Monday, November 29, 2010

And they call it….

…Puppy Love!

For years, our Kaya has been obsessed with puppies and small dogs. I do not use the word “obsessed” lightly, either.  The sight of a puppy would cause her to squeal in a barely perceivable pitch.The mention of a Yorkie or other small dog would make her heart flutter. My husband has never been a big fan of small dogs and, except for a half of a day before Christmas last year, he wouldn’t even entertain the thought of letting Kaya get a pup.

But, after Sadie was found, Jay and I both talked about taking her in if Nico’s Mom wasn’t able to. (They are in the process of looking for another apartment and, while Sadie was gone, they took in a pup. Plus, her Mom’s boyfriend has a dog as well. We didn’t know if they would have room for Sadie anymore.) When we found out that Nico’s Mom did want to take Sadie, it crossed both of our minds that we really did have the room and means to make Kaya’s dreams come true.

I started looking online for a small dog with no or a low rehoming fee.  Within a few days we found this little guy.

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His name is Scruffy and he is a 3 month old Shih Tzu – Toy Poodle mix.  Kaya hasn’t stopped smiling since we picked him up yesterday afternoon!!

HPIM3373 So far, he is settling in and getting used to our home and other pets.  This morning has been full of scurrying and giggling and smiles.

In other news, last week I received my sample of Piggy Paint, a non-toxic, kid-friendly nail polish.  I have always been the “mean mom” who doesn’t let my kids use the regular polish you find in the stores.  I think the chemicals are WAY too harsh and my girls tend to have their fingers in their mouths a lot.  When I googled and found Piggy Paint online, I emailed the owner of the company and asked if they’d be willing to send me a sample of their product in exchange for me writing a review here on my blog. They sent us a bottle of the Forever Fancy pink polish and my girls were so excited to try it out.  The polish goes on nails nicely, like traditional polish, except it doesn’t have the strong, noxious smell. The color is vibrant with a hint of shimmer.

From the promotional materials that came with the polish:

Piggy Paint is a non-toxic, eco-friendly nail polish that is specially formulated of natural ingredients and proudly made in the USA. It is free from formaldehyde, toluene, pthalates, BPA, ethyl acetate and acetone.  Piggy Paint’s hyperallergenic, odorless formula makes it gentle enough for sensitive hands and noses, yet it dries to a hard, durable finish that can easily be removed with Piggy Paint nail polish remover.  This unique remover contains none of the solvents that could offend your nose or harm our atmosphere.

Piggy Paint comes in a rainbow of colors.  While the cost is a bit higher than other nail polishes, that sometimes comes with the territory of buying natural products.  If you follow them on Facebook, you will be notified of any sales and specials that would lower the price of your purchase.

Friday, November 26, 2010

On this Black Friday…

…I am thinking of all of the people dashing about, spending hundreds of dollars on “stuff”. I know it is called “Black Friday” because it is the day that stores make a lot of profit, but in my mind I see it as a dark day that celebrates materialism, indulgence and the idea that we need more, more, more.

Since we have come to know more about poverty in this world, from sponsoring through Compassion International, my perspective on “needs vs. wants” have changed so much. Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience, shared some profound thoughts in this blog post, which have stuck with me since I read them.

“God gives the world enough of what it needs.

He just doesn’t distribute it.

We will have to share.”

So, on this Black Friday, will you share some light with a child that needs it?

Can you spare less than $10 a week to sponsor a child through Compassion International?

 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for Answered Prayers

My beautiful 12 year old step-daughter, Nico, had a dog named Sadie. As Nico travelled from her Mother’s house to ours, Sadie came with her. Like a shadow, the dog rarely left her side.

HPIM2649 On Sunday, July 11th, we went to church like any other Sunday. When we returned home, we immediately noticed that one of our window screens was shredded. When we got inside, we discovered that Sadie was gone. With her Husky blood, the dog had been known to run off sometimes, but she always came back within an hour or so. That evening, as we got ready for bed and she still hadn’t returned, the worry started to set in. We spent the next several days making signs and driving down the country roads near our home calling for her. A couple of days later we started putting ads in the paper and calling the animal shelters that were near us. Nico’s Mom lives an hour and a half away and we worried that she, for some reason, took off for Nico’s other home.

