Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This and That

Outside of the window…the sky is bright blue, the sun is out, goldfinches are snacking from the birdfeeder.

I am thinking…how I really don’t feel up to doing the 30 Day Shred.  But, I will.

I am thankful for…the free Summer Rec program they have in town.  Arts and crafts, tennis, basketball and swimming lessons all for free.  Exhausting but fun!

From the kitchen…lots of berries!

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I am wearing…black yoga pants, teeshirt and grey hoodie.

I am creating… plans for next year’s co-op classes.  I am teaching Art twice a month, Science once a month and a Compassion International/Social Studies class once a month.

I am going…to finish this post,  hit the Shred, the shower and get some cleaning and homeschooling done before we need to leave for Summer Rec.

I am reading…lots of great children’s books that focus on African stories and culture and I will share some in my next post!

I am hoping…to come up with a better housekeeping plan for the upcoming weeks of Summer Rec.  Being out of the house for a few hours every single weekday calls for a better schedule in order to keep up with everything.  I am also hoping to get 3 letters written for our Compassion kids today and do the other 3 tomorrow.

I am praying… for the wisdom, grace and love needed to parent a pre-tween girl. Also for the patience and grace needed to parent without frustration and yelling.

I am hearing…lots of birds, Luna playing quietly, dishwasher running.

Around the house…Jay has gone to work, older girls are still in bed, I am sipping coffee.

A few plans for the rest of the week…more Summer Rec,  sleepovers, and a beach trip if it warms up.

A picture to share…

HPIM2983 Jasper, the alpha beast of the house.  He is ten years old and rules over all of our other pets including our Rottie-Pit Bull dog.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Twenty-five Dollars

What would you or your children buy if you received $25 in a birthday card? I bet the first that popped into your mind wasn’t, “Well, a goat!” But, that is what our Yishak in Ethiopia decided to buy and yesterday we received pictures!

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I was so thrilled to find these photos in my mailbox yesterday! Yishak is really growing and looks so healthy, for that I am thankful.  Here are the two previous pictures we have of him.

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We don’t hear from Yishak very often.  In the 8 or so months that we’ve been correspondents with him, we’ve gotten two letters and those lacked much detail.  He has been the child that has brought home the lesson that we sponsor for the children, and not for ourselves. We write to him as faithfully as our other children, despite the lack of letters. We know that, even if we don’t hear from him, our letters may well mean more to him that we will ever know.  I will admit, though, that we do feel a bit closer to the children who write monthly, just because we know more about them and their lives.  At any rate, having these two pictures gives us a sense of closeness.  We’re thankful to see how well he looks and see details like the large hut and plant life in his area.

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Just look at this lovely family!  I hope that the goat remains healthy and that it helps Yishak’s confidence. I am not sure if it a female to breed and milk or if it is a male to stud out or possibly eat.  I’ll be asking in our next letter to Yishak, though.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Precious!

Today marks the 8th birthday of a sweet and special little girl!

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A year ago, tomorrow, we started sponsorship of this beautiful child in Ghana. I had heard about Compassion International in passing from a friend. Something in my heart led me to look into it more and being somewhat of a skeptic, I researched for about two weeks. I used my Google-Fu skills to search high and low and didn’t find anything about the organization that put up red flags. Then, I approached my husband about it. We are a single income family with three girls and we’re certainly not rollin’ in the dough, but I thought it would be really good for us to do something for at least one child living in poverty. I had looked through most of the children on the Compassion website and was drawn to this precious girl in a yellow dress with a shy and somewhat apprehensive look on her face. Her name said it all ~ Precious.

We had a small piece of land up for sale and had quite a few bites, so my husband said that if we sold it for the price we were asking, we could go ahead and start sponsorship. A few days later, the sale went through and we had a down payment in our hands. I can remember the moment clearly, being down in the basement woodshop talking to Jay and he said, “Ok, go ahead. We can sponsor Precious now!” I cried tears of joy and did a happy dance and then ran up to the computer, hoping that she’d still be there on the website. She was, and the rest is history. It wasn’t until the sponsorship went through that I noticed that we had missed her birthday by one day. The Compassion website has an option to send a financial gift to your child or family (they get 100% of the gift money), so I talked to Jay and we sent her $20. We knew it would take a few months to get to her, but better late than never, right?

