The year has flown by with great speed and little pause for breath. Together we've laughed a lot, cried a little and sighed when we've had no words to express our thoughts. We've hugged people, cried with people, encouraged them, sent many emails and driven many miles to be to people what they need - all this in the name of children's work, and keeping kids workers working with kids. We've also supported organisations in what they do and provided expertise where needed. It goes without saying that we've also done a lot of children's work! (A summary of our year went out in our Christmas Cards - you can download a copy here)
We have had a mixture of blessings and difficulties, both in the work we do and personally.
For me in particular, it's been an iconic year. Many things that I have had a vision for and dreamed about for years are beginning to happen. It has been so encouraging to see my vision for children who have additional needs and disabilities come to fruition, to begin to get like minded people together and start to make a difference. I haven't been banging on lots of doors to make this happen - all I've done is pour out my heart about it and then watch things happen
God is indeed gracious.
At our council of reference we keep what we call a "record of God's faithfulness" A reminder that amid all the difficulties of leadership - God is still faithful. The list is getting very long!
Some of the things we are thankful for have another 'side', such as being awarded DLA over a year ago, allowing us to have a reliable car and a very useful rail card. This is great! But with the changes in DLA (Being changed to PIP) it does cause a little uncertainty. I was given a permanent award due to the degenerative nature of the conditions I have, but I will now need to be re-assessed under the new system. If you believe the way things are reported in the press, if I was re-assessed tomorrow I wouldn't qualify for PIP (Which is slightly ridiculous!) BUT, thankfully I won't be reassessed for some time, and hopefully a lot of the negative side to the changes will have been sorted out and the qualification list will be more realistic. So there is still a need to be thankful!
(I am prayerfully aware of my disabled friends for whom the changes are causing severe hardship and difficulty - please join with me in praying for them)
We live by faith - our role as general directors of Children Worldwide is voluntary and squeezed in between our children's and consultancy work. Some folk sponsor us personally, our church gives us a monthly gift, and we are paid for some of the work we do (by no means all of it). In the last year we have lost a considerable amount of our personal funding - thankfully the DLA has helped a little with this, but without it, things would be quite difficult.
Payment for some of my writing is helpful, but a lot of the work I take on costs us money to do, as those who need help and advice can rarely afford to pay for that help - but we remain convinced that getting the message out there about quality kids work and quality work amongst children who have additional needs, needs to be out there, regardless of whether people can pay.
We aren't destitute - we currently have enough to live on, and a personal gift that unexpectedly comes once a year pays for us to have a much needed holiday. (we can't rely on this gift always being there, but we are very thankful if it does arrive!)
There are other exciting things afoot for next year - the possibility of achieving more for kids, and especially kids who have additional needs and disabilities. Despite my own disabilities I can do everything I need to do - but I need to be wise. I need to know what to to take up and what to put down.
As we come close to Christmas and the New Year (Steve's Birthday on New Years Day!) We look back over 2012 with thankfulness - even for the hard stuff. We look forward to 2013, with a mixture of anticipation and a little apprehension. We have much to do, much to organise and lots to say.
Please pray for us - talk to us - hug us and encourage us. We 'give out' and care for people a lot - all willingly! But we rarely get asked how we are ourselves, so feel free to ask!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
The Message (MSG)
7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!