Monday, January 31, 2011

<A Reminder>

I just want to remind my readers that I’ll be drawing a name on Wednesday for a $20 Gift Certificate to BeadForLife!  Check out the recent post entitled “Bead Party” to read more  I am a little surprised that I had more response when I was offering up chances to win BFL bracelets then I have so far when I am offering this $20 GC!  All you have to do is “like” BeadForLife on Facebook or “follow” them on twitter and then share with all of your friends and urge them to “like” BFL as well!  Easy peasy!  Plus, you can get a second entry by writing up a blog post about this great company!

I also wanted to let you all know that I am working really hard to reign in my computer time.  While I love Compassion and am dedicated to reaching out to sponsors and my readers, I have also been getting really sucked into time online.  Things in my life and my home have been suffering and it has been laid on my heart that I need to cut back.  If you leave a comment or email me a question, I will get back to you, but it may now be right away.  I am sure you understand. :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Did I Say, “Eight Is Enough?”

Because, apparently, God has other plans. 

Friday night, I logged into the Compassion International website and immediately noticed an extra name in my list of Correspondence kids.  Welcome to the family, sweet little Madina from Uganda!

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She’s five which makes her the baby of our Compassion family. I think she is adorable and my own daughters were squealing while looking at her cuteness.

I will admit, my first reaction was a bit of doubt.  “Can I keep up with the letters?”  I considered calling Compassion to tell them that we couldn’t take her. My second thought was, “God knows what He is doing here.  She’s a blessing and we will find the time to send her monthly doses of love and encouragement.” Who are we to refuse God’s blessings?

Just this afternoon, while driving, I heard someone on the radio speaking about the Great Commission.  Jesus said that we are to reach out to all nations and  teach them about his commandments.  The speaker said something that stuck with me.  The Great Commission wasn’t just a suggestion, or “The Great Suggestion” as it was put. No, we are commanded to put our Faith into action and reach out to share the Gospel.

God knows what He is doing and He is blessing us with the responsibility of reaching out to one more child.  Thank you, Lord!

~Michelle

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bead Party!!

You may remember that I posted about BeadForLife in December.  (You can read that post here.) I just love this organization and the work they’re doing to help women in Uganda make a living by making beautiful beads and beaded jewelry, along with shea butter products.

Did I mention that their products are beautiful?

 

Well, I just found out that they have these great Bead Parties where WE can help spread the word and sell these wonderful hand-crafted products.  Many of the women who make the beads have been left as widows and struggled to merely survive when their husbands died.  Being able to make an income by rolling beads has been a life-saving and life-changing opportunity.  But, in order to make money, their product has to sell.  This is where the Bead Parties come in.

Check out this link to learn how you can get involved.  BeadForLife will send you, at no cost :

  • Approximately 275 jewelry items (more for larger BeadParties)
  • Shea Butter Soap and Peppermint Lip Balm
  • Our inspirational DVD about the beaders, BeadforLife and how to roll a bead
  • A CD “From the Heart of BeadforLife” with original Ugandan songs and music
  • Educational materials and biographies of some of the beaders
  • African recipes
  • A pre-paid return label (so you can return what you don’t sell free of charge),
  • And much more!

You can set up shop at your church, community center, neighborhood yard-sale, or any other place where people will be converging.  This would be a great event to have before Mother’s Day! Promote giving gifts that make a real difference!

BeadForLife is currently running a March Out Of Poverty Challenge and they’re hoping to get 500 Bead Parties registered before March 31st. You can sign up and plan your party for anytime throughout the year!

Because I would love to spread the word about this organization, I am going to give away a promotional code good for $20 at BeadForLife!

There are two ways to enter:

1. “Like” BeadForLife on Facebook (by clicking here) and/or follow them on Twitter (by going here).  Then, be sure to tell all of your FB or Twitter friends how awesome the company is and urge them to “like” or “follow” along with you! Come back and leave a comment telling me that you did both of those things!

2. Publish a blog post telling all of your readers about BeadForLife!  Come back and leave a comment and share the link to your post!

You may enter this drawing twice, through the social networking aspect and by posting a blog post.  I will put the names of all entrants into a big basket and have my Luna draw one name on Wednesday, February 2nd around noon EST.  Be sure to check back Wednesday afternoon to see if you’re the lucky winner!

~Michelle

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Becoming a Compassion Advocate

Seeing as I have recently been promoting the Compassion Advocates Network, it might be a good idea to give a more detailed explanation of the process and what it entails.

My Advocate journey started in December of 2009, about six months after we started sponsoring our very first Compassion International child. I was just so amazed and “on fire” over the work that CI does, that I called them to ask if they could send me informational brochures to hand out and hang up on public bulletin boards. The man who answered the phone suggested becoming an Advocate, but my inner-critic immediately said, “No, no, that’s too big of a responsibility. I’m a busy stay-at-home Mom with too much on my plate already.” But, God was working on my heart. The next day, I found myself on the Compassion website reading all about the Advocates Network and by the end of the day I had filled out my application.

You may be curious what is involved in being an Advocate and how the process works. Things have changed a bit since December 2009, but I’ll walk you through the steps involved.

First, you’ll want to go to the Advocate's area of the Compassion website. You’ll be able to read the complete Advocate Position Description and take a look at the application. Unlike how it was when I first joined the network, there are no longer different “levels” of Advocates. You are welcome to serve in a way that works for you.

