Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday This and That

Outside of my window… there is a slight nip to the air but it is sunny and gorgeous outside.  Truthfully, I’d rather have a chilly breeze than have hot and sticky mornings.  By late morning, it will be the perfect temperature!

This week… has been a flurry of activity.  The Summer Rec program in town has started and my girls have enjoyed taking part. 

IMG_7362 Despite being incredibly nervous for the few minutes before the initial swim class, Luna has taken to it like a fish to water.  She *loves* it!

IMG_7423 Kaya is also making progress in swim class, but tennis just may be her favorite.

IMG_7376 The arts and crafts class is full of creative fun!  Each class has several different stations set up and the kids are free to explore and create to their heart’s content!

When not at Summer Rec, we’ve had parties and sleep overs and all sorts of good ol’ summetime fun.

IMG_7407 Refreshing!

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This coming month… looks like it will stay busy.  The July calendar page is filling up fast with all sorts of events.  Despite the fact that the next few weeks seem to be go-go-go, I hope to find the time to kick back and relax a bit as well.

I hope you’re having a wonderful week! 

`Michelle

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Water of Life

Here in New York, summer is in full swing. The temperature is rising and we are busy with all sorts of fun outdoor activities. Tennis, bike riding, hiking, playing ball ~ this list goes on and on.

I couldn’t even count how many times I hear this familiar question.

Mom, can I have a drink?”

It often comes to mind that we are so blessed. Our reality doesn’t look like this.

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However, for children all around this world, this is what their mothers have to offer them when they are thirsty. Even in cases where the liquid isn’t so murky, the available water can contain bacteria and contaminants that can sicken and even kill those who drink it.

The UN reports that contaminated water kills 3.3 million people each year. Every 15 seconds, a child dies from water related diseases.

Perhaps you didn’t know that Compassion International has a fairly new initiative that is providing wonderful water filtration systems.

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Water of Life is already doing great things in four Compassion-assisted countries. Water filters have been provided in Haiti, Guatemala, Ghana and Rwanda so far. Compassion expects to start distribution in 22 other countries soon!

A donation of $55 will fund a clean water system that is able to provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for a child and his or her family. Not only that, the funds will also provide education for improving hygiene and sanitation along with support for improving community water sources and sanitation where needed.

This amazing water filtration system can be set up and ready to use in less than five minutes! They are easy to maintain and can clean over one million gallons of water. One million gallons!



Compassion International - Water of Life from Compassion International on Vimeo.

It is obvious that I just love the work that Compassion does around the world. I think it is great that they offer so many ways to help. While some people worry about the financial commitment that goes with sponsoring a child, donating to the Water of Life fund doesn’t require a commitment of any kind. Your one-time donation of $55 will make a difference that is crystal clear.

Please, spread the word about Water of Life!

-Michelle

~Thank You~

 

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Again, I am just blown away by the generosity of my readers and the way that God is weaving together this story.  Many hearts and hands coming together to lift up one special girl in Uganda.

If you would like to join us, in co-sponsoring Deborah, please see the ChipIn widget on my sidebar.  Any size donation is appreciated.

To those who have already pitched in, please be sure to email me a couple of photos so that I can put together a HotPrints photo book for our girl.

Summer is kicking into high gear around here and I apologize in advance if the number of weekly posts dwindles.  You can keep up with all posts by following Blogging From The Boonies in a number of ways.  Look up in my sidebar and you can see ways to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, via email subscription or you can try Google Reader, which is how I keep up with the 160+ blogs I follow!

(As a side not to bloggers, I have started a Compassion Bloggers group on OurCompassion and am posting regular assignments.  The most current one is to post about Compassion’s Water of Life initiative. If you do publish a post about Water of Life, please come back and share a link!)

-Michelle

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Praise

Have a beautiful Sunday, friends!

-Michelle

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kwagala Means Love

I found out yesterday that in the Luganda language, one major language of Uganda, the word “kwagala” means “love”.

I find that to be so fitting!

