Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Thursday for Thankfulness

Lately, I have been feeling a deep gratitude that wraps around me like a soft blanket. It is the kind of feeling that sometimes leaves my eyes misty and puts a lump in my throat.

I am thankful for…

  • …a mighty God that sees fit to use me in His plans. A encouraging God that pulls at my heart and urges me to action.  A wise God that takes my feeble words and my little blog and makes incredible matches.
  • … every thoughtful comment, each encouraging email, every single prayer and the stories you stories you share with me. So often, I hear from my readers who tell me about things that give me goosebumps.  Most recently, I heard about a woman who decided to take on two new sponsorships.  She prayed that she would be able to have the means to support these children.  Within hours, she had a new job offer and a raise. I don’t believe in coincidences. Our God is at work here.
  • …a husband that comes home and can immediately see a glow and my excitement from knowing that more children have been sponsored.  He supports me and shares in my joy.
  • …each and every reader that takes the time to stop by.
  • Compassion International. For the work they are doing, not only for the children but for those of us who sponsor. My life has been changed from the minute I started looking into this organization and what it is all about.

 

Thank you!

~Michelle

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Plea for Two Precious Boys

Our God has done amazing things when I have featured children from the project that our Precious attends in Ghana. Through His guidance, your prayers and the actions of my wonderful readers, many of these Compassion International children have received the wonderful news that they have been sponsored.

Let us rejoice for

florence Florence

hannah

Hannah

isaac

Isaac

emanuella

Emmanuella

agartha

Agartha

evelyn2

Evelyn

Along with Cephus, George and Kenneth, whose pictures I don’t have on my computer.

Today, I am coming to you with two boys from this project that I love so much. The staff at this project puts a lot of effort into establishing relationships through frequent letters and photos. This makes it so easy to get to know these beautiful children and to create a bond through exchanged words.

Because these boys both have the same last name and both are listed as living with relatives, I believe they are most likely brothers. I don’t know the family situation or why they aren’t living with their parents, but I do know the hope and encouragement you will be able to give them if you were to step up and sponsor one of them. Both boys have been waiting over 6 months for a sponsor.

This is Prince. ((I am happy to say, he has been sponsored!!))

prince Prince is seven years old and he is living with his grandmother. He enjoys soccer and reading. Will you take a minute to pray for Prince and to look at his Compassion page?

This is Emammuel. ((He has been sponsored!! Praise the Lord!!))

emammuel Emammuel will turn 10 on Saturday. This project meets on Saturday and if he is sponsored today, I believe that the project may be notified in time to give him this good news on his birthday. Can you imagine how special that would be for him? Please pray that he will find a sponsor and take a minute to check out his Compassion page.

(If you do sponsor one of these boys could you do me a favor and type “source code: 110182” into the Special Instructions box when you finalize it on the Compassion page? It helps the Compassion headquarters keep track of how/where sponsorships are generated. Thank you!)

For any of you who have already stepped up to sponsor a child in this project, this might be a great post to share with friends or family. Then, you could also share this “precious connection” with someone else that you know!

Let us pray for these boys and that God will prick the heart of the person who is meant to sponsor one or both of them!

~Michelle

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Have I Mentioned?

Have I mentioned how much I love Mondays?  Most Mondays we bust a move, Happy-Dance style, at our mailbox. Those lovely cream colored envelopes that say, “A Message From Your Sponsored Child” are always such a treat!

Yesterday, I found one of those envelopes that is a bit larger than the usual business sized ones.  Most times, that means that a photo is included, so I tore into the envelope right away. 

It was a photo of Precious with the lovely outfit she was able to buy with the Christmas gift money that each child in the program receives. (From what I hear, toe 2010 Christmas gift averaged out to about $14 per child.) Our little sweetie loves yellow, so I was happy to see that she was able to find a beautiful ensemble featuring her favorite color.

scan0002 What a gorgeous girl she is and I bet she looks stunning in her yellow top and yellow-accented skirt!  One thing I notice in each of her photos is that she looks a bit more confident every time. I hope that one day we will see a big smile on her face on one of her photos!  She certainly brings a smile to my face when I think of her!

Speaking of my girlie in Ghana, I want to share something.  My friend JD, who has a fantastic blog called Compassion Can, is heading to Ghana in November.  I would like to ask you to read this blog post, which explains why she is going.  The story shattered my heart to pieces. Please, if you could help in any way, it would be appreciated.  Maybe your help comes in the way of money to help this mission happen, or maybe it comes with sharing the link on your blog or Facebook or Twitter, or maybe you can offer up prayers.  Perhaps you can even do all three. I know you can do at least one.

~Michelle

Sunday, March 27, 2011

~Sunday Praise~

We just love Britt Nicole.  She’s such a bright, shining girl with a heart for Jesus!

Has it been a while since you have written to your Compassion International sponsor child? Are you at a loss for what to write about?  Think of a worship song, scripture verse or lesson that touched your heart at church today.  Hop over to the Compassion website and type up an email to tell your child about it.  Sharing things like this are a great way to minister to your child!

Have a great Sunday!

~Michelle

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oh, Happy Day!

The day started out wonderfully.  Instead of rolling out of bed around 6:30 in the morning, I opened my eyes to find full sunshine streaming through my window.  When I came into the kitchen to start the coffee, I discovered that I had slept in until quarter after eight! What a luxury!

