app for loving your community

Can an app help you love your community?

app for loving your community

can an app help you love your community?

I live in Doncaster, and despite it being crowned the “most chilled and least stressful place to live in the UK”, most people’s reaction to this announcement is “oh that’s a shame!”. You see, Doncaster isn’t the nicest place in the world (although I’m sure it’s not the worst!). It is a typical slightly rundown town surrounded by ex-mining communities.

the problem i face in my community…

Sometimes I walk around my town and feel sad. There is litter, broken things that no-one has fixed, buildings that no-one cares about and general signs of poverty all around. It makes my heart sink and my soul feel heavy. I cry out to the God who created and loves this world – why has it become so unloved by those that live in it?

Practically I try to look after my little corner of the world – my house, my garden, my estate. But try as I might, I can never clean up everything. Even when I go out with the community action team at church and litter pick the streets for a couple of hours it isn’t going to change everything. And yet the impact of just simple litter can be HUGE. Health, crime, anti-social behaviour, loss of business are all things that stem from and can be worsened by the presence of litter in a neighbourhood. Once that pride in a community is lost, it is difficult for it to be rebuilt.

a new strategy…

So I decided a new strategy was called for. I could not be a one woman army who tackles the whole of Doncaster’s litter and other problems (there would be little time for looking after my kids if I did that!!).  But I could flag up every problem I saw that made me sad to live here so that someone else could deal with it.

Who might that someone else be? Well they came in the form of an app on my phone, that goes by the name of My Doncaster Council. (Yes the council).

Our local councils are there to help do tasks that no-one would normally do if it was left to us. They provide public goods and services. We pay them through our lovely council taxes to look after our local environments so that we don’t have to. But lately councils have had to cut back on a lot of things, and so they won’t be out patrolling and checking the local area as much. We can be their eyes and ears on the ground. The app I have means that I can report litter, fly tipping, graffiti and a whole host of other things right there and then. I can post photos and videos so that the council can see exactly what the issue is. I am doing their investigating for them.

will my community feel the love?

Why is this loving I hear you ask? Because I want my community to feel good when they step out the door. I want them to have pride in where they live, to be healthy and happy.  We joke that it’s a British pastime to moan.  Well I want to try to report everything that would be the cause of that  moaning (although I can’t change the weather so we’ll always have that to moan about!). I don’t want to just keep walking past the litter and the broken things and expect someone else to do something about it.  I am loving my neighbours by using this app to get them fixed and cleaned up.

Why don’t you see if your local council has an app too…..

daily acts of kindness devotional

Mum on a Mission Reviews Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional

daily acts of kindness devotional

Today an amazing book launches – The Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional.  Now for anyone who has followed my 40 Acts journey over the last few years will know, I love showing kindness to others.  It is something that can really show the love of Jesus and talks louder than words.  The only things limiting me are time, money and inspiration.

If you are in the same boat as me, then why not invest in something that will give you all the inspiration you will need for A WHOLE YEAR!!!  That will mean that everyday you have an idea that you can take out to the streets and put in to action straight away.  No having to think about what to do, no giving lame excuses for not doing it.

And do you want to know the best part?

A lot of the acts of kindness in this book are designed to draw in your family too, to help you instill values of kindness and generosity in your children.  How amazing is that!!

kindness bible verse

The stories of the ladies who wrote it are shared in the devotional sections and linked back to bible passage, bringing a warm approach to this.  They are not judging or forcing you to be kind, but inspiring and nurturing you into it.  They have a real heart to turn from a life looking inward, to our wants and needs, to instead looking outward and meeting the needs of others.  I know that when I have done acts of kindness with my son it has blown me away, so why not give it a try yourself?

prompt 28

What is #Prompt28 all about?

prompt 28

I am sucker for a digital campaign that aims to try to connect me with God or the community more (you will already know how much I love 40 acts each lent!).  So when I heard about Prompt 28 I was very intrigued.  I signed up straight away with only a few days before it started the first Sunday in June.

What is the concept?

