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How do you define ‘rich’ and ‘poor’?

A philosophical discussion might rest on the premise that this should be viewed from the perspective that wealth is not just about materialism; you can have a poverty of spirit, a poverty of opportunity and a poverty of loneliness. As Mother Theresa said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”   Likewise you can be rich by being blessed with love, companionship, freedom, closeness to God, etc.

However, recognising this, let’s just consider it for a moment from a purely financial perspective. Sitting with my husband in our three bedroom ex-council semi, I read on my laptop (because we have the luxury of not only the technology but also the electricity and the internet connection to use it) that the Global Poverty Project is challenging people to raise money for those in need from 28th April – 2nd May by living on less than £1 a day. It got me thinking about the cost of living and how much I spend a day in comparison to the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Although I might not be regarded as rich from a UK perspective (I’d welcome your thoughts on the definition of rich – by material standards) I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

I spend my working days trying to develop programmes to support people in extreme poverty, such as this couple affected by leprosy living under a flyover in Mumbai, India.

Aribabu and Rawamma (3) low res

But could I survive as they do on less than £1 a day? Well, if you take into account what I would regard as my share of the essential bills per day (£1.58 council tax, £13.33 mortgage, £1.67 gas/electricity/water) the answer is clearly no! And that’s without my phone, TV, internet, toiletries, laundry, car, insurance and petrol costs, luxuries that I have come to regard as necessities (after all it would be a 28 mile round trip bike ride to work and the bus would be £8 a day return!). So what if I just look at food and drink? Could I survive?

This week I will be blogging on my attempt to do just that, to spend less than £1 a day on all the food and drink that I consume. It’s been quite a task costing every ingredient, but the whole process has been an eye-opener as to what it might be like for someone living on the poverty line, where every penny makes the difference between eating and going hungry. It’s a shock to realise that I can’t just eat what I fancy, but have to plan every meal to see if I can afford it and adapt my recipes to save costs.

Going round the supermarket it was a sad to see how many individual items cost more than £1, how expensive the healthy food is and how difficult it will be to incorporate meat, fruit and vegetables into my diet, or any drinks other than tap water. Chocolate is certainly a no-no! I came to realise that if I am going to eat anything like a balanced diet, and not go hungry, I will have to fore-go my ethics of buying free range, organic and Fairtrade in favour of the cheapest brands. I got excited at seeing things reduced or discounted, and when I managed to buy 30 eggs for £1.75 (that’s 6p an egg!!) I was so relieved that at least I would get some protein, since meat was out of the question.

So what can you do to help?

 

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The meaning of life….

Why Why WHY???

Do you think about the injustice in the world and wonder why is this happening?  See the extreme wealth of some and the extreme material poverty of others and question why?  Do you wonder why despite having the things you have acquired you are not happy? Why others seem to be able to enjoy life and you feel you have to spend all your time working hard to help others and provide for your family?  Why the wicked seem to prosper and those who do good struggle?

Madelina 11 and Rebecca 7 by their house distance

What is the meaning of life?  What does a successful, fulfilling and happy life look like and how can we achieve it?

I read some wise words today that might help you to explore the answers. Here are the 12 Top Tips to a life worth living.

1) “If you love money and wealth you will never be satisfied with what you have…..I got whatever I wanted and did what made me happy. But most of all I enjoyed my work.  Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work and it was simply chasing the wind.”

Life is not just about doing what we want, getting what we want and working…. there is more to it!

2) “Everywhere on earth I saw violence and injustice instead of forgiveness.  So I told myself God has set a time and place for everything. He will judge everyone, both the wicked and the good.”

Yes, the world is full of injustice and it may seem that those striving for good are fighting a losing battle.  But this is not so.  Lead a life that walks the right path, that obeys God and rest assured that you will be blessed. Forgive those who hurt you, become reconciled with those who have offended you.  Not only will this bring you peace in your relationships and make your life happier, but you can also rest assured that the time will come when those who hurt others and are not sorry will be punished.

3) “Everything in earth has its own season…. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can fully understand all he has done and he puts questions into our minds about the past and future.”

