Monday, December 31, 2012

Mail Call Monday

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world.

These days, our little neck of the boonies looks like a winter wonderland.  My walk to the mailbox looks like this.

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It is an invigorating jaunt, to say the least. All around, the chatter of chickadees can be heard and I just love their sweet song.

We have been blessed to hear from two of our Compassion children in this past week.

I was surprised to receive another letter from our Alice in Kenya.

It seemed like we had just heard from her. Looking through our binder of letters I verified that we had received a letter from her just last month!

Alice is such a sweet girl who has taken to signing her letters with, “Your lovely friend, Alice”. That just makes me smile!

In her most recent letter, Alice tells us that on November 11th they had something called Compassion Sunday at her project.  They prepared songs, poems and dances and each of the families were given rice, beans, potatoes and cabbages.

She goes on to tell us that their plans include having Christmas carols on December 13th. She said that they have been given new clothes and shoes for this program, so I wonder if this is when they celebrate Christmas at the project.

Lastly, Alice tells us that they had a teens camp planned for December 27th. Having received this letter on the 26th, we were all excited to know about this event in advance and were praying that Alice had a wonderful time on that day.

On the back of Alice’s letter was this drawing, which I love!

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On Friday we received a letter from Mkapa in Tanzania.

 

Mkapa’s short letter let us know that he and his family are doing fine and that he is getting ready for his second term exams in school. He also tells us that he is doing well at the center and with his Bible studies. He closes by asking that we keep him in prayer and he will do the same.

Today, I made the walk to and from the mailbox four times, hopeful that we might have a reason to Happy Dance, but our mail-lady didn’t leave anything wonderful for us.

What about you? Did you receive any letters from your sponsored children recently? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

If you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Also, if you participate in Mail Call Monday, I am also going to ask that you visit at least one other participant and read and comment on their post! Thank you!

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(Just a quick side note, I am giving away a copy of Wess Stafford’s newest book, Just a Minute, on the BFTB FB page! If you’re interested, please hop over and “like” the page and comment on the give-away post!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Correspondence Connections

As a new feature of BFTB, I’ll be sharing ideas for letter writing at least once a month!

This morning, we woke up to this.

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Over the last 24 hours, an astounding sixteen inches of snow fell in our area.  If I had not already written 3 letters to all of our Compassion children this month, I would have hopped online to share this photo and describe the snowfall.

As it is, the letter I had sent online earlier in the week focused on snow. We had gotten our first accumulation of the season. (Last year was odd in that we barely had any snow at all!)

I shared pictures of our girls enjoying the snow and described the process of dressing and preparing to play outside in the winter.

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I also sent a picture of our dog in the snow, as many of our children have enjoyed seeing pictures of him in the past.

Then, I described the beauty that can be found in snowflakes.

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This photograph, by “Snowflake Bentley” fit well in the vertical space for photos on Compassion online letter writing tool. I went on to share how each snowflake is unique and that God also made each person wonderfully unique. I reinforced that each child was made special and one of a kind - that even twins have details and features that are different than their siblings.

“When God created you, I think He did a wonderful job! The Bible says that even the hairs on your head are numbered, which means that God knows even the little details about you.”

Maybe you do not live where it snows, and you don’t wish to send a snow-themed letter. This month, I also wrote to our children to share our activities during this December.

I shared how our girls were in a concert with some of their friends. They were excited to dress up and perform but were also a bit nervous.

I wrote about how we visit seniors in a nearby nursing home and how we feel led to share the love of Jesus with the residents, especially during the holidays.

I told about our town’s winter festivals and how there was a special project this year that involved painting a wooden cut-out of a snowman.

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I wrote that, with this design I painted, that I hoped to remind others that Jesus is the “reason for the season” we’re celebrating.

Lastly, I shared a picture of our Christmas tree and described the process of bringing it in and decorating it. In years past, many of our Compassion children have remarked about the Christmas tree pictures we have sent.

An interesting conversation came up on OurCompassion recently.  One member shared that she hesitated to mention or share pictures of her Christmas tree (among other things) because she didn’t want to be insensitive.