We persued all of the avenues that we could, but after a month had passed, we started to think that she had been taken in by another family or maybe poisoned from an animal that she ate. Sadie was an excellent hunter and could easily take down squirrels and rabbits, so we knew she’d be able to eat. She is smart about roads, so I didn’t think she was hit by a car.

During the months that passed, we had a falling out with Nico’s Mom. The dynamic of co-parenting is a difficult one, especially when the parents have very different ideas about faith, discipline, education and safety. We had no idea that, on September 13th, when Nico walked out the door to go with her Mom, that we wouldn’t see her again for a very long time.

As weeks passed by without seeing Nico, we went through a range of different emotions. I have been in Nico’s life since she was 2, and have been with her through just about every milestone a child passes. From potty training, to losing a first tooth, to learning to ride a bike, I was the one who was by her side and I love her like my own daughter.

As weeks without Nico turned into months without Nico, I never stopped praying for her on a daily basis. I prayed for her to know the truth, to stay safe and to remember the Lord who loves her. I prayed for Sadie, too, along with Nico’s Mom and her Mom’s boyfriend. At least once a week, I would have a dream about finding Sadie. As my emotions tossed me around like a ship in a stormy sea, I had no choice but to rest on the solid foundation of our God. Somehow, God had a plan that I couldn’t see or fathom.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was able to talk to Nico on his birthday and we got our hopes up that we’d be able to see her. Their first conversation that day went really well, with Nico saying she really wanted to see us that weekend. When my husband later talked to Nico’s Mom to try to arrange plans, everything went down hill. The conversation ended with Nico saying she was fine if she never came here again. Again, we felt like our hopes were completely dashed.

This Monday, it finally came to me that I should probably clean out Nico’s closet and homeschooling drawers. Seventy days had passed since we had seen our girl and I was starting to finally give in to the fact that we might not see her for a very long time. As I sat, drinking coffee and mulling over the sad task of cleaning out Nico’s belongings, an email came to my inbox from a friend with the title “Possibility”. Inside was a link to a Humane Society about 20 minutes from our home. I clicked on the link and saw this.

sadiepound At first, my heart started pounding and my hopes soared. Then I noticed that this dog didn’t have any pink on her nose. Doubt crept in. Yet, as I brought up the picture alongside the one of Sadie and Nico, I could see that so many other characteristics were right on. I called the shelter to hear that they weren’t open until Wednesday. Two long days away. I bombarded the shelter with messages and sent an email to every email address I could find that was associated with them. Thankfully, by that evening, I received an email from the shelter manager telling me that I could meet them the following morning.

It was hard not to speed as we drove there the next morning. I was just praying that it really was her and I kept getting teary eyed thinking about the possibility that Sadie could be found, four and a half months after she ran away. When we got to the shelter, the manager went back to get the dog. The moment that Sadie had us in her sights, she flipped out. There was jumping and yipping and running….and crying. I crouched down and Sadie circled me and jumped over my lap and licked my face. The manager said to me, “So….I take it this is her?” with a laugh. Praise the Lord!!

As I was signing the release form, the shelter manager told me that Sadie had been picked up about 25 miles from our house on the VERY road she travelled everytime she went from Nico’s Mom’s house to ours. I keep reflecting on it and can see how God’s hand was in this whole situation.

Last night, 72 days since the last time we saw Nico, she came to our home and went running into her Father’s arms in tears. She apologized for the way she had talked to him on his birthday and said again and again how she wants to come to our house again like she used to. Things with her Mom are still a bit awkward, but we have hope that we may be able to work things out and have more time with our girlie. Before they left to go back home with Sadie, we decided to pray. As we stood in a circle and joined hands, my husband asked Nico’s Mom if she wanted to join us. I was so surprised when she said, “Sure.” I held hands with a woman I had been very angry with, and prayed for peace between us. I believe in the power of prayer and have seen so many answered recently.

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Lord, thank you for keeping Sadie safe for the four and a half months that she was lost. Thank you for bringing Nico to our home and letting us see her and hug her. I just ask that you can bring peace to the relationship between the people who love Nico and that we would be able to rebuild relationships and help us to move forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free Shipping at Oriental Trading!

A friend called me this morning to tell me she is placing an order at Oriental Trading and offered to buy a dozen of the boxes I posted below.  I went to the site to take a second look at the size of the boxes and plan how to personalize them when I noticed a Free Shipping banner on the top of the page.  Use the code FREENOV at checkout to get free shipping!

