Best Day Ever

Twenty five years ago on a hot, Perth summer’s day, I put on a suit, went to church, and said goodbye to single life.

Best Day Ever

While it was a wonderful day with so many highlights, it wasn’t a perfect day. While others were free to wear ‘summer appropriate’ clothing, Pauline was in a massive white dress and I was in a black suit. There was no way to escape the heat.

There were other little things that didn’t quite follow the plan for a perfect day but it was still the best day ever. It was the day that we had been waiting for. It was the day that, no matter what didn’t go to plan, we would be joined together ’til death do us part’.

Pauline and I had met in her mother’s kitchen on the 18th of January in 1992. On the 12th of December 1992, we were married.

Say ‘I do’ in ’92

As a bit of a joke, I had set my New Year’s Resolution at the end of 1991 to say ‘I do’ in ’92. That was never going to happen unless I found the perfect person to share my life. I had decided many years before that I would never ‘settle’ for anyone but the right one. Pauline was and is the right one. I truly believe that God brought us together and I thank him for such a beautiful gift.

Today is our silver anniversary. We’ve been married for twenty five years.

As the years have gone on we’ve added others into our family. In 1996 we welcomed Emily. James was born in 1998. Then, earlier this year, Josh joined the family when he married Emily. It’s all part of the richness of our marriage and life together.

Today is the first day of the next twenty five years, or however long God chooses to give us. I begin that next twenty five beside a smart, wise, clever, funny, beautiful, extraordinary woman who I love more than any other person on this big blue planet. I am truly blessed.

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Let the Music Play

The old song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” but not everyone’s convinced. Either way, you can’t escape the all pervasive sounds of sleigh bells and cheery Christmas music at this time of year.

For some people it rings out the happy news that the big day is imminent. Others are left asking, “How did we get here so quickly?”

It’s the first day of December. Christmas is around the corner. That means it’s time for me to press play on my selection of Christmas music.

I’ve got over four hundred Christmas songs on my iPod. There are songs about snow and the cold weather, which sound really weird when we’re looking down the barrel of hot summer days, through to odes to a fat guy in a red suit.

Everyone joins in with music from Michael Buble to Diana Krall, Bing Crosby, Run DMC, Barry White, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and even Russel Coight, along with many others. There aren’t too many musos who haven’t released something Christmassy over the years.

Then, among all the excitement of all that the big day holds, comes songs that tell of something deeper. I love all the fun of the season but the Christmas music that speaks most clearly to me is the music that tells the simple story of a baby, born two thousand years ago in humble surroundings, and arriving with the massive task of healing a broken world.

One of the songs that captures that story the best is still Randy Stonehill’s Christmas Song for All Year Round. It not only speaks of the baby we celebrate at this time of year but of the price he paid on our behalf.

Christmas Song for All Year Round
-Randy Stonehill

I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand
The Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man
‘Cause the way the world is I don’t see how people can deny
The only way to save us was for Jesus Christ to die

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

But most of all the children they’re the ones I hope will learn
That Jesus is our savior and he’s going to return
And Christmas isn’t just a day and all days aren’t the same
Perhaps they’ll think about the word and see it spells his name

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven, mankind was forgiven
We were all forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

So Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand??

What is your favourite Christmas music?

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? Will your songs be filled with sleigh bells or a saviour?

Let me know about your musical tastes around Christmas.

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Change a Life this Christmas

I love receiving gifts. I love the unwrapping and the excitement of having something shiny and new. I also love the fact that people care enough to choose something for me. It doesn’t matter if the gifts are big or small … it really is the thought that counts for me.

I love giving gifts. I’ll admit that do I worry about the gifts I give. I wonder whether they’ll be suitable and appreciated but when I manage to choose the right gift, it’s a beautiful thing.

With Christmas just around the corner I know that there’ll be a fair bit of giving and receiving in the coming weeks.

While many gifts are fun, there are some that are absolutely life changing.

Gifts of Compassion

Gifts of Compassion are real goods and services given to children and families in Compassion child development centres around the world when you purchase an item from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue. For every Gift of Compassion you order, you will receive a gift card to personalise for your friends and loved ones.

Funds raised from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue are used to support Compassion’s Critical Needs, which remove obstacles to children’s development and implement preventative action. These interventions include providing safe water, disaster relief, emergency medical care, vocational training, infrastructure, and much more: all issues that need to be addressed for a child to be released from poverty.

Compassion Australia uses Gifts of Compassion funds to meet the project needs represented in the catalogue.

It concerns me that while I’m enjoying lovely new things that I don’t really need, there are people in many parts of the world that don’t have the basics that they need to get on with the daily task of just keeping their families alive.

If Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, surely we should be doing something that honours him and his desire that we care for the poor, rather than overindulging while most of the world goes without.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we should all be miserable and not fully enter into the celebrations at this time of year.

Balance

I suppose that’s where we all need some kind of balance between the giving and receiving of gifts between friends and loved ones and our wider responsibility to those in need around the world. We live in a global village but most of the villagers are missing out. Those of us who’ve been blessed by simply being born in the right place should spare a thought for those who only ask for the gift of life this Christmas.

