Friday, February 25, 2011

Frosty Friday

Outside of my window… it has been snowing intensely all morning.  While it is a fine snow, it is really adding up.  The forecast called for a possible foot in our area, so it is a wonderful day to snuggle in here at home.  The birdfeeder outside is hopping with at least two dozen birds of various species.  I love the vibrant cardinals against the backdrop of snow covered trees.

Around the house…  my girls are watching PBS kids and the dogs are snoring by the woodstove.

This week’s accomplishments…  I joined Spark People and have been tracking my food intake and workouts.  I am thrilled that, in the last week, I have lost over 5 pounds as well as 1.5 inches from my waist.  Tracking my food has really helped me get a handle on my compulsive and gluttonous eating. I am proud that I’ve been able to stick with daily workouts for over 4 weeks now and I am feeling strong and energetic.

This week’s failures…  I still struggle with patience with my girls at times.  This is something I need to pray about and be mindful of at all times.

Weekend plans…  I am so excited to have a date with my husband tomorrow!  One of my favorite things to do as a Compassion Advocate is to work Compassion tables at concerts and events.  It is even MORE fun when I am able to bring Jay along with me.  Tomorrow, we will go to a nearby Denver and the Mile High Orchestra show.  I better put on my dancing shoes! (If you’re interested in possibly joining Compassion’s Advocate Network, check out this post I wrote about it recently.

This week’s Happy Dances (Compassion Mail)…

We received two letters from Precious in Ghana.


We learned that the project organized a Christmas party for the children in the project.  Precious now helps by sweeping the project center and told us that she things our God is so amazing. :) Precious asked how we were able to find sponsors for her friends.  She asked if it is was all by prayers or by some other ways. She shared that she has a growing interest in gospel songs.  Like she does quite a bit, Precious prays for Jay’s work.  She has expressed a hope that was can sponsor her for a very long time.

She shared Proverbs 11:24 with us. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

We also received a letter from Rodrigo in Bolivia.


“I greet you in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for always writing to me.  I tell you that I traveled to the town of my mother and I saw the sheep, the cows and the pork. (lol!) At Christmas, we celebrated the birth if Jesus.  I like what you write to me. On Sundays, my family and I go to church and I like to praise Jesus and he blesses me. (Awww!) Dear ones, I am well with my family.  I will pray for you so that you do well with your work. Take care a lot. I always bring you in my heart. (Again, awwww!) With affection, see you soon. Love, Rodrigo”

Rodrigo is such a sweet boy!  He just melts my heart.

Have you heard from any of your Compassion kids recently?  Leave a comment and tell us about your letter!

Again, I’d like to remind you that you can join the Blogging from the Boonies Facebook page by “liking” me on the widget in my sidebar.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Ten minutes ago, I nearly got a hand cramp writing names on little slips of paper.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter my giveaway for a $20 gift certificate to Come Together Trading Company!  I am so thankful to everyone who spread the word about this great company and also to those who made purchases!  I have heard very good feedback by those who ordered, that products were delivered in a flash and the quality was even better than expected!

Without any further ado, I enlisted the help of my Kaya to mix and mix and mix the names and draw one slip of paper.

The winner of the $20 gift certificate is……






Amy D.!!!

Congratulations, Amy!  I will get the GC info from CTTC and get it to you soon!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Little Request

As a Compassion Advocate, I have been given some referral numbers that help the Advocates Network keep track of sponsorships that I’ve inspired.  Anytime you see a link for Compassion International in my posts, the link includes my referral number for online sponsorships. Also, the Sponsor a Child button in my right-hand sidebar is also link to a referral number.  We don’t receive anything for inspiring people to sponsor.  Compassion doesn’t give us prizes or a party, but it does help the Advocate’s Network keep track of the sponsorships generated through specific avenues. 

So, I’d like to ask, if you decide to take on a sponsorship through Compassion International because of something I have posted, could you please go through my referral link?  I would really appreciate it!

You can also join the Blogging From The Boonies Facebook page, if you wish.  You’ll see a new widget on my sidebar that can connect you to the page!