While the temperature is still pretty cold, the cheery sunshine and bright blue sky put a bounce in my step.  I had taken several days off from working out when we had some little guests here, but I hopped back on the wagon this morning.  Those post-workout endorphins are a wonderful thing!

My day was made even better by the excitement of knowing that Agartha and Evelyn  have both been sponsored!! (Thank you, thank you, Stacey and Julie!!) God is so GOOD!

After lunch, I took Kaya to a birthday party and had an afternoon date with my little peanut, Luna.  One on one time is so special and fun!  We made a couple of stops in town including lunch at the bagel shop.

What could top off a day like this?  How about a Tanzanian Happy Dance!!  We received our first letter from Mkapa!

MkapaHe told us the names of his family members, including all seven of his siblings.  He shared that his favorite subject in school is math and he loves to learn the word of God.  He told us the name of his town and that it is on the border of Tanzania and Kenya.  We were able to look it up and see maps and aerial imaging of where he lives.  He also shared that he can see Mount Kilimanjaro and asked if we had heard of it. This was exciting for Kaya, because she learned about it during our unit study on Tanzania. Mkapa ends his letter, “I love you.” which is just so sweet.

As the sun sets on today, I am thankful for a day of goodness.  I hope that your day was good as well!

~Michelle

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday’s This & That Post

  • Outside of my window…. I am looking at the five inches of snow that fell yesterday.  Last week, my girls were playing outside while wearing capris and t-shirts.  I had windows open and clothes hanging on the line.  We’ve been known to get snow well into April, so it really comes an no surprise.  Eventually, warm weather will be here full force!
  • The week’s successes… I have been enjoying my new and improved daily plans.  I’ve challenged myself to check off as much of my to-do list as I can before noon.  It has allowed me to have time to get some extra random organizing and tasks done in the afternoon and I love the feeling of accomplishment this gives me! We have had two little friends staying with us since Tuesday, so my girls haven’t wanted to play or read with Mama while they have playmates here. Once we’re back to life as usual, I am sure they will enjoy some planned special time, though.
  • Prayer Request… Once again, I ask for prayer for my step-daughter, Nico.  She was supposed to come here this weekend.  Last weekend’s visit was cancelled because she had the flu.  This morning, I received a text from her Mom that Nico will not be coming. There is a LOT of spiritual warfare going on and it is clear that Satan is going to do whatever he can to keep Nico away from us.  So, please pray that Nico can have the strength and vision to see what is going on.  Pray for Nico’s mother, who is a pawn in this situation, that she may do what is right.  Lastly, pray for my husband and I.  We are often brought to intense anger over this situation.
  • Favorite quote of the week… As Jay left for work one morning, Luna gave him a hug and a kiss and said, “Bye, Daddy.  I love you!  I hope you’re a good boy today!”  lol
  • I am thankful for…. my Prayer Warrior friends, a sturdy house, soft beds to sleep on, food in the cupboards, the freedom to homeschool,  a husband who calls to check on me when I am upset and a God who brings a sense of stability when life seems rocky.
  • A Reminder…  The two girls that I posted about yesterday from Precious’ project in Ghana are still available.  If you’re one of the ladies who sponsored from GH220 in January, maybe this is something you could share with your friends and family.  You are always welcome to link to any of my blog posts and you might be able to share a “precious connection” with someone that you know.
  • My verses of the day:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6: 11-13

I’m going to suit up in some armor and burn off a bit energy while organizing a couple of clutter zones. Hope you are having a great day!

~Michelle

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More “Precious Connection” Girls

A couple of months ago, I happened to notice that the Compassion International website had a lot of children available from the same project that our Precious in Ghana attends.  I have a real heart for Precious, as our first Compassion child, and for the project, which puts a LOT of effort into establishing a connection through letter writing.  They tend to be reciprocal with their letters, meaning that they will send one for every one they receive.  With English as the official language, there is no wait time for translation and letters seem to get from point A to point B in 3 to 4 weeks. 

When I posted info and links to the children a few months ago, I was blown away at how God worked to get all of the children sponsored in just a couple of days.  In fact, I had some people contact me afterwards, hoping that there were more children waiting from the project. At that time, there weren’t.

Well, today, I happened to look and found two more sweet girls from Precious’ project who are looking for sponsors.  Both girls have been waiting over six months.

Agartha will be turning six next week and I know it would be such a blessing for her to be sponsored for her birthday! 

agartha (Click here to look at Agartha's page)

Agartha lives with her father and grandmother and she enjoys playing house, jumping rope and playing group games.

Evelyn is 7 and she is just as cute as can be.  She is the same age as our Precious, so I wonder if they play together at the project.

evelyn2 (Click here to look at Evelyn's page)

Evelyn is listed as living with both parents and she likes reading, so you could send her some books to encourage her love of learning!

I would be so happy if any of you would be interested in sharing this “Precious Connection” with our family, and sponsor children in the same project.  If you do decide to sponsor one of these girls, please let me know and I would love  to send you a Family Sponsorship Kit which has a lot of ideas to help you and your family make the most of your sponsorship!

(If you do sponsor one of these girls could you do me a favor and type “source code: 110182” into the Special Instructions box when you finalize it one the Compassion page? It helps the Compassion headquarters keep track of how/where sponsorships are generated. Thank you!)

~Michelle

Wordless Wednesday

 

HPIM3755

Spring in New York is such a fickle thing…

~Michelle

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making a List, Checking it Twice

I’m probably not alone in the fact that I sometimes struggle with time-management.  This morning, I read a post by Shaun Groves that started me thinking about my time and how I spend it.  Though he was talking about smart phones, which we do not have, I realized that I am just as guilty of being drawn to time on the laptop. (As I sit here and draft up a post….on my laptop.  Do you see the irony here?)