As I shared on the Blogging from the Boonies Facebook page and also OurCompassion:

“I've had the opportunity to talk to several Compassion graduates about letter writing. What I was told is that these children absolutely know that our lives are vastly different. They know we have "American" houses and vehicles. They desire to know as much about us as we do about them.
Being sensitive is good but being *too* sensitive can keep us from sharing things our children long to know about us. Send them a picture of your Christmas tree! We have and our Compassion children have *loved* seeing it! Many thought it was funny to bring a tree into your house!
Send them a picture of your church, your library, your town. Let them get a picture of the things you enjoy and they will feel closer to you! Sure, you do not want to send a picture of a pile of presents, but please don't let hyper-sensitivity keep you from sharing glimpses of your life!”

Maybe you’ve been inspired to work on some letters to your Compassion children.  If you’re still not sure what to write, check out the links in my sidebar listed under Most Popular Posts!

If you’re a sponsor who has shared your letter writing topics recently, please feel free to link up and share!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

jesus

May your heart be lifted in praise this Christmas

for the wonderful gift of Jesus

and the joy He brings to our lives.

Have a wonderful Christmas

and a Blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday’s this and That

Outside my window… My view of our back yard and back deck is rather gray and drab except for the sight of chickadees and other feathered friends having lunch.

Around the house… Beside me, the dishwasher hums, drowning out the sound of Christmas carols on the radio. My girls are happily chattering at the dining room table, working on cards for the seniors we will be visiting tomorrow.

On the agenda… I’m working on handwritten letters to our Compassion children again today.  I end up doing just a couple a day in between bursts of housework.

Tomorrow, the girls and I are going to be ringing the bell for the Salvation Army kettle in the morning and then joining our friends for some caroling at a nearby senior center.

I am inspired by… the recent 26 Acts of Kindness movement that is happening right now. As someone who really struggles with processing the tragedy of the shooting in Connecticut last week, this has been a bit of news that I’ve been happy to read. If you would like to participate or learn more, you can visit the 26 Acts Facebook page. If you are not on Facebook, this article also shares details. It is heartwarming to see all of the ways that people are reaching out and doing good in the face of this unspeakable incident.

Will you participate in this 26 Acts of Kindness movement? Do you have any specific things you hope to do to in honor of this nation-wide expression of giving? If so, please share!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Mail Call Monday

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world.

Today’s walk to the mailbox did not reward me with any letters from our children, however I did find a big envelope from Compassion that made me smile.

A few weeks ago, I sent an email asking if I could have some of the Step Into Your Children’s World brochures for the countries where our correspondents live.  We’ve received them for our sponsored children and I have really enjoyed reading through them and learning more about where our children live.

Today’s envelope held all of these!

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I am looking forward to sitting down for a while later today and reading through the stack!

On Friday, we were blessed to be connected with two more correspondent children. Both are 15 year old girls. Elin lives in El Salvador, a new country for us, and Meenadevi lives in East India. I will have to email and request an El Salvador brochure soon!

What about you? Did you receive any letters from your sponsored children recently? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

If you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Also, if you participate in Mail Call Monday, I am also going to ask that you visit at least one other participant and read and comment on their post! Thank you!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Correspondents Needed!

About two weeks ago, Compassion International put out a call on their Facebook page.  A generous person had sponsored many children and there was a need for 250 correspondents. Many of my friends volunteered to take on and write to more children and I have loved seeing who they have been matched up with.

Yesterday, Compassion put out the same call, only this time they have 300 children who need correspondents.  Sharing their post on Facebook:

Here’s something to brighten your Thursday- We have another 300 correspondent children available right now. These children have sponsors that can’t write for a variety of reasons, and we’re looking for some of you who would be willing to write them a minimum of three times per year. You may request one correspondent child by emailing us at ciinfo@us.ci.org with a subject line of “Attention: Janna”

. Here are some guidelines:
- Only one child per sponsor. If we have more children available, we will assign you another child.
- You may request a child even if you already have three (the current maximum) and even if you already requested one from the previous 250 we had available.
- You will receive an email letting you know you have been added to the list.
- We love talking to you, but in order to serve sponsors as best we can, we are only able to accept these requests by email.
- You will receive your new correspondent child’s packet in the mail in 2-3 weeks.
- There is no financial commitment to correspond with a child.
- At this time, we are only able to accept sponsors who live in the US.