They have a lot of great items that you could send to your Compassion International children. If you look in the Fun & Faith section, you will find a huge assortment of craft items like:

Make-A-Story Bible Stickers

Cross Bookmarks

Coloring Books

Color Scratch Crosses

Temporary Tattoos

There are MANY more items to choose from.

Some things to consider when deciding what items to send to your child: The things you send have to be paper, cardstock, cardboard, etc.  You cannot send wood, crayons, metal, foam (from what I hear), or anything that isn’t flat. If you send something that Compassion cannot send through, they will contact you to see if they can donate it to their local Operation Christmas Child collection.

Many of the items for sale at Oriental Trading come in multiples. You could send several of the same item to your child and ask that they share with siblings or those in their projects who do not get mail.

If you purchase some items to send your Compassion International child, please leave a comment to let us know what you picked!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Mail!

Yesterday we received the kind of mail that makes just about every Compassion International sponsor do a Happy Dance at the mailbox.

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I am always giddy when I find one of these envelopes tucked amongst our mail. Both of these letters were from Rodrigo in Bolivia. He answered a question we asked a few months ago and told us the names of all of his family members. Now we can pray for them all by name. He also told us about a recent to the Mallasa Zoo. He admits that the tigers scared him a bit but he loved the monkeys. My favorite quote from the letters is, “I am very happy to have you. I thank God for all of this.” Awwww….

Speaking of Thankfulness, I have another Devotion to share with you. It was written and shared by my friend, Danielle, on the Our Compassion website. You’re welcome to copy it and send it to your sponsored child! (You can also find a link to more Devotions if you look at the links listed to the right.)

Thankfulness

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” –Psalm 9:1

Thankfulness reminds us who God is. He created each and every one of us with a special purpose. He loves us and even sent His son, Jesus, to die for us. Even on our worst days there is something to be thankful for. What are you thankful for? Make a list and let other people know what you are thankful for. One of the things I am thankful for is you!

Prayer

Dear Lord, there is so much to be thankful for. Thank you for all of the ways you have taken care of me. Help me to focus on all the blessings you have given me. When I complain, remind me of what I have to be thankful for. May I show my thankfulness to those around me, even if it is just saying “thank-you”. In Jesus name, Amen.

An idea came to me a couple of weeks ago for something neat to send to our Compassion children. Oriental Trading has these neat colored boxes that come flat and you can easily pop them into a regular box shape.

I hope to be able to find some locally, at a Party Store, so that I won’t have to pay shipping. My plan is to use Sharpies and stickers to personalize them for each child. I don’t know if it is universal, but my own girls love to have boxes to store their treasures and special items. I think our sponsored children would like them as well! When I get some, I’ll be sure to post the project here!

In other news, I have been filled with joy to witness several prayers being answered. I don’t know why it always amazes me, knowing how awesome our God is, but I really and truly am amazed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Green Eyed Monster ~or~ Thou Shall Not Covet

I’ve been reflecting on something that I experienced a couple of days ago.  Something that reaffirmed I am a work in progress and that I need God’s grace in my life.

Let me preface this by saying, I think we live pretty simply.  I don’t mind driving a car with rusty holes while many of our friends have shiny new cars.  I am ok with painted plywood floors in my house instead of nice hardwood. I am content without buying myself new clothes and with our yearly family budget of $200 for clothing and shoes.  Generally, I don’t desire more “stuff” or get jealous.

But, a couple of days ago, I was caught off guard.  A friend excitedly wanted to show me her new birthday present.  When she grabbed a black case and pulled out fancy new camera, feelings flared up in me that I hardly recognized. I managed to mumble out a half-hearted, “Oh, cool!” but inside I was throwing a 4 year old temper tantrum. ”Why does SHE get an awesome camera?!  I want one!”

I was filled with envy. For a period of time, my thoughts kept turning to why I deserved a nice camera more than my very dear friend. I hate to even admit that.

That evening, I talked with my husband about the experience.  While he was shocked to hear how I reacted, knowing that I am usually not like that, he was able to talk me through it and pray with me. I realized that, even though I have a giving heart, I am not immune to the desires for having more. I can make judgements about people who spend big money on the newest iPad or smart phone, but I was able to get a up close and personal look at what it is like to think, “I. WANT. That!” Perhaps it was just the perspective I needed.