Anyway, I decided that it it is time to get back to working through a daily and weekly to-do list.  My old one was mainly focused on household chores, but I think it would be good to also add some other activities on there as well.

My old list, which I keep in my household binder, is in a plastic page protector which allows me to be able to take a dry-erase marker and put a dot next to things as they’re done. When I stick with this, it is really helpful, but as you can tell from the linked post above, I don’t always stick with it.

This list currently looks like this:

Daily Tasks

  • make bed
  • tidy Bedroom
  • wash load of laundry
  • unload/reload dishwasher
  • cull paper clutter
  • take out compost
  • empty recycling basket under sink into big tub in basement
  • clean bathroom counter
  • wipe faucet and mirror
  • scoop litter box
  • tidy living room
  • sweep main level
  • mop main level

(Note, these are just MY personal duties.  My girls are expected to pull their weight and have been given duties such as folding and putting away laundry, cleaning up all of their own messes, etc. )

Weekly Tasks

  • dust bedrooms
  • organize closets and drawers
  • mop bedroom
  • wash bedding
  • clean kitchen appliances
  • wipe cupboards
  • empty trash
  • clean toilet
  • clean shower
  • organize bathroom closet
  • empty bathroom trash
  • dump and refill litter box
  • dust living room
  • cull magazines and local papers
  • clean sliding doors
  • dust window sills
  • collect thrift items
  • organize homeschool area

With this general list of tasks I need to do to keep the house in order, things tend to stay pretty clean around the house.  If I can knock off most of my list items before noon, I feel pretty darn productive.

My thought today was that I need to add in some non-chore things to a new and improved list. Daily things like reading to my girls, daily Bible reading, setting aside time to just chat one on one with my girls, giving my husband a good kiss.  Weekly things like playing board games with my girls, sending a card to someone on my mind, setting aside time to chat on the phone with loved ones. 

Are there special things that you feel inspired to do on a daily or weekly basis?  Do you struggle with time management or do you have any tips or inspiration to share? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Now, off to tackle my list!

~Michelle

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Praise

I have two videos to share today!

The next video is a call to action.  If you’ve been feeling the tug on your heart to do more, to do *something*….  I dare you to move.

Maybe your next move is to sponsor a child through Compassion International. Click the link in green to do that or to find out more.

Have a great Sunday!

~Michelle

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Inspiration

This morning, I found these beautiful beacons of Spring in my yard.

HPIM3747

The morning temperature was 60 degrees… the kind of weather that makes me want to open all of the windows and wash all of the bedding so that it can be line dried and soak up the sun and freshness.

I declared today a Phys. Ed. sort of homeschooling day and excused my girls from any sort of sit-down learning.  I just love the freedom to be able to do that.

I was also inspired to break out the printer paper that is bordered with suns and butterflies and flowers and get to work on another round of letters for our Compassion International kids. Even though I mailed letters out last week, I like to get going on the next round as soon as I can.  That way, if I get distracted or busy, the unfinished letters on my household management binder serve as a reminder to get them done.

So, I copied the personalized stationary that Compassion sends with our children’s letters onto some pretty paper and sat down to write.  Generally speaking, my handwritten letters to all of our kids end up covering the same topics.  I may simplify the wording for the younger children or add more complicated details to those for our older kids, but the letters all focus on the same points. (I use Compassion’s email feature to send personalized notes or letter responses to our CI kids.)

Today’s Spring letter started with a basic greeting.  Then, I told our children how the weather is turning warmer and the snow on the ground has melted.  I mentioned the joy in finding the first blooming flowers of the season.  I explained how the flowers die when the cold of Winter comes, but are reborn when Spring returns. After searching my Bible, I decided on sharing 1 Peter 1:24 with the children. (I try to include at least one Bible verse in every letter.)

“All men are like grass and their glory is like flowers of the field. The grass withers and flowers fall but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”  1 Peter 1:24

This verse led into encouraging the children to spend time reading and learning from the Bible. My closing told the children how much we love them, as I have told them so many times before. I reminded than that God has a plan for them and their lives and that we would write again very soon.

HPIM3745

Of course, no letter is complete without some stickers and some enclosures.  I used some flower and cross stickers on the letters and I will look for some Spring coloring sheets or mazes to print off. I have photo collages to send to our two newest children, Madina and Mkapa and I also made a copy of the photo we received of Bertille and her birthday presents to send back to her. For our English speaking kids, I’ll choose something from my ever growing stockpile of books to send along as well.

Here’s just a few of the ones I have stored.

HPIM3748

The books on the left are from the Dollar General and are just $1 each and the ones on the right were picked up at a nearby thrift.  I also have a bunch of non-Christian themed story books that have been checked for content and are stored in a tote for future mailings.

So far, I managed to finish five out of the nine letters in between loads of laundry, walks with my girls, sweeping and mopping and all of my other daily duties.

Have you written any letters recently?  If so, what did you write about?

~Michelle

Monday, March 14, 2011

$25 Worth of Perspective

Mondays are usually good for Happy Dance inducing mail from Compassion International and today did not disappoint.