A few months later, we received this photo.

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Precious is here with her grandmother and father, siblings and many of the children from her project ( GH220 ~ Bisease Methodist Child Devolpment Center) With that $20 she received a dress, shoes, sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste, paints, books and had enough left over to treat her friends to some soda, a rare treat! Twenty dollars. I was blown away when the reality of it hit me.

This year of being involved with Compassion has been incredible. It has changed how we look at “wants vs. needs” and the resources that God provides for us. It has helped up to see that we CAN change the world for one child without a huge sacrifice on our part. Now, a year later, we have 6 beautiful Compassion children in our family and I praise God for having them in our lives.

Now, for a few more of the books we’ve enjoyed this week!

This book is from the author of Mama, Do You Love Me? and is the lovely tale of a father and son from the Maasai tribe in Kenya. The reassuring message of unshakable love is reinforced by lovely illustrations. Truly a beautiful book!

I am a big fan of Jan Brett’s work. Her illustrations always captivate me and this book is no exception! This is the story of a honeyguide and greedy honey badger as they race across the Okavango Delta.

This last book is about a family in Ghana that uses a small loan to make a better life for themselves. It is a great lesson that shows how one act can snowball into greater good, as a little boy buys one hen. With the eggs from that one hen, he is then able to buy more hens as well as have some eggs to eat. Those added hens provide enough profit for Kojo to pay for school fees and get an education. The story goes on to show how this loan for one hen grows and grows. I also loved how this book is worded so that you can read a simple story for younger audiences or a more detailed story for older kids. This a wonderful reminder that one small act can truly change lives.

 

Lastly, I’d like to share my excitement in being listed on this blog post from Compassion.  Looks like I have quite a few great blogs to add to my Google Reader feed!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Roadside Attractions

This is the time of year where I am sure to always have a pair of scissors stashed in my car.   The roadsides are splashed with brilliant orange wild lilies and I stop and cut a bunch every time I leave the house.

HPIM2931I just love to have fresh flowers in our house and these lilies are probably my favorites.  They bring me back to my childhood and the joyful feeling of fun Summer days. My grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins had campsites at a campground just a few miles out of the town where we grew up.  Our family would go out to visit and I remember sitting in the back seat of the car filled with excited anticipation to all of the fun we’d have. There was a stretch of country road that led to the campground that seemed to have miles of blazing blooms on either side.  I remember being enchanted by the flaming bright beauty that streaked past the windows.

Oh, the fun I would have with my sister and cousins and other camp-site friends! Hours upon hours in the pool, trips around the pond on a bicycle built for two, Mother May I and Farmer Brown Let Me Down on the see-saw, foosball and penny candy, hayrides and tetherball.

To this day, seeing these lilies reminds me of all of the potential for joy in these long Summer days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping Track of our Compassion Children

With 6 Compassion International children in as many different countries, I’ve developed a way to keep track of their information, letters we’ve sent and letters we’ve received.

For letters we send, I have a Word document that I update everytime I mail something out.  There is a page for each of our children that has a header that contains: Child’s Name, Child’s Number, Country, and birthdate. Each time I write a letter, I type in:the date, a sentence or two that details what topics I wrote about or Bible verse I covered, details about the items I have included. A typical entry would look like this:

6/1/10   letter about hiking & Spring sights, Romans 8:1, soccer stickers, Noah coloring sheet

My goal is to write to each child twice a month, though there have been a couple of months where I only got one round of letters out.  I keep track of every letter we send for a few reasons.  One, it helps me keep tabs on what I’ve talked about and items I’ve sent.  Two, it helps me to get a feel for about how long a letter takes to travel from here to the child. When I get a reply that refers to a specific item, I can check the date it was written and get a round about idea of travel time.

For letters we receive, we have a binder.  For now, letters from all of our children are in one binder.  In a few months I may move letters from Precious, who writes the most often, into her own binder.  The binder is divided into sections for each child. The first page in each section is a piece of paper where I keep track of info such as: Name, birthdate, specific location within their country, average monthly income, family member’s names and ages, favorites (colors, foods, whatever they’ve shared), type of home, prayer requests, financial gifts we’ve sent and what was bought, etc.

