep Saving the Bees!

    Unfortunately, this is a very serious issue that is being casually overlooked or grossly misunderstood by the vast majority of people!

    Here is a good article that helps to explain why we need to save the bees: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2008/nov/21/wildlife-endangeredspecies and an older post from this blog: http://365days2changetheworld.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/save-bees.html

    To buy gorgeous beauty products that support saving the bees, go to NYR Organics' Bee Lovely range, mentioned here in the 10 best pollen-inspired beauty products.

    Sign a petition to help save the bees- read about who is involved and why in this email that I received from SumofUs.org:

    -----------------------------------------------

    Ronell,

    Bees are dying off around the world in record numbers -- but big retailers are still selling the poison that is killing them.

    Last season, 37 million bees (!) died on a Canadian farm. Scientists now know why – study after study shows that deadly pesticides called "neonics", manufactured by Bayer, are killing them. 

    Giant retail stores around the world like Home Depot, Bunnings, and Lowe's are still selling the deadly pesticides, but pressure is mounting. If one of the stores commits to stop carrying the pesticides, it could start a snowball effect that sees other stores drop the bee-killing chemicals too.

    In just two weeks, SumOfUs' activist beekeepers will travel to deliver our petition on the corporations' home turf. Can you add your name now, so the retailers see the tide of public opinion and commit to stop selling bee-killing pesticides?

    Tell giant retail stores to stop selling bee-killing pesticides.

    Earlier this year, SumOfUs supporters called on these retail giants to stop selling neonics, with thousands flooding their phone lines and speaking out in store. Now, we've learnt that North American based Home Depot could be on the cusp of doing the right thing and taking the bee-killing chemicals off its shelves. We need to send a message to tip Home Depot over the edge, and pressure other stores to act as well.

    The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack -- and sold in garden stores around the world, too. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics -- so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits. 

    History shows that consumer pressure on retailers works. Europe's partial ban on neonics was caused by a huge movement that pushed some of the biggest retailers in the EU to voluntarily remove neonics from their shelves. But there is not a moment to lose. Please take action now to keep the pressure on the big retail giants so we can protect our bees and our planet's future

    Call on retail giants to get rid of the bee-killing neonics.

    SumOfUs has been right at the front of the global campaign to save our bees. We came together to fight Bayer at a huge independent garden store show in Chicago, where the German chemical maker was out in force. We're taking legal action in Europe to defend the EU's ban against Bayer, and just last week spoke out at Bayer's annual shareholder meeting in Germany. But to win this fight, we need to push the retailers to drop these bee-killing pesticides now.

    Thank you for being one of us,

    Taren, Paul, Angus and the team at SumOfUs.org


    **********
    More information:


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    Blessings!

    Ronell x












    Monday, 31 March 2014

    Lent: Day 12 // #nofilter

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    {Lent} Day 11:


    40 acts // #nofilter // Young children have no filter a lot of the time: they say the first thing that pops into their heads, without worrying about how it will sound first. They also crucially lack the preconceptions, judgements and assumptions that most adults default to. Over time, they’ll learn discernment; but is there something we can learn from them today? Can we, for one day, try to disentangle our discernment from our small-minded, preconceived ideas about people? Today your challenge is to treat people as equals – to assume nothing about their lives, but to show them love and generosity and friendship regardless.


    {photo credit: http://simplymejustbe.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/thanks-for-your-friendship.jpg}

    This is so true! I love seeing a child's unspoilt innocence in action- the ones who have
    not been corrupted by judging others and forming opinions of their peers based on 
    shallow things like weight, wealth or possessions. Conversely, it disturbs and pains
    me to see children as young as FOUR (I am a Reception Teacher) making harsh 
    snap-judgements of their friends based on these irrelevant qualities. What are they 
    being exposed to that has already awakened that awareness in them?? Very 
    disturbing indeed...