Today, it was a letter from our smiley Alice in Kenya.

alice1

Alice joined our family just a few weeks before her 11th birthday last November.  Even though we knew it would arrive 2-3 months late, we sent out a $25 birthday gift to her right away. Each of  our Compassion International children receive $25 from us for their birthdays and I am always humbled and amazed at what they’ve been able to purchase. (See photos at the bottom of the page for some of the photos we’ve received.)

“Receive many greetings from me, Alice. I thank you so much for being my sponsor.  I am so happy to have a friend outside of Kenya. With the gift you sent, I received books, pencils, a petticoat, socks and a mattress.”

A lump quickly formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes when I read that last line.

Often, as I tuck my own girls into their soft beds in the evenings, my mind goes to the children all over the world who sleep on dirt or thin mats night after night.

 

Truth is, most dogs in America have cozier sleeping arrangements than the many, many children living in poverty around the world.

So, I am thankful and humbled that our small gift could go provide Alice (and probably her siblings) with a soft place to lay their heads at night. 

Like I have said before, having these beautiful children in our lives provides a perspective that we might not have had otherwise.  We can look at the nice beds we tuck our girls into at night and we can see them for the luxury that they really are. Through Compassion International, we have the opportunity to share a little of our “extra” to provide comfort for nine treasured children around the world.

We are so blessed.

~Michelle

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Praise

Oh, happiness!  We have all three of our girlies here this weekend!

 

Your continued prayers for my step-daughter, Nico, are appreciated.  It is clear that the enemy is working overtime to keep her from being with us and fellowshipping with other Christians as well as luring her to things that could pose some risks.  Also, if you could lift up her Mom and Mom’s boyfriend, we just pray that they come to a saving knowledge of Him.

We’ve enjoyed every minute of having our entire family together for the weekend.  There is healing and comfort that comes from moments filled with giggling and playing together.

Have a great Sunday!

~Michelle

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flashback Friday ~ The Delivery

Compassion International has been promoting the second Friday of every month as a Virtual Letter Writing Party, which you can read about here. This is an effort to encourage sponsors to set aside at least one day every month to work on their personal ministry to the children that they sponsor. 

As I have said before, your words of love and support are crucial to the children.  Poverty whispers lies into the ears of these children.  “You’re not important.  You’re not worth anything…” You have the opportunity to fight those lies and provide inspiration and confidence.

In September of 2010, my friend Caitlin S. shared this amazing short story she wrote.  It really illustrates the joy and possible despair that can fill children on Mail Day.

The Delivery

By

Caitlin Sanders

On the day the delivery truck comes, the children watch closely, following it, prancing around with glee. Some of the children’s eyes light up, knowing that something good is happening today. They press in close to the truck, even reaching out to touch it as it ambles forward. Other children cling to the edges of the fray. Their eyes are not quite lit up, not with the same blazing fire at least. Their eyes light with embers of their daring to hope, but a little afraid to do so, in fear of being disappointed. All of the children, those with blazing hope, as well as those with glimmering hope, are quick to follow the truck to its destination. They know exactly what the truck is delivering, and the very thought of it makes all of their hearts sing.

The children circle around the truck as it reaches its destination and slows to a stop. Their excited tittering magnifies as they hear the truck’s emergency brake being set. The delivery man hops out of the truck and walks around to throw the back door open. Though the children have been told to give the truck room, the sight of the five large barrels in the back of the truck causes them to automatically creep closer. It is as though they are drawn to the contents of the barrels. The workers come out of the nearby building, reminding the children to “Give room, give room!” The children shuffle back a few steps, but not quite as much as they had crept forward moments earlier. The workers and the delivery man work together to lug the barrels to the porch of the building, setting them up in a neat line. With the work done, the delivery man tips his hat and wades through the throng of children. Many of the children touch his arm appreciatively as he passes, murmuring different things to him that all add up to, “Thank you! Come back soon!”

With the delivery man gone, the children fall silent and expectantly turn to the workers. The workers make a headcount. It seems that all are here. One of the workers pulls out a crowbar and pries off the lid of the first barrel. As the lid tumbles off, the essence of the contents radiates out. It seems as though the children draw in the same breath. The scent is beautiful: a mixture of sweet, warm, rich, and genuine. It is an engulfing smell of the best kind. Those with the blazing hope crowd expectantly forward. Those with the glimmering hope, shyly cling to the edges, holding their breaths.

The worker next to the one with the crowbar pulls out a list and looks it over. The other sets the crowbar aside and picks up a ladle. The one with the list then slowly starts calling off children’s names: Jenessah, Subash, Geerthika…

Jenessah lets out a squeak of delight and climbs through the crowd of children to the front. Cupping her hands together, she can barely hold still long enough for the worker to ladle the sweet substance into her palms. Jenessah holds it carefully, making sure not to lose any. She peers into her palms, to see what is in the mix this time: stories, prayers, confidence, Bible verses, and belonging. The fire in her eyes blazes even stronger, and she lifts her palms to her lips and sips the mixture down, treasuring it as she feels the substance warm her, strengthen her.

Subash, a quiet boy, eagerly works his way through the crowd. He is trying to look mature about his excitement. He places his hands steadily forward, as he stands tall and still. When his allotment drizzles into his hands, however, he cannot keep the smile from sneaking onto his face. His portion is seasoned heavily with wisdom, encouragement and self esteem, and though he tries to pace himself, it seems he cannot help but consume it quickly.