1 Corinthians 3:4 tells us that Love does not Envy. I have been praying on that a lot the last few days. Isn’t it amazing how the Bible holds verses that will minister to any situation in our lives. This week, I will work on that Plank in my own eye and pray that I may become mindful of these things in my life that I need to work on.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Must-Watch

When my friend Jessica shared this on Facebook, I nearly did a Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. “Yes!  Yes!” What a great message!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Favorites

Today, I am going to share a couple of my favorite links. 

Favorite Causes:

Compassion International ~ Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Shoes For Kids ~ Eleven year old Isabel Jones collects shoes for children who have none.

The Mercy House ~ Exists to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya.

Operation Christmas Child ~ Pack shoeboxes of gifts for children living in poverty.

Favorite Places to Online Window Shop:

(I don’t buy much for myself, but I love the wares offered at these two websites.)

Come Together Trading ~ Beautiful fair trade gifts.

Bead For Life ~ Handmade beaded jewelry crafted by women in Uganda.

Favorite Blogs:

(I have a LOT of great blogs on my Google Reader feed, but here is a sampling of my favorites.)

Art Projects for Kids

Bohemian Bowmans

Compassion Can

Hobbies of a Domestic Goddess

A Holy Experience

Queen of the D Family

Servants in Ecuador

Shaun Groves

She Becomes

Thankful

The Journey

And lastly, my guilty pleasure….

Catalog Living

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday’s This & That

  • Outside of the window… it is a grey and blustery morning. We’ve been out of birdseed for weeks, but the feathered cuties still show up every morning in hopes of finding breakfast. I’ll go and put out some cereal crumbs and peanuts after posting.
  • Around the house… Kaya is having breakfast while my Little Pep Rally, Luna, is stomping and jumping around the living room. Tenth Avenue North is playing on the stereo.
  • Our plans for the day…We will run some errands in town this morning and then visit the continuing care center later on. Hopefully we can get an hour or so of learning squeezed in during the middle of the day.
  • Big News this week… Kaya lost a tooth on Monday, then another on Tuesday, and just to keep things exciting, she lost another one last night. Will she lose one today? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • I am thankful for… the amazing group of sisters I have come to know through our church. I am truly blessed.
  • I’ve been thinking of… the direction that this Christmas season has taken. I have a really hard time with the materialistic, present-focused aspect of the holiday. I have a hard time reconciling the fact that the average American child receives hundreds of dollars worth of “stuff” every year, while the average family in Rwanda manages to barely survive on less than $100 a year. It truly weighs on my heart. What comes to mind in something that Ann Voskamp said recently, God gives the world enough of what it needs. He just doesn't distribute it. We will have to share. We're the ones who will have to do the distributing."

Finally, a few photos from the week:

HPIM3330 Kaya and the birthday party attendees are captivated by Leilani’s Amazing Flea Circus!

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 HPIM3346 Kaya and Savanna are perfect pals!

Hope you all have a great day!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My artistic little Kaya saw a Christmas card with a similar design and sat down to try her hand at drawing it freehand.  I think it is SO cute!scan0002

Speaking of cards, I just want to remind you that you can still send out Christmas cards for unsponsored Compassion International children, but you need to get them out ASAP!  Find details on sending them here. You can do this, even if you are not yet a Compassion sponsor!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It Doesn’t Take Much….

…to make somebody’s day.

I am realizing this more and more, how we have the opportunity to bring joy to others with just a little bit of time and effort. I recently read this little gem by Loretta Scott which has stuck with me:

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Today during our homeschool co-op, we had a guest speaker that came to talk to the kids. He is the father of one of the little girls in the co-op and served in the Middle East years ago. The children sat, spellbound, as he opened an MRE and showed the steps he would take to prepare his dinner every day. We all wrinkled our noses at the sight of the “ meatloaf and gravy” which looked remarkably like canned dog food. He told us about missing the comforts of home and how letters and cards from people he never met were so very important to him. He showed us a stack of handmade construction paper cards, covered in stickers and crayon scribbled words of encouragement, and told us how much they meant to him.

So, during our Art class, we took the time to make some Christmas cards for some veterans in a nearby VA hospital. Then, we got out the construction paper and glue sticks, and created cards to send to our troops overseas.

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In less than a half hour’s time, we had made a stack of love and encouragement to send to the men and women serving our country.

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Later on this week, we will spend an hour or so at the nearby senior center, visiting with the residents there. We like to go once a month with some of our homeschool friends and that one hour of time that we give goes a long way to bring joy. The seniors just light up when they see us walk in and they really soak up the time with the children and enjoy the chit-chat.