“Ultimately, advocacy is a self-initiated and self-scheduled volunteer position where you will personally manage your own time commitment and activity. Based upon your geographic location and giftings, you will be connected with a Regional Advocate Manager and fellow leadership Advocates to help facilitate your own intentional ministry efforts.”

Next, you will fill out the application. This covers your basic contact information, your history with Compassion, info about your Spiritual Leader for a reference, a little bit of info about your church and a statement of faith. You also have to agree to a background check. Once your application is submitted, you’ll be contacted about scheduling a phone interview.

Now, I will admit, I am not a big “phone person” and I was initially intimidated by the thought of having a phone interview. My fears were unwarranted, though. The phone call was actually very enjoyable, chatting about how I came to Christ and started sponsoring and what I might like to do in my Advocacy. (For those of us who are stay-at-home Moms with rugrats running around, they are so flexible that they will schedule phone interviews at a time that works for you - Whether it be nap-time or after bedtime!)

After the interview, I was sent an email with links to the different Internet Based Training clips. I just loved this training! I learned so much more about the work that Compassion does and how it all comes together to truly help. I could do the training whenever I had time, even in five minute increments, if that is all I had in between cleaning and tending to the kids.

Once the training was completed, there was one more phone interview and then I was officially an Advocate! The whole process took me about 2 months, but that is because I worked through everything slowly and had to work around my “day job” of being a homeschool teacher, domestic engineer and full time Mama. Like I said, Compassion is very flexible in all of this.

Now, once you are an Advocate, what do you do? The pat answer is, whatever you can! Your advocacy may look like putting up brochures and telling your friends and family about Compassion. You may enjoy working tables at Compassion sponsored events and concerts. (I really, really enjoy this aspect of it! Free concerts and connecting children with sponsors? What could be better?) You may like to present Compassion at churches or to small groups. You have the ability to decide what kind of activities you’d like to do. You also have the opportunity to go to regional Advocates conferences which are really incredible. I attended my first in March of 2010 and got to be in the fellowship of many passionate sponsor/advocates. We brainstormed ways to promote Compassion, learned more about the in-depth work Compassion does and got the chance to listen to a formerly sponsored child (now an accomplished young man) tell his story. Don’t forget to bring tissues!

The most incredible part of being an Advocate, in my opinion, is to be present as children are connected with their potential sponsors. You get to witness God at work, which is SO exciting! I come home from every Compassion event, feeling like I am floating!

Are you feeling a tug on your heart to begin your Advocate’s journey? Click here to read more! If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability. I can guarantee that it will be a blessing in your life and you’ll have the opportunity to help bless many children living in poverty around the world ~ in Jesus’ name!

~Michelle

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eight is Enough

Ok, ok, I apologize for the cliche and terribly un-creative title for this blog post. ;) Yesterday, I was thrilled to find the 8th addition to our Compassion International family when I logged into our account.

Welcome to the family, Mkapa from Tanzania!

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This handsome fella is 15 years old and sounds quite interesting from the tidbits written in his bio. He is part of the choir at church and his family duties include washing clothes, running errands, cleaning, caring for animals, carrying water, gathering firewood, teaching others and kitchen help. His interests include musical instruments, swinging, group games, soccer, walking, marbles, running, reading, art, jump rope, singing, listening to music, ball games and story telling. Phew! That is quite a list!

I contacted Compassion and asked for his history and found that he has had 4 sponsors and his most current sponsor has been sponsoring him since 2004. While the sponsor has written from time to time, they decided this month to assign him a correspondent. He has never received a monetary gift and the average income in his area is $7 a month. Numbers like that just blow me away.

I am very excited to get to know this young man of many interests! I sent an email out to him as soon as I saw him on my account and I’ll get a handwritten letter and some photos out within the week. Thankfully, I was prompted to get extras of our recent snow photos, so I have them on hand and can send them with this first mailed letter.

If you are interested in learning more about the Correspondence program, check out my Letter Writing 101 post!

~Michelle

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a Joy!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working a Compassion International event as Shaun Groves spoke the the students of Houghton College. I cannot even explain how exciting it is to go to these events and see so many children get sponsored. It truly makes my heart sing.

Just as I was last Summer when I saw Shaun speak at Kingdom Bound, I was reduced to a sniveling, crying mess. The way he brings the stories of Compassion children to life through his words is a gift. Thankfully, I had been thinking ahead and stuffed my pockets with tissues so that I wasn’t all soggy when it came time to walk through the auditorium and hand out child packets.

After Shaun was done speaking in the chapel, we all headed out to the lobby to man the tables. I really enjoyed chatting with all of the eager and enthusiastic students. Many had already traveled to the foreign countries where Compassion works and some had even been born abroad. I tried not to act like a total geek when Shaun came out and knew me by name and gave me a hug. I really respect and admire what he does for Compassion International and think he is an all around nice guy. He is REAL and genuine and does so very much for the children Compassion wants to help.

When our shift was done at 2:30, we counted and 37 children had been sponsored. What a joy! I was hopeful that the evening shift would bring even more sponsorships and I read Shaun’s post on Facebook this morning saying that 49 children were sponsored by the end of the event!! I am so blessed to be a part of something so amazing!