Maybe you have the time and resources to write to another Compassion child.  If so, follow the steps outlined in the quote above.

As a correspondent sponsor, you will be the one providing love and encouragement to the child and you will be the person that they write to.  You also have the opportunity to send financial gifts for birthdays or just because. (In our case, most of our correspondent children do not receive birthday gifts or financial gifts of any kind from their financial sponsor. We budget those gifts in when considering taking on more correspondents.)

I did not take Compassion up on the offer when they initially had the 250 children needing correspondents, but I did email after hearing they needed people to write to 300 more. So, sometime next week, I look forward to seeing a new face on our Compassion account and welcoming a new child to our Compassion family!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Mail Call Monday

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world.

Today, the walk to the mailbox was cold and rainy but I was hopeful that I’d find a cream colored envelope waiting for me.  The stack of mail was unusually large, but in the middle of the pile I caught a glimpse of something cream colored. (My mother in law lives with us and has three Compassion children of her own, so a glimpse of cream is not a sure sign that I’ll be doing my own Happy Dance at the mailbox.)

Sorting through the pile, I was happy to find a letter for us and another for my mother in law. Our letter was from Kwagala Deborah.

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KD was the girl I couldn’t get out of my mind over a year ago, after seeing her on the Compassion International website.  She and her sisters had been abandoned by her mother after her father died and my heart was drawn to try to help. I felt led to see if I could arrange a co-sponsorship and I have been blessed to have many people come along side us to sponsor Kwagala.

This letter that arrived today managed to have me bawling my eyes out as I walked back to the house.

“I am happy to know that you believe in me and you take me as your daughter. Is it ok for me to start calling you my father and mother? Because you care about me.”

What a profound question and one that grips my heart and makes me both sad and filled with an indescribable love.

It also reaffirms what I have been feeling for a while now.  I need to put effort into fundraising for a trip to Uganda to visit Kwagala before she graduates from the program. I want to be able to put my arms around my sweet daughter and let her know that she will always have my heart and my support.

What about you? Did you receive any letters from your sponsored children recently? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

If you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Also, if you participate in Mail Call Monday, I am also going to ask that you visit at least one other participant and read and comment on their post! Thank you!

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Friday, December 7, 2012

What We Really Need This Christmas…

Peace

grace

patience

Joy

Mercy

beauty

happyness

What better

Gift

could we give this year?

(You can click on each child’s picture to take a look at their profile!)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ebb and Flow

When it comes to many of the commonly known blogging rules, I think that I break most of them. That one about posting regularly, it doesn’t always work for me.

Life in our household is not always predictable and some seasons bring more free time than others. I’m blessed to be able to homeschool our daughters, and thankful that we’re able to participate in a number of activities during the week. We’ve got horseback riding lessons, LEAH science class, library craft classes, community service, YMCA classes and many other things on our calendar.

All this is to say, there are times when real life keeps me so busy that blogging gets pushed to the back burner. Computer time gets shifted to five minutes here and ten minutes there and I don’t have a solid 20 minutes or more to compose a blog post.

So, I would like to invite you to join the Blogging From The Boonies Facebook community, where I am more likely to pop in or share when life gets busy. I check in there at least once a day to answer questions or messages and I try to share interesting things to get conversation going.

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I’ll be putting up blog posts as time allows, but I would love to see you on the BFTB Facebook page, too!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New stationary!

I love the online letter writing tool that is found on the Compassion International website.  I end up using it at least once a month and really appreciate the ability to attach up to three photos to the letters we send to our children around the world.

However, I felt like the selection of stationary templates was lacking enough options for boys, specifically older boys. Month after month, I choose one of a few sports themed templates for the young men.

In September, when a Compassion employee on OurCompassion asked how our experience has been with the Compassion website, and the online letter writing tool, I shared that I would love more options for templates. Several others said that they felt the same way. That employee took our request seriously and even asked for some suggestions for new templates.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to find out that several new templates have been added to the online letter writing tool!

map

                  map2

 

3crosses                   cross

 

birds                  leaves

 

dandelions                   fabric

 

snow

Plus, if I am not mistaken, I think that a couple of the Christmas themed templates may be new as well!