When we get a letter from one of our children, I write the date received on the top right hand side and punch holes in it. I keep it next to the computer until I’ve emailed a reply to any questions the child asked. Then, I put the letter into the binder in the right section. 

I am not an organized person by nature, so I really have to make an effort to do things like this, but it helps me so much!

On to another subject, we’ve gotten quite a few great books from the library.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Africa and my girls have really enjoyed these treasures this week.

I just love the beautiful illustrations in this book!  This sweet tale gives you a glimpse into the life of the Kenyan people as a young boy is told to take Grandfather’s cows out to pasture.  He becomes distracted and visits several people before he realizes the cows are missing.

 

In this story, a brother and sister from Ghana are having a tough time sleeping during their first night in America. They find comfort in retelling tales from their homeland about Anansi the trickster.

 

In this last book, we finally found out about the one symbol we’ve noticed on many letters and items from Ghana.

  Gye Nyame means, “Except God, I fear none.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Counting my Blessings

I am just so thankful. At least once a day, usually more, I am reminded of my many blessings. Here are some that are in my thoughts today:

  • I am blessed to know a great group of local homeschooling families. This diverse circle of sisters is a treasure and I love all of the unique and wonderful children.
  • I am thankful that our home is about 10 minutes from a fabulous beach, a lovely place to spend our Summer days.
  • I am very appreciative that we have a second vehicle this Summer and can jaunt over to the aforementioned beach on a whim. Last Summer, we shared one vehicle with my husband and we had to work around his work schedule whenever we wanted to do something.
  • I really, truly appreciate the luxuries I have. Not only the washing machine refrigerator and dishwasher, but also things like a sturdy house, running water, soft beds. The former may not be considered luxuries in our country, but they would be in many other places.
  • I am thankful to my beautiful friend who mentioned, in passing, the fact that she sponsored children through Compassion International. That brief conversation a year ago planted a seed within me that has grown and grown.
  • I have to praise God for the new eyes He has given me. Now, I tend to see things with the shaded lenses of what others have, or maybe more accurately, what they lack. These new eyes help me to see my blessings in things I have often overlooked. They bring into focus the ways that I can reach out and help.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Morning’s Musings

A few days ago, I read a post on Facebook that said something along the lines of, “For the price of a new iPhone, you could provide clean water for 10 people in Africa for one year.” It really got me thinking….

Before I was a believer, and I know I’m not alone, I thought, “If there’s a God who loves everyone, how can He let people in this world die of starvation?” I tend to see things differently now. I understand that He gave people Free Will. The iPhone statement has been rolling around in my head for the last few days along with these thoughts:

For the price of a Coach purse, you could provide a family in Ethiopia enough supplimental food to go from malnourished to having enough, for several years.

For the price of a monthly manicure and pedicure you could provide 4 families with enough mosquito repelling bed nets to keep up to 20 people dying from malaria.

For the price of a weeks vacation at Disney for a family you could provide 16 families in Ghana enough supplimental food to survive the hardest months of the year.

For the price of one ticket to the NBA finals, you could rebuild or renovate 4 (or up to 15 or more depending on where the seat was)houses in Burkina Faso.

For less than half a month’s worth of daily specialty coffee drinks, you could sponsor a child through Compassion International.

While it is easy to shift the blame and ask, “How could God allow this?” It isn’t so easy to look at ourselves and ask how WE could allow this. Now, please hear me out, I am not saying that people in general are wrong for buying things. What I am saying is that, Americans as a whole, are pretty blessed. We really do have so much, we’ve been given resources that others in this world haven’t. We can all be better stewards of what God has given us. Let’s stop pointing our fingers at God and, instead, reach out our hand to others.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Flashback

Some pictures and a video from three years ago, this month.

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~Luna Blue~

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~Kaya Jade~

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~Nico Sage~

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Aw, what a sweetie!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Right Song at the Right Time

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re going through something in your life and a song comes on the radio, just when you needed to hear it?

