Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Love!

Today is the birthday of a very special young lady.
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Kwagala, her name meaning love, truly is loved by so many. 
Months ago, I was looking through the Compassion International website and my eyes fell on a face with a sweet and gentle countenance.  When I clicked and read more about Kwagala Deborah, I found that she did not live with her parents.  Initially, the bio said that she lived at the project, but I later found out that she lives in a children’s home with her sister. Her father had died and her mother had, for some reason, given up her role as a parent.
I felt the Lord urge me to ask if others would be willing to co-sponsor this beautiful girl.  The answer was a definite yes and we had nearly a year of sponsorship paid within a few days. We also had enough to send a financial gift and to pay for various gifts that my friend Sherry took to Uganda.
The goodness of the Lord’s timing was evident from the start of this sponsorship!
IMG_0829 My friend Sherry and Kwagala are on the right, in the middle of a shopping trip to purchase some new shoes and other necessities.
Today, on her birthday, I hope that Kwagala can feel the love reaching across the ocean to Uganda! I pray that the many cards and the financial gift that we sent to her bring a smile to her face and joy to her heart.

If you would like to be a part of this group sponsorship, please feel free to email me for details!

Happy birthday to a beautiful girl.  Kwagala Deborah, you are special and loved by many!
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

  • Temps are rising here in the boonies, which means that all of our beautiful snow is melting away and revealing a whole lot of mud. What an odd winter we’re having here in New York!

 

  • My day was brightened when I went to the mailbox and found a wonderful and encouraging card from a friend.  What a blessing it is to receive some love in a sunny yellow envelope!

 

  • Regarding the painful situation I wrote about last week, we have had a little bit of a breakthrough. I thank all of you who have lifted our family member up in prayer, as well as our entire family.  There is a long road before us, but some of the weight has been lifted for the moment.

 

  • I wanted to share just a hint of the entertainment we’re blessed with on any given day.  Last night, our five year old did a little dance to a PureNRG song called “When I Get To Heaven”. Don’t ask me where Luna gets her dance moves, but she cracks me up!  (The video uploaded much darker than it showed on my computer, but I turn on an overhead light 40 seconds into the show.)

 

If you haven’t already, please join us on the Blogging From The Boonies Facebook page!

The week has started off pretty good for our family and I hope that the same could be said for you and yours!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Taking Steps Towards Change

A few weeks ago, before doing some grocery shopping, I took on the task of cleaning out the refrigerator and cupboards.  It had been some time since I had last tackled that job and there was definitely a need.

I was so disappointed, once again, to find spoiled and rotten food tucked far into the shelves and drawers.  I say “again” because this has been something I have struggled with for so long.

Wasting food bothers me for many reasons. My husband works hard to bring in an income and letting food spoil in the refrigerator is like tossing dollar bills out the window.

Even more than that, though, is the realization that there are children that we love that may just get one good meal a day.

I think of stories I have read about families who sometimes have to eat food found discarded at the dump.

(Photo Credit: Compassion International.  Entire story can be seen here.)

I remember when we received a “Step Into Your Child’s World” brochure for our child in Burkina Faso.  One picture in the literature really affected my daughters.

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While I knew this to be the reality for many in this world, seeing it in print was a jolt to Kaya’s heart, especially. For a while, this image prompted us to be very thankful for all the food provided for us, but in time we let things slip again.

The pile of rotten food that had gone to waste in our fridge a few weeks ago, was a wake up call that the problem had come back with a vengeance.  My heart was saddened and I was inspired to focus on this issue and make a change!

Making changes takes deliberate steps.  Over the last few weeks, I have been mindful to look for ways to use up food before it goes to waste.

