Three Minutes to Change the World

Can you spare me three minutes to watch this video?

I don’t know what goals you have for 2022 but mine are fairly huge. I want to invite you into those goals.

Once you’ve watched the video, if you want to accept that invitation, you can follow this link.

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We’re living in an age of delay, interruption, deferral, postponement, and cancellation.

The things we want to do are often out of reach. Travel, spending time with those we love, gatherings, concerts, sports events. They’re still being disrupted due to a pandemic that many of us thought would be gone a few months after it started, and yet, here we are.

One of the biggest consequences for me has been the necessary yet heartbreaking decision to postpone Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast.

This Saturday, I should have been joining around 30 other cyclists and an amazing support crew to begin a journey of over 4,000 kilometres from one side of Australia to the other. It was all about raising money for children living in extreme poverty. Over a month ago we saw the writing on the wall and rescheduled the ride for September/October 2022.

It’s Too Important

While it’s incredibly disappointing that we can’t take to the roads this week, the cause behind the ride is too important to give up. Thousands of children living in extreme poverty are depending on those of us making this journey and making it count. They don’t know we’ll be riding across the continent, they’ll probably never know, but it’s an important cause all the same.

There are children, through no fault of their own, who are living in the most unacceptable circumstances. We plan to make a difference for as many of them as we can by offering them a hope more powerful than poverty.

A United Nations report looking at the effects of the pandemic on the world’s poor was released in July. Some of the findings are hard to fully comprehend.

In addition to over four million deaths due to the coronavirus, between 119-124 million people have already been pushed back into poverty and chronic hunger, and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs were lost, the report indicates.

“The pandemic has halted, or reversed, years, or even decades of development progress. Global extreme poverty rose for the first time since 1998”, according to the UN Under-Secretary-General.

Millions of children risk never returning to school; while rising numbers have been forced into child marriage and child labour.

“The poorest and most vulnerable continue to be at greater risk of becoming infected by the virus and have borne the brunt of the economic fallout.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also adversely affected progress towards gender equality. Violence against women and girls has intensified, child marriage is expected to increase, and women have suffered a disproportionate share of job losses and increased care responsibilities at home.

It’s a grim picture.

This statement in the article really hit me.

“We are at a critical juncture in human history. The decisions and actions we take today will have momentous consequences for future generations.”

What decisions and actions will you take today? What decisions and actions will you take to assure a child in extreme poverty that even though we’re facing our own hardships, we hear their cries?

If you’d like to assist children living in poverty by supporting my ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $25,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world, children living in extreme poverty.

So far, I’ve received donations from $10 to over $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax-deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $25,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By visiting my fundraising page and clicking the yellow SPONSOR A CHILD button, your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name. Every child sponsored through my fundraising page counts as $1,000 towards my fundraising goal.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

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What if they say, no?

It’s R U OK? Day. It’s the day that we’re encouraged to ask friends, family and colleagues if they’re OK. It’s an acknowledgement that a conversation could change a life.

Of course we’re encouraged to ask the question more than just once a year and this year we’re being asked to dig a little deeper to ask if others are ‘really’ OK.

I wonder though, how would you react if someone you asked admitted that they weren’t really OK. What if you asked if they were OK and they said, no? Would you know how to help or at least walk with them towards some kind of help?

Do you know how the people in your world are really going?

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.

So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going.

Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.

Thankfully, the R U OK? website has resources to help you have those conversations.

Asking others if they’re OK should be a year-round conversation. I’m grateful for a particular friend who often digs a little deeper beyond the ‘how’re you going?’ kind of conversation. While I haven’t had cause to share any deep pain with this friend, his questions let me know that if I’m in trouble, I’ll have somewhere to turn.

Do you know how to ask someone if they’re doing OK? Do you know how to check on their mental health and then be the support they need today and throughout the year? Maybe the best thing you can do for those close to you on R U OK? Day is to visit the R U OK? website and learn how to ask and where to go from there.

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Marnie Swedberg – Transforming Perspectives

From being the girl to struggled to learn to read in school, to the woman who has read thousands of books and authored over a dozen of her own, Marnie Swedberg is remarkable.