    As a side note to this, I have also realised how quickly and easily we can make
    judgements of other's lifestyle choices, even on a professional level. God has
    specifically been sharing with me a lot about not judging others without even
    knowing their situation or their story. What has led them to this point..? How
    have they been abandoned/hurt/disappointed/judged/failed to get to this point..?
    You can never see the whole person unless you can know their whole journey,
    and for that to happen, you have got to get along side them and actually build
    a true friendship. So before you make a snap judgment on the way someone
    dresses, speaks, carries themself, provides for their family, or reacts to a
    comment / criticism, remember: you have not walked in their shoes and
    you will never know what they have suffered to become who they are.

    Have grace.


    Live Free // Go through your possessions and give the stuff you no longer need to your local charity shop. Furniture, gadgets, DVDs, and books; give those things you’re never going to use again #BeFree #LiveFree.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x






    "“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

    {Wayne W. Dyer}


    Monday, 17 March 2014

    Lent: Day 11 // Go Green for St Patrick's Day


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    {Lent} Day 11:


    40 acts // One green thing // Most of us aren’t eco-warriors all of the time, but we can take time to educate ourselves on the best ways to preserve God’s creation, and we can commit to doing one green thing. Change something simple, like switching from plastic bags to reusable ones, or walking to work a few days per week instead of using the car. Today is St Patrick’s Day and green is everywhere, so use that as a reminder! And if you’ve got any other simple green ideas, feel free to post them on the Facebook page.


    {photo credit: http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/news/shoes}

    I am very much pro living an eco-friendly, green lifestyle, so was thrilled with this challenge! I took the opportunity today to use my reach at the school where I work to send out a letter to parents about this initiative by Abel & Cole in association with Starfish Malawi. From 17th - 28th March, Abel & Cole will be collecting pre-loved (or new) children's shoes at the same time as delivering their local, ethically sourced, organic produce. My Abel & Cole delivery day is a Wednesday, so I have two Wednesdays to collect as many pairs of shoes as possible! Last year, they managed to send 5,000 pairs of shoes to African orphanages and this year, I want to be involved in making that number even more impressive! 

    So a few more tips for living green (by no means exhaustive, but just throwing out ideas):

    1) Eat as local and as organic as you can: I get an Abel & Cole delivery, which is amazing and very reasonably priced! They even schedule your delivery day in a way that makes it as eco-friendly as possible :) 

    2) Use eco-friendly cleaning products: I currently use a lot of Method and Ecover products (also available through Abel & Cole), but there are even more eco-friendly products out there! I also have an amazing cleaning service called Bright & Beautiful that comes in to clean my flat some weeks that only uses eco- friendly products.

    3) Use organic beauty products: In my quest to discover new organic, natural beauty products, I came across two brands I love: Dr Organic at Holland and Barrett (I can highly recommend their organic cotton wool), and, my absolute favourite, Neal's Yard Organics. I loved Neal's Yard Organics so much that even became an Independent Consultant for them and now sell their products! 

    4) Using reusable bags made of natural fibres, rather than plastic bags is a must!

    5) Buying ethically: ignorance is not an excuse! You can now easily identify products that are Fairtrade or through the Rainforest Alliance for example. But everything, including clothing, has the example of making you a part of the slave trade (which is far bigger now than it has ever been!) if you don't do your homework and make wise, ethical choices!

    6) Using re-usable packaging: rather than buying a new water bottle daily, get one (preferably glass or BPA free plastic if you must have plastic) that you can wash and reuse. Same goes for lunch boxes, cutlery, etc - reusable, not disposable! The small effort of having to wash something up is far outweighed by the good that you are doing for the environment or so many levels! You can get some great bkr bottles from one of my absolute favourite organisations, Sevenly, which is not only good for the environment, but also donates to the cause of the week! (Also, check out their clothing, etc for point 5 above).

