Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving Presence

There is no denying the fact that the holiday season is in full swing.

As soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten, we’re ready to deck the halls and crank up the Christmas carols.

This year, I’ve been inspired to take a bit of time to give “presence” to my girls as we prepare for Christmas.

For the first time, this year we plan to take part in Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Journey. I am really looking forward to sharing each day’s reading and hanging the ornament on our little branch of a tree.

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I also plan to have a fun craft or activity planned for every day.

We tried our hand at making yarn ornaments recently and they really look sweet!

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In the coming days, we will be making what Luna calls “cookie-mans”, crafting decorations and ornaments, making cards for soldiers and enjoying the “presence” of being together.

What does your family like to do during this time of year?

Do you have any ideas for fun crafts or activities for us? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Mail Call!

It was an uneventful week for us as far as letters from our Compassion kids go! However, we have received many beautiful birthday cards from the co-sponsors of lovely Kwagala Deborah!

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Looking at the stack of beautiful cards filled with encouraging words fills me with a sense of awe at what is possible when people join together for one cause.  This Group Effort sponsorship has been such a wonderful experience as I have been able to see the fruit that comes from following God’s whisper on my heart.

I know that our sweet KD will be blessed to receive these tokens of our love.

Did you receive any mail from your sponsored children over the last week? 

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Friday, November 25, 2011

On This Black Friday…

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

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

“God gives the world enough of what it needs.

He just doesn’t distribute it.

We will have to share.”

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

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

What about nine year old Foster, from my beloved GH220? He is waiting, one of the very last children to be chosen in his whole project. Can you imagine how that feels?

Praise the Lord, Foster has been sponsored!

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Because Foster has been sponsored, I'd like to focus on Sarah (Abena) from Ghana, who is an orphan. You can see her profile here.

I’d like to close with this powerful video. Please take a few minutes to watch and share!

Food for thought on this day after Thanksgiving, a day where we count all of the blessings we have. We do have “enough”.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Like just about everyone, my mind is wandering today towards things I am thankful for.  The list goes on and on.  Family. Provision. The freedom to follow our Faith. I could probably sit here for hours, without coming to the end of my Thankful List.

This morning, tears came to my eyes when I received the news of another child sponsored.

When JD went to visit our Precious in Ghana, she was able to visit the Child Development Center that Precious attends.  While I have had nothing but super things to say about project GH220, until JD shared the information, I didn’t know that they were officially awarded with the recognition of being the best project in Ghana.

It comes as no surprise, though. They are so good about sending letters to sponsors and even photos with every financial gift that is given to the children.

I have come to love GH220 and have taken the project under my wing, so to speak. I smiled when I read JD’s account of her visit there.

“This Compassion project is part of the Wesleyan Methodist church in this community, and currently serves more than 200 children, 8 of which are registered but still waiting for sponsors.  I told them Michelle would work on that :o)”

Ahhh, my sister knows me well, doesn’t she?

I contacted Compassion and they’ve looked for the remaining GH220 children that are waiting for sponsors.  After some checking, I was sent the packets for two children.

Before even posting them here on the blog, little Francisca was chosen by a friend.

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I imagine that her smile will grow even bigger when she receives the news that a wonderful family has stepped up to sponsor her!

That leaves a handsome young man named Foster.

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Foster is also nine years old.  He lives with his parents and 3 siblings. He enjoys soccer and reading and is considered to be average in school.

I’d love to find a sponsor for him.  Is he perhaps pulling at your heart?  Would you like any more information about him? If so, please let me know through a comment or by using the Contact Form on the right hand side of the page.

I am thankful for the family that decided to sponsor Francisca!  What a wonderful way to show gratitude for the blessings God has given us!

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Mail Call!

With the flurry of letters that graced our mailbox two weeks ago, it came as no surprise that our jaunts to the mailboxes weren’t very exciting last week. 

I was happy to find a letter from Mkapa in Tanzania waiting for us this afternoon, though.

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In Mkapa’s letter, he tells us that this past August marked the ten year anniversary of the opening of his Child Development Center.  They celebrated and welcomed the District Commissioner as a gust of honor. They shared some of the things they’ve been working on, such as songs and poems as well as the vocational training of carpentry.