Also, don’t forget that I am drawing a name for the $20 Gift Certificate to Come Together Trading Company!  Please spread the word and make sure you’ve entered!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Mish-Mash

I have lots of things to post about today!

On Saturday, I was thrilled to find a letter from our little Madina in our mailbox.


Seeing as we were just assigned to be her correspondents a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t expecting to receive a letter from her for a few months.  In what may be an all-time record for speedy Compassion mail, her letter was written on February 2nd and arrived in our mailbox just 17 days later!  Definitely the exception to the rule when it comes to Compassion correspondence.  Most letters take 2-3 months to travel from our children to us.

On the front of this first letter, we were told about her best friend, favorite color, school subject, food, game, Bible story and song.  We were told that, if she could visit anywhere, she would like to go to the zoo to see animals.  I was a little confused when the only person listed in her family was her Mother.  The message on the back filled us in:

“Madina greets you in the name of Jesus. She is happy to have you as a sponsor. She says thank you for loving her and considering her as your sponsored child.  She says that her father is sick and he was taken to his parents for treatment.  She says that she is praying for him to recover.  She says thank you so much for loving her, may God bless you.”

Will you join me in praying for Madina’s father, as well as the rest of the family?

With the envelope from Madina’s letter, I made a little note card to send back to her.


Inside, I will write that this is part of the envelope that we received with her letter and tell her how much joy comes with hearing from her.  I do hope to make something similar to send to our other children as well.  Usually Mondays are good mail days, so I am a little bummed about today being a postal holiday.  Here’s hoping for tomorrow!

With Easter being just a couple of months away, we really need to get our Easter cards and packages out this week!  I didn’t think ahead last year and buy discounted cards after Easter, so we are making them this year.  I enlisted the help of my little artist, Kaya, to design and draw the front of the cards.


We hope to finish them up in the next day or so and have them mailed by Friday!

And finally, I want to remind you to take a few minutes to scroll down a couple of posts and enter my giveaway for a $20 gift certificate for Come Together Trading Company. It is so easy to join in and you can’t win if you don’t enter!  Drawing will be held on Wednesday! (You can help me out by passing along the link to the drawing on your Facebook or Twitter page!)

Just think of the amazing items you could purchase with your $20 gift certificate!

Bracelets from Burkina Faso…


A mobile from Sri Lanka…


Maybe even a beautiful journal from India…

So many amazing products to choose from!  Don’t miss out on your chance to enter!

Tammy, the owner of CTTC, left a comment on the giveaway post that I’d love to share with my readers:

“Hi there everyone! I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU! To Michelle for sharing about Fair Trade and our company, Come Together and to everyone who has commented her, joined our facebook group, shared with your friends and family and already placed orders from our website. We are completely humbled every single day witnessing what God is doing through this effort. We LOVE what we GET to do! So again and again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ... for caring so much for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and for giving God ALL the Glory! In awe of Him, Tammy”

Thank YOU, Tammy and Terry, for your effort to bring income to those around the world!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trekking Through Tanzania

Having Compassion International children in our family that live all over the world provides extra inspiration and excitement when it comes to learning about other countries and cultures.  Last month, we added Mkapa from Tanzania to our family, so we decided to take a little trek through Tanzania.

I loved the resources available through Homeschool Creations.  Jolanthe has so many great ideas and sheets, not just on various countries, but also on a whole slew of subjects.  I printed off the Tanzania map and flag sheets for my girls and we also watched a few Youtube videos about the area.




We have a great library system where I can order books from nearby libraries and have them delivered to our library in town for free.  There seems to be a lot of nice children’s books based in Tanzania, so I ordered a whole stack of them to share with my girls.


We All Went on Safari is a sweet book that taught us how to count to ten in Swahili.


Masai and I by Virginia Kroll uses creative illustrations to compare and contrast life here in the U.S. and life as part of the Masai tribe in Tanzania.  My daughters liked being able to study the things that were different on each of the pages.

Kaya is very interested in marketplaces in Africa.  She really liked the book My Rows and Piles of Coins, which tells the story of young Saruni as he helps his mother at the market and is able to earn a couple of coins.