Two weeks ago, as I was looking through children awaiting sponsors on the Compassion International website, a face caught my eye. It isn’t unusual, as I scan through the pictures and pray for the faces, that some of the sweet children pull at my heart.

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But this face… I don’t know if I can fully articulate, but once I saw Kwagala Deborah's face and read the story behind this young lady, I could not get her out of my mind. Several times a day, I would find myself looking at her profile. I posted her link here and there and mentioned her on my blog. I thought for sure that one of my family members or friends would also be captivated by her and stand up to sponsor her. But days passed and no one did.

A week ago, almost to the hour, I sat with coffee in hand and argued with myself. Well, not so much myself, as I believe I was arguing with God.

“Post on your blog. See if you can find a group of people willing to help you out with sponsorship.”

“I don’t want to get my hopes up and get disappointed. What if a few donate and we can cover her for a few months, and then the funds run out and we can’t continue.”

“Post on your blog. Amy was able to coordinate the group-sponsorship of Agnes. You have a lot of passionate readers with big hearts.”

“But, what if NO ONE is interested? What if I look like a fool? Someone who is always asking people for something.”

“Post. On. Your. Blog.”

Back and forth I went until I decided to just try, to put it out there and see what would happen.

Well, love happened.

In the last week, thirteen people (and their families) have joined together to shower one beautiful girl with support, love and prayers. Enough donations have rolled in to pay for Kwagala Deborah’s sponsorship through May of 2012. A financial gift has been sent and a necklace has been purchased. Early this week, I was contacted by a friend that I met on Our Compassion. She told me of her upcoming trip to Uganda and offered to squeeze a small gift for Deborah into her luggage and arrange to get it to her.

Instantly, I thought of a necklace, which would fit in the “very small and very light” requirements. I searched the internet for an inexpensive necklace with a heart or the word love, that would serve to remind Deborah that she is loved by many.

Of course, I didn’t realize, when I finally decided on this necklace, that it had Kwagala Deborah’s name written all over it. Love, love, love.

In the last week, many things have come to pass that show me, without a doubt, that God’s plan is unfolding. I can share more details in the coming month.

We still welcome others to come along side us and work together to lift this young lady up. You can read my initial post asking for help with a group sponsorship here. There are a few different ways to donate, if you desire, or you can commit to praying for Deborah. Also, if you look at the tabs under my page header, you will see a link that says “Group Sponsorship”. I will be posting regular updates there as well.

I send my deepest thanks to everyone who has stepped up to support this group sponsorship, whether with donations or prayer.

Yes, Kwagala means love. This experience has shown me the power of love and I pray that Deborah in Uganda can soon feel the love we have for her.

-Michelle

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photo Friday

Here are a few pictures from the week!

IMG_7282 Kaya playing Animal Jam with her favorite Wild Thing.

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First Beach trip of the summer!

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Jay and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on Tuesday and this was what we drove on our date.  Love it!

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Jay’s brother custom built this “rat-rod” and boy is it fun to drive!

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We had dinner at a local restaurant and I even got some roses.  I think someone was trying to make up for forgetting last year! lol

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When it gets hot, we head for our air conditioned home away from home. I actually took this photo for our Compassion International kids. A few have asked about our town. I hope to add some pictures of our town in the next HotPrints photo books!

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Speaking of Compassion kids, I finally picked up the updated pictures that were waiting for me at Walgreens. I used Picnik to add the vignette shadowing and names to these and I plan to send them to our kids with the next batch of letters.

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Lastly, a picture of our silly Pippi Longstocking, Rainbow Brite, Punky Brewster sort of girlie.  Yeah, she is unique. ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

-Michelle 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Words of Encouragement

I am blessed with a wonderful group of ladies I have come to know through our church.  One woman in particular has been a huge source of inspiration to me.  She was actually the first person to come and greet us when we visited our church for the very first time.  I am usually a bit awkward and shy when coming into a new place or situation, but this woman’s warm and genuine greeting put me at ease right away.