Once a month, I try to get a group together to visit a nearby Continuing Care Center. I think it is a great ministry.  I see the pure joy on the faces of many of the residents when a group comes in just to spend time with them. They love having time with children and talking with the parents.  Well, over the last few months, the number of families joining us for these events has been dwindling. I make an effort to remind people, but because of meetings, other events and other things, many have been dropping out.  Last month I had to cancel because only one other family was going to come with us and it is hard to entertain a room full of seniors with just three children.  At any rate, I woke up this morning feeling pretty disappointed that we’d be going with another very small group.Before he left this morning, my husband prayed that God would encourage me in this ministry, but I was still feeling frustrated as I hit the road.

Less than five minutes into our drive, a song came on the radio that I had never heard before.  Every verse brought me more and more encouragement and by the end of the song, I felt renewed.

Keep Changing the World

by MikesChair

Something here is wrong
There are children without homes
But we just move along to take care of our own
There's so much suffering just outside our door
A cry so deafening
We just can't ignore


To all the people who are fighting for the broken
All the people who keep holding on to love
All the people who reaching for the lonely
Keep changing the world
Take a look around
Before the sun goes out
What's lost can still be found
It's not too late now
It only takes one spark to make the fire burn
So reach inside your heart and let this be the start

I see you changing the world
Every boy
Every girl
Step up!
I see the sun coming up
It's a brighter day
Let's show the world that love is a better way
So lend a hand join the fight
'Cause time is ticking away

I have to thank the Lord for His encouragement. Our family will keep reaching for the lonely and fighting for the broken.

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Here’s Luna, with her self-cut bangs, working on a hand for our flag wall decoration.

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It turned out lovely!

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We spent a lot of time talking with this gentleman, who is truly a gem.  We’ve never met him before, but when he was wheeled into the room he let out a, “Ho ho ho, look who’s here!  Santa Clause! Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum!”  It came out with such enthusiasm, I cracked right up.  I really enjoyed chatting with him and he thanked us, at least a dozen time, for coming to visit.  Before we left, he asked me to take a picture of him with Kaya and to bring him a copy next time we come. I promised that I would and I know that is part of God’s plan to convict me to continue the visits. After all, a promise is a promise.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Child

Last night, I gathered up the necessities and headed for the Homeschool Curriculum Sale at FLN. I had the display I made, my tote with my Compassion International tablecloth, various brochures and papers, pens, clipboards and thirty child packets for children who are waiting for sponsors. I’ve never been to the annual sale, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised how packed the place was, even before the customers were let in. I set up my table (forgot to take pics like I had planned!!), prayed and put on my smile.

When the first rush of customers was let in, it was pure madness. People had specific books on their lists and were dashing from table to table, barely glancing at my table before moving on. After the first hour, I had a few more people make eye contact or stop by and take a quick look. I was able to hand out brochures, tell some people about Compassion and what it does and plant some seeds. The people who stayed to chat with me for more than a few minutes were usually already sponsors and I really loved the chance to share stories about how being involved in Compassion has changed our lives along with our sponsored children. That was the common theme to every discussion I had with a sponsoring family. Compassion International TRULY changes lives. I was also able to encourage a few of the sponsors to write to their children more and make it something they get to at least once a month.

With a half an hour left in the sale, I still hadn’t been able to find a sponsor for any of the children on my table. Then, a sweet young Mom came over to talk to me, telling me that she had been thinking of starting a sponsorship for a while now. We talked for quite a while, I showed her some of the letters and photos we’ve received from our Compassion children and she told me she was sure she wanted to do it, she just needed to call her husband and check in about it. About five minutes before it was time to pack up, she came back to the table and chose handsome little Ammanuel from Ethiopia. :cheers:

When the final call was made to close up shop, I will admit I got somewhat emotional. Thirty beautiful children on my table, hours of work in prep, and only one child found a sponsor. My eyes started to well with tears. I’m not proud of it, but I started to think negative things about the few people who had made harsh comments and those who were dropping hundreds of dollars on curriculum. As quickly as it all came, it stopped with a feeling of peace. What came to my mind is this: If Ammanuel was standing in front of me asking me to find him a sponsor, would I put in all of the work and effort to find him one. In a word ~ Absolutely. No doubt. I thought, “God sent me here to find Ammanuel a sponsor, to plant a few seeds in people’s hearts, and that is what happened.” I was convicted of this just a few minutes later when someone told me the very same thing, in slightly different words. My tears of disappointment turned to tears of joy. This is God’s work I am doing, I am merely the vehicle to spread the word about Compassion International. My job is to tend and cultivate a bit, but the fruit is all His.