So don’t stress about life, things will happen in God’s timing. Worrying about the past and future won’t change things.  Put things in God’s hands and enjoy the present, make the most of the blessings you have, the people in your life and the experiences you find yourself in.

WOrk

4) “The best thing we can do is to enjoy eating and drinking and working,  I believe these are God’s gifts to us….if we please God he will make us wise, understanding and happy.”

So what about approaching life in a way that you become determined to enjoy the gifts God has given you; take pleasure in eating and drinking and do work that you enjoy.  But do this in a way that pleases and serves God and then you will be blessed, not necessarily with money, but with the things that really matter.

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5) “Yet a very little food eaten in peace is better than twice as much earned from overwork and chasing the wind.”

Overwork is as much as a recipe for disaster than doing nothing. Getting a balance is what is important. Enjoy your work, do something where your gifts can be utilised; but remember that work is just one of God’s blessings that we have to enjoy.  By overworking we deprive ourselves of many of the others.

6) “Be cheerful and enjoy life.”

A smile brings warmth to others and is a gesture the world-over that cannot help but bring down barriers and generate a smiling response.  It usually instills happiness in yourself and others.  Smile more, be cheerful and show other how blessed you are. Happiness and joy is contagious, spread it!

Smile

7) “You are better off having a friend than being alone.”

Developing friendships take time and investment, but having the love and support of a friend is without price.  It helps us get through the hard times and enables us to share the good times, making them extra special.  Spend time with your friends.

8) “Dress up, comb your hair and look your best. Life is short and you love your spouse, so enjoy being together.”

Marriage is not without its trials, but deep love is at the root of a successful relationship. Love without condition, love that forgives, love that shares the good times and supports each other through the difficult times, love that respects each other, is gentle and kind and that makes the most of being together. Turn your marriage into a place of love and you will be happy.

9) “It is better to enjoy what we have than always to want something else because that makes no more sense than chasing the wind……I think we should get as much out of life as we possibly can…. a child born dead is better off than you unless you enjoy life and have a decent burial.”

Count your blessings, maximise the benefits of what God has given you.  Enjoy life! We are only here for a short time, as we get older time seems to pass more quickly. Don’t put of doing something you have been longing to do.  Don’t waste your life; set your mind to recognise the positive in your circumstances, to work towards building strong relationships, towards enjoying the things and people you have been blessed with and to putting God into the right place in your life.

Enjoy

10) “Be generous and some day you will be rewarded.”

The more you give to others in terms of love, service, as well as money, the more you will be blessed and the more joy you will experience.  The saying goes that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Start giving and see the changes that it makes to your life, as well as the lives of others. Give at home, in your community and to those worldwide more in need. Your generosity will touch your heart and also the heart of others.

11) “Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the morning sun.”

Appreciate the wonder’s of God’s creation.  Take time to see the beauty of what he has made: the animals, butterflies, fish and birds, the mountains and the valleys, beaches and forests. Find peace in stillness as you feel of the grass under your feet, sand in your toes and the warmth of sun on your face. Listen to the wind blowing through the trees, the sound of the crashing waves and the birds singing. Smell the perfume of the flowers and ground after new rain. Watch the sun rise in the morning and the colours of the setting sun, and look in awe on the wonders of creation.

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12)  “God has done all this so that we will worship him.”

He has made the beauties of creation, given us people who care for us, provided for our basic needs. Think of all the blessings you have: a roof over your head, food to eat, clean water, electricity, living in a country free from war, freedom of speech, friends to share things with, family who love you, a spouse who cares, a welcome home from you pet, a job, times of stillness and peace, music, kind words said by others, a hug, the joys of nature, or your good health. God blesses us all in different ways, but our response should be to worship Him and give Him thanks.  For by praising Him for the gifts we have been given we begin to find our purpose and can enjoy life with Him at the centre.

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So the what is the purpose of life?

  • Keep your creator in mind, worship Him and enjoy life; work hard but make time to enjoy and share the blessings He has given you.

Lord help me to get a work-life balance. Help me to enjoy life, to serve you in my work, but not to over work. To take time to enjoy all that you have blessed me with…. family, friends, food and the beauties of your creation.

The words of wisdom in bold above are taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes – ancient wisdom that is so relevant today.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Church, Life, Reflections

 

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