  • When I found a bag of veggie chips a bag of Veggie Booty in the cupboard that had been left open and had gone stale, I poured the contents out onto a cookie sheet. A few minutes in the oven at 300 degrees and the snacks were brought back to their former crispy glory.
  • I made the bag clips easily accessible by putting them in the cupboard where bagged snacks are stored and reminded my girls to properly close things up when finished.
  • Grapes that were starting to get a little squishy were put in the freezer. Frozen grapes are a tasty treat and freezing them stops them from going bad!
  • Crackers that had gotten a bit soft were crushed and put into the next batch of vegetarian meatloaf. Ziplock bags were put in the cracker cupboard and everyone has been encouraged to put opened sleeves of cracker in a zip-lock before putting it away.
  • A head of broccoli that had started to turn yellowish on the tips was not thrown into the compost pile.  Instead, I got brave and steamed it up.  I ate it for lunch one day…. and I survived.  I say that tongue in cheek, but I learned that some things can still be eaten safely even if it seems to be not so fresh.
  • I’ve started to anticipate snack time for my girls.  Instead of waiting until they ramble into the kitchen and declare their hunger (in which case they would likely grab a bag of pretzels or sleeve of crackers and some hummus), I have been thinking ahead. Preparing a plate of cut up veggies and fruit before snack time means we’re using up some of the more perishable foods before they have a chance to go bad.
  • I’ve been keeping track of what is in our fridge and making an effort to use up leftovers a day or so later at lunchtime.  Taking stock of our available produce, the items most likely to go bad before we use it, and planning upcoming meals based on what needs to be used first has been helpful.
  • Instead of just going shopping weekly because that is our usual routine, I completely skipped the grocery store last week. Yes, we have had to be creative when some of our usual staples have run out, but we still have a lot of options for meals and snacks, using what is left.

Looking through a photo essay titled What The World Eats is truly eye-opening, especially by the time you get to the third picture. When we have the feeling that our food supply is getting low, we still have SO much more than the family in Chad. I am reminded of what I observed in the book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, which confirmed what I knew all along.

We are blessed for the provisions that we have. Our cast-off stale chips and slightly yellowed broccoli would be considered a wonderful find by some around the world.

I am inspired to keep my focus on being a better steward of what we have. I hope to continue to implement these small steps into our daily life and work harder to avoid being wasteful.

Do you have any tips to share with me and with the BFTB readers?  If so, please share them in the comments below!

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Praise

We’re big fans of Britt Nicole and I was happy to hear a song from her upcoming album on the radio this week.

I hear the lyrics to this song and I think about my testimony.  “You’ve been walking with me all this time.” Even when I didn’t believe in God, I can look back and see how He was there, guiding me.

From the first tear cry
To today's sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there
You were always there
It was You and I
You've been walking with me all this time
Ever since that day
it's been clear to me
That no matter what comes
You will never leave
I know You're for me
And You're restoring
Every heartache and failure
Every broken dream
You're the God who sees
The God who rescued me
This is my story
This is my story
I hear these people asking me
How do I know what I believe?
Well I'm not the same me
And I saw the proof I need
I felt Love I felt Your grace
You stole my heart that day

He was with me then and I know he’ll be with us now, through our ups and downs.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Snapshots

Yesterday afternoon, after the winds stopped blowing, I went out and took a walk. Everything was covered in a fluffy white blanket and it was just so beautiful!

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While this next shot was taken through a window and isn’t perfectly composed, I was so happy to have Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal visiting our back porch.

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They are generally very timid and don’t usually come up on our trees or deck as they like to feed on the ground.  They sure are gorgeous, though, especially with a snowy white backdrop!

I learned on the GypsyMama Blog that today is National Delurker Day! I don’t know who comes up with these things, but I would love to hear from you if you have been a quiet reader for a while.  Leaving a comment is so easy, just fill in your name and email address (which will not be published) and let me know a little about you!

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope that your weekend is wonderful!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Links I Love

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As I enjoy this beautiful snowy morning, I thought it would be nice to share some links that I have loved recently.

Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations shared a bunch of neat printables that go along with the book The Snowy Day. 

Our Luna had fun sitting down and working on these sheets, which you can find right here.