So, I continued packing up the child packets and pens when a pair of girls, maybe 8 years old, came up to me. “Um, hi. My friends and I did a raffle and, well, it isn’t much but we want to give this to Compassion.” One girl shoved two balled up dollar bills and two quarters in my hand with a smile. I was able to thank them and give hugs before they skipped away, but it left me smiling and feeling (teary and) joyful.

It all comes back to the saying: You may think that you can’t change the world, but you can change the world for ONE child. Shortly, Ammanuel will be told that he has been chosen by a sponsor. For that, I am very thankful. It was worth EVERY ounce of effort.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday’s Tidbits

Yesterday, we went to Seabreeze Amusement Park with some of our friends from our homeschool co-op.  The weather-man predicted passing showers, and I think that is why the park was virtually empty all day.  We didn’t have to wait in lines for rides, which was awesome! Everyone had fun!

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The Music Express goes so fast, the kids hold on for dear life!

HPIM2853The same Bobsleds I rode as a kid, and they’re still fun!

HPIM2862I have to praise God for the amazing group of friends we have! The kids all have so much fun when we get together!

We learned the lesson, though, that we should wear sunscreen even if it is cloudy.  We all ended up with sunburns!   I am trying not to be self-conscious, but I look like some crazy raccoon woman. My face is red and all around my eyes is my normal shade of pale, thanks to my sunglasses.

Tonight, I am setting up a Compassion International table at a homeschool curriculum sale.  I made a display that tells a few ways that sponsorship through Compassion can be used as an educational opportunity for our children. Personally, we’ve been able to incorporate CI into many aspects of our homeschool activities. Geography and Culture Studies has become SO exciting to our daughters! They’ve researched each of the 6 countries where our Compassion kids live and have learned so much! There are many other aspects as well, but I am saving that for a later post! :)

I’d love it if any of my readers could pray for good results tonight.  I am hoping that I can find sponsors for some of the 30 children whose child packets I am bringing. I’m praying that I can plant seeds within people’s hearts so that, even if they don’t start a sponsorship tonight, they will do some research and praying that leads them to doing it soon.

If you feel blessed in your life and want to share some of your blessings and help a child in need, please click here. It will change the life for that one child and I know it will change your life as well!

If you’re local, stop down to the Curriculum Sale at Family Life Network in Bath! (6:00pm – 9:00pm) Stop by and say hi to the Raccoon Lady at table 59, check out the beautiful children I have on the table and ask the Lord which one you should bring into your family today!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Snapshots

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I made a new cover for our binder that holds letters we’ve received from our Compassion International children.  It is a binder packed FULL with love. :)

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Snapped a pic of the three girls for a photo card for Bertille.  If you go to the Walgreens website and make a folding photo card, you can use the coupon code ‘DADCARD” and get it for free! (Believe it or not, I took five pictures and this was the best shot out of the bunch! Hahaha!)

I changed up the look of my blog today!  I like it! :D

Friday, June 11, 2010

‘Round the House

Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a hard-core penny pincher.  I tend to go with the mantra of: Buy it used, make do or go without.  With that said, our homes have never been fancy, but instead they’ve been sort of a mish mash of “throw it together” and “yard-sale chic.”  For the most part, I’ve been ok with that.  Jay and I rented for the first 8 years we were together and there really wasn’t that pride of ownership to inspire us.

Recently, I’ve actually been inspired to start doing little things to make our house a little bit lovelier. Doing this while sticking to my penny-pinching ways is challenging, but I’m taking baby steps.