If you would like to be a part of the Compassion Advocates Network and have the opportunity to work events and help children find sponsors, I’d like to encourage you to check out the Compassion Advocate page. Not only do you get to go to amazing Christian concerts and events for free, but you have the chance to witness the incredible and uplifting God moments when people reach out and say Yes to a child. Consider becoming an Advocate, I am sure it will be a blessing in your life!

~Michelle

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Keep Changing the World

This Sunday’s video is going out to all of my friends and readers who are stepping out in Faith. Bless you for reaching out and changing the world ~ one child, one widow, one person at a time.

I’d like to urge you to step out again and consider hosting a Compassion Sunday event this April at your church, Bible study, homeschool co-op or Mom’s group Compassion will provide **everything** you need to do this, from a DVD to play to a script to read if you would like to speak. Go to the Compassion Sunday site to learn more!.

Keep changing the world!

~Michelle

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chances Are….

Chances are… if you were looking at the Compassion International website or a table of packets at a Compassion event, you might be looking for a girl.  From what I hear, girls get sponsored 2 to 1 over boys.  You might be looking for a younger child.  Generally, I hear that the younger they are, the easier they are sponsored.  You might be looking for a sweet, little girl with pigtails or ribboned bows in her hair.

Chances are… if you came across the somewhat scowling face of a lanky framed teenaged boy, you might just keep looking.

Chances are… your eyes might not land on Erick from Kenya for more than a second before you keep looking.

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Though the odds are stacked against him, I am going to ask if any of you might be willing to take a chance on this young man.  A couple of days ago, I was sent his packet so that I could find a sponsor for him.  His birthday is May 29th, 1997 and he lives on the plains of Kenya.  He lives with his father and mother and 2 siblings and he enjoys playing soccer.

Erick’s profile is not available on the Compassion website, but if you feel a tug on your heart when you look at this young man, please contact me with any questions you may have.  I have the info available and could send you the details you need to go to the website and start his sponsorship.

Just a few more things to think about…  At his age, it is probable that Erick has already had at least one sponsor drop his sponsorship.  Being a teen, he is that much closer to starting a family and being the Spiritual Leader of it.  He needs encouragement and support.  Will you be the one to take on that task?  If so, contact me through comments or email and I will get back to you shortly.

 

((((Editing to add:  Our God is good.  In fact, He is SO good that I am happy to report that Erick is now sponsored!! Can I get an Amen?  Thank you, Bev!! ))))

~Michelle

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Themed Letters

We woke up this morning to a fresh couple of inches of the white, fluffy stuff, so it seemed like the perfect day to work on our snow themed letters to our Compassion International kids.

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I copied each child’s personalized stationary onto cool blue paper and added a couple of sparkley snowflake stickers from Dover.  I took all of the pages out of the stained glass snowflake coloring book, also from Dover, so I would have one for each of our seven children.

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I enlisted the help of my special paper snowflake cutters while I prayed for the first letter recipient and wrote her a letter.

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Most of the time, I write very personalized letters to each of our children.  When I do theme letters like this, though, I tend to stick with the same ideas to share.  I told about how we have to dress to go outside and play in the winter and what we like to do outside.  I told each of the kids how God makes every snowflake different and unique, just like people.  I told each child how special and unique they are and then shared Psalm 139:14.  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Are you planning to send a Winter themed letter soon?

You might like this cute printable snowflake paper to print your Compassion stationary.  You could also send this snowflake coloring sheet. What about a snowflake matching game? I plan to send the matching game next month, when I have more printer ink.

When the first letter is written, I gather all of the other things I plan to send to that one child.

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I wrote the child’s name and number on the back of the photo.  Generally, I am sure to write that info on every thing I send, but in the case of the paper snowflake and coloring sheet, I didn’t know exactly how to do it without ruining the item.  I paper-clipped the bundle together securely and hope that the two unlabeled items stay together with the letter and photo.

When each letter is finished, I do the same thing.  Each bundle for each individual child is paper-clipped together and they are all put into one big manilla envelope, ready to be mailed!

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Have you sent any neat Winter themed items to your Compassion International kids lately?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  What did you write about this month?

~Michelle

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday's This & That

(Anyone else having issues with Windows Live Writer today?)

Around the house… the girlies are in bed and the house is quiet. It was one of those good days that leaves you feeling very thankful.

Today’s successes… It was our monthly visit to the senior center and like usual, I spent the morning worrying about how many people would actually come. The residents of the center flock to the activities and it is hard to spread ourselves around enough and mingle when we don’t have a big group of visitors. As of this morning, it looked like it was going to be just 2-3 families and I started to get anxious. I turned to prayer, asking for calm to wash over me and the ability to make the best of it, no matter how many people showed up. I was thrilled that we actually had one of our largest turn-outs ever! One of our friends even brought their terrier as a therapy dog, and he was a huge hit! I can’t explain how great it feels to be able to reach out, hold those aged hands and talk with the ladies at the center. Their appreciation and enjoyment is evident, their faces light up. I am a bit disappointed that I held back when opportunities to share the Good News came, but I am going to keep that in prayer. Next month, we will meet for the baking and decorating of Valentine’s cookies. I plan to make some cards with God is Love and John 3:16 to hand out.

Today’s failures… despite a really good track record this week, I didn’t get to any sort of workout today. Amazing how I can feel the difference in my energy levels from just missing one day!