    7) Passing on what you know to others: I blog and post through social media a lot, but recently I have also started using my role as a teacher to get people (my class in particular) to be passionate about making a difference in the world that we live in and, I tell you what, it has been incredible to see the ripple effect! I teach 4-5 year olds and people  might think they are too small to do anything, but if you can inspire a child that age to have a heart for changing the world, you are going to end up with a pretty incredible, world-changing adult! Can't wait to see how that turns out! :)


    Live Free // Go through your possessions and give the stuff you no longer need to your local charity shop. Furniture, gadgets, DVDs, and books; give those things you’re never going to use again #BeFree #LiveFree.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "Around me when I look, His handiwork I see; This world 
    is a picture book to teach His love to me"

    {Jane E. Leeson}



    Lent: Day 10 // Talent Show

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    {Lent} Day 10:

    40 acts // Talent Show // Look at that list you made for act #3. Your toolbox will probably include a few skills that you’ve had up your sleeve for a while and never really had the chance to use. Your challenge for today is to TELL SOMEONE about your secret talents. Post your list online as a Facebook status or share it in your 40acts Together group, and then offer to teach someone how to do what you can do. Teaching and mentoring is generosity multiplied, because you give them something they too can give away. What skill will you share today? Share it with us too using #40acts and we'll see if we can match some skills to some needs!



    {photo credit: http://startupfashion.startupfashion.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/mentor2.jpg}

    I already teach, tutor and mentor, so wasn't sure what to do for this one. The one thing I did feel led to share today, was that God has been impressing on my heart about using the voice He has given me to lead worship, rather than just being a backing vocalist. Honestly, I really don't want to be a worship leader - I don't believe I am good enough! - but I do believe God has a call on my life, so I am trying to step out of my comfort zone... Watch this space...


    Live Free 
    // Give up snacking this week. Use the money that you’d have spent on food for those who don’t have that luxury. Donate it to your local foodbank. #BeFree from gluttony #LiveFree.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "I run the path of Your commands, 
    for You have set my heart free"

    {Psalm 119:32}




    Lent: Day 9: Listen, actually

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    {Lent} Day 9:

    40 acts // Listen, actually // Last year we put a man and a sofa in the middle of a town square with a sign that said ‘I will listen’. You don’t have to make quite such a bold statement, but hold the sentiment in mind. Do people think of you as a good listener? Do you actually give that person your whole attention, and are you non-judgemental? You will be surprised by how many people around you are desperate simply to be heard. Make a mental note of the things the person says, and any needs they mention…it’ll be helpful later on…


    {photo credit:http://affinityinsights.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/dogs-listen.jpg}

    So I called someone from my list from Day 7 and had a long conversation. It is someone I love, but that I have had a very difficult relationship. Someone who is lonely, when they needn't be, but recently they have really been on my heart and I am really glad I called.. there was no ulterior motive, not tension, no weirdness: just a conversation.. it was a good and needed breakthrough. 


    Live Free 
    // Meditate on the Franciscan Prayer of Discomfort. Make a note of the bits that challenge or inspire you http://rth.ms/XkrUGd #BeFree #LiveFree.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "Don't hurry, don't worry. You're only here for a short visit, 
    so be sure to smell the flowers along the way"

    {Walter Hagen}





    -

    Thursday, 13 March 2014

    Lent: Day 8 // Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone


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    {Lent} Day 8:

    40 acts // O.T.T. // Alright, time to step it up a notch - we're headed into the deep-end of generous living. Today’s challenge is to get right out of your comfort zone and do something a little bit wild for someone else. For some, this might be a really extravagant treat or gift for someone who needs cheering up. You might offer free hugs in the high street or buy flowers and give them out to everyone you meet. The point of this one is uncomfortable, over the top generosity. Go for it!


    {photo credit:http://thingsweforget.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/1123-kind-word-can-change-someones.html}

    This is a challenge I have been setting myself a lot recently anyway, for example, doing things like buying hot drinks, food and gift cards for homeless people; offering a tissue, kind word and help to a crying stranger;  asking people on the bus how their day has been; buying things for people that I know they need/want but can't afford; and just generally randomly talking to strangers (which doesn't seem like a big deal, but if you really think about it, it is!).

    Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a coworker whose best friend died abruptly last week. She needed to be encouraged that she had done all that she could and that God had used her (and continues to use her) in a powerful way in this friend's family. I had chance to say the words that God had laid on my heart to say to her and to just give her a hug and say that I would continue to pray for her in this time. It was a sensitive moment and a difficult one to gauge and I am very grateful that God gave me the words and the moment to say what He wanted her to hear.