The idea behind Prompt 28 is that for 28 days you will ask the Spirit a question.  Being aware of what we are asking the Spirit (and taking our prompts from the daily text/email from Share Jesus International) will hopefully make us more open to opportunities and aware of the Spirit moving in our daily lives.  Some of the prompts are “Who can I pray for today?” or “Who could I eat lunch with today?”.  Some are practical and some are more spiritual, but all are eye opening if you let the Spirit use them.

has it helped me?

Yes and no.  The prompts haven’t been especially imaginative so far, and I have found some of them hard to fit into my lifestyle (I work from home on my own so have no-one to invite to lunch!).  But some of them have been very powerful and pushed me to pray things I might never have.  I have spotted opportunities to reach out that I may have ignored.  I have offered prayer to those on my facebook feed, I have been inspired to write notes of encouragement to those in power above me, and I have jumped at the chance to feed a family in need.  I prayed that I would have the chance to say sorry in person to someone who I never see, and then the next day their car was outside my house and I was able to clear the air and apologise.  I spent one whole day praying peace over my estate and I made an extra effort to be cheerful to all those I interact with during my day.

What has the spirit answered with?

The tag line of the Prompt 28 campaign is “Ask the Spirit a question, see what happens next..” and I love this!  You know what, when you invite the Spirit into your everyday life it is always a little bit scary.  You never know where He is going to lead you or what he is going to prompt you to do.  But it is exciting too!  To know that you could be used to bring someone one step closer to knowing Jesus is exhilarating.  To know that your prayers could change someones world, or your gift of love be influential in someone’s life is so exciting.  I really want to live like this everyday, for it to be Prompt 365 if I’m honest.  Don’t we all need that little kick in the morning to remind us what potential the day has to make an impact for Christ?  No day is a write off.  No day doesn’t hold something unique.  And if Prompt 28 does nothing more than remind us of that, then it is amazing.

But I know that it has done much more than that.  This is only its first year, and Share Jesus International have started off well.  I hope and pray that even more people take part and it becomes more widely known, so that more of us can be prompted to include the Spirit in our everyday lives.

Mummy Meditation – Love (week 2)

Last week we looked at the first verse in our month on Love (do pop over to Naomi’s blog to read the write up) and I took away from that a better understanding of how different God’s love is to ours and that his love puts all other things into context in our lives.  God’s love is so powerful in our lives that our lips must glorify him for it if we truly understand it!  
This week we have been pondering a verse that asks us to look at our own love – are we really showing that fruit?  Here is a reminder of the verse:
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” 1 John 4:20
There are so many verses about love in 1 John, but in learning to grow in our fruit of love I think this one is really important.  You know, we don’t have a God that is ignorant about our struggles.  We don’t have a God that sits up in heaven and goes ” well this is how good I am at loving, why aren’t you the same?”.  Initially it might seem like this passage is quite judgmental (I definitely thought that at the beginning of this week!), but by the end of my week pondering it, I think God is actually recognising how difficult it is for us to love something unseen.
We have a God who came down to earth to experience life as a human being.  God in human form, Jesus.  Jesus experienced the same struggles and difficulties that we do, and I am sure that would have included struggling with loving those around him.  With his twelve disciples we know he experienced betrayal at the hands of Judas, bickering amongst his friends as to who was the greatest, rejection through Peter disowning him and I’m sure much much more which wasn’t documented in the gospels.  Jesus lived real life with people, and spending so much time with others can be hard.  But yet Jesus showed us that it is still possible to love in these situations.  
God knows that it truly is hard to love your brothers and sisters (we are all broken people after all), but he also knows and understands that we are creatures who want proof.  Just think about doubting Thomas – not believing until he saw the nail holes in Jesus’ hands.  Think about all those who believed because of the miracles that Jesus performed.  Seeing is believing for us humans, but seeing is not always possible with God:
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29
To love an unseen God is hard as there is that element of faith, but when we see the work of his great love in our own lives how can we not?  I think this week’s verse is saying “hey, practice your love on the people you can see first!  I know that it is easier to do it when things are seen.  When you can say that you love others then I will believe you when you say that you love me too”.  
Hate and love are mutually exclusive – like light and dark they cannot happen at the same time.  So if there is any hate in our hearts for others then there is no room for love.  God is telling us to sort out that hate first, to do the easier thing of choosing to love the seen and dealing with that, before then approaching God. 
Well that is the sum of my random thoughts for this week!  I would love to hear what you took from this verse, so please do leave your comments below.
We are back over on Naomi’s blog talking about the next verse in our Mummy Meditation series on love, so do join us there: 
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13