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Writing letters to your Compassion International children is another way you can use a small amount of your time to make a difference in the life of someone else. Your efforts make the statement that your child is special, thought of, loved… Even if you can only spare five minutes to send a quick email through the Compassion website, take the time to do it. Your child would rather have a short note than nothing at all. When Mail Day comes at the project, your child will rejoice when their name is called.

“Our lives, we are told, are but fleeting at best,

Like roses, they fade and decay;

Then let us do good while the present is ours.

Be useful as long as we stay.”

Fanny Crosby

Friday, November 12, 2010

Introducing….

…sweet and smiley Alice from Kenya!

scan0001 Isn’t she just SO cute?  After a sort of tough day, I was happy to find the packet for this little sweetie in our mailbox.  Alice is the 8th and final member of our Compassion family, a correspondent child. That smile just makes my heart melt.

We also received a letter from Precious in Ghana today. She thanks us for our effort in trying to get her a mosquito net. (In late September, she told us that Malaria is a problem in her area. After consulting someone from Compassion, I let her know that she should tell the project director that Compassion has funds available for mosquito repelling nets.) She asked us if we have malaria in our area.  She also told us that she received her very own Bible from Compassion and it is helping her learn about how the world was created.  I am so glad that she has her own Bible.  She prays for us to love God and trust God and also to know how to find peace in the Lord through prayer.  Thank you, our beautiful girl.

Love these kids!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kaya!

Our Kaya Jade turns NINE today! While most of her baby pictures aren’t on this laptop, I’ll share a few of my favorites of our curly-girlie through the years.

S & K on stone wall

me & Kaya

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kayadrummin

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Our Kaya has always been such a sweet girl.  From the age of two, whenever she would get presents she would immediately give something away to her sister.  She is the kind of girl who, when beating her older sister at Monopoly, asked me if it was ok to share her money with her sister so she didn’t feel bad and so the game would continue longer. She is compassionate and sensitive, creative and vibrant.

But, there is more to her story.  Something that I reflect on often, and especially around her birthday.  You see, when I found out I was pregnant with Kaya, I was scared. I wasn’t sure that Jay and I were going to last. I went to Planned Parenthood, who confirmed my pregnancy and discussed “options” with me. I drove home with my head spinning in a million different directions. Panic and fear and dread all rolled into one. But, suddenly, something fell over me.  A sense of peace, and the words, “You can do this.  You can raise this child.” echoed through my head. I wasn’t a believer then, but I have felt that peace and now know it to be the hand of God.

Kaya is proof that God’s grace isn’t limited to those who believe.  He reached out to me, when I didn’t even believe He existed.  I think about it often. What a miracle that He reached out to me, to reassure me.  I can only praise the Lord.

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift you have given me in this amazing little girl.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another Devotion // Letter Updates

As I shared here and here, I have been writing short devotions to send to our sponsored children. I plan to send one a month to all 8  of our Compassion International children, printed on pretty paper.  You are free to copy them to send to your sponsored children. They may especially handy if you are short on time, but want to get something out to your child.  In less than five minutes, you could copy one of them, log into your Compassion account and email a devotion along with a couple of sentences to your child.

(As with anything on this blog, you are also free to share the link to this post or any other!)

The Power of Words

A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

The words that we share are very important because they affect other people. We can bring joy to others with kind words or we can bring sadness or anger with harsh ones. It is important to think before you speak and consider how your words will affect the person to whom you are speaking. Look for opportunities to encourage others with your words.

Prayer

Dear Lord, I ask You to help me choose my words carefully. Let the words that come out of my mouth be pleasing to You and bring happiness to others. The Bible tells us that pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Please help me spread some sweetness today. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

It has been a bit of a slow mail month for us. With so many children and the habit of writing to them twice a month, we generally get 1-3 letters a week. We’ve gotten 2 letters in the last couple of weeks, which means we will likely get a bunch sometime in the coming week or so.

We heard from Yishak in Ethiopia.  His letter was written on pretty Christmas themed paper. An excerpt from his letter:

“My dear sponsors, how are you doing? I am my family are fine. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am attending my education and Sunday school. Thank you for what you done for me. One man in my village stayed 49 days on the branch of a tree. Have you ever heard of such things? (Well…..no?) I receieved your birthday gift. I bought clothes, shoes and a t-shirt and candy with the rest of the cents. Thank you very much. Pray about me. Bye.”