Through the time that I have come to know her, Barb has been someone that has taught me a lot about relationships and being a friend.  She is quick to lift someone up, quick to pray and she is always, always an encourager.

One way that Barb has encouraged me is by sending occasional notes through the mail.  Though this is somewhat a lost art in today’s society, a note can really bring a smile and a burst of sunshine to someone’s day.

Because Barb’s notes have meant so much to me, I have been encouraged to send little cards to my friends from time to time. I have a basket on my counter with a collection of note-cards, address book and stamps. (The Dollar Store has a pretty nice selection of packs of note-cards, so I have stocked up!)

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Once a week, I like to sit down and think of who has been on my mind recently.  With a prayer and a few minutes of my time, I can send a little love to someone I care about. While I often talk about writing to your Compassion International sponsored children, your words can mean just as much to your friends and family!

So, I would like to challenge you!  This week, if someone comes to your mind, sit down and write them a little note and pop it in the mail. 

The finest gift you can give anyone is encouragement.”

~Sydney Madwed

-Michelle acacia1

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Little Madina!

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Today we are celebrating the birthday of our youngest Compassion International child ~ little Madina in Uganda.  She turns six today and she has been the focus of my prayers as I have gone through my daily chores.

We don’t know a lot about her, having only received one letter so far. We do know that her father was very ill at the time the last letter was written and he was living with his parents as he received treatment.

If you have time today, would you lift up this family in prayer?  Madina and her mother, Namagembe Viola must face struggles without the head of the household being present. 

Thank you, friends!

~-Michelle

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Tuesday Tidbit

A wonderful reader sent me the link to a wonderful Good News Coloring Book that you can print out in many different languages.

Click here to check it out!

Thank you for sharing this, Katrina!

Hope you are all having a blessed week!

(Just to update, we have had 11 people donate towards the sponsorship of Kwagala! Praise the Lord!  What an amazing thing!)

-Michelle

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making the Most of the Mundane

It is a fact of life ~ we all have day-to-day tasks that can be less than enjoyable.

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As I shared in the past, sweeping used to be one thing that I dreaded.  With a busy house full of children and pets, I could sweep up a pile of debris in the morning and have to sweep again by lunch time.

Something changed my perspective on the tiring task of sweeping though. A precious little girl in Ghana changed my perspective. With one simple sentence and a change in my heart, sweeping has actually become something I like to do.

 

Of course, there are a number of household duties that call for attention every day.  To be perfectly honest, I can find myself giving an exasperated sigh when it is time to unload the dishwasher or fold the laundry.  Even though I am blessed and thankful to have a machine that washes my dishes for me.  Even though I am aware that many in the world go without clothes and towels, or they have to scrub what items they do have in the river….  My attitude can become negative.

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I am working at being mindful when I come across tasks that may seem like drudgery. I can use that time, not to grumble, but to pray. As I stand before a pile of freshly fluff-dried towels and clothing, I can let my body do the work as my mind connects with God.  I pray for my friend’s husband, who is going on a mission trip to India.  I pray for the Compassion International children and staff around the world.  I lift up our unsaved friends and family members. When it comes down to it, I have so many things to pray for and to thank God for.  I could fold a football field worth of laundry and still not put a dent in all of the prayers I have on my heart.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that she prays for me when she washes her dishes.  That really touched me and also drove home the fact that we can use the time we’re given to lift others up.

Our local Christian radio station has been playing a new Steven Curtis Chapman song lately.  Entitled “Do Everything”, the very first lines caught my attention today, talking about sweeping up Cheerios on the floor.  Boy, can I relate!

You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
for the 15th time today
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
and head out the door
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

So, as a work in progress, I am trying to catch myself before I let that exasperated sigh come out of my mouth. I am working to let the daily drudgery become a place for prayer and praise. (Though, finding a meaningful moment while cleaning out the litter box is still a struggle.  I’m working on it!)

What are your thoughts?

-Michelle

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Praise

I love, love, love this song.  I saw Leeland in concert last winter and this song had tears streaming down my face. (To be honest, listening to it right now has me crying, too!)