Feeding 5000 – almost at 4%

Four per cent.  That sounds like nothing.  And as we near that figure for how many out of 5000 we have fed in our house, it sounds minuscule, it sounds small, it sounds insignificant.  But in fact it is almost 200 different people.  200 different lives, 200 different stories, 200 different beings all loved by God and hopefully shown that love through us. 

When the little boy came to Jesus with his five loaves and two fishes, Jesus didn’t say it was too small or insignificant.  He thanked God, blessed the food and passed it out.  Today I come to God with all those 200 people who have passed through our door over the past 6 1/2 years and thank him for every single one and ask him to bless them.  

You see at the heart of my family’s desire to feed 5000 people in our home over our lifetime was not the numbers really (sometimes you just have to pick a target out of thin air!!) but was the people that we would get to impact.  You see hospitality can be a very powerful thing.  It can be the door to new friendships, perhaps providing a way to start conversations when it is difficult in other places.  It can provide a breathing space for problems to be aired and discussed.  It can be an encouragement both physically and spiritually for those who are tired and weary.  It can be a great social time with many people!  It can be a source of comfort when times are difficult and a respite from the pain.  Let us not forget how important hospitality is in our everyday lives, by instead try to keep that invite into our homes at the tip of our tongue for everyone we meet.

I have this verse in my kitchen as a reminder to do that:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it”. Hebrews 13:2

love ran red

“At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of you, I’m in awe of you
Where your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to you, I owe all to you”
Love Ran Red is the new(ish) album from Christian singer and songwriter Chris Tomlin.  The title song is one of those that will move your soul, taking you right back to that first moment that you stood and gave your life to Christ, when you first fully understood that sacrifice. There are musical ups and downs in the album, and it generally has a more dancey feel to it than some of his first albums, but it is a great soundtrack with challenging lyrics. 
Here is a link to the title song – hope you enjoy! 
P.s this is also a great video as the lovely Chris has provided the chords in sync with the song so that you can learn it on the guitar really easily – showing his heart to equip the church for worship.  Love it! 

Book Review – I choose you today

You may remember a post I wrote last year called “The hardest choice of all is love“, where I spoke about how deciding to love a person can make a huge difference.  Well today I want to tell you all about a great book I have come across which echoes these words but even more profoundly – it is called “I Choose You Today” by Deb DeArmond.

“I Choose You Today” is a book for married couples that looks at ways in which you can keep your marriage strong by everyday choosing to love your spouse.  It breaks this down into 31 short and sweet chapters, each looking at a different thing that you can choose to do, for example:

-I choose to pursue you
-I choose to forgive you
-I choose to be adaptable
-I choose to challenge you
-I choose to laugh with you
-I choose to invest in you

You can read it on your own, as a couple or in a small group.  Each short chapter is easily readable, as it is built upon examples and stories that capture your imagination and I am sure everyone can relate to occurrences in their own lives.  Even I could manage to read a chapter here and there!  At the end of each chapter is a question page so you can review how you are doing in each area.  

For me this book is for everyone, as no-one enters into marriage hoping for it to fail, but wanting it to last and for love to grow during their years together.  This is really easy read, but also provides simple and applicable ways for you to review your relationship and make choices now that will last for many years to come.  I know I for one will be taking away some of the great lessons from this book and putting them into practice.  

Available on amazon

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher for my honest review but all opinions are my own. 

Love is….