Geerthika has waited patiently for the two children ahead of her to receive their portion, but now that it is her turn, she quickly thrusts her hands forward. She is unable to keep herself from bouncing on her toes. The worker looks at his list and then at Geerthika’s hands and then his head shakes. The smile falls from her face for a moment. Has there been a mistake? The worker sends one of the other workers into the kitchen. Geerthika watches nervously, not yet willing to lower her hands. The other worker returns with a large bowl and places it in Geerthika’s hands. She looks at it with confusion for a moment until the worker with the ladle begins to fill the bowl for her. Exhortations, stories, encouragement, value…the substance was just more than would fit in her palms. Happy tears are finding their way down Geerthika’s face. When the bowl is full, she gently dips her finger into it and brings it to her lips, closing her eyes as she savors it.

The names continue to be called, and the children called quickly line up. Yohanna, Johnwey, Puja, Ramon, Adrian, Million, Henry, Christine, Elnora… Most of the children called are coming from the group of children whose eyes already blaze with hope. Nerlange, Mesay, Dalfry, Oscar, Abishek, Beauty… As their names are called, they rejoice, each in their own manner. Kevin, Given, Prince, Usmith, Earl, Yznalie… Some have their palms filled to the brim, others have just enough to fill the hollow of their palms, and still others need bowls and buckets. All of these children celebrate their allotment. They are unconcerned about how their proportions compare to their neighbors. They are just happy to have their own. Some sit down immediately to enjoy their portion, while others race home to share with their families, being very careful not to spill on their way. Kathure, Arya, Josue, Jiji, Sankalon, Mogani, Jerlyn, Mercy…

When Mogani’s name is called, there is a shout. All turn to see that the shout came from Mogani himself, which is surprising, because he is usually one of the most reserved children among them. He is known to be tough, and unemotional. “Mogani… Mogani…? Mogani!” He shouts in disbelief. The other children are shocked to see tears streaming down his face, “Mogani? Me?!” He cries out again. The worker smiles, looks Mogani in the eye, and nods. Up until this day, Mogani has never had his name called. He has shown up to the delivery every month for five years. He was among those with only the glimmering hope, until today. Now his eyes blaze with the fire of hope as he whispers, “Mogani…that’s me… I’m on the list today!” He makes a pointless dash with his sleeve across his tear soaked face and breaks his feet away from the shock that had glued them down. Mogani rushes forward, his hands held out the whole way. He does not have to climb through the crowd as the others had to, because this time, the children part a way for the one who has waited so long. His palms tremble as they are filled, then he shuffles off to the side, just gazing at his portion. It is a simple mix: prayers, verses, and introduction. To Mogani, it is more than enough. It is precious. His smile is broad as he tries to quell the tears of happiness, but it doesn’t work. He takes just a small sip, determined to make his portion last forever. As that sip works through him, there is a visible change in Mogani. Bitterness has slipped away from him, and is replaced with courage. Those standing near him can hear him mumble softly through his tears, “I… am not worthless…”

Others from the group of glimmering hope look up with a little more hope as the worker calls off the names. Laurie, Abigail, Aloknath, Santiago, View, Sukriporn, Robin, Joshua, Akos, Sanjin… If Mogani can have his name called, maybe today is their day as well. Children come as their name is called, and the waiting crowd dwindles in numbers. The children who have already received their allotments are scampering home to show their families. Zawadi, Velma, Daniela, Yishak, Rodrigo, Samuel, Janna…The first barrel is emptied, and the second opened. Paulus, Marc, Sherin, John, Christian, Ruth… The third barrel is opened. Mayerly, Govindammal, Enggar, Tahaschnie… The crowd of waiting children still dwindles as the fourth barrel is opened. Evelyn, Rohit, Zaithanpui, Isaac, Deysis, Dinah, Jeejee… As the fifth barrel is opened, the waiting crowd seems to be only populated by the children with the glimmering hope. All the children with blazing the hope have gone home now, because they have all received their portions today. Sitthipon, Hakky, Ismaline, Keidy, Shanti, Iliana…

The worker with the list calls, “Bryan!” with a sense of finality. The waiting group of children can all feel their hearts drop as they hear the confirmation of the ladle scraping the bottom of the fifth barrel. They wait, staring at the worker who sets down his list. They are hoping he is mistaken. Maybe there is a sixth barrel hidden in the back somewhere. Maybe there is another page of names. Please, God, let there be another page of names, let there be another barrel stashed somewhere. The worker struggles to meet the stares of the remaining children. Many have begun to cry, and not the earlier tears of joy. He can see the embers of hope flicker, and can almost hear a hiss from the embers as the children’s tears threaten to put them out. He sighs, raises his eyes to the children and shakes his head. Maybe next time. The crowd of waiting embers begins to disperse, each child slowly walking to his own home, thinking about telling his parents again that his name was not called. Three children wait longer, standing in the silence. The children are Lesly, Christopal, and Tulasi. The worker again shakes his head sorrowfully. Lesly and Tulasi sigh, and turn to leave. They know better than to expect their names to be called yet.

Christopal stays. He has a reason for his name to be called, and yet it never is. He looks the worker directly in the eyes, and dares to finally ask, “Why?” The worker can only shrug. He has no way of knowing. Christopal speaks again, “Is it because of me?” The worker pauses in disbelief, but Christopal continues, “Do I not behave well enough? Am I not good enough? Do my grades need to be better? Am I shameful? How can I change to make myself worth it? Do they not love me?”