You lived among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away.
All my needs you have supplied.
When I was dead you gave me life.
How could I not give it away so freely?
And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World.
Use my hands, use my feet
To make your kingdom come
Through the corners of the earth
Until your work is done
'Cause Faith without works is dead
And on the cross your blood was she'd
So how could I not give it away so freely?
And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World.

I give all myself.
I give all myself
I give all myself... to you.

What a beautiful song, right?

Friends, I am so moved by what took place yesterday.  Six of you decided to say, “Yes!” to Kwagala in Uganda and stood along side me to co-sponsor her.  As of right now, her sponsorship is paid for 5 months! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As I mentioned, this young lady has been on my mind for a while.  When I read that her father had passed away and that she was living in the Child Development Center even though her mother is still listed as living, my heart went out to her. I have no idea why Kwagala isn’t staying with her mother ~ she could have run away from the grief of losing her husband, she could have remarried someone who didn’t accept Kwagala…  I don’t know.  But, what I do know is that this girl must have had her heart go through the wringer.  Maybe she is grieving, feeling abandoned, questioning the goodness of God.  It is my hope that we can bring some comfort to her. 

If you would like to be a part of this, you can use the ChipIn widget on the right and send in a donation of any amount. (ChipIn accepts credit/debit cards as well as Paypal!)  You could give a one time donation or pledge to give a little every month or as long as you can.  I would also love to be able to send her a financial gift right away, so you could certainly give towards that as well.

In return, I will send you the information I have on Kwagala as well as an email photo file of her picture as soon as Compassion International emails it to me. I will also email you any information I receive on her and scan in letters we receive.

I have been asked about co-sponsors writing and for the first few months I would like to keep it simple and just have our family send letters. (I have already emailed and sent on paper letter yesterday.) Once I hear from her that she understands she is being sponsored by many, I would open it up to having co-sponsors also send letters.

I want to thank each and every one of you who, not only donated your money, but also those who are praying for “our” girl.  She is certainly a special young lady.  I am in awe of the way this community has rallied together so far.

Have a wonderful Sunday, friends!

-Michelle

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Group Effort

For the last couple of days, I have posted about this young lady on Compassion’s website that has been pulling on my heart.
kwagalaKwagala is seventeen and currently lives at a children's home. Her father has passed away and for some reason she is not living with her mother.
Inspired by Amy of This Treasured Life, who has arranged a group sponsorship of a girl named Agnes, I would like to ask if any of you would like to pitch in and co-sponsor Kwagala. She is certainly in need of so much love and encouragement. A gift of any amount would be wonderful! You can pick a one time gift or give a little every month!
I could collect funds through Paypal and would write to tell Kwagala of this group effort to sponsor her. I would scan and email any letters received from her to anyone who donated funds towards her sponsorship. Kwagala could have up to five years left in the program, so when the sponsorship funds are used up, I will post and let my readers know. If you could donate a little again, wonderful. If not, that is ok, too! Also, if you want to send a financial gift, I could make sure that gets to her as well.
Together, we could let this sweet girl know that she is so special that an entire group of people were willing to work together to be sure that she has been sponsored.
Would you be willing to participate? If so, please feel free to send a donationof any amount. I have added a ChipIn widget on the sidebar that can handle credit card or paypal payments.
((Edited to add: I have gone ahead and paid the first month sponsorship of Kwagala! I will send you a confirmation and welcome email once your donation is processed. Bless you for helping this sweet girl!))
~Michelle

Friday, June 17, 2011

It’s a Photo Friday!

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I noticed a new photo of Bertille from Burkina Faso on my Compassion International account a few days ago.  I contacted them and they sent me the photo file! (So much clearer than scanning!) I just love updated pictures!

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I adore these sweet little curls!

IMG_7251 The beautiful view from my sister’s pool today.

 

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Kaya’s brand-new bike from Grandma.

The weather is perfectly gorgeous here in our neck of the woods.  Not too hot or humid, but pleasantly warm and sunny ~ perfect for swimming and bike riding and walking in the woods!