So this will be a very “short but sweet” kind of post today.  I was clearing out some things that my mum had given me from my old bedroom and came across a journal that I had kept the first summer I started going out with my now husband.  We had only been together a couple of months whilst at university before the summer hit and we were destined for three months apart – a huge deal when you are young and in love.  So I wrote a journal to try to keep myself sane during that time.  And here is a passage I wanted to share with you all:

“When I am with you now I am beginning to understand more and more what love is.  I can understand more why Jesus died on the cross to save us.  He did it because he loved us so much.  And I can totally understand that now.  There is so much that I would sacrifice in order to save your life.  I would give up my money, my career, and ultimately my life, in order that you may lead a full and happy one.  I’ve never felt that kind of love before, and I guess Jesus’ death has never spoken so clearly to me before, so thank you.  To think about how much it must be hurting God and bringing Him to tears when we sin, and how much he must love us to send His son as a rescue plan just blows my mind away..”

I was 20 at the time I wrote this, just experiencing true love for the first time.  And now I am (almost!) 10 years older, I have a son and a lot has changed about my relationship with my husband. I am experiencing love in a completely different way again and learning even more about the extent of God’s love for me in the process.  Never under-estimate the power of God to speak through you ordinary life and to teach you about his perfect love through your own love in the world.    

Being a blessing – but not just to the nice people…..

So this post sort of follows on from my posts about love being the hardest choice, but I wanted to share some practical examples of how to do this.  Now I know there will be those people in your life who just rile you, who are rude and selfish and disrespectful to you.  But because of circumstances you just have to put up with them.  Perhaps they are your colleagues or boss at work.  Perhaps they are your neighbours.  Perhaps they are another mum at a toddler group you love.  They could be anyone.  

We often think the Christian thing to do is to hold our tongues and not say anything, and so many times we go home and grumble about it there instead, in the privacy and security of our homes behind closed doors.  We stew it in and it eats us up but we think we are doing the loving thing in not confronting people and being angry.  But the bible tells us to do something completely different – it says we should actively seek to BLESS those people who insult us.

I want to give you two examples where I have been challenged to do this (and please note – I am not telling you this because I am super proud of these times, as there have been many other chances to do this that I have ignored, but rather to encourage you to have the boldness to do it).

The first was with a family that lived behind our house.  The moved in a year after us and were your typical anti-social neighbours.  They played loud music into the early hours of the morning, the shouted and swore at each other at the tops of their voices, they let their kids run around the street doing whatever they wanted and destroying whatever they wanted and the kids even shouted abuse at us.  They threw pumpkin at our house on Halloween and just made us feel like we didn’t want to live there any more.  It all seemed like it might be fine when we decided to move house and like we could just escape them silently, but God didn’t want that.  He kept prodding me to get them a Christmas present.  I really didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to go over and give it to them.  But I sort of listened and started collecting items together to go in a hamper for them.  I wrapped it up and everything and then my nerves started to kick in – how on earth was I going to be able to give it to them??  I eventually ended up leaving it outside their front door early one Saturday morning when they were all still in bed, and then peeking to see if they had seen it!  I never knew what they thought of it or if it made a difference, but I knew I had done the right thing in blessing them.

The second was at a similar time when we had received an offer on our house.  Things started to go pear shaped and our buyers were trying to get every pound off the asking price they could. If I had seen them I very well might have hit them!!  But I just kept trusting God that it would all be fine, and in the end it was.  On the weeks leading up to moving day, God again started to prod me.  I was contemplating thoughts of not cleaning the house to get them back for all the heart ache, and God said no – you must leave the house immaculate and also put together a welcome hamper for them.  So I collected some vital new home things (soap, candles, washing up liquid etc) along with some handy things about the neighbourhood and left them in a basket on the kitchen side.  As I locked the door the leave that house for good, I felt upset about the way I felt towards them, but I knew I had done the right thing in blessing them.  Again, I will never know what they thought of that or if it was significant to them.

There are many other examples when I didn’t do this – with my boss at my previous job who bullied me is one that stays with me.  When she left I don’t think I even looked her in the eye and said good bye, and now I wonder how different it might have been if I had chosen the bless her instead.

So if you feel that annoyance rising up, the insults coming at you and the evil coming against you, I ask you to try to listen to the voice of God telling you to bless them instead.  I am not sure what this will look like in each situation, and it might just be you praying for them, but by showing them the love of Jesus and acting as he would you might just change them from insulting you to joining you in praising God.