Saruni saves his money in hopes that he will some day have enough to be able to buy a bicycle. This would provide, not only fun, but a way to help his Mama carry goods to and from the market. It made us think of our Bertille in Burkina Faso, who was able to use a monetary gift to buy her very first bicycle.


Saving my very favorite books for last, Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen has written a series of stories featuring the adorable Elizabeti in Tanzania. From the sweet illustrations to the precious story-lines, these books have captured our hearts.

The first in the series is Elizabeti’s Doll.

When Elizabeti’s mother has a new baby, Elizabeti decides she needs something to take care of as well.  She chooses the perfect doll, a rock that she names Eva.  This book opened up a great conversation about playthings around the world.

The second book in the series is called Mama Elizabeti.

When Elizabeti’s mother has another baby, Elizabeti starts to take care of her little brother.  It doesn’t take long to realize that taking care of a toddler is a lot more work than taking care of her rock doll, Eva!

The third book in the series is called Elizabeti’s School.

Elizabeti is excited to finally start school, but once she is there she misses her family and home.  Thankfully, she makes new friends and learns her lessons and really enjoys her time at school.  Elizabeti is proud to come home and be able to share what she learned.

These books are so sweet and the illustrations are lovely.  The last book in the series help us to imagine what it might be like for a Compassion International sponsored child to go to the project or school for the first time.

We are still working through our unit study on Tanzania and have a couple of hands-on activities in the works for the coming week.  I love how being involved with Compassion has sparked a genuine desire to learn more about these different countries.  Geography and Culture Studies have certainly become more personal as our family has welcome these beautiful children.

As a side note, I’d like to remind you that you still have a few days to enter my giveaway for a $20 Gift Certificate to Come Together Trading Company! If you win, you might be able to purchase something made in the country where your sponsored child lives!  Please feel free to share the link to the giveaway as well.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Come Together Trading Company

As a blogger, I really love being able to spread the word about organizations and companies that I support. Last year, I heard about Come Together Trading Company.

“We are a Christ-Centered Fair Trade Retail Store seeking to help our brothers and sisters living in underdeveloped countries across the world by providing a marketplace for the beautiful products they produce.”

I had heard that some parents of Compassion International sponsored children in Uganda were making jewelry out of rolled paper beads. I was directed to God Is Able Jewelry which was being sold by Come Together. What beautiful products!

As I looked through the Come Together Trading Company online store, I was struck by the variety of products offered.

Beautiful Baskets…..








Plenty of purses…

Not to mention, clothing, jewelry, toys, instruments, soap, journals, household decorations and many other beautiful wares made all around the world. I could spend hours creating a wishlist from all of the exquisite items they carry!

The next time you’re in the market for a gift, won’t you consider shopping at Come Together Trading Company, where your purchase will bring income to an artist around the world? If you’re lucky enough to live near Canton, Texas, you can even check out their brick and mortar store!

I am so happy to be able to give one of my amazing readers a $20 gift certificate to CTTC, which can be redeemed on their website or in their B&M store! You will have three different ways to enter this drawing and you’re welcome to leave a comment for each option you’ve chosen!

How To Enter:

1. Go to the Come Together Trading Company website and browse around.  Come back and comment telling me your three favorite items on their site!

2.  Go to the Come Together Trading page on Facebook ( found here ) and “like” them.  Then “share” their page with your friends and urge them to “like” them as well. Come back and leave a comment to tell me you’ve done so!

3. Write a blog post featuring Come Together Trading and leave me a comment with the link to your post.

For each entry, I will put your name into a jar and I will have one of my daughters pull a name on Wednesday, February 23rd around 10am EST.

Good Luck!!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Always Trusts, Always Hopes, Always Perseveres

Reading through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 this morning, I am left feeling immense awe and gratitude.

This last weekend was just FILLED with love.  We were together, our whole family, and we enjoyed every single minute of it.  Hours of sledding, lots of laughs and giggles and, best of all, that feeling if being complete.  I am having a hard time putting it into words, but this feeling of satisfaction and redemption sticks with me.

A week ago, I tumbled into depths of pain as I faced the fact that Nico might not be with us again for a long, long time.  I reached out and asked for prayers and I know that a Prayer Army took that request and prayed fervently. I just know that it is NO coincidence that within a few days, Nico was calling and asking if she could come home.