Mkapa also shares that they are now learning some Christmas songs as they prepare for the holiday and he asks how we prepare to welcome Christmas.

Lastly, he asks for us to pray that his family will have peace.

Did you hear from any of your sponsored children this week?

I want to apologize for the lack of recent posts.  Friends, my heart has been aching and my mind has been in Ghana and with the children of Lake Volta.

If you don’t know what I am referring to, please take a few minutes and read these compelling posts by my sister-friend JD.

Yes, my heart has been broken by the stories and images. Like the story of Compassion International founder, Everett Swanson, I cannot escape the thought, “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”

We have to do something.

Maybe, right now, it is to pray fervently and to spread awareness. Can you help in this cause?  Can you pick out one post from JD’s recent trip and share it through social networking, blogging or email?

Also, please connect with the BFTB blog by one of more of the following ways!



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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Heart-Break

I had planned a light-hearted post today, but after reading through JD’s most recent blog post, I can’t bring myself to publish it.

Please, take a few minutes to read this post.

My heart is broken and I cannot help but think that these stories need to be told.  If you could share the link above on Facbook or your blog, we can raise awareness.

My friends have come face to face with slavery and I am heartbroken over the lifeless, hopeless faces.

 

I’m left without words.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Mail Call

It would be an understatement to say that this has been a blessed week as far as Compassion International is concerned.

JD’s post about her visit with our Precious has been read countless times by the members of our family.  Personally, I can’t get through it without crying and my heart fluttering. It has blessed us all in ways that cannot be put into words.

Then, as if that was not enough, we’ve been showered with letters from our Compassion family around the world.

We heard from Yishak in Ethiopia.

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Yishak’s letters have been few and far between and they are generally very brief.  This most recent letter was a bit longer than the previous ones. He tells us how he is now registered in 8th grade for this new academic year which started on September 2nd.

Then, he shares that he has heard of adults and children that have been dying abroad by a flood and that he is praying about them with sorrow. He asks if we are paying about them.  I’m not sure what he is referring to here, but we get a glimpse into his emotions, which is new for us.

He ends the letter by saying that he bought a set of complete clothes and a pair of shoes with his birthday gift and the remainder was given to him “on hand”. The last sentence says, “I love you and I am happy for what God did for me.”

This was our seventh letter from Yishak in the two years that we’ve corresponded with him and that was our very first “I love you” from him.  A special letter, for sure!

We also heard from Precious this week.

DSC_6344 Ghana2011 SMALL Like all of her letters, this one was written by the project staff on her behalf.  She didn’t have much new to say, but I loved the drawings on the back which had a lovely yellow dress among the other items.  I can see the progress in her drawings and love seeing what things she draws for us.

I cannot wait to see what she has to say about her visit with JD and company!  Letters from her take just 3-4 weeks to arrive, so we won’t have to wait long!

We received two letters from our Rodrigo in Bolivia!

RodrigopicnikLetters from Rodrigo have been coming more frequently and he is such a sweet boy who shares interesting details about his life.

“Dear friends,

I send you greetings. I thank you for all that you offer me and I am happy to count you as my sponsors.

The weather has changed here and it is now just getting cold in the mornings and nights. Now we enter school earlier.  I like to go to school to meet with my classmates. We are in the 2nd quarter exams and I will do my best to get good grades and help my classmates. We also had parades and all the schools went to march and each one had their band that played different instruments like drums, zampona, bass drum and lyre. They played different rhythms and they practiced so much.

There is a song that we sing so much at the student center and it says, “We are little soldiers, servants of the Lord…”

So long with love,

Rodrigo”

Just a week later, he wrote this letter:

“Hello dear friends,

I greet you in the name of the Lord. Thanks for the letters that you sent to me. I am so glad to be able to write to you.

It is getting very hot here. I am studying hard. I like to attend the project of Compassion and I am learning many things. I’m studying hard. (I wonder if he is studying hard?)