We also heard from Johan in East India.

“Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus. I am doing well here, I wish to hear the same with you. Jason, I want to tell you one thing.  Even I am weak in study but by God’s grace I got a good result on my exams. Now I am trying to do harder work in my study.  We are going to attend VBS in May.  Is there VBS programme for children in your place? Pray that VBS programme should be a success. I want to grow in my spiritual life, so pray for me. I am also praying for you. Your son, Johan.”

I just love that he is hoping to grow in his spiritual life and I also get emotional when he refers to himself as our son. 

Have you heard from any of your Compassion children recently? I’d love to hear excerpts from recent letters!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Yesterday, after our church service, some families from our church got together to pack up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. My friend Rachel headed up this project for our church and did a great job spreading the word, organizing donations and setting up the tables so that we could pack each box efficiently.

HPIM3318 Rachel set up our donations with sections for stuffed animals, flip flops, writing supplies and paper, books, hygiene, hair accessories and jewelry, toys and candy. She even placed a label in front of each group so that everyone would know how many of each item could go into a box.  The packing process went smoothly and we all had a great time!

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HPIM3323  Our little Luna, who is generally very impulsive and spazzy, surprised me by taking great care in choosing the items for the boxes she packed. Though, I did have to explain to her a few times that these boxes were not for our sponsor children.  She insisted, as she packed her first box, that she was packing it for Precious. Eventually, she understood that we were packing for other children who lived in poor areas.

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 HPIM3324 Kaya, who is turning 9 on Thursday and looks SO grown up to me in this picture, just loved packing up these boxes. She looks pretty serious here, but she really was grinning ear to ear for most of the afternoon.

HPIM3325 Luna and her little friend posed next to some of the finished boxes.  I am not sure what our final count was, but we had a huge stack of boxes by the time we were done!  It is such a blessing to be able to be a part of this amazing organization. I think it is awesome for our children to have the opportunity to help others and spread some love to those who need it. The joy of giving was palpable in the room as we packed up our shoe boxes. I hope that the children love receiving them as much as we loved packing.

On a related note, speaking of the joy of giving, the Lord has blessed us with another beautiful Compassion International correspondence child. We had already received the girl from Africa that we asked for, as we welcomed Kazihizina from Rwanda to our family a couple of weeks ago.  Somehow, the request must have been left in the system.  A God-inspired human error, I am sure. For some reason, I was drawn to log into our Compassion account last night and instantly saw that our list of correspondent children was longer than it was last time I checked.  Welcome to our family, Alice from Kenya!  Wait until you see the beautiful smile on her face! She is just precious!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Giveaway Winners!!

We got home from church later than expected after packing our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. What a blessing it is to be a part of bringing joy to children in poverty! (I was able to get a few pictures before my camera batteries died, so I will post them soon!)

At any rate, I had Kaya and Luna each drew a name once we got home. Luna drew Teena and Kaya drew Faithlikemustard!!

If you could both email me at 3girlsmama at gmail dot com and give me your address, I will get your books out in the mail in the next few days.

I did not have anyone start a sponsorship through my Compassion International  link, so I will figure out a different way to give away the other books in the future!

Congratulations to the winners!  I really, really enjoyed reading about all of your children!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday

As part of a homeschool assignment, Nico was asked to create a presentation to promote a cause.  She chose the Bite Back program from Compassion International, which provides malaria nets, education and health care for those in malaria affected areas. She raised $70 from this video and was very proud! (Sound quality is low, so you may have to turn up your volume to hear her.)

(At the moment, I can’t send you a bracelet like her presentation mentions, but you can still donate to this great cause!)

I want to take a minute to thank all of you who have left comments on my giveaway post below. I can’t even tell you how much I have enjoyed reading about your precious children! I have a busy day ahead, but I hope to stop by your blogs soon, so I can get to know you!

If you haven’t entered my giveaway, see the post below and join! You have until Sunday afternoon to enter!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Giveaway!

I had a little brainstorm while driving home today.  I would like to have a giveaway! I am going to give away five, yes FIVE copies of the children’s book, A Country Far Away.

This is a simple book with a great concept that illustrates the differences between day to day life in a small village in Africa vs. life in an American suburb.

There will be two different ways to win!