During our visit this weekend, Nico often started sentences with, “When I come back next weekend…”  On our way home from church yesterday, she confided that she really wished she could stay a day or two longer. A week ago, I was convinced that she wanted nothing to do with us.

All this is to say, our God is a mighty God.  Sometimes we need to be taken right to our breaking point so that we can witness His power and His love.

Again, I thank all of you for your prayers, your comments of encouragement and your emails filled with love. I am blessed by those of you who have reached out to me and more importantly, pleaded and prayed on our behalf. These words cannot accurately tell you how very thankful I am.

Thank you.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

You May Not Believe…

…in the power of prayer, but *I* do.

Early this week, a Prayer Army lifted up our situation with Nico.  On Thursday, while we were out running errands, we received a call from Nico.  She left a message asking if she could “come home”. This morning, we went to pick her up so that she could spend the night tonight.

We have no idea when we’ll see her again after this, but we’re going to soak up this time that we have right now.


We will enjoy the fresh snow and perfect sledding weather!




Nico wanted to be the one to say prayer before lunch today.  She said, “Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me that I have a family here who loves me and that I should come spend time with them....”

Thank you, indeed!

Thank you again for your prayers.  If you would join me in praying that this opens the door to more regular visits with our sweet girl, I would appreciate it. 


Friday, February 11, 2011

~ Birthday Trees ~

Yesterday, I was so thrilled to get one of those coveted cream envelopes in my mailbox.  As I slowly tore it open, I noticed a staple in the corner and had a moment of anticipation, hoping that it meant that a photo was attached to the letter.  It WAS!

In September, we sent a $25 gift to Bertille in Burkina Faso.  Bertille turned 9 in November and we always try to send birthday gifts at least 2 months early to allow for travel time. I am amazed at what our children are able to buy with the monetary gifts we send. 

Yishak in Ethiopia used our $25 birthday gift to purchase a goat.


Precious in Ghana was able to have a birthday party with her friends with the $25 we sent the first year we sponsored her. She also bought books, paints, a dress, shoes, sponge, toothpaste and a toothbrush.  All of that with just $25!


Last year with the $25 birthday gift, Precious purchased a backpack, shoes, clothing and biscuits to share with her friends.


Last year, our former Correspondence Child, Yolanda in Guatemala bought clothing, a wool bedspread and shoes with her $25 birthday gift.


While we don’t have pictures, our other children were able to buy a bicycle, clothing, warm coats and other great things with the $25 birthday gifts we’ve sent.

Photos make me so very happy, though.  I was grinning ear to ear to receive this beautiful photo of Bertille with her birthday gifts.


Wow, $25 really went far!  Bertille received a new water jug, a jar of something (possibly dry milk or peanut butter) and at least a dozen saplings.  A friend on Facebook suggested that they are probably Shea trees, which grow really well in Burkina Faso. I just love her beautiful grin!  Bertille’s father has passed away and the letter says that Bertille and her mother are so blessed by this gift.  I pray that the trees grow and thrive and produce well for them.  I am happy to know that Bertille has a clean and sturdy container to carry water.  I keep looking at the photo of this beautiful girl and feel such a sense of gratitude to be able to reach out and help.  It can be so easy to frivolously spend $25 here or there, but it can also be used to make a real impact.

As a side note, I want to thank you all again for the prayers and messages of support I have received since my post on Monday.  This week has been a tough one but your love and encouragement means so much.  I’d like to say that I have been convinced, once again, of the power of prayer.  I cannot get into details at this moment, but something pretty incredible happened yesterday that really illustrates the idea that prayer works.  Sorry to be vague, but I hope to be able to spill some details tomorrow. :)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Special Delivery

Yesterday was an emotionally raw day for me.  I spent most of the day wavering between tearing up and going through the motions of my daily duties. After lunch, I sent my two girls to their rest and took a Compassion training call. Once the call was done, Kaya was still reading and Luna was still napping.  A break in the clouds poured sunshine onto the snow and I decided to take Scruffy for a walk to the mailbox. Being outside and taking deep breaths of fresh air always seems to help when I am upset.