We have learned about Jesus and Creation.  I have good friends.  I think that Colorado is an interesting state because you went to know the brothers and sisters of Compassion.  I’ve never been in an airplane but I think that it is an amazing experience.

We are in the spring and flowers are growing. Everything is beautiful.

The project of Compassion went to an excursion and went to the museum of Pedro Domingo Murillo but I couldn’t participate because I had to take a test. My friends told me that they learned an interesting history. I say goodbye with a lot of affection,

Rodrigo” 

Aren’t his letters wonderful?  When I read about our history-loving boy missing a trip to the museum, I was heartbroken for him.  He has told us many times how much he loves learning about history and old things.

So I used my Google-Fu skills and searched for websites in Spanish that talked about this museum.  I was able to copy quite a bit of text from various sites as well as pictures. I pasted everything into a word document and sent the little booklet to Rodrigo the same day we got his letter.  It may not be like getting to visit the museum, but hopefully he will “learn an interesting history” from the pages!

On Saturday, we received a bigger beige envelope from Compassion, which sometimes means there is a photo inside.  I tore into it to find that I was right!  We' were blessed with a “just because” photo of Alice in Kenya with her family!

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That is our sweet Alice in the back.  I love her smile!

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I was so happy to get a picture of Alice with her parents and sister. What an unexpected blessing!

Alice’s letter was also written in English instead of Swahili, like the previous ones have been.

Dear friends,

First, I hank our heavenly Father for giving us the chance to write to each other.

:insert heart melting here:

I hope that you are fine with my sisters Nico, Kaya and Luna. I’ve received your letters and the wonderful books.  I was so happy that I started coloring Jesus Is Alive.

Our house is made up of timber. We have two bedroom and one living room. Before I got a new mattress from you I used to share the bed with my sister.  In our church we have learned a memory verse Matthew 5:3-10.  I want to tell you that my talent is athletics. What is your talent? I am thanking you also because of the gifts you have sent me. I bought many things like pull-over, mattress, socks, books and pens.

In our family, we have a new born baby and she is a girl.  It is my sister’s baby. (She has two older sisters, and I am assuming that one of them had a baby.) In your family do you have anything new? I want to tell you that my favorite teacher is called teacher Esther and my favorite animal is a dog.  I like dogs because they are good. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.

May you pray for me to live many yeas on this earth. I will also pray for you and your family. God bless you.

Your friend,

Alice”

This letter was so sweet and I was impressed with Alice’s English!

Monday’s are usually great mail days for us, but I am going to publish this post before the mail comes.  I’ve got a cold that is kicking my behind and the body aches and chills make the 1/4 mile walk to the mailbox in cold drizzle sound less than appealing. (I don’t do it often, but I may just drive to the mailbox later today! lol )

If you have a Mail Call post to share, please feel free to link up below!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Praise

What a week it has been!

Much of the week was spent lifting up our friends in Ghana and praying for their mission.

Truthfully, my mind has been in Ghana quite a bit.

This post about JD and company meeting Precious and her family is such a gift to us.  One that I could read ten, twenty, thirty times in a day and each time it gives me tingles, makes me cry and my heart swell.

I find myself thinking, “I’m not worthy of all of of this…” ~ This experience, this path, these treasures and these families. But, I am so thankful.

Then, I look at the two beautiful girls that God has placed in our home. 

Luna, full of spunk, belts out praise songs at the top of her voice and encourages everyone around her to put their hands up and praise the Lord.

Kaya, with her deeply generous heart, again gives away some of her birthday presents to friends and her sister, just like she’s done every year since she was two.

My husband, who has worked over 100 hours in the last two weeks, spends part of his Saturday (his only day off in two weeks AND his birthday) helping a friend put a roof on their house.

Reflecting on all that I am blessed with, I am so thankful.  Thankful beyond what can be put into words.

Sharing this song with you this morning. I hope that you have a blessed day!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kaya Jade

Today, our sweet girl turns ten years old! It was a bit too cold to take some pictures of her outdoors, so we took a few indoors.

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We’re so blessed to have this caring, generous, compassionate and creative girlie!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

What a Beautiful Gift!