    Live Free 
    // Be content with your identity and don’t wear any of your brand clothes for a week. Break away from consumerism #BeFree #LiveFree.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "Kind words are like honey—
        sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."

    {Proverbs 16:24}



    Wednesday, 12 March 2014

    Lent: Day 7 // Call Me Maybe


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    {Lent} Day 7:

    40 acts // Redial // We think the humble telephone may possibly be the most neglected appliance in our households. Almost ornamental, in fact. Your act today is simple: pick up the phone and reconnect with someone you've not spoken to in a while. It might be a best friend, a distant relative, or just someone you've lost contact with. Give the phone call the time and space it needs - devote your attention to reconnecting with someone today.


    Communication by j_iglar - Two people talking on the telephone to each other, retro
    {photo credit: http://openclipart.org/detail/183631/communication-by-j_iglar-183631}

    Unfortunately, I did not manage to do this today because I was literally too busy.. how sad is that?? I'll spare you the mundane details, but it did make me think about how many people there are in my life that I would love to call and absolutely need to just slow down and make the time to make it happen! I will write a list of the people I WANT to call, as opposed to a check list of people/companies I NEED to call. So apologies for lack of results today, but tune in again tomorrow for the next instalment of doing Lent generously. On the plus side, I did do the Live Free challenge below! :)  

    Live Free 
    // Go through all your clothes and give away those that you no longer wear or need by either donating them to charity or selling them on eBay and donating the proceeds #BeFree #LiveFree.

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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; 
    as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 
    By this all will know that you are my disciples, 
    if you have love for one another."

    {John 13: 34 – 35}



    Tuesday, 11 March 2014

    Lent: Day 6 // Extend Your Reach


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    {Lent} Day 6:

    40 acts // Reach // Whether you’re the pastor of a church, a single parent, a Twitter superstar or a self-confessed technophobe, the fact is that to someone, somewhere, YOU are an important voice and what you say and do matters. Consider your 'reach' today, and write a list of the spheres of influence you have in your journal. Pick one sphere (it might be your church, your child’s school, or an online community) and choose a positive message of generosity, love or kindness to share with them today. You might pick a YouTube video, or a story that inspired you. If you share it online, share with us too using #40acts.



    Live Free 
    // Read Philippians 4:11-13. Think about everything you own; pray you will be satisfied with what you have and not craving what you don’t have #LiveFree.


    event image



    I chose my online sphere of friends and followers to share this message with (both on here and sharing this post, and on http://mandelaproject.com/ronell1984) and luckily my 40acts challenge links nicely with my Live Free challenge! Result! :)  

    Philippians 4:11-13 challenges us about the differences between need and want and greed and generosity and refocussing the balance of these things firmly on God, rather than ourselves and our own insecurities.

    Here are some ways in which you could choose today to live generously, rather than living selfishly:

    - Check out this blog for hard hitting views on our new 
    'normal' consumerist culture: http://rth.ms/14drQf5

    - Buy Samaritan’s Purse gifts to give that will literally help change 
    the world, rather than just filling it with more 'stuff': 

    - Or buy Oxfam Unwrapped gifts to give that will also help change 
    the worldrather than just filling it with more 'stuff':  

    - Set yourself a new year's resolution (any time of the year!) to
    be more active in your generosity. Choose a charity (I have chosen
    Operation Christmas Child and The A21 Campaign), 
    set yourself goals, and get fundraising, 
    volunteering or donating!

    - Reach out to a neighbour, friend, co worker, etc who you 
    know is struggling or has a specific need and be
    generous! 

    - Start a generosity jar for a specific person or cause and save up
    money you would have spent on something frivolous or unnecessary.

    Living generously does not have to be a big financial commitment. Generosity can simply be reaching out when you see someone in need or despair, and giving of what you have: time, money,  food, clothing, belongings. 

    Don't cling to things, for they have no eternal value! Start seeing all your belongings, including yourself and your time, as being at God's disposal for doing  with as He pleases. The reality is, they are: He has given  each of them to you in the first place! 