The worker places his hands on Christopal’s shoulders, “I don’t know why. Christopal, it is not your fault. You are worth it. I am sure they do love you, they just didn’t send any for you.” The boy listens, but shakes his head, fighting tears. He wants to believe the worker, but struggles to do so. After all, if they love him, wouldn’t they send some for him? The worker gives Christopal’s shoulders a squeeze before turning, picking up the crowbar, the ladle and the list, and leaving to deal with other responsibilities of his day, leaving Christopal to stand with the five large, empty barrels.

Christopal’s voice cracks as he quietly turns his question to the empty barrels, “Why?” He looks inside every barrel, thoroughly, making sure that his portion wasn’t just accidently overlooked, and waiting for him. He leans over the opening of each barrel, drawing a deep breath, imagining once again what it would feel like to hold his own portion in his hands, wondering what it would taste like. He stands up straight, looks now at the outside of the barrel. Christopal traces the capital letters burned into the wood of the barrel, burned in so many languages. His fingers find the label in his own language. Very slowly, he traces each letter, “SPONSOR’S LOVE.” Christopal turns his eyes to the sky and inwardly asks, “Where’s mine?”

Drawing one last breath of the lingering sweetness of what once filled the barrels, he puts his hands in his pockets and walks home, already beginning to think of the next delivery, and dreaming that next time his name will be called, too. The ember of hope in his eyes had nearly gone out while he searched the barrels, but at the thought of his name being called at the next delivery, the waning glimmer flickers and flares. Christopal’s ember will glow on, because maybe the next delivery will be his delivery.

…Your letters are much more than paper and ink…

 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

~Beautiful Blessing~

A couple of people remembered me talking about my daughters asking for a sponsor child named Blessing and I was sent the link to a beautiful girl in Togo. She is a true Blessing, indeed!

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Blessing lives in Togo with just her mother listed as her guardian. I just love the hands on her dress. They remind me of the way we reach out to help these sweet children. Blessing will turn 8 in just two months, so if one of you sponsor her, you would have just enough time to get a birthday package out to her for her special day!

(Let me know if you decide to sponsor her! Betty from Ghana that I featured a few days ago is gone from the website but her link doesn’t take you to the page it usually would if she was sponsored. Her packet may have been sent to an event or an Advocate.)

After I was told about Blessing, I really felt compelled to try to find a sponsor for her seeing as we’re not in the place to sponsor a child at this point. But, then it occurred to me that maybe I could ask if anyone wanted to go in on a sponsorship with me. I mulled the idea over for a while and then took it to prayer.

What came to mind after time in prayer is that there are so many older children who are waiting for sponsorship but just have a year or two left in the program. The financial commitment to these children would be shorter and it might be more feaseable to go in on sponsoring one of the young adults that is closer to graduating the program. My friend Amy, from Queen of the D Family (blog link can be found in my sidebar) was able to take a collection and raise funds to sponsor an older CI child. I think that is a wonderful thing.

So, dear readers, would any of you be willing to pitch in on sponsoring a young adult through Compassion International? It could be a wonderful cooperative effort and a way to build up and encourage a young man or woman as they venture from childhood to adulthood. I am going to talk it over with my husband this evening and if it seems like something he would be ok with, and if I have enough people willing to pitch in just a little, I will go through the Compassion International website and look through the older kids. (I already have a Paypal account set up and it might be the easiest way to transfer funds in this case.)

No pressure, just an idea that came to mind. Leave a comment or email me if it is something you might be interested in!

~Michelle

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Little ‘Passion Child

A few days ago, Luna made a request.  “Mama, can you help me write to my ‘passion child?”

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So we grabbed the picture of our little peanut, Madina from Uganda.  I showed Luna how we pray for our children before we write and then I used a marker to write down what Luna told me she wanted to say. Luna diligently traced every word and signed her name at the bottom. She also drew a picture of the two of them, but took artistic liberty to add pigtails to Madina’s bald little head.

As we finished up and slipped the papers into an envelope, Luna threw her arms around me and hugged me.  “I love Madina. She’s so cute!” she said with a huge smile. She skipped off and I felt so blessed to have children who have inherited my passion for these ‘passion children.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion International, just click their link in blue to find out more!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Because It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask…

Yesterday, I mentioned an 11 year old girl in Ghana who has been pulling at my heart. 

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This is Betty. She lives with her grandmother and father, with no mention of a mother on her bio. When I look at her face, I see a sadness that hurts my heart. I feel a desire to pray for her and *do* something for her. Seeing as she is 11, chances are that she’s already been sponsored at least once and has had the sponsor drop her. I don’t think people realize how devastating this can be to a child.

As I mentioned previously, I had noticed her weeks ago and instantly felt connected to her.  After finding a sponsor for Tibikoma, I had hoped we might be able to sponsor Betty, but after talking it over with my husband last night I realize that now isn’t the time for us to add another financial sponsorship. 

So, I am going to keep praying and ask if you would join me as well.  If you feel like you might be able to add Betty to your family, I would be so happy. It would bring SO much joy and relief to my heart, and most certainly Betty’s as well.

Generally speaking children from Ghana will write back for just about every letter you send and travel time is short.  Betty may have some issues opening up to a sponsor if she has already been dropped once before, but with regular and encouraging letters, she may warm up to you.

Thank you in joining my prayers for this beautiful girl.  I am praying that she will soon find a sponsor who will send love and encouragement and maybe even a smile to her sad face.

~Michelle

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Praise

I’ll kick off this post with a video of my sweet, bed-headed Luna Blue singing some praises with Jeremy Camp.