It would be an understatement to say that our family is just blown away by the amazing gift that was given to us thanks to JD, Debra, Tia and Josh, along with our awesome God.

This spectacular blog post has been read, re-read and re-re-read since it was posted yesterday.  The pictures and words elicit so many different responses from the everyone in our home. We lift up a chorus of, “Awwwwww!” at some of the pictures, we giggle at others and some make us tingle. 

The words combined with pictures touch our hearts and cause us to have to mop our faces with tissues.

Personally, I am just in awe.  I look at the path that our Creator has laid out for our family so far and I feel grateful and, in many ways, unworthy. 

I can look at various points since that wonderful day in June 2009 when we clicked the “Sponsor This Child” button on the Compassion International website, and it is so clear to me when God has nudged me along and shaped me into an advocate for these children.  So many times, I would hesitate on one thing or another, only to have that pull on my heart grow so strong it was impossible to ignore.

The whole experience has been incredible and full of gifts.  From the indescribable feeling of being used in this way to the unmistakable love we have for our families around the world, these are gifts we treasure.

(Lord, I don’t really feel as if I deserve all of these gifts, but I just thank you for blessing us with them. We know that every good and perfect gift is from above.)

This morning, I am again pouring through the pictures provided by JD and company. 

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Love.

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Love.

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Love, love, love.

Thank you, Lord, for these amazing gifts!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tears, Tears and More Tears

As Luna said a few moments ago, “Luna is crying for joy agaaaaain!”

JD just posted this account of meeting our Precious.  As my husband and I read it, several times we had to stop and cry it out before we could continue.

I am sort of at a loss for words, but my heart is just so full and thankful.

Please pray for the team as they travel to the Lake Volta region!

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Posting Through Tears

As you know, my friends are in Ghana right now and if you've been following the journey on JD's blog, you know that it started out with one bump after another. We were told that yesterday was the day that they were supposed to stop by the GH220 project and meet our Precious, but through the course of the day I started to wonder if another hurdle had kept them from making that appointment.

My attempts to limit internet time were thrown out the window as I left FB on for most of the afternoon and evening, checking for word from anyone from the team.

Finally, a post from JD popped up and then one from Debra. I held my breath, waiting to see if they would post about some obstacle that kept them from visiting the children.

Then, Debra said this,” Michelle, We can not even WAIT to share our experience with Precious with you. :)”

I exhaled with relief and joy and then the tears came.

Tears of joy and tears of love slid down my cheek. The love we feel for our beautiful children around the world is really quite miraculous. It is a strong and solid heart connection that can reach across oceans.

I went to bed hoping that there might be some more info or even some pictures available this morning.

JD was able to post a couple of photos on Facebook overnight and I woke up to the loveliest of sights.

PrincePreciousKenneth Prince, Precious and Kenneth in their classroom at the GH220 Child Development Center.

I absolutely lost it when I laid my eyes on the second picture, though.

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Our beautiful, beautiful, wonderful, lovely girl, Precious.

Everytime I look into these eyes, mine tear up.

With these wonderful pictures to gaze upon, I can wait for the details of JD and Debra’s visit with Precious. If you want to read about their visit with their other sponsor children, you can do so here: Ghana : Day Threesig

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday and while we may not be in a place where we are ready to adopt an orphan, there are other ways to help.

This is Cecilia, a sweet girl who lives in Ghana.  Esi is an orphan and she lives with her aunt.

Esi She has been on my heart for a few weeks now.  Even though I have shown her to my husband and given him puppy dog eyes, he hasn’t given me the nod that we can go ahead and sponsor her.  I’ve nonchalantly left the computer with her bio page on the screen, but she hasn’t caught his eye like she has mine.

Esi is from Ghana, a country that has captured my heart.  Knowing that she is an orphan, I feel a maternal call to comfort and support her.  But, it is just not meant to be right now.

Maybe she is also calling to you?

Maybe you’re able to fulfill the scripture that says to “look after orphans…in their distress.”

I sincerely long to be able to sponsor this beautiful girl, but my heart would to rejoice to learn that she has been chosen by a loving sponsor who will minister to her and support her and she grows.