How to enter:

If you sponsor through Compassion International, leave a comment telling me how long you’ve been a sponsor and a little about your sponsor child(ren).  This coming Sunday afternoon, I will put the names of every entrant  on a slip of paper and Kaya and Luna will each draw one winner.

If you do not sponsor through Compassion International, click one of the orangeish red links in this post (that say “Compassion International”), sponsor a child and come back to tell that you’ve done so and share a little about the child.  The first THREE people who sponsor a child through my link and comment to tell me will win a copy of this book!

Contest Details: Due to shipping costs, winners must live in the United States. The drawing for current sponsors will be around 2:00pm EST on Sunday, November 7th. I will announce winners Sunday evening!

Thursday’s This & That

Around the house… Jay is just leaving for work and the girls are watching Martha Speaks on PBS kids while I drink my coffee and wake up.

Outside of my window… it is still kind of dark out, but I can see the birdies flittering around the empty birdfeeder and hear them scolding one another.  The trees that I see are now bare.

I am thinking… it is COLD in here.  62 degrees!  Brrr!  But, because we’re leaving soon, there’s no point in starting a fire in the woodstove.

Our plans for the day… This morning, I am going to present Compassion International to a small Moms in Ministry group. After that, I need to run a couple of errands and then I hope to get back by early afternoon so that I can put Luna down for a nap and get some homeschooling done with Kaya. We’ve been a bit lax this week when it comes to “sit down” learning.

I am hoping… I can get through this morning’s presentation without stuttering or otherwise embarrassing myself.  Public speaking doesn’t come naturally for me. In fact, it is really out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, I have a passion for the organization, I know my facts and have a desire to spread the word.  Each time I get up and speak in front of a group, it does get a little easier, but I still find myself getting nervous.

I am praying… that I can plant seeds in people’s hearts.  For my first couple of events, I was focused on, “How many children can I get sponsored?” but my mindset has changed a bit.  I can remember the curriculum sale where just One Child was sponsored.  I was initially upset, but then I realized that all of the effort and work that goes into a presentation or event is worth it.  Even if one child find a sponsor…Even if NO children find sponsors, but I was able to plant some seeds that sprout and grow in God’s timing.

I am looking forward to… the Sanctus Real/ Leeland/ The Afters concert that Jay and I are going to tomorrow night.  A huge group of couples from our church are all going together and I know it is going to be awesome! I have been to a couple of great concerts since we were saved and I always think back to the many, many shows I went to in my past.  I would be under the influence of  pot, goo-balls, mushrooms, you name it. Yet, the “high” I feel at a Christ centered show is ten time more amazing than what I experienced before.  Amazing.

My favorite blog post of the week… is this post from Jessica, where she shows how her Wild Things took the time to spread some love to the unsponsored Compassion International kids this Christmas.

Well, it is time for us to get this show on the road.  I’d love prayers for hearts to be touched by my presentation today.  I hope you ALL have a great day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Honor of…

…an all time high of well over 200 visits to my blog yesterday, I think it might be time for a little About Me post.

  • My name is Michelle and I am in my mid 30’s. We live in a house that is out in the boonies, nestled among the beautiful hills of the Finger Lakes region of NY.

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  • My husband Jay is an amazing carpenter. He was self-employed for many years and specialized in restoring old barns and building new ones like the one below. As of right now, though, he has taken on work as a sub-contractor for a local building company. He’s lost a bit of freedom in this and no longer focuses on barns, but he has a LOT less paperwork and we get a weekly paycheck, now.

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  • I have two beautiful daughters by birth (Kaya is 8, Luna is 4) and one lovely step-daughter, Nico who is 12. It is a long story, but we haven’t seen or heard from Nico in around 6 weeks now, so prayers would be welcome. We are estranged from her Mom currently, and we miss Nico terribly. Jay and I began our relationship 10 years ago, when Nico was two, and I love her like she was my very own.HPIM3189
  • In my former life I was a “recovering Catholic” and then a Pagan. For a while, I even considered myself as a Wiccan. I was a Dead-head, a hippie who lived in a van down by the river.
  • drummin I was a drinker, a smoker and a midnight toker. I am proof that God will reach out *anyone* and the best label I could give myself now is Daughter of the King.
  • We are “baby Christians”. My husband was saved about 3.5 years ago. I was a bit more stubborn, maybe it is the red hair? I came to know and love the Lord about 2.5 years ago and was baptised during the summer of 2009. It has been, in a word, amazing. We go to a great, small church and have a fantastic church family, for which I am constantly grateful.