Just to update, Kwagala is still in need of a sponsor. 

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If you have room in your heart and finances to sponsor her, please click her name in green to be taken to her bio-page on the Compassion website. With her father being deceased and her mother not in the picture, she could really use some love and encouragement.

~Michelle

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Giveaways, Good News and a Girl Who Needs Hope

There are a couple of neat giveaways I’d like to share with my readers today!

First, Jill at Compassion Family is giving away a really neat Correspondence Kit!

Pretty paper, stickers and goodies, oh my! Hop over to Compassion Family to enter!

Next, Becca from She Becomes is giving away some lovely items made by women in Tanzania!

I just love the bag, the beads and the beautiful card!!

On the Good News front, I wanted to share that little Natacha from Burkina Faso has been sponsored! Praise the Lord! Thank you to everyone who prayed for her!

Lastly, I wanted to share this girl who has been pulling on my heart.

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Kwagala is seventeen and lives in Uganda. Her father has died and she is currently living with an institutional worker. I contacted Compassion about her yesterday and was told that they don’t know specifically if she is in a orphanage or with a caregiver assigned by Compassion. At any rate, she looks like a girl who could really use some hope and encouragement. Will you join me in praying that Kwagala will be connected with a sponsor very soon?

Thank you!

~Michelle

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let’s Bounce, Shall We?

Instead of one cohesive blog post on one cohesive subject, I have lots of various things to write about today. Time to bounce from subject to subject!

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Yesterday, we went to my all-time favorite amusement park.  Seabreeze is fairly small with a vintage feel. I can vividly remember riding many of the kiddie rides when I was just a little carrot-topped rugrat.  Mixed with the classic carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl and old wooden coasters, they also have some modern thrill rides.

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We had so much fun! We love going this time of year because they are mainly open for school field trips and the park clears out around 2:00, leaving the rides open with virtually no lines.

 

IMG_7213 This is Luna with her best bud, Owen.  These two go together like PB and J.  Hubby and I were joking that this picture may be a glimpse into the future.  Luna and Owen going on an afternoon drive together.

IMG_7210 Isn’t any ride more fun when you have your hands in the air?

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Kaya and her friend Cyralina show off their mad jumping skillz.

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Jay gave Kaya some money to play games.  Twenty minutes later, she comes back and hands her hard-won prize to her little sister.  That is such a classic Kaya thing to do.  She is such a generous girlie and she teaches me a thing or two about having  giving heart.

Bouncing to another subject, we received a few letters from our Compassion International children in the last week after what seemed like a Happy Dance drought.

We heard from our handsome Rodrigo in Bolivia.

Dear friends, I greet you with much love. Thank you for your letters, the ones that you sent to me.  I feel so happy with my family.  We are all so fine. I made the trip to Laja town. There I was with my grandmother, helping to care for the animals.  Here days have been sunny but the weather keeps cold.

I tell you that I always come to the student center. My tutor is sister Rosemary. She is teaching me things of God.  I thank you for all of your prayers for me. I wish you the best in your life.  I close with too much love.  Rodrigo

 

 

We also received a not to tell us what Johan was able to buy with the $25 we sent for his birthday.  Pants, shirt, umbrella, bag, torch, belt and some chocolate.  I am so glad he was able to fulfill some needs and also enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate with the money that we sent!

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Compassion, have you stopped over to their website to see the lovely new changes?   Click here to check it out!

Lastly, I am preparing to go to a homeschool curriculum sale this evening.  I’m setting up a table for Compassion again and hope that perhaps I can find a sponsor or two or plant some seeds.  Last year, I was able to find a sponsor for One Child and I also learned a lesson along the way. (Read about it here.)

I am also still hoping to find a sponsor for Natacha in Burkina Faso with the shirt that says I Love You.  Scroll down a few posts and you’ll see her.  Please pray for her and for my table at the curriculum sale?  Hoping that I can be faithful and diligent in spreading awareness for the work of Compassion International and that some of the seeds take root.