A photo from this morning…


I needed a snowy Winter picture for the letters I plan to write tomorrow to our Compassion International children. I love how I can upload pictures to Walgreens and pick them up 20 minutes later! (If you have some photos you need developed, Walgreens prints will be 50% off through Saturday if you use the code “FROSTY50”.)

Last, but not least, a new song from Fransesca Battistelli. I heard it for the first time this morning and love it.

~Michelle



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Compassion Sunday & A Happy Dance

Yesterday, I received a package in the mail from Compassion International with the things needed to plan a Compassion Sunday event at our church.  This is a great way for people to spread the word about Compassion International and help get some children sponsored. 

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I would like to ask all of my readers to consider hopping over the the Compassion Sunday page and reading more about hosting your own event at your church.

Now, I know, many people (myself included) are not confident in their public speaking skills.  Compassion will provide you with a DVD that has several different presentations you can play.  You really don’t have to give a speech if you feel that you’re not cut out for it. They also send sample scripts for speaking presentations, if you feel like you might be willing to give it a go. Their Compassion Sunday website has plenty of tools and resources available that will aid you in planning your event.

Last year, despite my nerves, I did get up in front of our church and speak for about three minutes about Compassion and our experiences with the organization.  Was I nervous?  Oh, yes.  Did I get through it without falling on my way to the podium or passing out?  Absolutely.  Even in our fairly small church, nine children were sponsored.  Praise the Lord!

You do not have to be a Compassion Advocate to have a Compassion Sunday event.  All you need to have is a heart for spreading the word about Compassion and a desire to show people how they can truly help a child living in poverty. I do have to say, though, that becoming a Compassion Advocate has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.  It is a great opportunity to learn so much more about this fantastic organization. If you do decide to join, you can tell them that Michelle Wright sent ya!

I am praying that some of you will make the decision to step out in Faith and say Yes to holding a Compassion Sunday event or joining the Advocates Network.

In other news, we also received a letter from Precious yesterday! It was written on December 6th, so mail was definitely running slower during the Christmas season. (Letters from Precious generally only take 3-4 weeks to reach us!)

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“Precious says that she thank you for your wonderful bracelets, pictures and stickers that you sent to her recently.  She says thank you for your daily prayers and may the good Lord bless you.  She says that all of her friends are doing well and says that she will tell you the names of her friends later on in another letter.

She says that she wants to know the names of Kaya’s friends and Luna’s too in your next letter. she says that she is growing spiritually because she can now understand part of her Bible given to her by Compassion Ghana office. She says she would like to know more about how the church members are doing and also that of the head pastor also. She prays for you and the family members to be healthy always.

Precious says that she wants you to pray for her mother’s business so it can move on so that she can have enough resources to cater for other family members. Her memory verse is Psalm 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Precious also drew some cute pictures, including a clock that went up to 17 o’clock.  I am looking forward to a list of the names of her best friends so that I can see if she lists any of the children recently sponsored.

As a side note: To those who stepped up to sponsor children in Precious’ project, I am working on getting Thank You gifts out!  It may be another week or so until I mail, though!  :)

I am so grateful for my daily readers and the amazing comments and emails that are sent my way!  I hope you have a wonderful day and get to do a Happy Dance soon!

~Michelle

Monday, January 17, 2011

“God Never Intended…” : Wise Words from a King

I was just reading the blog Sit a Spell and came across a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that brought me to tears.

"God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth." In 1962, King preached, "I see hungry boys and girls in this nation and other nations and think about the fact that we spend more than a million dollars a day storing surplus food. And I say to myself 'I know where we can store that food free of charge - in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of people in our nation and in this world who go to bed hungry at night.'" -- Huffington Post

Wow. 

You know, I struggle sometimes.  We live in a world where people spend hundreds of dollars on designer purses.  Thousands of dollars on Disney vacations.  Yet, thousands of children die every. single. day.  Children whose lives could have been spared from a $2 medication or $5 in supplimental food.

It is so hard to balance all of this in my head and my heart.  My mind weighs heavy, even when mulling over the possibility of buying myself a $2 potted crocus at the grocery store.   That $2 could literally save a life.

No matter how you look at it, we do live in a land of wealth.  Dr. King’s words ring true. There is enough in this world for everyone.  We just have to share

One great way to share is to sponsor a child through Compassion International.

~Michelle

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Praise

I know I have shared this video a couple of months ago, but it deserves another play.  I was able to see Leeland in concert in December and he brought me to tears during most of his performance.

Follow You is one of my very favorite songs and the words really touch my heart.

One more song from Britt Nicole, who is such an amazing role model for young girls.  We are huge Britt fans and were lucky enough to see her in concert last April and even got to meet her.  Such a sweet, sweet girl.

I hope you all have a great Sunday!

~Michelle

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Delurking Day and a Happy Dance

I found out this morning, while catching up on some blog reading, that yesterday was National De-lurking Day. A “lurker” is someone who reads a blog, message board, etc. but never posts.  Delurking Day is apparently a day to “call out” the lurkers and ask them to comment and de-lurk!  Seeing as I generally get anywhere between 100-200 visitors a day and have about a dozen faithful commenters, there are a whole lot of you out there who could introduce yourself!  Will you?  Maybe just say hello?  Or tell us who you are, what you’re interested in and how you found this little spot in the blog-o-sphere? I would love  to hear from you and check out your blog, if you have one. :)

In other news, I was able to do another Happy Dance at the mailbox yesterday.  Inside one of those treasured tan envelopes, I found our very first letter from Kazihizina in Rwanda.