    So be a faithful and grateful steward, and give them back.. you'll be surprised at the challenges and blessings you will encounter along the way! :)


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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
        to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
        to proclaim freedom for the captives
        and release from darkness for the prisoners"

    {Isaiah 61v1}



    Monday, 10 March 2014

    Lent: Day 5 // Attitude of Gratitude

    After the first Sunday break yesterday, we are back with the next installation of the Lent challenges!

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    {Lent} Day 5:

    40 acts // An attitude of gratitude // There’s something rather wonderful about genuine gratitude: it impacts both the person who says thank you and the person who hears it. Try this before you do anything else today: grab a pen and write a thank you note to someone. Thank someone who doesn’t usually get thanked: your bus driver, local postman, that one guy that always puts a fresh pot of coffee on or empties the dishwasher at the office. These people need to be appreciated, and being thankful is a great way to start the week! Show us your thank yous using #40acts.





    I decided to write a note to my TA and friend, without whom 
    I couldn't do what I do at school. Thanks Loubie Loo! :)


    Live Free // Swearing, picking your nose, biting your nails; everyone has a bad habit or two. Try to donate £1 every time you (or someone else :/) catch yourself doing it #BeFree #LiveFree. This one could fit in nicely with the Generosity Jar from day 2!

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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which 
    indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and 
    admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns 
    and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

    17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name 
    of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

    {Colossians 3:15-17}





    Sunday, 9 March 2014

    Lent: Day 4 // Connecting with Others

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    {Lent} Day 4:

    40 acts // Connect // We can live on the same road for twenty years and never learn the names of those we share a street address with. We can use the same corner shop every time we buy a newspaper, and still have no idea about the man selling it to us. Today we invite you to become aware: to look up, look around and really notice those you come into contact with. Strike up a conversation in the process, and learn their name. It’ll be important later on…




    Today I met a lovely man named Khalil who works at the Sainsbury's mobile car wash. 
    We had a brief, but very lovely conversation and he ended up giving me a discount for 
    a car wash and wax and offering to take my trolley. He was really sweet :) 
    I guess he did this challenge back to me! :)


    Live Free // Read and reflect on Isaiah 58. What cords do you have tied around you? What do you need to be free? How could your freedom help to set others free? #BeFree.

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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x





    "1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, 
    I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

    2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, 
    and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

    3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, 
    but do not have love, I gain nothing."

    {1 Corinthians 13:1-3}



    Friday, 7 March 2014

    Lent: Day 3 // Gift Tool Box

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    {Lent} Day 3:

    40 acts // Create Your Toolbox // Each of us has a toolbox, and no two are alike. They are full of the things that make us unique: our experiences, our skills, our faith, our resources, our intelligence, our passions, our networks. 

    Create a list of the tools you have at your disposal: it might include your creative mind, your enthusiasm, your computer skills, or your savings. Then, use one item on your list to bless someone today, and then tell us which one you used using the #40acts hash tag.

    My tool that I used: 

    Raising awareness of & giving charitable gifts #40acts #day3 #lent #oxfamunwrapped


    using your Nectar points!

    Live Free // Choose a regular reminder that prompts you to pray for people living in poverty. It might be a note on your mirror, or your phone background #BeFree #LiveFree.

    I opened this gift (soap) this morning.. saw where it was made.. will be using it as a prayer aid/reminder instead #savesyria



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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x




    "10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: 
    bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 

    11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might 
    so that you may have great endurance and patience, 

    12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to 
    share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

    13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us 
    into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 

    14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

    {Colossians 1:10-14}



    Thursday, 6 March 2014

    Lent: Day 2 // Generosity Jar

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    {Lent} Day 2:

    40 acts // Create a generosity jar // This Lent, set aside a generosity jar and commit to putting in a small amount daily or whenever you have spare change. You’ll be invited to use the contents later in the challenge, but if you prefer you could save it up ready for a generous event over the Easter weekend. No change today? Then fill your jar with written ‘generosity promises’ instead, and invite guests to pick one when they visit. Show us what your generosity jar looks like using #40acts on social media. Take a picture of your generosity jar, upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #40acts.

    My change will go towards the 12 boxes I am packing for Operation Christmas Child this December.