It is a bit of a walk to our mailbox….


While walking, I spot tracks from raccoons and deer.  Cheerful chickadees scurry from branch to branch overhead.


Some days, I make this trek several times. 


Lots of cardinals and waxwings can be found in this stretch of trees and shrubs. The beauty of a cherry-red cardinal in the Winter always brings a bit of a smile to my face.


My cute companion checks his “pee-mail”, as Kaya says.


Finally, the end is in sight! Almost t the mailbox!

And, I find some joy and smiles waiting for me!


My Happy Dance lacks a bit of its usual enthusiasm because of the heaviness in my heart, but I am still excited to read new letters and finally have Madina’s packet in hand. I am able to put her photo in a frame and place in the the arrangement I have on my windowsill and stereo.


It does hurt to see Nico in our family picture.  But what comes to mind is this, as I look at our family: We have to trust God to watch over ALL of the children in our family that aren’t with us. We have to pray and trust that God will take care of those we cannot be with. 

I am working at trusting. Thank you all for your prayers and comments and emails.  Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Monday, February 7, 2011


To be perfectly honest, I’ve been haunted.  Day after day, as I see my step-daughter’s clothes in the closet unworn and her belongings laying untouched, they haunt me.  An ever-present reminder of missing and aching and loss.  Some days, I manage to shove the feelings of hurt under the carpet and other days I find myself standing, shell-shocked and reeling from heart-stabbing pain of seeing Nico’s things collecting dust.

(In case you’ve missed the story, I can’t even delve into it all, but you can read some here and here.)

Since October, we’ve been able to see Nico on two short occasions and for one overnight.  While it always felt so good to be able to actually hug her and talk to her, the weeks to follow those visits left my other two daughters shipwrecked on islands of emotional pain.  We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed that, somehow, we are able to go back to having her with us half the time. It is clear, though, that there is no resolution on the horizon when it comes to her Mom.

So, we live with these scabs and scars on our hearts.  Some days there is a dull ache and some days we bump into something and next thing we know we’re bleeding again. I’ve gone back and forth on whether we should keep Nico’s clothes in her closet and her belongings in the girls’ shared bedroom.  I tip back and forth between hope and despair and wonder if seeing Nico’s things around affect my youngest like they do me.

This morning, it felt like it was time.  I took a deep breath and grabbed a couple of boxes and pulled all of her clothes out of the closet.  Within a minute’s time, that scab on my heart ripped right off and I fell to my knees and broke wide open.  Heartache and grief spilled out of me.  I had visions of the 10 years I had with Nico, caring for her as if she were my very own daughter. Worries of how this was affecting all three of the little girls that I love so much. Sympathy for my husband who puts on a rock-solid facade for us while I know he’s crumbling inside.  My mind races to the verse committed to memory and I question how this is working for good.  It doesn’t feel good.  It hurts in a way that makes it hard to breathe.

Lord, I just don’t understand how a mother could to this.  I don’t understand how You can allow this and how this will all work out for good.  I don’t understand!”

And my eyes fall onto an index card stuck into the frame of the mirror on my dresser.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,

and lean not on your own understanding.


I know I need to trust, but right now, I don’t even know how. When I feel compelled to try to figure out God’s plan in this, I realize that His plan may not be one I even like,  His plan may be that we don’t heal our relationship with Nico until she’s 18 or older and on her own.  His plan may be that it doesn’t get healed this side of Heaven.  And I have to trust.

So, I come to you asking for prayer.  This situation is littered with broken hearts and shattered dreams and minds left reeling to make sense of it all.  Thank you,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

{Sunday Praise}

Isn’t it nice to know that you’re loved?


Friday, February 4, 2011

My [Likely Unpopular and UnAmerican] Opinion

I don’t give a hoot about the Super Bowl.

I hear all of the buzz about it and can’t help but think of all of the money that is poured into this event. What comes to mind is the fact that on Sunday, while millions of people stuff themselves on nachos and pizza, somewhere between 16,000 and 20,000 children will die from hunger. With just a fraction of the cost of a 30 second Super Bowl ad, they could have all been fed and then some. It tugs on my heart.