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I will tell you, every time I look at this sad face, my heart tightens up.  We were assigned to be Kazihizina’s correspondents in October of last year and I contacted Compassion to find out a little more about her history. The information I was given broke my heart to pieces.  Kazihizina used to get letters from her sponsor, but at the time she was assigned to us, it had been YEARS since she had gotten a letter, much less a gift of any kind. I look at her face and I see a girl who can’t help but wonder why her sponsor stopped sending love and letters.  Needless to say, she has been showered with about a dozen letters in the last couple of months and we also sent a gift.

I was happy to get our first letter from her, even though it was written by project staff and basically shared info that was already in our child packet. My husband and I were talking last night and we both know that Rwanda isn’t one of the great letter-writing countries.  We also know that, because of her past and essentially being deserted by her sponsor, Kazihizina may never really open up to us.  We are ok with that.  We know that our ministry to her isn’t dependent on the number of letters she writes to us or the details she shares.  Our ministry is to be a constant source of love, support and encouragement, regardless of what we get out of it.

Kazihizina’s letter shared her birthday and grade in school.  We were told that her parents are farmers and that the recent crops have grown and rainfall was available, which is great.  She wished us a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  A simple and basic letter, which still caused Happy Dancing because we love this girlie and will take any connection to her that we can get.

I hope you all have a great weekend!  Don’t forget to leave a comment and join in A Day Late National Delurking Day!

~Michelle

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wintery Remodel

Yesterday, after taking a picture of part of our snowy yard, I decided to switch from  the Autumny sort of theme I had to something a little more Wintery. We did, after all, get a decent snowfall in the last couple of days.  I also figured out how to do the little tab things that go between my header and posts.  I think it might come in handy for any new readers that stumble upon my blog.  I’d love to hear if you have any constructive criticism or ideas for me.  It is my hope that this can be a useful resource for sponsors.  Do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear them!

I also want to thank everyone for their support and helpful comments and Bible verses to go along with the struggles I shared yesterday. I am happy to say that I was very active and productive yesterday and ALSO managed to sidestep those temptations that I was trying to avoid. Today has gone really well, too! My friend, Megan, shared a great verse that I wrote down in my prayer journal and read many, many times over the course of the last two days.

No temptation has overcome you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way  of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

Ah, yes…  The wisdom and reassurance that can be found in The Word.

In other news, I am excitedly filling up my calendar with lots of great Compassion International events in the coming months. (One of the fabulous bonuses to becoming an Advocate is getting to work great shows!)  This month, I’ll be working while Shaun Groves does something-or-other (sing?  speak?) at a nearby college.  Next month, we’ll work a table at a Denver and the Mile High Orchestra Show,  In March, we’ll work a Michale W. Smith and Amy Grant show.  In April, we have our annual Advocates conference and get to brainstorm, learn and also hear from a former Compassion child and LDP student.  If you want to get in on these great opportunities and become a Compassion Advocate, just click here to learn more! 

~Michelle

 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday’s This & That

This week’s successes~

I’m rejoicing over the children sponsored from Precious’ project.  It seemed like a pretty big undertaking when the idea first crossed my mind. How easily we forget…all things are possible when God is in it.

This week’s failures~

:deep breath:  Gosh, there are so many…

My plans to get “back on track” were majorly derailed by a yucky sickness that invaded our house last Friday.  First it took down my girls, then I got it.  Achey, congestion, coughing…  My plans to work out were squashed. My hopes to get the housework under control were wrecked.  The Christmas tree and decorations are still up.  My patience was thin.   We only got to reading the Bible as a family one night in the last week. 

I hit a wall a couple of days ago. 

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Romans 12:1 ~ fail.  No wait, make that Fail with a capital F! It hit me like a brick in the forehead.  “…present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice…”  I can joke about eating chocolate for every meal in December, but the reality of it is not funny.  I am creeping up to an all time high non-pregnancy weight.  I am wearing elastic waistbands as much as possible.  I am not comfortable in my own skin, which affects a WHOLE slew of other things. My attitude, my sense of self, my affections to my husband, my energy levels and therefore my productivity.  Ugh, ugh, ugh.

It has GOT to change. It is going to take more than prayer, but lots of hard work.  Romans 12:1 is the memory verse I am etching into my mind and putting on my refrigerator.  Crave God, not Nutty Bars.  Amen.

In other news~

Kaya got her ears pierced last Thursday.  She’s gone back and forth about wanting them done.  A couple of years ago, she decided to do it.  We went to a local salon and she hopped up in the chair with a smile.  As I watched the lady load the piercing gun, Kaya slipped out of the chair and headed for the door, white as a sheet.

At the end of December, she decided that she was ready.  Really, truly ready.  She did great!

On the way home from the mall, I stopped into a thrift shop and found a bunch of Christian books, including Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George.  What a great book!  I read it through once without taking any notes and now I plan to go through chapter by chapter and really soak it in.

I have also started prayer journaling in the beautifully decorated journal a friend gave to me on Christmas Eve.  I pray daily, but find that my silent prayers to God sometimes drift off as I get sidetracked.  Writing them down keeps me focused and seems to be helping.

Something that makes me smile~

I am a cheapskate.  Really.  So much so that I had to talk myself into splurging the $2 for the potted crocuses I found at grocery store last week.  It is rare that I buy something, just for me, because I want it.  I am glad I did, though.  Our first crocus flowered yesterday and it really does make me smile.