I have to say, I spent most of yesterday in a state of awe and with tears in my eyes.  In my heart, I know our God is amazing and powerful and mighty. But, when I see Him at work, like I did yesterday, it just leaves me in humble adoration.

When I posted about Little Miss Sunshine Tibikoma yesterday morning, I was in a bit of a rush and didn’t really get the chance to tell the whole story.

While Jay and I were working the Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith show on Friday, there were hundreds of child packets.  After Amy’s set was finished, there was a short testimony and they had what we call a “packet pass”.  Compassion volunteers walk through the auditorium and hand packets to people who raise their hands.  I was slightly disappointed that it seemed as if very few people raised their hands, but I also know that God works on hearts one by one and in His timing.  We brought back some of our leftover packets to a couple of volunteers stationed in the lobby during intermission and the rest went back to the main Compassion table.

When I can, I like to look through all of the packets available and pray over the children.  I check to see if there are any children in projects where our own CI kids attend and also try to put special needs kids or priority kids at the top of the stacks.  As I flipped through the packets, I came across this face and stopped right in my tracks.

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Now, personally, I am usually drawn to the children with sad expressions on their faces.  Yes, the cute smiley kids bring a smile to my face, but it is the ones with sadness in their eyes that pull right to my heart.  But this sweet little Tibikoma was not to be overlooked or forgotten. The spark in her eyes and attitude she has is something special.

I put her packet at the top of the pile of children from Africa and showed to just about anyone who walked within a couple of feet of me.  Soon, my husband joined forces with me and took her packet into the crowds that converged in the lobby to check out the merch tables. His tall, slender frame wove between the lines and he showed Tibikoma’s packet to every person he passed.  Throughout Michael’s set, I kept at it.  Even threatening to slip her packet into the briefcase of my friend Rei, who is also the area’s Compassion Event Coordinator.

After the show was over, my husband took Tibikoma’s packet again and stood in the middle of the crowd of people streaming for the exit. When the crowd had dispursed, he came back to the table with her packet still in hand and said to me, “So, should we take her home?”  I couldn’t believe my ears and to be honest, I fell in love with my husband just a little bit more when he said that.  In a bit of shock, I said, “What?  Are you sure? Can we do that?” Jay told me that he’d be willing to cut out his Dunkin’ Donuts habit, as he had been stopping there a couple of time a week on lunch or after work. He said that he felt that God wants us to give sacrificially and with faith that God will provide for our needs. Cue the sparkly hearts and fireworks…  What a guy!

He won me over and I put Tibikoma’s packet in my purse.  While I was excited and happy, there was also a nagging feeling of, “Is this right?”  As we packed up the Compassion table and said our goodbyes to our Advocate possee, I felt unsure about sponsoring Little Miss Sunshine.  I realized that we didn’t pray before we decided to take her, which is something we’ve done before accepting any other sponsor child or correspondent.  On the way home, I told Jay about how I was feeling, and he said we would sleep on it.  I mentioned that I felt I should post about her on my blog to see if we could find a sponsor for her.  I told Jay how I had been praying for an 11 year old girl from Ghana named Betty on the Compassion site.  An older girl with that sad look on her face that had drawn me in. As I lay in bed that night, I knew that Tibikoma wasn’t meant to be our tenth Compassion International child. And I prayed that God would help me find her sponsor.

Yesterday morning, I woke up before Jay and showed her packet to my girls and Mother-in-law, who had slept over after watching the girls.  I had my coffee and couldn’t focus on much else than a desire to find Sunny-girl a sponsor. I prayed and typed up yesterday’s quick post and hit “publish”.  I shared the link on my personal Facebook page and then the Blogging from the Boonies FB page.  I prayed again and within 15 minutes, I had a notification from a friend who said she would take Tibikoma as her family’s second CI child. Jay had woken up just a few minutes before and I nearly shouted, “Can you believe this??  How long did it take? Fifteen minutes?”  And then I lost it.  I just broke into tears.

Luna said, “Mama… Are you crying for joy?”  Oh yes, I sure was. What an amazing God we have!  He works in ways we cannot fathom and makes the most perfect matches!

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday, friends!

~Michelle

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do You Need a Little Sunshine?

Last night, Jay and I had a wonderful time working the Compassion International table at the Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert.  We have such a wonderful group of Compassion Advocates and working events with them is always such a joy.  I lamed out and didn’t take any pictures of the event, but I do have a photo to share.

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This is Tibikoma from Uganda.  From the minute i saw her photo, this little sweetie stole my heart. All evening, I showed her child packet to whoever I could.  While many people fawned over her, by the end of the night, she still wasn’t sponsored.  My husband suggested that we “bring her home” and after thinking for a few minutes, I stuck her packet in my purse.

Initially, we had agreed to sponsor her, but as we drove home and as I lay in bed last night, I had this overwhelming feeling that Tibikoma was not to be ours.  You see, I have had another girl in Ghana on my prayer list. I feel that, if we are to bring our tenth Compassion International child into our family, that Betty would be the girl for us.

So, I am going to make a plea to my readers.  Take a look at this spunky girl in the sunny yellow dress and let me know if you would be willing to add her to your family.

Some details about Tibikoma: Her birthday is May 17th, 2005.  She is listed as living with just her mother.  Her duties include carrying water, buying or selling in the market and cleaning.  There are two children in the family.  Tibikoma enjoys singing, playing with dolls and jumping rope. Being from Uganda, her letters would most likely come in English.