~Michelle

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Praise ~ A Day Late

I didn’t have time to post my usual Sunday Praise yesterday.  As I said in my last post, my old computer was chugging along and virtually belching smoke. Well, talk about a blessing, I was contacted by some friends who just happened to have an extra laptop they wanted to give to me.  Wow!!  What a blessing!

I got it up and running after our homeschool co-op picnic and before I headed out to a Bible study.  I seem to have forgotten that computers can go fast!  This thing is like internet on caffeine!

My praise today is for God’s provision.  He not only takes care of our “needs”, He also tends to our “wants” from time to time, too!

Today, we’re heading out for a day at a nearby amusement park!  I’m ready to scream my head off on the roller coasters and eat Dippin’ Dots with my family!  I hope you all have a great day! 

~Michelle

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cue the Crickets

It has been a quiet week, here on Blogging from the Boonies.

My ol’ laptop has been on a rather stubborn streak and I think it is just about on its last leg. It randomly freezes up, shuts down and is generally very uncooperative.

On top of that, for a few days this week we were facing some spiritual warfare. Spears of stress, tension and conflict were hitting our household and it was a difficult couple of days. Add to that a heat-wave that had the inside of our house reaching ninety degrees and everyone was just about at their limit. On Thursday, I sent out a prayer request on Twitter and within 30 minutes it was like the clouds had parted. Not only did a cool breeze start to stir the stifling air, but peace and comfort also blew in on the wind.

One thing that really sticks with me is the feeling that these times of difficulty and spiritual battles are like a wake-up call that my priorities need to be redirected. Nothing brings me to prayer and pulls me to the Word of God like times of trial. How easy it is to drift from my devotion when things are smooth sailing. It takes being tossed by the waves, sometimes, to really focus on the only One who brings stability.

A friend sent me these verses:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though some strange thing is happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

I was able to get online yesterday and look through a week’s worth of email messages. One specifically stood out to me and when I clicked on it and started reading it, my heart started to race.

A desire of mine is going to come to fruition! I have been invited to travel across the country at the end of July. Can you guess where I am going?

I can hardly believe it! I have been invited to Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center in Colorado to participate in the Social Networking Summit!

Oh. My. Gosh! (My heart is still racing at the prospect!)

I am thrilled and honored and humbled that I was asked to be a part of this event! I don’t know all of the details just yet, but I am just SO thrilled!

(I’m also a teensy bit nervous to travel so far from home all by myself and speak in front of people, but I think God is refining me through this and I know He will carry me through!)

Just a few more things to mention before I head offline for a while. If you have emailed me in the last week, I am doing my best to sift through and get to replies. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible, as long as my laptop keeps chugging along.

If you are waiting on a Family Sponsorship Pack from me, I hope to get to the Post Office on Monday or Tuesday! Sorry for the delay!

And lastly, I would like to share this sweet girl with you.

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(She is now sponsored!)

This is Natacha from Burkina Faso. I have her packet, which expires on the 17th of this month. Her birthday is August 26th, 2004 and she lives with her Grandmother. Did you notice her shirt?

I am hoping that someone reading this blog would be willing to sponsor this beautiful girl. Would you join me in praying that she tugs at someone’s heart? If you would like to add Natacha to your family, please leave a comment or email me. I can send you the info you need in order to start her sponsorship right away online. I would mail her packet to you next week.

~Michelle

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little One on One

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Our four year old Luna Blue is just FULL of energy and enthusiasm.  She’s also got some attitude and a streak of mischievousness.  In the last couple of weeks, I have noticed a pattern of pushing some boundaries.  There’s been some straight up disobedience, too.

 

 

 

It came to me yesterday that it had been quite a while since I took one on one time with either of my girls.  Once I started trying to figure out just how long it had been, I realized that I couldn’t put my finger on the last time I took just a few hours to give undivided attention to my sweet girls.  Ugh, talk about some Mama guilt.