I might not have a lot of use for a goat but for a rural family in a developing country the simple gift of a goat could be just what they need to be released from poverty.

Compassion

So where do you buy a goat and how do you get it to someone who needs it? Compassion Australia’s Gifts of Compassion is open and ready for business. That’s where you can buy gifts that help people who are battling desperate poverty. They can take your money and turn it into a very real solution to poverty.

You can buy everything from a chicken to mosquito nets and lots more in between including goats, cows, tooth brushes, sewing machines and baby vaccinations.

Your support really does make a difference.

I’ve visited churches partnering with Compassion in seven of the 25 countries where Compassion is working and I can personally vouch for the fact that it makes a difference. When you support those in poverty through Compassion, the aid really does make it to those who need it. In fact, it was after seeing the work of Compassion that I decided that I would do all I could to advance their work which is why I’ve now been working full-time for Compassion for just over four years.

This Christmas I do want to receive something for myself, wrapped in thought and love, but I also hope that someone will give me a goat or a chicken or some clean water for someone I’ll never meet.

What about you?

Go on … you’ve thought about it before but unless you let your loved ones know now it’ll never happen. Ask those you love to buy something for someone else this Christmas.

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My Life Change Still Changing Lives

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and other times it feels like it all began yesterday.

The truth is, it was four years ago today that I began my job at Compassion Australia. I broadcast my final shift at 98five Sonshine FM on Tuesday the 26th of November, 2013. The very next day, Wednesday the 27th or November, 2013, I started working at Compassion.

Do You Miss It?

There aren’t too many weeks that goes past without someone asking me if I miss working radio. It was such a big part of my life for so many years you can’t blame people for wondering.

I started working in radio on the 8th of May, 1988. That’s almost 30 years ago. It was my full time job for almost twenty of those years and something I did part time for most of the years in between. Towards the end of November 2013 I took the leap from working in radio to working for Compassion Australia as a Relationship Manager.

Even after all these years, nothing beats the excitement of being live on air, knowing that anything could happen. Being able to communicate to thousands of people through such an ‘immediate’ medium is both challenging and rewarding. And let’s be honest, when it’s all working as it should, it’s a lot of fun. It can also be an opportunity to communicate important, even life changing truths.

Well maybe ‘almost nothing’ beats working in radio.

When you have the chance to play a part in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name and seeing that difference that can make, I can easily say I don’t miss radio. Yes, there are times that I hear of someone interesting heading to Perth there’s a moment where I wish I could interview them, but overall, what I’m doing now is what I want to keep doing for a long time.

I work for Compassion because I am convinced that there is no more effective organisation serving the world’s poor. I have seen no other method of working with those in poverty that even comes close to the way that Compassion is working.

That doesn’t mean that Compassion is the total solution to poverty in this world. There are many amazing agencies doing incredible work around the world and we need them all if we are to end the scourge of extreme poverty.

I’ve seen Compassion’s work first hand in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Thailand and the Philippines. Every time I visit another church that is partnering with Compassion I am amazed at the change it is making in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our world, children living in extreme poverty.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need your support, you can sponsor a child today.

I can assure you that your money will be well spent in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

In September next year I’ll begin cycling from Perth to Newcastle to raise funds for Highly Vulnerable Children through Compassion. You can support my ride and make a difference for children by following this link.

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Ride for Compassion 2017

Every year since 2009 I’ve cycled between Albany and Perth, a distance of over 500 kilometres. Last week I was out there again with around 30 other cyclists, supported by a wonderful support crew, riding from Albany to Perth over six days.

We arrived home on Saturday afternoon after some tough days on the bike. We were battered by strong head and side winds for several days.

Despite the conditions, the ride was a great success. As well as having an amazing time with an incredible group of people, we were raising funds for some children who are living in extreme poverty through Compassion Australia.

This year we raised over $50 000 for safe food production in some Compassion centres in Bangladesh.

The main objective of this critical intervention is to provide each of the five child development centres with a well-built kitchen, dining and food preparation and storage facilities, enabling more than 1000 children and adult beneficiaries access to nutritious, well prepared meals to be enjoyed in a safe and clean environment. Your support could also help to reduce the incidence of hygiene-related diseases and improve health and wellbeing among the children and families of five communities in Bangladesh.

The specific objectives are to:
* Provide quality, timely meals for all registered children and improve their physical development
* Improve the children’s program attendance and participation rates at all centres
* Teach centre staff, cooks and helpers to follow good hygiene practices such as cleaning and washing utensils, plates, pans and cups
* Provide each of five centres with a clean, modern kitchen and dining hall

Now begins the preparations for Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast. Next year we’ll be riding around 4300 kilometres across Australia. You can support my efforts for next year by visiting my fundraising page.

Below are short videos of most days of the ride. Each video only runs for a minute. The only one missing is our day from Wagin to Pingelly. Unfortunately, I lost the video I recorded for that day.

If you’d like more details about Ride for Compassion, just drop me a message or visit the Ride for Compassion website.

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