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Sunday Praise

A friend posted this video on Facebook during the week.

Aren’t little Mandi and Olivia so cute?

Well, this video, along with the others posted by Mandi’s mom, have inspired my Kaya Jade to work at learning some Jamie Grace songs on the keyboard.  She spent over five hours yesterday, figuring out chords.

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First thing this morning, she’s back at the keyboard bright and early!

Little does she know that on her birthday on Friday, she will be getting her very own ukulele! (That is, if UPS delivers it on time!) To top it off, this morning I found a message on Facebook from a local friend who has a student guitar that they’d like to pass on to Kaya as well.  Exciting!

Kaya has always loved to sing, but it took seeing another sweet little girl playing music to inspire her to give it a try herself!

In other news, my friends JD, Debra and Tia could use your prayers.  Their travels to Ghana have been filled with bumps along the way.

First, JD had trouble with her ticket, as you can read on this post: Ticket Revoked.

Then, Debra’s flight to Dulles was delayed for hours and hours.

Then, she made it to Dulles with barely enough time to board the flight to Ghana.  Once on board, they were all told to get off of the plane because of an issue with the hydraulics and their flight was postponed for 14 hours.  This jeopardizes their visits to two of JD’s Compassion children on Monday.

Please, will you join me in praying that these hurdles are pushed aside and that they can get to Ghana without any more issues?

I’ll keep you posted as thei trip progresses, or you can follow on their Facebook page: Child Slavery Rescue Mission

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday’s This & That

Around the house… Vivaldi is on the radio while my girls work on their learning.  The woodstove is going and several of the pets have been drawn to the warmth and are snoozing peacefully nearby.

Outside of the window… most of the trees have lost their leaves, but I can still enjoy watching squirrel acrobatics on the bare branches.  The furry little guys have been collecting nuts at a frenzied pace and they are so entertaining to watch!

My week… has been an exercise in restraint and balance.  A few times last week, I had been given a clear message about time-management and priorities. While I deeply love advocating for Compassion and my ministry to the children and sponsors of the organization, I also can find myself devoting more time to the cause than to other things. On any given week, I can spend up to and over 30 hours on Compassion related activities, including time spent reading blogs by those who share my passion. 

Fueled by the thrill of finding sponsors for children and inspiring sponsors in their personal ministries, as well as the knowledge that I am being used by God, I could easily devote many more hours a week.

However, with only so many hours in the day, it has become easy for me to let other things slide.  The overwhelming message that has been placed on my heart lately is the reminder that my time and energy needs to be spent wisely.  Balance is key.  My first ministry needs to be to my home and my family that God has blessed me with. With that, I need to keep my online time in check and be mindful of the daily balance.

My prayers…  have been with my friends JD and Debra as they prepare for their trip to Ghana. They still have some fundraising to do, and could use help financially and in prayer. 

Ghana : Trusting in the Provider

I am so thrilled that they will be able to help with the building of the school but I also know that the trip will not be easy.  I can only imagine how difficult it will be to see the reality of children who are held as slaves in the fishing industry on Lake Volta. To know that, for as many children have been rescued by Mr. Achibra, there are many more who still wake early each morning and spend every day on the boats.

When we have the feeling that we cannot do much from the sidelines, we need to remember the importance of prayer.  Everyone is capable of devoting some time in prayer.  Will you join me in praying for this trip, the children of Lake Volta and those who desire to rescue them from their captivity?

For those who sponsor a child in GH220… would you please do me a favor and contact me through the contact form?

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  Please let me know the full name of your child there and I will pass it on to JD, who may be able to take some extra photos of your child if all of the project children are there when they visit GH220 on the 8th. (By contacting me through the form on the right, I will also have your email address on file and will be able to email pictures to you after the trip!)

Lastly, a few photos from this week…

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The mornings have been frosty, here in the boonies, but I am thankful for our warm home and efficient woodstove.

Hoping you all are well! Don’t forget to follow BFTB via email, Facebook or Google Reader, so that you don’t miss any upcoming posts!



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