I’ve been talking about you

In my work I regularly meet with people such as church pastors over coffee or a meal. We talk about a range of matters but one of the topics that seems to come up again and again is family. My wife and my children are incredibly important to me so it should be no surprise that they are always in my thoughts and conversations.

Recently I was chatting to a pastor and once again our conversation turned to our families. We both shared stories of how incredible our respective children are, how quickly they’ve grown up and how proud we are of them.

That conversation about our children reminded me of a time long, long ago.

My dad worked on a ship travelling up and down the Western Australian coast. He was away from home a lot.

I still remember, one day when I was quite young, visiting the ship dad was working on when it was docked in Fremantle. I’m the youngest of five siblings and for whatever reason, on this day I was there with my eldest two brothers.

A man who also worked on the ship walked past and a conversation began. Once he was told we were ‘Tom’s kids’ he said something to the effect of, “You must be … “ and then mentioned our names. “Your dad talks about you all the time.” He gave us the impression that our dad was very proud of his children.

Wow! That was a revelation. Dad talked about us.

I would never have thought that when he was away from our family for weeks at a time that one of his popular topics of conversation would have been his children.

I don’t know why I found it so surprising but I did. It meant that I might just matter to dad.

All of that got me thinking.

Do my children know that I talk about them, endlessly?

Does James know that earlier this week while talking to a group of people about him someone mentioned how I immediately puffed out my chest with pride? They caught a glimpse of how much I love James in my facial expressions and body language as well as the words I was using.

Would Emily ever think that I often talk about how incredibly talented she is and that I’m so proud of her? Would she know that the picture I paint in others’ minds of her is of an incredible young woman who I love so very much, because that’s exactly how I see her?

Do both Emily and James know that even though I’ve had some amazing highlights in my life, they top them all? Do they know that even in the busyness of my life and work they are never far from my mind and my conversations?

Emily and James, you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you …. your dad talks about you …. all the time.

If you’re a parent, do your children know that you talk about them to others?

Do they know that when you’re away from them and you can choose to talk about anything in the world, you talk about them? Do they know that you’re always on your mind and in your heart? Maybe it’s worth telling them today.

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Fourteen Years

children

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written, but time is short. How short? Well maybe fourteen years, maybe less.

A week ago I had another one of those celebrations that happen once every 365 days, or in this case, 366. It dawned on me that based on the retirement age here in Australia of 67, I have just fourteen years of gainful employment left. (Wow … I am getting old, aren’t I?)

But what does that really mean for me?

Let’s face it, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow. (It always amazes me that we so often think that an early demise will come at the hands of a negligent bus driver. I think they get a bad rap. Surely bus deaths aren’t that high.) However, if the good Lord decides to keep me on this earth for a while longer, I have fourteen more years of contributing to the task of seeing children released from poverty in Jesus’ name. Fourteen more years of speaking for those who have no voice. Fourteen more years of encouraging others to get on board to do what they can to end extreme poverty.

Well, that’s not quite true.

At this point, I can imagine myself working with Compassion until I retire, but I don’t know if God might direct me somewhere else in the meantime. On the other hand, even if I do continue working with Compassion until I retire, I won’t stop advocating for children in extreme poverty when I finally hand back the office keys and drive out of the Compassion car park for the final time. Whatever years I’m given, whether a few or many, I hope I’ll still be speaking up for others.

You see, my job isn’t just a job.

I’ve heard it said that if you “find something you love to do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Nice idea but not quite true. I love what I do but I really do have to work at it … and that’s OK. I’m happy to work hard at what I do because there’s a lot to be done. Did you know around 300 million children in our world will go to bed hungry tonight? Did you know that according to the most recent figures 17 000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes? And let that word sink in for a while. Preventable. That means it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s unacceptable.

I believe that extreme poverty is unacceptable. I believe the corrupt systems that keep people in extreme poverty are unacceptable. The fact that a child can grow up believing that they are worthless is unacceptable. Most of all, knowing that our world has the resources and know how to halt extreme poverty right now, yet chooses not to, is unacceptable.