I had planned to write a snow themed letter in the near future, so I am excited to have a snow themed stationary to write it on!

Has it been a while since you’ve written to your Compassion children? Maybe this new stationary is a good excuse to hop over to your account on the Compassion International website and send some love and encouragement today!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Mail Call Monday

Several Mondays each month, Compassion International sponsors link up to share the news from their sponsored children around the world.

I didn’t post a Mail Call Monday post last week because I was busy taking care of my sore and hurting husband following his car accident. I did have letters to share, though, so I’ll share them today!

First, a letter from Precious in Ghana.

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After the changes in the letter writing system were put in place last year, our twice monthly letters from Precious were cut back drastically. Add that to the use of form letters and we’ve been missing the connection we used to have with our girlie from Ghana.

Still, we’re thankful to hear from her when we do. This most recent letter contained just a few sentences, but the opening one was enough to make me tear up.

Precious says that she loves you so very much and thank you for your good sponsorship.”

Precious also tells us that she is learning how to take care of children. This makes me smile, knowing what a connection Precious has with my daughter Kaya.  Kaya absolutely adores taking care of babies and toddlers and will be taking the Red Cross babysitting course next weekend.

Precious shared some prayer requests for her parents’ sales in the market and a few colorful drawings on the back of the letter.

The next letter is from Bertille in Burkina Faso.

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Bertille tells us that it brings her great joy to be able to write to us! (I’ll be sure to tell her that it brings us great joy to read her letter!) She also tells us that she has a good average in school and she is moving up to grade 6. School vacation started for her on July 17 and the family planned to visit an aunt in Ouaga. Bertille tells us that the rainy season came to her area and she asks about rain here.

So many of our children tell us about rainy seasons and ask if we’re getting rain. It is always a reminder of how our families around the world are really affected by their weather. I am reminded just how blessed we are with a house that keeps up warm and dry and a food supply that doesn’t change too much depending on the season.

I walked back and forth to the mailbox a few times today, checking to see if the mail lady had come to visit. I enjoyed the little treks, a few of which included snow falling all around me. However, there was no Happy Dance waiting for me in the bundle of envelopes and catalogs that were finally delivered this afternoon.

What about you? Did you receive any letters from your sponsored children recently? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section or by joining our Mail Call link-up below!

If you join in on the Mail Call, please be sure to tell your readers that you’re linking up with Blogging From The Boonies’ Mail Call Monday and link back to this post! You’re free to grab the Mail Call image at the top of this post as well!

Also, if you participate in Mail Call Monday, I am also going to ask that you visit at least one other participant and read and comment on their post! Thank you!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful

Yesterday afternoon, my husband took a drive to stop by and visit a friend. As he was going up a hill, he suddenly hit an area covered in black ice. (Black ice is a very thin coating of nearly invisible ice on a road surface.)

All at once, he lost control of the vehicle and veered to the left. At a speed of about 45 miles per hour, he went straight into an embankment. The car then twisted and took a second impact on the passenger side.

It wasn’t until today, when we went to visit the site of the accident to look for some lost items, that I realized how lucky Jay was. While he walked away with bruises and scrapes, it could have been so much worse.

As I said, when he lost control, the car went to the left into the bank. At the site, my heart dropped when I saw what was on the right hand side of the road.

A steep drop-off and no guard-rail.

Staring down into the ravine, it was easy to see that his injuries would have been a lot more serious or even fatal if his car had skidded to the right.

So, today I am just so thankful to the Lord for protecting my husband. His scrapes will heal. The stiffness and soreness will leave his body in time.

He is alive.

The worries we’ve had were suddenly shifted into perspective.

Thank you, Lord, for protecting my husband!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Correspondence Connections

It dawned on me today.

Despite the fact that I have a heart to help sponsors with their letter writing ministry to their sponsored children, it has been a while since I have posted on that subject.

As I shared in one of my most popular posts, Yes, Letters Really ARE That Important, letters from sponsors go a long way to battle the lies that poverty whispers.

You’re not important. You don’t matter.