It all started with a sweet and plain table that we found at a yard sale.  There was a small wall in our living room that sorely needed some sort of table.  Many years ago, I used to keep up a Nature Table (a la Waldorf) and really liked the aspect of having a place to display some seasonal items. When I saw this table for, I think it was $20, I went back and forth but am glad we decided to get it.   It is perfect for the space and I love the clean and simple design.

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Again, it’s not fancy, but it works well for the space and gives me a place to set a plant, a few seasonal objects (in this case, eggs for nesting season) and some flowers from our yard.  I like it.

About a week after we got the table, I was having the girls go through their closets and drawers to pull out clothes they won’t wear. We have family closets in our bedroom which keeps the mess of laundry from going up to the girls’ room and also make the chore of laundry much easier. Before I knew it, I was hauling all sorts of things out of our bedroom, rearranging everything and doing a hardcore deep cleaning.  Our bedroom had started to become a catch-all room.  With three large closets, slowly they became the landing spot for all manner of random items.  I had a bin in the corner of Spring and Summer clothes waiting to be sorted, and a pile of other “stuff” that was growing by the day.  In one four hour cleaning marathon, I sorted, purged and organized the WHOLE room and reclaimed it as our sanctuary. Ahhhh, it felt great.

I was then inspired to take on a project that had been rolling around in my head for months. After seeing the shadows of leaves and branches dance across the walls a few times, I started to think that it would look nice to paint trees on our walls.  I had seen some wall decals online that had a similar look, but I wanted something permanent. I bought a quart of paint that was one shade lighter than our wall color. (We rented for years and our walls were always neutral.  When choosing out wall color, I went for something COLORFUL and really love it!) With a deep breath, I took the first brush stroke and after that it was a lot of fun.  So far, two trees are done, as well as a couple of birds. 

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I still have to paint some birds perching on top of the window and also plan to paint another tree or two.  I love it, though.

I also did something I have NEVER done before.  I bought a brand new bedspread to go with the room.  We’ve had 2 new bedspreads since Jay and I have gotten together, both were gifts and very nice. The one my Mom gave us has since gotten threadbare and holey and the one on our bed in the pictures is nice, but doesn’t really go with the room very well.

I found this quilt for $25 and while my tightwad side tried to talk me out of it, I did end up buying it with the rationale that I will likely go at least another 8 years before I buy a new bedspread. lol The set even comes with a matching tote bag.  Bonus!

To wrap up this looooooong post about what’s happening on the home-front, I recently created a Home Management Binder which has been extremely useful. It is one of those things where I keep thinking, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

If you Google, you will see what all of the buzz is about.  Until I looked it up, I had no idea that the trend even existed.  A friend of mine told me about these free, printable calendar sheets at Organized Home. They have a whole section devoted to the Household Notebook with plenty of free printables.  These binders are something you can personalize to fit your needs. I am a no-frills sort of person, so mine is pretty plain.

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I picked up a green binder at an office supply store along with a pack of page protectors.  I had dividers already here at home. The pocket on the left usually has letters I’m working on for our Compassion International children. The first page in the binder is the most current calendar page, printed from Organized Home. The first section of the binder is for Scheduling so it has calendar pages through December 2010 as well as my Chore List. I don’t put the calendar sheets in page protectors because I wanted to be able to add events to them easily.

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The Chore List is in a page protector. I have listed most of my Daily and Weekly chores on there and can use a dry-erase marker to put a spot next to the things I’ve done each day. I also have space for a post-it with the additional to-do items for any given day.  For some reason, having my to-do list in front of me helps me to get everything done throughout the day.

The rest of my binder is divided into these sections.