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  • I am a “stay-at-home” Mom, who rarely stays home for more than one day at a time. I homeschool my girls and feel blessed to be able to do so. Some days are great, some days are a struggle, but I wouldn’t consider sending them to school at this point. I love having them home!
  • We are vegetarians because, once we found out about what goes on in factory farms, we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat meat. If I could raise, slaughter and process my own meat, I might consider eating it, but I just don’t have the heart to kill things. Except big, icky spiders. :shudder:
  • I am a hardcore thrifter and penny-pincher. 95% of our clothing comes from thrifts or hand-me downs. I just don’t have the heart to hand over big money for new clothes.
  • In June 2009, we sponsored Precious in Ghana, our first child from Compassion International, something that has changed our lives in SO many ways. As a penny-pincher, I did a LOT of research about the organization before I even brought it up with my husband. After more than a week of searching and reading, I didn’t find anything about CI that sent up any red flags, in fact I was more inspired to take this step the more I learned. Thankfully, Jay agreed and the rest is history. I love Compassion and what it does. I love how it has changed how I see things and how I think. I love how my children see their blessings for what they are and have giving hearts thanks to knowing these children. In December 2009, I felt God tug at my heart to become an Advocate for Compassion. The training was incredible and I have falling in love with the organization more, as I learn more about it.

I have to run and get some errands done this morning, but I’d love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment and tell me a little about yourself! I hope that you will come back to check out my blog from time to time! If you have any questions, let me know through a comment or by using the Email Me button on the right!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Look at Letter Writing Day

A few days ago, I sat down to write another round of letters to  our 7 Compassion International children. My goal is to write to each of them at least twice a month.  Most months, I hit my goal, but sometimes I don’t.  At the very least, I am dedicated to writing once a month. I’ve been asked what the process looks like for our family, so I’ll explain it the best I can.

I start by choosing some decorated printer paper from my collection, which I buy at the Dollar Tree.  I get out some of the stationary that is provided by Compassion when our children write to us and copy it onto the pretty paper. (If you don’t have the stationary, you can print this or use your own paper, provided that you leave 1/2 of the paper for translation.) I print this off for each of the kids.  Then, I get out my binder where I keep all of the letters we receive.

Before I start on the first letter, I look at the photo of the child and pray for them.  I also look at their most recent letters.  Each group of letters has a common theme, but they are are also personalized for each child. Because the kids always ask about church, this most recent group of letters told some more details about our Sundays. I shared that we are still studying from the book of Romans and that we memorized Romans 8:28.  I told them what our daughters have been learning in Sunday school.  I also shared that the children like to run and play after church while the adults drink coffee and talk.  Then, I answered any questions that were asked or commented on recent info shared with us.  I save questions for last and I highlight each one with a dash or something similar.

I also printed off seven copies of one of the devotionals I recently shared, on pretty rainbow paper. I took advantage of the Walgreens deal last week and was able to get three free photo collages and also printed off a pair of photos for the other children. To our newest child’s bundle, I also added the About My Sponsor folder that Compassion provided.

Below, you can see the bundles for all of the children. Each one is kept separate with a paperclip. Every page and photo is labeled with our sponsor number along with the child’s name and number.

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Before slipping them all into one big envelope, I have one last step.  I open up my Word document where I keep track of the letters that we send. Each child has a section where I keep info about letters we’ve sent.  I type something like this:

10/29/10 ~ Info about church, Romans 8:28, asked about grandmother’s health, “Sharing” Devotional, photos from Compassion event and of three girls.

I document the letters for a couple of reasons.  It helps me to remember what I write about and what I’ve sent.  It also helps me to get an idea of how long our letters take to get to our children.  When I get a reply from one of the kids that mentions something I have sent,or that answers a question, I can easily look it up and get a rough idea of how long my letter took to travel.

All told, it takes me about 2 hours to write and assemble bundles for all seven Compassion International children. I rarely do it all at once, though, because my days are busy and my hand cramps up.  Generally, I will write one letter and get up to do something before I come back to it.  I know how important those letters are to the children, so the time and effort I put into this is SO worth it. 

I hope you’re inspired to sit down and write to your sponsored child soon!

Lastly, I want to remind you of the opportunity to send Christmas Cards to unsponsored children!  You still have time to get those in the mail, but the sooner the better. Click this link to find out the details!