Nowthese are just my opinions and thoughts. People tend to get up in arms and feel the need to defend their interest in watching the Super Bowl. I need to say, what tugs on my heart isn’t necessarily what tugs on yours. My cousin said to me, “The same could be said for just about every American past-time.” He is right. But, in *my* heart, that doesn’t justify it. It just says VOLUMES about our priorities. It isn’t just the Super Bowl that makes me ponder this topic. As I said in this post, everything from Disney vacations to paying for manicures and pedicures brings these thoughts to mind. Even the fact that we’re thinking of going to the 4 day Kingdom Bound concert series this summer. While we could really cut corners and make this trip as cheap as possible, I can’t help but think about what else we could do with the money it would cost.

(Just to be clear, my disclaimer is that my thoughts aren't your thoughts. My convictions don't have to be your convictions. Please don't feel like you need to defend your decision to watch the Super Bowl, go to Disney or get a manicure. I'm still working through my own decisions and priorities here.)

This amazing post by Ann Voskamp says, in a far more eloquent way than I could ever convey, the feelings in my heart. If you haven’t read that post before, please take a few minutes to do so.

This one quote has stuck with me since I first read it.

God gives the world enough of what it needs. He just doesn’t distribute it.

We will have to share.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Have A Winner!

I want to thank everyone who participated in the Bead For Life contest!  BFL is really hoping to increase their fanbase and by sharing and encouraging your friends to check them out, I hope they’ve gotten a lot more interest!

At noon, I had my little helper put all of the slips with names of the entrants into a big bowl, mix them around and choose one.  (I did take a video of this but am having issues uploading.)  The name she chose…..





Annabanana, could you please email me at 3girlsmama at gmail dot com?  I will get back to you with your code for a $20 Gift Certificate!

Again, thank you for participating!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday in Bullet-Points

  • They’re calling for a big storm to blow into our area later today, so I am gathering up the Emergency Preparedness supplies.  The snow itself doesn’t really bother or worry me, but the ice they’re predicting can cause power outages.  Because we have a well, whose pump cannot run without electricity, I am filling up containers with water.  I’ve also gotten out the candles and lanterns and am making sure that the flashlight batteries are charged.  It is times like this when I am really thankful for a woodstove and knowing that we will be warm and be able to cook.  If you’re living in the region where the storm is going to hit, please make sure you are prepared!
  • I am feeling really good about some changes I was wanting to make.  I am sticking with commitments that I made, such as daily personal Bible reading and family Bible reading in the evenings as well as working out on a regular basis.  Accomplishment feels so good!
  • Now that we have two new children from Compassion International in our family, we also have two new countries to learn about.  This morning, I ordered many neat looking books featuring Tanzania and Uganda.  I can’t wait until they’re delivered to our library so that the girls and I can look through them.
  • Speaking of books, I am happy that we now have 3 Compassion children in countries that speak English. I love to send thin, softcover books to promote literacy and now we have three kids to send to.  Now, I know that the official list of things we can and can’t send lists books under the “can’t” section.  I think they’re referring to hardcover and thick books, because I have sent the thin type many times and have never had them rejected.  I am able to find the books at the Dollar General, Dollar Tree and the various thrift stores in the area.  You can also send issues of magazines like Ranger Rick and Highlights.  (I would steer clear of other magazines that have advertisements in them, though.)  Here is a picture of just some of the books I have stashed to send our kids. I’ve got story books, activity books, How to Draw books and  Bible themed workbooks for little ones. I do think that the Frog and Toad book might be a bit too thick, but the others are just a few pages and should go through just fine.HPIM3670
  • If you sponsor through Compassion and have children of your own, you should subscribe to the Compassion Kids magazine.  It is a wonderful way for your children to learn more about Compassion and they people they serve.  To subscribe, email and tell them your name and address.
  • One last reminder!  Tomorrow around noon, I will draw a name for the $20 Bead For Life certificate!  If, for some reason, my power is out, I will be texting the winner to my friend Jessica and ask her to contact the winner. (I hope that’s ok with you, Jessica! ;) )