  • Tender Hearts Homeschooling Co-op: I keep any papers I need for planning, administration and upcoming events for our co-op as well as the contact sheet for all members.
  • Activities: I keep all paperwork and schedules for activites such as Summer Rec program, Summer camp, Library programs etc.
  • Compassion: I keep papers needed for Compassion events I am working or planning.  I do not keep our sponsor children’s info or letters in here, that goes into a separate binder.
  • Church/Sunday School: I keep any papers or info pertaining to church or upcoming lessons I will teach for Sunday School
  • Meals and Groceries: I keep a list of our most common meals so that I don’t repeat too much.  Some like to keep a calendar with a meal plan, but I’ve found that doesn’t work for me.  Some days I am inspired to cook something that requires more work and planning and some days I just want the quick and easy salad and grilled cheese. lol

Some people also have things like Homeschooling, Bills, Home Maintenance etc. in their binders. In our home, Jay does all of the banking and bills (thankfully!) and keeps track of expenses, budgets, and home maintenance.  I don’t track all of our homeschooling activities. I do have a notebook where I write down what Nico does here, but that is more for communication between her Mom and myself. Co-parenting and homeschooling in two households has made that necessary so that everyone knows what was covered at what house.

Phew, that was a LONG post!  Now I need to hop on that To-Do list and check some things off!  Have a great day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Round of Letters for our Compassion International children

As I have said before, we aim to send at least 2 letters per month to each of our Compassion International children.  The one thing I hear, time and time again, is how crucial and valuable letters are to the children in the program. When a Compassion child sits through Mail Day at the project and never or rarely hears their name called, it crushes their spirit. While sending in the monthly sponsorship fee is very important, please know that sending frequent letters is JUST as important to the program.

I plan to share ideas on what to send in hopes that it helps to encourage others to pick up their pens and write.  At least once a month, I hope to post pictures and details of what we’ve sent.

Here is the most recent round of letters for our Compassion International children.

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Our Precious in Ghana recently asked for some information about our country.  Seeing as our three daughters were dressed in red, white and blue on Memorial Day, I took a picture of them with a flag.  I inserted the photo into a Word document as well as a color graphic of our flag.  I wrote about our flag and what the stars and stripes stand for.  I talked a little bit about the parade we saw and also shared the lyrics to God Bless America.  I closed the note saying that we pray that God blesses them and their home country.  Each child will get a copy of this as well as a personalized letter.  I like to use decorative printer paper from the dollar store and either copy the Compassion stationary we receive with our children’s letters to us or use the PDF file found here. 

The personal letters cover various topics, dependent on the child. I shared Romans 8:18 with each of them, which is in the passage our Pastor taught on Sunday. I always make sure to tell them that we love them, are praying for them and think they are wonderful children. I am also sending a sheet of “Jesus Loves Me” stickers and, as usual, everything is clearly labeled with our sponsor number as well as child’s name and number.

I’ve heard some sponsors say that they don’t have much to write about, so I’d like to share some tips.  First of all, don’t feel like you have to write some long and elaborate letter to your Compassion child.  The most important thing is to let them know that you’re thinking of them and praying for them. Here are some other ideas:

  • If you go to church on Sundays, that should provide you with something to talk about every week, if you wanted to write that often! I often share a passage or verse from what our Pastor has recently taught and share how it applies to my life.
  • If you have a favorite praise song, you could share some of the lyrics and tell your child why you like it.
  • If you or your family does a daily/weekly devotional, you could share your thoughts on it.
  • Look outside your window and describe some of the beauty that you see.
  • Share the testimony of how you came to the Lord or what your Faith means to you.
  • If you visit a zoo, farm, park, etc., share a photo or two and describe what you saw.
  • Take a picture of your church and share some thoughts about it.
  • Tell your child about what you did when you were their age. Let them know what you liked to play and any hobbies you had.

I will share more ideas the next time I post about letter writing!

In other news, this week we received our very first letter from Bertille in Burkina Faso.  I am always excited to receive mail from Compassion, but I did a happy dance in the driveway when I opened the envelope and found a letter from our newest girlie.

I am also working on a Compassion curriculum that is geared for elementary aged homeschoolers.  This is a project that was started by another Compassion Advocate and then handed over to me. I am very excited to have this opportunity and I’ll also be teaching the lessons to our homeschool co-op starting in September!