Marnie Swedberg is an international leadership mentor, the author of 13 books, the host of her own radio talk show, a media expert, and a keynote speaker for organizations around the world.

Fun and fast-paced, yet peaceful and approachable, her history includes fires, floods, a tornado, car wrecks, business set-backs, a burglary, lightning strike, ambulance rides and more. She models come-back behavior, possibility thinking, and profound faith.

She owned and operated businesses in the restaurant and retail industries for over a decade and is now the webhostess of the largest online directory of Christian Women Speakers in the world. The website connects event planners with speakers from every experience level, fee range, and denomination and currently features over 1000 speakers.

As a public speaker herself, Marnie recently solo-circumnavigated the globe, speaking 26 times at six conferences in four countries. She has presented for large corporations including Honeywell, Prudential, and Pillsbury; for non-profit groups including Chambers of Commerce, Professional Women’s groups, colleges and libraries. and for Christian women’s retreats, conferences, and other programs.

I had the honour of speaking to Marnie recently on my podcast Bleeding Daylight.

You can hear our conversation by finding Bleeding daylight wherever you listen to podcasts or just click play on audio player below.

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Father’s Day 2021

Dad was a FIFO worker before there was such a thing. These days FIFO stands for ‘Fly In Fly Out’ but back then dad would ‘Float In Float Out’. He worked as a cook on ships, mostly heading up and down the Western Australian coast. That meant that dad would be absent from our home for weeks at a time.

When he was home I don’t know that he really knew how to interact with his children and I’m not sure that I knew how to interact with him.

Even though there was often both a physical and emotional distance between us, my dad was a good dad who did the best job of fathering he could.

I’m now coming to realise that there are many things that I see in my self today that can be traced directly back to my father and the influence he still has on me.

Maybe I could point to things I wish were different when I was young but really, I didn’t miss out on much. Life was pretty good and a lot of that was down to the love of an imperfect father. These days I’m an imperfect father, so the last thing I want to do is blame dad for the things I may have missed out on while growing up. Instead, I blame my dad for a range of other things.

I blame my father for the fact that time and time again I suddenly find myself awake in the middle of the night. I wake up and sense someone is in the room. Someone small and furry … with whiskers. It’s Simba, our cat, wanting to get in under the covers. I love cats. I love them because my dad loved cats. He loved most animals but especially cats.

I blame my father for some of the music that is still stuck in my head. Dad was almost 44 years older than me and so his musical tastes weren’t exactly ‘current’. Which explains why to this day, among a very wide range of music in my collection, covering many different styles, I still listen to Bing Crosby, dad’s favourite singer. (Just don’t mention that I also listen to Sinatra. Dad was certainly not a fan.)

I blame my father for the fact that I’m a qualified chef. Dad was a chef and I followed that career for a number of years. I completed my four-year apprenticeship then decided it really wasn’t for me, but it has given me skills I’ve been able to use ever since. It also meant that some years later I was able to work alongside dad for a week when he was cooking at a camp on Rottnest. It was a memorable week.

There are many more things I can see in me that come from my dad. Some good, some not so good. I also know there would be many other parts of who I am that I don’t even recognise as coming from dad but are still part of his influence.

My dad was a good dad who provided for his family well and did the best he could.

It’s Father’s Day in Australia.

This is my twentieth Father’s Day without my dad. George Thomas Olsen passed away in August 2002, just a few days before his 83rd birthday and around a month before Father’s Day of that year.

I really do miss dad but it’s not with an overwhelming sadness because I know he’s in a better place and I know I’ll see him again one day.

I still wish he was able to see Emily and James grow up into the wonderful young people that they’ve become and to get to know Pauline even better. I reckon he would have really enjoyed getting to know Emily’s husband, Josh. I wish Emily and James had more time to get to know their grandad.

I look forward to a new day when we’ll catch up on everything we’ve missed over the years.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

Today won’t be a sad day because I’ll be spending the day being a dad to my own children and working hard to ensure that there are many ‘good’ things that they’ll be able to blame me for in the years to come.

(Yes, that’s me with my dad and mum in the picture above. You can click on it for a closer look.)

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