A Girl of Wisdom desires to make a difference…

195868_5143069031_3050_n“She’s quick to assist anyone in need and reaches out to help the poor.”

Proverbs 31:20

 I have a friend named Deborah. She is much younger than me (I was born in 1981 and she was born in 1995- you do the maths!). She loves to draw, sing and play soccer. When asked what she would like to be when she grows up, Deborah will declare that she wants to be a doctor. How amazing is that?? In August 2007, I boarded a plane and travelled to where she lives. I got to meet her for the first time.

 As Deborah walked towards me, tears began to roll down my cheeks. When she finally reached me, she knelt down at my feet. The translator explained that this was a cultural gesture meaning, “I owe you my life.” Deborah then stood up again and we simply looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment. I then received the biggest hug of my life!

Deborah has a mum, dad and seven siblings. And they all live in a mud hut no bigger than a little camping tent. And yet, Deborah is just like you and me. She likes music and sport. She argues with her brothers… She wants to be a doctor.

You see, what I didn’t tell you at the beginning was that Deborah lives in Uganda, Africa. Uganda is a country filled with poverty, injustice and suffering that is beyond our comprehension. My family sponsors Deborah through a humanitarian organisation. Each month, my husband and I pay a certain amount of money and this ensures that Deborah gets to go to school, has three meals a day, receives medical attention if she gets sick and provides her family with practical help.

I hope this final pearl of wisdom touches your heart in a powerful way. If it does, your life will never be the same again. A Girl of Wisdom desires to make a difference. Not just within her family, not just amongst her friends, not just within school. She is a beautiful girl, filled with compassion, who wants to help the world.

In our next blog post, we conclude this special blog feature by showing you how possible it is to make a difference in this world! As 2013 draws to an end and we get ready to enter 2014, let’s decide that the new year ahead will be less about ourselves and more about others.

A Girl of Wisdom speaks up for injustice (continued!)

compassionI believe with all my heart that a Girl of Wisdom is not self-centred and unaware of how others are being treated. Girls who are wise see beyond themselves and actively pay attention to what is happening to others around them. And when they see something happening that is unfair and not right, they confidently and calmly make a stand for truth and justice.

I encourage you to pick a day this coming week. Spend one whole day practising the skill of “seeing people.” Look at the faces of others who pass you by. Do they look happy or sad? Are they alone? What type of day do you think they are having?

Listen to the conversations around you. What is being said? Do you think it’s right, wrong, unkind, true, false, friendly or mean? You will be amazed at the things you see and hear that you have never seen or heard before. You will be surprised at the amount of things that go on around you that are unfair.

Once you begin to notice the people and conversations around you, the next step is to stand up for the injustice that you see. As a high school student, it may be as simple as smiling at a girl who you know doesn’t have any friends. Maybe you could even sit next to her. For those of us who are mums and professionals in the workplace- how about telling other women that you don’t want to be a part of listening to rumours when they begin to gossip?

So beautiful girl, are you ready to accept this little pearl of wisdom? It’s a hard choice to be compassionate because it takes courage. Because when you feel compassion, you must act. And sometimes, it may mean taking a risk and turning away from the crowd. I know you are brave enough to live this way!

A Girl of Wisdom speaks up for injustice!

girls-bullying-school-434“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

Proverbs 31:8 & 9 (NLT)

When I first started high school, I quickly became friends with a group of girls who I honestly believed would be my friends for the rest of my life. We got along really well, saved seats for each other in class and stayed over at each other’s houses for movie nights. It was so great feeling that I belonged and was accepted.

But after a year, it suddenly all changed. It was like my group of friends made a decision that for some unexplained, random reason, I was no longer part of the group… but they forgot to tell me that! What followed was a year I will never forget. A year of being bullied, ignored and picked on. I spent all my lunch breaks in the library doing homework because there was nowhere else for me to go. I certainly got amazing grades in all my subjects that year! But even though I loved learning, I cared about having friends too! Sound familiar?

Now I’m a high school teacher and things haven’t changed much amongst the teenagers I teach. I see students spreading untrue gossip about other students. Part of my day involves helping teenagers who are being left out and treated unfairly. I see them struggling to hold back tears. I see them pretending that they don’t care when they have to sit by themselves or when nobody wants to work with them when doing a group project.

But the main thing that bothers and angers me the most is that nobody stands up for those who are being bullied or who are being treated unfairly. It’s considered “uncool” to make a stand for justice- to speak up when something is being done that is not right and undeserved.

Think about it. I’m sure that at your school or workplace, you know who the so-called “unpopular” people are. You see them being picked on and laughed at. How do you feel about them? Perhaps as you laugh along with everybody else or stand back and watch, deep down, do you feel a sinking feeling? In the midst of your relief that it’s not you who’s being treated unfairly, do you realise that it could have been you? And if it were you, have you ever wondered if anybody would stand up for you?

Our next blog post will show you a practical way to begin to develop compassion!

Girls of Wisdom Feature- Pearls of Truth on Making a Difference in your World!

compassionDo you know what the word “compassion” means? It’s not exactly a word that is used all the time like “shopping,” “homework,” “mobile” and “internet.” And showing compassion towards someone may not be as easy as going shopping with your friends, doing a science assignment, sending a text message or doing a search on Google!

But you know what? If you are a girl who chooses to develop a compassionate heart while you are still young, you will certainly be steps closer to creating a bright future for not only yourself, but for countless lives around you.