Jill from Compassion Family has been sharing some of the first letters she received from her sponsored child named Judith.  These letters are just so sweet and I have really enjoyed reading them.  You can see Jill’s most recent post here.

The official Compassion blog published a nice story on the way letters are handled in their Global Ministry Center in Colorado. Click here to check that story out! Tears of joy came to my eyes to see how the new letter writing tool has increased the number of letters that are written online each day.

There’s a video that is going viral on Facebook that I really enjoyed.  I may not agree on every point, but I found it to be very thought provoking to say the least. I can’t seem to embed the video into this post, but you can go and see it on Youtube by clicking here.

I also want to share the link to a beautiful girl that has been on my heart.  Her name is Enid Kinya and she’s a orphan living in Kenya.

Enid

She is 16 and shares my birthday of August 1st.  Currently she is living with her grandmother and I would love to be able to connect her with a sponsor that could help bring love and encouragement to her family.  If you would like to learn more about Enid, please click here. Also, if you would please join me in praying that her future sponsor will see this and hear God’s whisper on their heart, I would appreciate it.

Lastly, I have a lighthearted picture to share.  We found a series of books at the library about a little girl named Stella.  My girls think she looks a lot like me.

stella

Given the fact that we’ve got a fresh coating of fluffy snow out there, I thought this was fitting.

Be blessed today, friends! 

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

BFTB Readers Ask….

I’m excited to start off this series today with the question that was asked the most often through the BFTB Facebook page, comments and email.
“How did you come to know the Lord?”
It is a long and complicated story, but I will do my best to share it in one manageable post.
First, of course, there is the back-story….

As a child, my Mom took my sister and I to church every Saturday evening.  It was a Catholic church.  I know that my Mom had the best intentions in taking us to church, but the truth is that I hated going. 
Except for the singing and sitting next to my Mom holding her hand, every memory I have of that church is a negative.

The priest, Father Orlando, spoke in a deep monotone voice, devoid of any emotion.  I don’t remember ever once seeing him smile or feeling even a fleeting moment of joy during service. The sermons seemed to all focus on the fact that were were brought into this world, already in the red and needing to jump through the hoops to pay back the debt caused by Jesus’ death.

As we progressed, children were ushered through the various sacraments or rites of passage.
The first time in the confessional is a memory that is seared into my mind.  As a child, it was pretty darn scary to be told to go into this dark closet of a room with a man you’re not comfortable with on the other side of a screen.  You’re told to go in, kneel and recite, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been (insert timeframe) since my last confession.  My sins are….” Then, you’re expected to spill your guts to this man, knowing full well that he probably has a good idea who you are and will now know that you argue with your sister and steal Scooter Crunch snacks out of the cupboard.

After telling my most recent sins, I had to recite another prayer and then receive my “pennance” which would be to go out into the pews and recite 5 of this prayer and 5 of that, then I’d be cleared of my wrongs.
I went through the years of attending church and, once I was in my late teens, we were “confirmed”.  I felt like I was free and I drove from that church as fast as I could and never looked back.

In those years, I never really heard the salvation message or knew that I could have a relationship with Jesus.  What I did hear was a lot of guilt and  a lot of rules. I never saw anyone carrying a Bible and there wasn’t a feeling of joy or praise, but one of condemnation.

I carried all of that with me and, in my early twenties my path detoured into “Hippiedom”. I decided to call myself a Pagan and even a Wiccan, but that was really just a way to make a statement about that God I had heard about in my childhood. Yes, I had an altar and burned sage and collected crystals, but I didn’t really delve into any spells and it wasn’t much more than claiming a lifestyle. 

In my mid-twenties, I met a handsome dreadlocked man named Jay that stole my heart.  We were on the same page when it came to our views on God.  So much so, that we wouldn’t even celebrate Christmas, but we would have our winter holiday on the Winter Solstice. Jay had a two year old daughter when we started our relationship and we added Kaya to the family a year and a half later. We decided that marriage wasn’t our thing, but we were committed to each other.