If you can commit to writing to your sponsored child on a regular basis, sending some words of encouragement and love, you will provide something so precious. Something that is possibly life-changing.

Today, I am launching a new Blogging from the Boonies series, Correspondence Connections. (Can you tell that I like alliteration?)

At least once a month, I’ll publish a Correspondence Connections post and share a little from our letters to our sponsored children. I may also highlight other tips or links for items to include with your packages.

These posts will have the option to link up, so if you are a blogger who has letter writing ideas, please feel free to join in!

This weekend, I will be using Compassion International’s handy online letter writing tool to send messages and photos to our family around the world. With a growing number of children, I am thankful for the ability to duplicate our online letters and personalize the opening and closing for each child.

I like to share church activities with our sponsor children and so I will be telling them all about the Harvest Dinner we had after our service last Sunday. I’ll mention how blessed we are to be able to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and how important our church family is to us. I will also tell our children how Kaya’s birthday was last Sunday and what a treat it was to be able to celebrate her day at church. Romans 10:12 may be a good verse to include.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,

in honor giving preference to one another

I have a few pictures from the Harvest Dinner that will go nicely with the letter, too!

If I have room, I hope to also share this month’s memory verse and tell the children that we’ve had a little bit of snow already this month.

Have you written to your sponsor children yet this month?  If so, what did you write about? Feel free to share in the comments section or link up below!

Also, don’t forget to check out the posts on this subject that are listed on the right under Most Popular Posts!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday’s This & That

Outside… Overnight temps in the 20s means that everything was covered with icy frost crystals when I woke up this morning.

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My morning routine… When I open my eyes in the morning, I usually have to push at least one cat off of me before I can sit up. I say good morning to God and then make my way to the kitchen.  Usually my girls are already awake but are playing up in their room. If Luna hasn’t already fed the cats, I tend to that first so that they don’t keep trying to trip me.

Then, during the cold months, I tend to the primitive practice of starting a fire to warm the house. If we have done a good job of filling the wood stove the night before, there will at least be some embers left in the morning. Thanks to my carpenter husband’s steady supply of scrap wood, I usually have plenty of good kindling to get the fire going.  Once the flames and growing, crackling a popping, I am free to get my coffee and sit and wake up for a while.

Right now… Christmas carols are playing on the internet radio while my girls pack and prepare for their YMCA classes later today. Looking around, I have a bit of tidying to do before we leave for the afternoon. I will have to multi-task as the girls work on their learning this morning, that’s for sure!

I am thankful… for the reminder that, even when things seem tough for us, we truly are blessed.

I am praying… I have been hearing about so many people going through tough times, so my prayer list has been extra long as of late. 

I am also praying over the team of Compassion Bloggers who are in Peru right now. If you haven’t been following their posts, you can click here and see them all in one place.

Also, if you can, try to share the posts with those people in your sphere of influence. The goal of these trips is to bring a personal, first-hand account of the work of Compassion to a large audience. Like the work of Compassion Advocates, we work to plant seeds in the hearts of people and leave it up to God to harvest the fruit that comes from sponsorship.

Will you plant some seeds and share a post or two today? Which posts have moved you most so far?

If you have a little bit of “this and that” blog post to share today, please feel free to link up below!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What’s in the Bible?

My girls attend AHAPWA at a nearby church that has a wonderful lending library. A few weeks ago, I saw that they had many new DVDs and books on display.  I had heard of the What’s in the Bible DVD series before but had never watched them.

We brought the first and second DVDs of the series home and my girls were excited to sit down and check them out.

What's In The Bible

From Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer, these videos are highly engaging. I admit, several times while watching with my girls, I found myself giggling or outright laughing at the muppet-like characters. I actually learned some new things as well!

Using loveable characters and catchy songs, the series walks children and families through the books of the Bible in a way that is fun and easy to understand.

Now that we’ve watched the first two DVDs in the series, we’re eager to borrow the others and watch them as well!

If you’re interested in checking out the What’s in the Bible series, I have a link for 20% off of your purchase. Just click here! (As an added bonus, I will get a $5 gift certificate for any purchases made through my link! What a blessing!)

These DVDs would make a great gift or addition to your home library and they are also a great resource for Sunday school and churches!

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