In the life before my illness, I did some part time work for my church working with young women in the evening congregation. I used to meet up regularly with Amber, a young lawyer who was working for a large law firm and wondering what she should do with her life. We had many conversations about God, life and praying that God would equip her to do His work in the world. About a year later, Amber then left her job and went with her husband to India where she worked with the International Justice Mission. During her time there, she was involved in helping a number of villagers who had become slaves to a brick kiln owner and forced to work long, hard hours, locked up, beaten and the women were gang raped repeatedly - all to pay back a debt that grew ever larger. The IJM managed to free these women and bring the owner of the kiln to justice - the government repatriated those who had been enslaved. There was a law making slavery a crime, but no one had ever enforced it and men like this particular owner had always gotten away with breaking the law.
The work of IJM inspires me - but I also feel overwhelmed by the immensity of the injustices that people face world wide - I want to close my eyes and ears and pretend that it is not happening. But it is. I am not a lawyer, I am not a doctor and I feel ill equipped to do much that can help. However, I have always prayed and I have prayed. The words of one of Sara Groves had a huge impact on me and formed part of a prayer that I have prayed for over four years:
We come to every new morning with possibilities only we can hold.... I want to add to the beauty to tell a better story... shine with the light that is burning up inside. It comes in small inspirations, it brings redemption to our life and our words. It comes in loving community, it comes in helping a soul find its worth. This is grace - an invitation to be beautiful.Over these years, as I have struggled with my health, it has not been possible for me to do much at times other than survive. Last year was particularly bad, but I still wanted to do something a little more. I started supporting IJM financially. I met up with Amber, who had returned from India to ask her what I could do to support the work of the IJM. I told her that I could sew - I wondered whether I could make things to sell and give the money to IJM and raise awareness of their work. Fabric and cottons and wadding are not cheap, so I prayed that God would provide me with these things.
Sadly, one of my dear friend's Mother died about a year ago, leaving behind a room filled with unused fabric, cottons and other stuff. Out of the blue, my friend called and asked me if I could use her mothers things? Could I? Wow - what an amazing answer to my prayer. I filled my car with her things and then had to find a place in my cupboards at home. I love making things, but every time I make something, I give it away - so I was not keeping up with my desire to give gifts and my dream of making things to sell. Also, I am a perfectionist and want to make things that are beautiful and this takes time.
Last Saturday our church held a women's conference titled "Let your light so shine..." There were a number of stalls for women to look at to raise their awareness of different ministries that women are involved in. I was asked to run the stall for the International Justice Mission. I had hoped to make some quilts for babies, some bags and brooches.... alas, these hopes were dashed as my life has been filled with other stuff - including making quilts to give away. O Sarah - I despair.
About ten days ago, I suddenly thought about another way of making money. I love taking photos. Ever since I have been unwell, I have had a camera that I have used to take pictures of the tiny things in life that are beautiful. It has given me enormous pleasure and I have made numerous cards which I have used myself to write, or give away in packs as gifts. I thought that I could make some cards and sell these. I also love to encourage snail mail. There is something special about getting a handwritten card in the post - that someone has taken the time to sit and write and then to put it in a letter box with a postage stamp.
I have just had a significant birthday and one of my favourite aunts gave me some money. I knew that she wanted me to buy something special - just for me. So I did - I bought a teapot which is simply beautiful. However, I had much change left over which enabled me to buy the makings for 150 cards. I then filled every spare moment in a very busy patch making cards. Last Saturday, I had these cards at the stall promoting the IJM. I have ten cards remaining and made $350!
One of the other stalls was promoting Kairos - a ministry to those in prison. The woman hosting this stall runs a retreat for women from Emu Plains every year. Shirley writes a card for each participant and asked me if she could buy 20 cards. I wanted to give them to her as I think her ministry is so invaluable. However, she is very happy to support my ministry, so she will pay me for these cards - this was my first bulk order!
Several women have indicated that they would like to help me make more cards to sell. Several others, on hearing my story, which I shared about sewing things expressed a desire to get involved. One of my favourite songs is written by Paul Kelly "from little things, big things grow". My idea is so little that it is doable. Even little old me could do it and I did. This morning I have a song in my heart, Psalm 145 sums up what I want to express to God.