I can fill up my time with so many other things.  Some of it is necessary and some of it, not so much. I am realizing that, while it is a great thing to be so devoted to releasing children around the world from poverty, I need to find the balance so that my *own* children don’t end up going without they need. My attention.

It just so happened that Kaya was invited over to a friend’s house for a sleep over, so I was blessed with some wonderful time with my sweet and silly Luna. Even though I have a half a dozen projects vying for my attention this week, I had to break away and give my full attention to my Boo for a few hours.

We took a nice long walk in the woods, exploring various spots around our house.

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We took pictures.

 

This girl *loves* to pose!

 

 

 

See?

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We played ball for close to an hour.  There was no arguing or whining! (Seems like the last few times I have tried playing ball with two girls, there are arguments over who throws to who or one who wants to kick while the other wants to throw. I end up throwing up my arms and going inside.)

We made snacks and talked and it was so nice.  So refreshing.  So missed.

The rest of the day, Luna has been like a different child.  She’s gone out of her way to be helpful and has had a beautiful attitude.  The disobedience and the button-pushing and line-crossing haven’t made an appearance.

Who knows, maybe it will kick in again once big sis comes home? 

But, at any rate, I am realizing that it is crucial that this one on one time becomes a priority.  What an enjoyable day it has been!

~Michelle

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Praise

I just love this song!

This morning, I am praising the arrival one sweet baby girl.  My friends had some worries during the first part of the pregnancy, but baby girl came on Friday without complications. 

What are you praising God for today?

~Michelle

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yes, Letters Really Are That Important

Anyone who has met me in person or has spent any time reading my blog knows that my passion is reaching out to inspire sponsors to write to their sponsored children.  This passion evolved slowly throughout my journey with Compassion.  As I researched and read more, perused blogs and heard the testimony of formerly sponsored young adults, the common theme that stuck out was the importance of letters.

You see, a child in poverty has lies whispered into their spirits.  You don’t matter.  You are not important. Those lies sink in and take root and can affect lives in many negative ways.

(Photo courtesy of the Compassion Blog)
The words from a strangers in lands far away can battle these lies. The fact that someone takes the time to write and send love is actually quite miraculous to many of the children.  Conversely, for a child that sits
through Mail Call after Mail Call and never hears their name, those lies are solidified.

Last month, I asked sponsors on Our Compassion and the Compassion Facebook page if they had any experiences or observations to share from their visits to Compassion projects.
Susan M. shared: “I have the unforgettable memory of visiting a family where two sisters were each sponsored and one sister had numerous correspondence and the other sister had much, much fewer...and her facial expression definitely reflected this fact.  It was heart-breaking...not only to myself but others on the home-visit.”

Pat Bell shared this experience: “I met a little girl in Nicaragua on my first Compassion trip there who asked me why her sponsor didn't love her.  I was puzzled by the question until she went on to say that she never receives letters from her sponsor and she wondered what she did wrong.  That absolutely crushed me...especially considering I was to meet my child the next day and I had only written a couple times.  I thank God for using that little girl as a baseball bat up against my head to wake me up as to how my inaction was negatively impacting my sponsored child.  I am fortunate as I had the opportunity to apologize to him, his mother and the project worker for not writing.

Compassion makes it so easy for us, yet I think that we get so busy with our lives we just don't think about writing.  I am sure sponsors have no idea the impact not writing has on their child...I know I didn't.  A little girl taught me an important lesson.”
Beverly Antalek has this story to tell: “When I met Yaritza's project director, she thanked me for writing to Yaritza. She said many of the children never hear from their sponsors and it makes them so sad. I asked her if Yaritza receiving so MANY letters makes them sadder, and she said, "It doesn't matter. They are already sad." I think I will try harder to send extra "stuff" to Yaritza so she can share with the others who are "so sad."

Dannielle D.’s experience: “I made it a point on my trip last year, to ask kids if their sponsor writes. I saw their faces drop and demeanor change, as they answered no. I also saw the smiles, the running to grab them when the answer was yes. The question led to such a clear really happy or really sad response, that I almost wanted to stop asking. I didn't want to keep seeing the disappointment in their faces. Why did I keep asking? I wanted to come back and let other sponsors know that writing their children really is so important! They want to hear from us.”