HPIM3570 Ah, sweet little beacons of Spring… though Spring is still a long ways off, here in New York.

One last thing that makes me smile~

I love me some David Crowder.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shall We Dance?

Will you join me in a Happy Dance of monumental proportions?

A week ago, I discovered nine children on the Compassion International website from Precious’ project in Ghana.  I felt a tugging on my heart to do what I could to get them sponsored. I blogged, I emailed and I posted on Facebook.  One by one, these sweet children were chosen.

Well, I just got word that the last little girl, Hannah, was just sponsored.  Woohoo!

Commence the Happy Dancing!!

Time and time again, I have been touched by how clearly God’s hand was in these connections. Messages and comments from those who have sponsored these gorgeous children from Ghana have shown how He is able to make these perfect matches.

“I pulled all of them up and as I started looking through them I was asking the Lord one of these boys was it, please point him out to me and Cephas was it. So I do believe the Lord did guide me to him”

“Every time I went to the site, I ended up back on Florence’s picture. Then you blogged about the 7 year old girls from Ghana. She tugged at my heart. So, I pondered it over for a few days. When you posted about her again this morning, I knew God was telling me she needed us. So I clicked submit instantly!”

“I keep going back to his picture and I hold my breath thinking he'll be gone and then I imagine that if he was, how heartbroken I'd be for myself, but happy for him.  So I knew I needed to sponsor him. So with tears, I did.  :)  I'm so happy!!”

“I have been looking at her since you posted her picture. I have prayed for someone to sponsor her and was delighted when I saw your post that she was sponsored. But I kinda wished I had sponsored her. So today when I saw that she was not sponsored, I stepped up and sponsored her.”

“She has been on my mind since yesterday and God just wouldn't let it go. Her name drew me to her first. I have written about my cousin Hannah before who was killed in a car accident. But when I was able to get into her sponsorship page this morning God continued to confirm His choice. Her birthday is Sept 22. The date of my re-birthday. The date God picked me out of spiritual poverty and made me His heir.”

Thank you to everyone who listened to that tug on your heart and stepped up to sponsor Precious’ classmates.  We now share this 'precious connection of these children, these friends who have our hearts.  I am in a state of humble awe at how everything has come together.  All I can say is Thank You!

Telling God’s Story

As a homeschooling Mom, I must admit that History has always been my weakest subject. It bored me to tears during my own school career and I carried those feelings into my adult life. That is why I was thrilled when one of my local Mama friends decided to facilitate a weekly Story of the World class.

“The Story of the World is an award-winning resource for families looking for a history curriculum they can fall in love with. Told in the straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer's trademark, this four-volume set covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas — find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This read-aloud series is designed for parents and teachers to share with elementary school children. Enjoy it together and introduce your child to the marvelous story of the the world's civilizations.”

We are now going through Volume Two and I have to say that they way the lessons are laid out make History suddenly interesting to me! Kaya really enjoys the class and is learning things I probably would have glazed over. (You can see what we’re doing in class on the blog that is published by my friend, Alia. : Chronicle of the Earth.)

Last summer, I was thrilled to find out that my friend, Alia, had been asked to contribute to the Activity Guide for the first volume in a new series by Olive Branch Books. OBB is a sister company to the publishers of the Story of the World Curriculum.

The new series is called Telling God's Story. I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of the Activity Guide for this first volume and it looks amazing!

“Author Peter Enns (Harvard Ph.D., parent, and educator) knows that teaching the Bible can seem a daunting task. In this new and innovative series, Enns lays out a strategy for introducing young students to the times in which the Bible was written, the men and women who populate its pages, and the vast, many-layered story it tells.

Following the classical pattern of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, Telling God's Story uses the elementary years to ground students in the basics of the Gospel Message; continues on to encourage critical thought and analysis in the middle-grade years; and encourages high school students to understand the history and implications of the Biblical story.”

Now, admittedly, I am a laid-back and frugal homeschooling Mom. I rarely put out money for books and curriculum. My mish-mash style of teaching utilizes a lot of free resources and also the lending library we have at our church. I can tell already, though, that Telling God’s Story is a curriculum worth buying. I plan to purchase the text to go with my Activity Guide in the coming weeks and I will post as we go through the lessons!

I think it will be great, not only for homeschoolers, but also for public-schoolers who would like to add some Christian education to the secular things taught during the week. I think it would also be fantastic as a Sunday School curriculum or a weekly family Devotional.

Here is the author, Peter Enns, explaining why they decided to begin the series with Jesus and the Gospels.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Dances and Heart Break

In the last couple of weeks, we have been blessed with Happy Dance inducing Happy Mail from some of our Compassion International children. I won’t lie. I go to the mailbox every day, hoping to find one of those cream colored envelopes that says, “Message from your Sponsored Child”. If I find one stashed among the bills and junk mail, I have been known to bounce and squeal and dance right on the side of our country road.

Recently, we received a letter from our Bertille in Burkina Faso.

BertilleFace The letter was written at the beginning of October and took about 8 weeks to get here. An excerpt:

“What a joy for me to write you this letter. How are you doing? I’m doing well, my family too. Thank you for your letters. I go to the center once per week with my friends – Olivia, Rebecca and Samuel. Thank you for the pictures of Nico, Kaya and Luna. They are beautiful! The flag of the USA is nice. We have started the activities of Christmas. How do your daughters prepare for Christmas. Please pray so they days can be well.”