If you would be willing to take Tibikoma into your family, please contact me and I will get you the info that you need to sponsor her online.  I would mail her packet to you this week and could also add in a little something to send her as well.

(( Edited to share just how GOOD our God is!  Within twenty minutes of publishing this blog post, I was contacted by a friend who has agreed to sponsor Tibikoma!!  Praise the Lord!!  Let us rejoice! ))

If you aren’t able to sponsor her, would you join me in prayer for her to find a sponsor quickly? I would truly appreciate it.

~Michelle

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flashback Friday

Along the right hand of my page, you’ll find links to many of my most popular posts.  They are the ones that people email me about or the ones that receive the most hits. When I was pondering which post to share for my Flashback Friday post, I thought about sharing one of those on the right but then my mind went back to where our Compassion journey began… With our beautiful Precious in Ghana.

So, today I will share How They Grow...., which was posted last September.

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This week we received an updated photo of our lovely Precious in Ghana.  When we started out sponsoring through Compassion International, I looked through page after page of children and wondered how I could possibly choose one child.  When my eyes came across the shy and timid face of Precious, something within my heart just knew she was the one.

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I still cannot put into words exactly what it was about her, but I looked no further.

I didn’t know, when I finalized the sponsorship, how many ways this little girl would change our lives. I imagined we would help her and her family in some way, but it really didn’t cross my mind that she would put an indelible mark on my heart like she has. That she would pave the way to change my perspective of life, on possessions, on “needs vs. wants”.

I remember getting a letter from Precious, just a few months into sponsorship.  She told us that one thing that brings her joy is to sweep the dirt floor of her one room house. Earlier that day, I had grumbled at my children for the unending crumbs and bits of crafts left on the floor. I swept with a huff and a puff of frustration. Precious’ words hit me like a brick. They changed my heart.  I wrote her name along the top of the broom and am reminded of her every single time I retrieve it from the closet.  I sweep and smile and pray for our sweet girl, thinking of the joy the same job brings her.

A few months ago, Precious told us in a letter that she is growing “tall and cute” and this most recent picture proves it to be true.  A letter from her project director told us that Precious has lost much of her shyness and is gaining confidence in herself. Through this most recent picture, I can sense a change in her.  A head held a bit higher, eyes that are not so downcast…

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Through Compassion International Precious is receiving help with her education and medical check-ups. She is participating in social events and Bible study.  She receives a nutritious meal when she is at the project. Our family gifts have helped her family have supplimental food and supplies. Our letters give her encouragement and confidence that she is special and loved.

But, she has given us so much more…  She has helped us to see how many blessings we have, and to be thankful for things as simple as running water and wood floors to sweep. Our perspective on life has changed.

We are so thankful that we’ve connected with this sweet girl in Ghana.  As she grows, our love for her grows.  Our thankfulness grows. Our faith in God grows.

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We praise the Lord for putting Precious in our lives. What a gift!

Please, if you haven’t already, check out the links posted along the right.  I think you’ll get some good information out of them!  Also, if you’re so inclined, take a minute to join the Blogging from the Boonies Facebook page, which can also be found on the right.

I hope you have a great weekend!  I’ll try to remember to take photos tonight and write a post about our Advocate experience some time this weekend!

~Michelle

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window… the bright sun is deceiving and the thermometer reads 11 degrees. Brrr!  I can tell through, from the angle of the sun and where it rises through the woods, that Spring is getting closer by the day.  Soon, we will trade in snow boots for muck boots and the hard, frozen ground will turn mushy and squishy.

The week in review… It has been one of those weeks where I feel like I get to sit down for 1 minute here and 4 minutes there.  I’ve been wanting to get blog posts together, but haven’t had the span of time to do so.  There’s always a drink to pour, or laundry to start, or quarrel to referee. (Hello, Cabin Fever!)  We’re at the point in the Winter where I have to take proactive steps to set up physical activities for my girls to wear them out.  When the weather is warm, they’re outside for hours every day.  During the winter, they do get out to play, but usually just a couple of times a week.  So, March is the month for indoor obstacle courses and dance parties. Anything to tire these girls out!

We’re thankful for our homeschool co-op which meets on a weekly basis.  This week, in Home Ec. class, they made delicious soft pretzels.

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Yup, no shortage of cute little blonde girls in our co-op!

I am looking forward to… another date night with my husband on Friday.  We’re working for Compassion International at a nearby Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant concert,  Hopefully, I’ll remember to take photos this time, because I completely forgot at last week’s Denver and the Mile High Orchestra show.  It is always such a thrill to be a part of these amazing events!

Happy Dances (Compassion Mail) for the week… Another letter from Precious this week, making it a letter every week for the last 4 weeks from our Ghanaian sweetie.

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Precious’ letters are still written by a helper at the project.  We learned that she is learning to write and to read and she loves the books we’ve been sending her. I should look for a “beginning writer” workbook to send along soon.  Precious asked all about Kaya’s birthday party because we sent a photo in November of Kaya with her party guests, (They dressed in costumes because many of us don’t “do” Halloween, but still wanted to let our kids have the fun of dressing up.)   Precious is always asking about Kaya, so I had Kaya work on a reply letter to send to her sister in Ghana.

Well, it is time to get rolling today.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!  If you found a Happy Dance at the mailbox, leave a comment and tell me all about it! 

~Michelle

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Who, Me?

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(*Somebody* chewed up a blue marker today.  Good thing it was non-toxic!)