    My Generosity Jar


    Live Free // Read Matthew 16:25. Where do you get your identity from and how does that make you feel? How do you think you can save your life? #LiveFree.

    "If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life"

    {Matthew 16:25}

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    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!

    Blessings!

    Ronell x





    "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, 
    not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, 
    having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 

    As it is written:
    “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
        their righteousness endures forever." "

    {2 Corinthians 9:7-9}











    Wednesday, 5 March 2014

    Lent: Day 1 // What's it all about and what are you doing?

    So today was the first day of Lent and you hear the typical 'Lent question': "So, what are you giving up for Lent this year?", usually quickly followed by: "Do you think you'll actually manage the whole 40 days this year??". 

    So, what is Lent? Essentially, it is marking the 40 days leading up to Easter, when Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil, before He finally made the biggest sacrificial gift of all in giving His life to atone for our sins. So now we mark those 40 days by living sacrificially ourselves  in some way or another.

    To be honest, I was toying with the idea of giving up something like cake or chocolate or something (with the added benefit of weight loss, right??), but it didn't seem like what I wanted to do for Lent. It didn't seem particularly meaningful for me personally because it didn't really make a difference to anybody else as such.

    Now, I am not trying to belittle giving something up for Lent (that is the tradition after all)! I am simply saying that for me, the 2 important parts of observing Lent should be (1) remembering and recognising why we 'celebrate' it, and (2) that what I do to observe Lent, should make a difference to the world around me, not just to myself.

    Like I said in my New Years Resolution post for 2014, I want 2014 about being more proactive about actively making a difference to the world I live in and to the lives of the people I interact with and meet every day, as well as those who are suffering far away.  So I decided that instead of giving something up for Lent, I would do something positive for each of the 40 days. 

    Isaiah 58 has been on my heart for 2014 so far. It talks of what 'true fasting' is, not for show, but for doing to others what is on God's heart, which is again why I wanted to do something to mark Lent, but something that gave back, rather than just something that looks like I'm observing a tradition or somehow vaguely 'depriving' myself for 40 days. 

    So in my research today, I came across some good suggestions of how one might do this:

    1) Pledging to join an organisation like Watershed for 40 days in giving up something (like coffee, take away, chocolate) and donating the savings after 40 days to projects that do good.

    2) Soul Action's 'Live Free': It sets out a discussion about Lent and gives 40 days worth of challenges and scriptures about how to live free.

    3) 40 acts 'DO LENT GENEROUSLY': 40 days of giving back, doing good and living generously. This is an initiative to promote generous living (not necessary to make a financial commitment) through acts of kindness and goodness. Every day for the 40 days, you will get an email with your 'mission' for the day. 

    I decided to sign up for 40 acts this Lent. I also decided to incorporate Soul Action's 'Live Free' daily thoughts and readings into my 30:30 Challenge that I happen to be doing with Joyce Meyer Ministries (spending 30mins a day for 30 days studying The Bible, rather than just reading it, to grow in intimacy with and understanding of God through His Word). In terms of donating financially, any extra money will go to my Operation Christmas Child mission of filling at least 12 boxes personally and trying to inspire others to help me fill 100 boxes in total for Christmas 2014.



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    {Lent} Day 1:

    40 acts // Start a journal // Create a journal, and begin Lent with a gratitude list. What things are you thankful for today? Next, write a wish list – but not the usual kind – this is a list of the people you’d like to specifically bless throughout 40acts. Take a picture of your journal or your gratitude list, upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #40acts.


    my journal

    Live Free // Think about what you would like to be free of this Lent. Write it down. Pray that God will set you free from what is holding you back #BeFree #LiveFree

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    So for me, I guess Lent 2014 is a mix of creating good, lifelong habits that will grow my heart both spiritually and actively in how I love others and the world that we live in.

    Looking forward to seeing what Day 2 holds! 

    Blessings!

    Ronell x

    PS  If anyone has other Lent suggestions, please do share them! 




    “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
        and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
        and break every yoke?

    Is it not to share your food with the hungry
        and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
        and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" 

    {Isaiah 58v6-7}