Next week, I will set up a Compassion table at a homeschool curriculum sale at Family Life Network in Bath, NY.  I have 30 child packets and am really hoping and praying that I can find sponsors for some of these beautiful children.  Your prayers would be so appreciated!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Dream that Ended too Soon

A few weeks ago, I had a dream that we traveled to Guatemala to meet Yolanda, one of our correspondence children.  It was so vivid, we were the back of a crowd of people and the children from the project were coming out of the building and lining up outside.  Through the crowd, I scanned to try to find Yolanda among the children.  I saw a girl that I thought was her but she looked happier and vibrant and had on a beautiful sky blue dress.  As I worked my way up through the crowd, our eyes met and she grinned such a big grin. The crowd parted and she ran to us and said, "Oh hello, Mr. and Mrs. W.!" and threw her arms around my neck.  Of course, I woke up just then and my first thought was, No! I wanted to go back to that dream and spend more time with that sweet girl.

The dream has come to mind several times since then.  Today, I decided to check out where the Compassion Bloggers were going to travel next.  They went to Kenya for their last trip and I checked in every day and wept and smiled as I read their daily stories of what they encountered.  On their site, I read that they are going to be going to Guatemala next.  My heart got stuck in my throat as I remembered the dream of meeting Yolanda in Guatemala.  I felt as if God was putting puzzle pieces together and telling me, “Do it!” so I submitted my blog to be considered.

Of course, after the fact, I saw elsewhere on the Compassion Bloggers site that they are only looking for bloggers who get at least 30,000 hits a month on their blogs.  Whoops! I haven’t gotten 30,000 hits……ever. lol

Like my previous dream, this momentary dream of getting to meet Yolanda has ended too quickly.  I will, however, look forward to reading all of the posts put up by those who were chosen for the trip.

If you missed the posts from the bloggers who went to Kenya, I highly suggest you go read them.

This post by Brad Ruggles is one of the ones that has stuck with me the most since that trip.  Take a minute and check it out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It’s the Hard Truth

When it comes to children getting sponsored, the sweet little girls always seem to fly off of the tables while the older children ~ especially boys ~ are overlooked. Out of the 30 child packets we received yesterday, this is the oldest boy in the bunch.

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Manda is 12 years old and lives in India. Our oldest child, Johan, is also from India and his letters to us are always full of info and lots of details. Manda has 2 siblings and the average monthly income where he lives is just $24.

Will you be the one to step up and be Manda’s hero? If you can spare less than $10 a week to provide him with educational opportunities, health care, Bible training and the encouragement and love of someone who cares, please contact me or comment with your contact info. I can let you know how to start sponsorship online and mail you Manda’s child bio packet.

Less than $10 a week can make a true difference in his life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Today, FedEx delivered a box with child bio packets for 30 Compassion International who are waiting for sponsors.  I am setting up a Compassion table at a homeschool curriculum sale on the 15th and went with the “1 packet for every 10 estimated attendees” rule and ordered 30 packets.  I am a little worried that I ordered too many, though.  I have to say, it is SO hard to look through the packets at all of the hopeful faces of children who are waiting for someone to step up for them.  I am feeling the weight of the responsibility of trying to do all that I can to get these kids connected with someone who will love and encourage them. Most of all, I am trying REALLY hard to not get attached to any of them. ;)  I am tempted to succumb to a case of Sponsoritis.

If any of my friends, family or readers would like to start a sponsorship, now is the time to follow your heart.  Please feel free to contact me.  These 30 children are waiting for the day they receive the news that they were chosen by a sponsor. Will you be the hero that reaches out to them?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our Bedroom Gets A Facelift

For a few weeks, I had been thinking of doing something in our bedroom, like painting a tree silhouette on our wall.  While searching Google for images, I found a lot of neat decals for sprucing up our room.  They gave me the inspiration for the design and Tuesday I picked up a quart of paint that was one shade lighter than our wall color.  I free-handed this design yesterday and love the way it looks!  (The first paint stroke was nerve wracking, but it was fun after that!) It looks really nice in natural light, but the flash makes it looks a bit brighter than the design truly is.

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The point of no return, a few of the branches started.

HPIM2808 Filling out the branches.

HPIM2811 Added leaves and a couple of birds.

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The (mostly) finished product.  I decided to add two more lower branches later today to make the tree more balanced.  After that, I will add more birds flying in to the tree, and also paint some perched along the tops of our closet molding and window.  Later this week, I will do another similar tree on Jay’s side of the bed.