We also received a letter from Rodrigo in Bolivia.

RodrigoFace This letter took about nine weeks to get to us. I think that all of the activity that goes on around the Christmas season may slow down the mail a bit.

“I greet you in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks for the letters and photos you sent. I read them with my family and I am happy. Vacations are coming and Todos Santos (Day of the Dead) too. I will make Tantawawas (bakery for the festivities of Todos Santos) I am happy because vacations will start soon and I’ll go on a trip. I go out with my sisters every Saturday and we play in the park. I send greetings to your family and hugs. May God bless you and take care of you. With love, Rodrigo.”

Just yesterday, we received a letter from our 16 year old Johan in India.

JohanFaceThe letter is full of lovely details, but I am sure you will see where the heart-break comes in.

“A best wishes and warm greetings from your son Johan in the sweet name if Jesus Christ. By the grace of God and with your prayers I am fine and I hope the same with you.

I come to school every day on time. In devotion class I leanr new songs to praise the Lord. When I learn memory verses I feel happiness and enjoy. I attend church every Sunday.

I went to Taljhari to attend youth camp with my younger sister. I learned many good things, memory verses and skits.

In these days, my father has become mad. So we are worrying and quarreling every day. Please pray for my father.

What is your job? What is happening in your home? Please tell me! Then I write off my letter. I shall be praying for you always. Yours Lovingly, Johan.”

scan0001

My heart is aching for Johan and the strife in his home. I know that their recent crops didn’t do well due to issues with rain, which has got to bring some level of stress to the household. There aren’t food stamp and social services as a safety net in India. While Compassion can help with supplimentary food to a certain extent, I imagine that his father has a lot of weight to bear right now. I do hope that the Family Gift we sent recently can help them with their needs.

If you could, please take a minute to pray for Johan’s household. Let us pray for peace and love to reign within the walls of the home.

Speaking of prayers, God is doing amazing things! Out of the nine children from GH220 that I was praying would find sponsors, most of them have!! There are two girlies still available and I would be so happy if they were able to find sponsors today!

hannahHannah

and

emanuella

Emmanuella (Now sponsored!)

Samuel (now sponsored!)

Please, will you consider stepping up to sponsor on of these beautiful girls?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

~Humble Praises~

When the idea first came to me, to try to get all nine of the available children from Precious’ project in Ghana sponsored, the doubt inside of myself said, “Yeah, right. You’ve got BIG dreams, girl!” What should have come to mind right away was, not the size of my dreams, but the power of our very BIG God.

First, little Cephus was chosen, out of the nine. Then, beautiful little Florence was given an amazing birthday gift. This morning, I received a message that both George and Isaac were showing up as sponsored. I am just SO happy. I am rejoicing! I am thrilled!

I hope that my readers know that I am very aware of how this isn’t about me at all. Yes, I get completely smiley and giddy when I find out another child was sponsored, but I know without a doubt that this is about the children and our amazing God. I am just a servant, here to plant seeds and pray that they become Fruit for God’s Glory.

I do know who sponsored Cephus and Florence, but if you are the proud new sponsors for George or Isaac, would you do me a favor and let me know? Not only would I like to keep in contact, I would also love to send you a little gift to show my appreciation. I am so very grateful.

If you are feeling prompted to share this precious connection with us and sponsor a child in this amazing Compassion International project in Ghana, you still have the chance. There are still several beautiful children waiting for you.

Hannah

Emmanuella

Derrick (Now sponsored!)

Kenneth (Now sponsored!)

and

Samuel

Pray about it and if you do step up to sponsor one of these children, please let me know!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

He Will Laugh

Isaac ~ the name means “laughter” or “he will laugh”.  But when I look at the face of little Isaac in Ghana, I see no signs of joy or laughter.

isaacIn fact, when I look at the face of this little boy I don’t see much in the way of emotion.  Perhaps it is the blank stare of a child who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. You see, Isaac is listed as living just with his Mother.  I don’t know if his Father is dead or if he has abandoned the family, but I do know how the loss of a Father can weigh on a child.  In a Third World country, when a family is dependent on just a Mother , the difficulties increase exponentially.  There are two other children in this family and depending on if he had an older brother or not, little Isaac may now be the “man of the house”.

But, you have the power to help. You have the chance to step into this life and bring support, encouragement and prayers.  You can sponsor Isaac and provide, not only the opportunity for education, health care and mentoring, but letters of love and hope.  Perhaps your kindness will even bring laughter to the boy whose name means “he will laugh”. Maybe your letters will bring smiles to his face like these children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have the opportunity to make a life-changing impact on Isaac in Ghana.  Today! Click this link to do just that.

Are you still unsure of what kind of impact sponsors have on the children they support? 

You can’t fake this.  Formerly sponsored, Jimmy Wambua, as he meets the young man who stepped and said ,”Yes.  I choose him.”

But, it doesn’t stop there…  Like many who were sponsored through Compassion International, Jimmy chose to sponsor a child after he completed the program. Like a snowball effect of love and support.

I am asking you to please consider starting a relationship today with little Isaac.  Click his name in red above to say, “Yes!”