So whether it’s fourteen or forty years I have left on this planet, with God’s help, I’ll still be speaking up for those who need to know that they are precious. Whatever time I have I’ll be highlighting the imbalance of those of us who have too much and those who have literally nothing. Whether it be days or decades I’ll be pointing to the injustice of a world that turns its back on children in poverty. For the days I have left I’ll be doing my best to ensure that children everywhere are known, loved and protected.

Will you join me in changing our world? Please sponsor a child today through Compassion and release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

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Mac, Rome and Cole

Mac Rome Cole

While I’m in Manila seeing the work of Compassion, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the homes of a number of children who are living in extreme poverty. Their homes are small, dark and are in the middle of overcrowded slums. Yet despite their living conditions, the children and their families who are being supported buy the local church, partnering with Compassion, have an amazing hope for the future.

Today I met three young boys, Mac, Rome and Cole. They have all been registered with Compassion for almost a year but they still don’t have a sponsor to help them reach their full, God given potential.

If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child can I ask you to check out the three short videos below? These three boys are full of life and I gave them my word that I would seek sponsors for them in Australia.

If you’d like to sponsor any of these boys (or perhaps all three) please get in touch with me. I can arrange to sort out the details when I return to Australia at the end of this week. Please think seriously about your part in releasing these children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

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We’re Better Than This

wbttaus

Over 700 children are currently detained indefinitely by the Australian government and there’s a rising number of people who are standing up and saying we’re better than this.

We’re better than this Australia is a movement to draw people’s attention to the reality of life for children in detention camps at the behest of the Australian Government. The people behind We’re Better Than This is an alliance of informed Australians who – no longer able to say, “I didn’t know there were so many children in mandatory detention being treated so inhumanely by our Government”- find themselves now no longer able to stay silent.

This isn’t a political movement as both sides of politics have been part of the problem. Now it’s time to find a solution and release children from detention. It breaks my heart to know that for many children, life behind razor wire is all they know.

No other country in the world holds children in the way we do, and the United Nations is very, very concerned about Australia’s policies. – Professor Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission

As a country we have stood up and pointed the finger at human rights abuses in other countries and I believe we need to keep doing that, but our protests don’t carry much weight when we continue to lock children away when they’ve committed no crime.

On Christmas Island, visiting doctors found children showing serious signs of both physical and mental deterioration. On the island of Nauru, UN inspectors deemed the conditions inhumane and unsuitable for children, while a Transfield Services intelligence report detailed several cases of child abuse and self-harm. – The Guardian

If you want your voice to be heard, there’s more information and a bunch of resources at the We’re Better Than This website.

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Party Peer Pressure

cakes

I really don’t remember having birthday parties when I was young. That’s not to say that I didn’t. I just don’t remember them.

I know I had at least one party during my primary school days because I still recall mum wondering why I had invited Murray Lorimer. She knew all my friends and she’d never heard of Murray before. I know I invited him but I can’t even remember whether he was at the party because I don’t remember the party. It was a long time ago.

Parties these days are a little different. They’re a major event. If your five year old doesn’t remember the $4000 you spent on their birthday I guess you’d make sure that there were enough photos of the day so that they could never forget. Yep … that’s right … $4000 for a five year old’s birthday party.

Parents are going to great lengths to pull off large-scale events, some worth thousands of dollars, for their beloved children, says director of Bash Events Alison Chibnall.

“We did a party that cost about $4000; that one was for a five-year-old,” she says.

“I think the cheapest one we’ve done was about $1200.

”It is almost like parents feel they need to outdo the other parents. Each party needs to be bigger, better and have more.” – News.com.au

I do wonder if it’s about providing something wonderful for their children or more about how the parents are perceived by others. Have you felt pressured to put on a big party for your children?

Peer pressure doesn’t end when you reach a certain age. It’s always there.

Maybe you’ve felt pressured in other ways to live up to the expectation of others. You may not even have children but there are still lots of ways that we feel we have to live up to the standards that others are setting.

I’d love to hear about how you feel pressured to do things a certain way or focus your attention on certain things. When have you been swayed to go down a certain road because it was an expectation from peers, parents, children, co-workers or someone else?

Do you regret actions you took at some stage because you felt pressured?

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