And Cheri Duchrow said: “I once met a girl from Haiti and she had been sponsored for 13 years and never received a letter from her sponsor.  I met her after she had graduated from the program and our paths crossed here in the United States as she was finishing some schooling before going back to Haiti.  She said that every time they would call out names at the project to stay after she longed for her name to be called just once and it never was.  But she loved her sponsor and wrote her sponsor and prayed for her sponsor.  She knew that belonging to Compassion lifted her out of poverty and for that she was grateful.  After I met her we invited her to get together for our state advocate's meeting and we advocates and sponsors met with her several times before she went back.  We loved on her and before she went back to Haiti we all felt that God blessed her by bringing us together so she could meet other sponsors if not her own and we could extend to her the love her sponsor must have felt.

As for another story I have been a sponsor since 2003 and at first was not a great letter writer.  Until the day I received a report card from Firehiwot in Ethiopia indicating she had failed her grade in school in 2005.  That was a big eye-opener for me.  I felt I was responsible for not bringing her encouragement.  Since then I am happy to say I have ramped up my letter writing and aim for once a month to about 6 weeks in between letters and none of the individuals I sponsor have come close to failing!  Even if a sponsor can send the 2-3 letters a year it will make a difference.”
Cheri’s testimony brings to light a fact that I have heard many times.  In case after case, the children who receive letters, on average, do better in school than those who do not.
Jill from Compassion Family had an experience to share from a visit to Peru: “Last year in Peru - my one and only trip - we asked the kids we met if they could ask their sponsor anything, what would they ask. More than one child wanted to know why their sponsor didn't love them. We probed a little deeper to see what they meant and it turns out their sponsors don't write to them. They have translated this lack of communication into a lack of love - just heartbreaking!”
Lois is now a student at Moody Bible institute, but she wrote about her experience as a sponsored child in Uganda.
My sponsor, my hero. That she loved me, that she was praying for me, she took time off to think about me and write a letter to me. When she ask me what I want to be, that got me thinking seriously of my future and she kept bringing me back to that question as I grew older.  Because of that, I had to work harder to achieve my dreams. She told me what she was doing and that made me feel part of her life. She told me of her visit to her sisters and how they visited her, she told me about her work.  I felt that she told me everything about herself and I was part of her family.  So, I did likewise.  I love my relationship with my sponsor to this very day.  She showed me that I was precious to her.  She loved me and I loved her back.  Her love gave me a clear sight of hope for tomorrow.  I love my sponsor a lot.”
From these words, it is easy to see that your letters truly are crucial.  During the Compassion Bloggers trip to Guatemala last year, Lisa-Jo from the Gypsy Mama blog shared a post that is one of my all time favorites: Lame Sponsors of the World Unite. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it.

So, if you are thinking of getting involved with Compassion International, but you know that you simply do not have the time, energy or desire to write, I would suggest that you look into some of the other programs that are available, instead of the child sponsorship program.

The Child Survival Program is a great option.  Your support will help pregnant mothers and their babies in many different ways, but sponsors do not have the ability to send letters.

The Bite Back program provides mosquito bed nets, education to fight malaria and treatment to those infected.

You can donate to provide livestock, water filters, educational supplies and even latrines by giving a Gift of Compassion.

And there are more programs like this where you can help without writing letters!

If you are already a sponsor but you don’t write to your child, I would suggest looking to see if a family member or friend would be willing to write on your behalf. Otherwise, I would really like to urge you to contact Compassion and ask that they assign a correspondent for your child.  Just call 1-800-336-7676 and let the representative know you’re willing to let someone else write. There are many sponsors who are willing to do just that!

Please help me in spreading the word about this important message!  Share this post with sponsors! You are also always free to link to any of my posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or email! Together we can raise awareness for the importance of letters!  Hopefully, this will result in children happily hearing their name called on Mail Day at their project!
~Michelle