Compassion is a feeling of sorrow or pity for someone who is suffering. It’s a similar word to sympathy, which is sharing someone else’s pain and trouble as if it were your own. But I think compassion is more than feeling sorry for another person. Compassion is looking beyond yourself, noticing others around you, feeling someone else’s pain and then choosing to do something about it.

Over the next few months, we will be posting blogs about “making a difference in your world.” We can’t wait to share about speaking up for injustice, being generous, planning acts of kindness and desiring to make a difference. And that’s what being a Girl of Wisdom is all about!

Show me the money!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Money. We all have it in one form or another. Some earn more, some less and this is dependent on many factors such as age, type of job and hours worked per week. What is applicable to all is how you use your money.

The woman described in Proverbs 31 knows how to manage her finances. In verses 16 and 17 (NLT) it says:

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”

No matter how great or small your finances are, our question to you today is, “How do you handle your finances?” Here are some thoughts for you.

1. Trust God with your finances. Money isn’t everything. Yes, in our society there are bills to be paid, food to be bought as well as many other expenses. First and foremost, trust God with what you have. Talk to Him about any concerns with your bank balance and ask Him to provide for your needs.

2. Make (and stick to!) a budget. There are many ways to do this, from excel spreadsheets to computer apps. Find a budget tool that works for you. It’s a great way to look at how much you earn and where your money goes!

3. Give some money away. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Find a reputable charity or perhaps something in your church, where you can give to those in need.

4. Invest wisely. Regarldess of your age or the amount of money you have to invest, seek some professional advice about where to invest some money for the future.

A Girl of Wisdom knows how to manage her finances. She trusts in God, is aware of her expenditures, seeks advice on investments and loves to give some of her earnings away to those less fortunate than herself.

What can you do to help those in need?

Monday 13 February 2012

I remember the first time I got off a plane in Africa, greeted by the smell of dust, the scorching sun and new surroundings. I was part of a team of Aussie teachers who were there to train teachers. You see, unlike in Australia, in this part of the world to become a teacher usually means failing high school and then, with no training, be given a class of 90 students to teach, all on a salary of $2 a day. There is such a need for upskilling these teachers in the art of how to teach.

Wherever you look, there is someone in need and someone who does not have the basic resources such as food and shelter to lead a healthy life. Proverbs 31:20 (NLT) writes that a woman of wise character “extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

So what can you do to reach out to the poor and needy using your time and skills? Think locally and globally about areas of need that you see. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Help someone in your neighbourhood.

– volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

– make and bring a meal for a friend who needs it.

– spring clean your wardrobe and donate the good but unwanted clothes to a local charity.

2. Make a difference around the world.

– donate funds to a trusted charity doing great work in the developing world.

– volunteer your time and skills in a worthwhile overseas project.

A Girl of Wisdom has a compassionate heart for those in need around her. She sees where she can give help and is savvy in how to best provide this.

Ideas are free…so what’s yours?

Sunday 23 October 2011

I recently heard someone say that they come up with
a new idea each week, one which will help lives and change situations. It challenged me to do the same. So I began to think.

Through my work as a Child Advocate with Compassion, a not for profit working in nations of extreme poverty, and also my volunteer work for Collective Shout campaigning against the sexualisation of girls, I see the need for people to speak out about the great injustices in our world. I also know that a good idea can make a huge impact and that ideas are free.

I often think about an ideal world, and want to see lives being helped. I simply care and often am alarmed by the issues, depravity and sadness that negatively impacts children.

One idea came to me after I picked up a new mobile phone. I received a booklet giving me instructions on how to use the phone, but what it didn’t give me was any responsibilities I should adhere to as a user. I was thinking along the lines of information regarding sexting, online harassment, tagging inappropriate things on facebook or even the downloading of pornography. My idea was simply to make information available for parents and young people, as a way of protecting against harm, educating families of possible issues and having a mechanism to have an open conversation.

So I contacted a national telecommunication company and put my idea to them. And they agreed to roll out the idea in a couple of phases. I didn’t do this to get kudos for my idea, nor to make money. I did it because it was an extension of my advocacy and care for a healthy society.

What about your idea? Will you think of something that will give an uneducated child an opportunity? Will you do something to fight for those less fortunate? Will there be an idea that will impact widows or an innovative idea that will bring justice for the voiceless? Remember, ideas are free. What’s yours?

Deb Malcolm is a passionate advocate of women’s and children’s rights. For more information, visit www.collectiveshout.org and www.compassion.com.au

The Good Samaritan…How would you respond?

Monday 18 April, 2011

The story of the Good Samaritan is inspirational, challenging and thought provoking. It’s found in Luke Chapter 10 and is about the different ways in which 3 men respond to another man who has been robbed and in need.

The story found in Luke 10:30-35 (MSG) says, “There was once a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. A Samaritan travelling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.'”

I find it interesting that the first two men avoided helping the injured man and I wonder what was going through their minds at the time? Meanwhile, the Samaritan, who culturally in that day was not very well liked by Jews, responded with compassion even to the point of taking the injured man to a safe place and paying for him to rest and recover.

We have probably all done as the first 2 men did at different points in our lives. We’ve seen someone in need, ignored them, been too busy, perhaps the person had a disability… I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons why people walk past people in need.

In saying this, we need to use wisdom in these situations. There are times when we need to discern if it is safe to help and decide how we can best do this, be it that we call the ambulance or police to aid the person.

Another thing I notice about the Samaritan is that he does not make a big song and dance about the fact that he has helped somone. He quietly goes about helping this man with no motivation of gain for himself.

Let’s be women that no matter what we are in the midst of, or where we are rushing to and from, that we would respond with compassion and appropriate action to any situation that may cross our paths.

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