(Along with Isaac, there are still several other children from Precious’ project that are waiting for sponsors.  You can see them here.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Gift of Encouragement…

In my last post, I shared a number of children in our Precious’ Compassion International project that are desperately seeking sponsors. They’ve all been waiting over 6 months.

I realized that one of the girls, beautiful little Florence, turns eight next Tuesday.

florence I cannot imagine a better gift for little Florence, than to be told by Compassion staff that she has been chosen. You know, in Africa, birthdays for most people aren’t celebrated like they are in the US. In many cases, it is just another day of trying to survive, trying to fill bellies, trying to stay healthy. But, you have the opportunity to make Florence's birthday one she will always remember. A day where she feels important, special, encouraged and chosen.

Just to give you a little more information on Florence, she lives with her grandmother who is only sometimes employed. The grandmother supports Florence and two other children. I wonder if Florence’s grandmother labors like Nyakaho's grandmother used to. Rough hands doing the treacherous work of pounding stones into gravel. The average income in the area where they live is about $10 a month. Let that sink in…. Ten dollars. A month.

I am asking you to look into your heart. Consider if you can find it in your budget to set aside less than $10 per week and sponsor this sweet girl. Oh, what a glorious birthday gift it would be!

Click this link to go to Florence’s Compassion page.

(((Editing to add: It looks like Florence was sponsored!! Whoohoo! Thank you, Robin!!!)))

There are also seven other children from Precious’ project that are still waiting for sponsors. You can see them here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Precious Connection

This afternoon, I happened to log into my account on the Compassion International website to see if we had been assigned a correspondent child to “replace” Yolanda. When I saw that we hadn’t, I decided to torture myself by looking through some of the children waiting for sponsors. More specifically, I was looking through ones who have been waiting more than 6 months. As I scanned the pages of photos, I realized that I recognized the background on many of the Ghana photos. Upon further inspection, I found that there are several children from Precious’ project in Ghana that are up for sponsorship and have been waiting for a while.

In fact, I am fairly certain that a couple of the 7 year old girls are friends that Precious has mentioned in our letters.

I have to say, we were VERY blessed to have Precious as our very first sponsor child. We were very spoiled by, not only how often she writes to us, but also with the very short 3 week travel time for letters to reach us. Out of all of the projects we have experience with, Bisease Wesley in Ghana has been exceptional with the care and dedication they have in fostering relationships through letter-writing.

All this to say, I would absolutely love to have the precious connection with you of sponsoring children in the same project. Will you please take a look at some of these sweet children, friends of our darling Precious, and consider stepping up as their sponsor? (Click their names in red to be taken to their Compassion page.)

hannah Hannah

florence Florence ~ ((Now sponsored!!)

emanuella Emanuella

While I didn’t take screen shots of all of the children available from GH220, please take a minute to check out the others.

Derrick, George (whose packet we saw at the Tenth Avenue North show months ago!), Kenneth, Samuel and Isaac.

If you would like to share this post (or any other) on your Facebook or blog, please go ahead!

I would so love to have the precious connection with you, sponsoring children in the very same project!

((Editing to add: I am excited to hear that all of these children have been sponsored!))

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back on Track

Since mid-November, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has done a real number on our routine. In many ways, I feel like I have been de-railed.  On this first Monday after New Years, the unofficial caboose of the holiday season, I am feeling an inner urgency to get back on track.

First, it is necessary to purge and re-vamp my household binder, which I originally posted about here. 

The binder is extremely helpful in keeping my naturally unorganized self a little more organized.  I keep monthly calendar pages, chore charts, and any info for our weekly activities such as homeschool co-op, Story of the World history class, Sunday School and so on.  I also keep my current Compassion International advocates info in there as well.  The binder sits on my counter next to my laptop and is easily accessed as needed.

I had never printed off calendar pages past December, so that was my first task. Previously, I had used the free pages offered at Organized Home.  Unfortunately, I cannot seem to keep up with the demands of color printer ink.  I will shell out the $25 bucks for a cartridge and then it seems to run dry within a week or two max.  So, I had to get creative and make my own calendar pages with Open Office in plain old black ink.  Ahhh, it felt so good to write in our obligations and get rid of the little pieces of scrap paper with events and whatnot written on them. I was especially excited to write in the upcoming Compassion events I am working.  Later this month, I will work a Compassion table while Shaun Groves speaks? sings? at Houghton College. (Please, Lord, keep me from stuttering on like a dork when I meet him for the second time!) Next month, Jay and I will work a table during a Denver and the Mile High Orchestra show!

With the household binder back into some semblance of functionality and order, I can get back to using our chore charts.  Yes, *I* have one along with my daughters.  Mine is split into daily, weekly and monthly chores while my girls have certain things I expect them to do daily. When we all stick with our lists, things run a whole lot smoother and we have a LOT less mess and clutter.

Another thing we’re getting back on track is our homeschooling.  We took the liberty of some very light weeks recently, but today I am making plans for some things I’d like to cover this month.  We’re getting back to memorization of Bible verses and poetry and back to our monthly Artist Studies. We’re going to make progress in the traditional subjects of math, science, language and so on, instead of just coasting.

I also hope that we get back to our nightly Bible reading as a family.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve slipped from 5-6 nights a week to 2-3.  I hate that the special time slips so easily to the wayside, but with a lot of evening activities and overly tired girls (ok, and parents), we’ve slacked…

It feels good to have some plans and some structure back.  Do you feel like getting back on track with anything?  If so, what?