I remember that when Nico and Kaya were little, sometimes they would pretend to pray and it would make me SO upset. I’d tell them to stop, only to find them doing it again. We would teach them about Mother Earth or the Great Spirit, but we scoffed anything having to do with God or Jesus Christ.

Fast forward a few years…  In 2006, Jay’s issues with alcohol had been steadily growing.  More and more frequently, he’d go straight from work to the bar or he would come home for dinner and then head out.  So many times, I just wanted to leave but I didn’t know how I would support my daughter and baby on the way.  I didn’t want to lose contact with my step-daughter, a child that I practically raised from the time she was two. I stayed and I suffered and I really hoped that something would change in Jay before he killed himself or someone else.

One night, he woke me up at three in the morning and he was a mess.  We had our fair share of bad fights in the middle of the night after he’d come home drunk.  So many times, I did all I could to pretend I was deeply sleeping.  But this one night in particular, he was crying and woke me up.  He said he needed to stop drinking and he needed help.  I had heard the same words before, but the tone and the desperation that time was different.

The next morning, I called Alcoholics Anonymous.  Though we lived deep in the country, there just so happened to be a meeting that evening, not ten minutes from our house.  All day, I thought that Jay would decide not to go, but come 6:30, he was out the door and on his way. Turns out, he met a man that would end up changing our entire family

I didn’t find out until much later, as Jay was driving home the night before, he was very drunk.  He had made a fool of himself at the bar that night and as he raced home down our country road, he steadily increased his speed.  He says he heard a voice telling him to turn the wheel and crash into a tree. That voice came again and again.  Words came out of Jay’s mouth.
God, I don’t know who you are, but if you’re real and if you’re out there, I need help.”
Going through the AA program, Jay chose a sponsor.  He tells me that, no sooner had he asked Jim to be his sponsor, he wished he hadn’t.  Jim was an unabashed Christian and Jay wondered just what he had gotten himself into.

I can’t say a lot about Jay’s time in AA, but through the months I was seeing a change in this man I loved.  Yes, there were bumps along the way but what a relief it was to have some progress.  Jay attended several meetings a week.

Also, during this time, our family hit one of the hardest times we had been through to date. My step-daughter’s Mom decided to start a custody battle.  Even though I had been the one to raise Nico and she was with us for more than half of the time, suddenly we were plunged into a world of lawyers, depositions and Family Court. We were not able to see Nico much at all and when we did, it was strained.  Family Court is an ugly place of lies and manipulation.  Our family poured thousands and thousands of dollars into trying to just have time with a girl we loved. By the time we had over $12,000 invested into it, we were given just six days a month with her.

As we were navigating this time, I came to find out that one of the “meetings” Jay was attending each week was actually a Bible study. Everything in me recoiled when he told me. His sponsor, Jim, and their family had become like a second family to Jay and their steadfast faith, even in difficult times, had impacted Jay deeply. I found out that he had been going to a church for almost 6 months before he told me, he was so scared that I would leave him. He said he was finding some peace and answers and wanted to start taking the girls to church and Bible study.

At that point, I didn’t have a lot of fight left in me. My world was rocked, we were paying so much for lawyers that our cupboards and fridge were almost always pretty bare…  Beyond that, I was falling deeper and deeper into a dark place.

As I saw a child that I loved being lied to and used as a pawn, hatred filled me.  As I saw the effect the custody battle was having on my other girls, rage consumed me.  I spent more and more time and energy envisioning revenge on the “mother” who was capable of all of this.

My husband would come home from church and try to share the message with me and I’d put up walls.  Arguments would erupt like clockwork on Sunday afternoons.  Finally, Jay just stopped trying to convince me and he walked his own path.

One day, our lawyers notified us that Nico had told the court appointed therapist that I had been hitting her.  These allegations of abuse were lies, coaxed out of a child who was just so confused and warped by it all.
I plunged deeply into what is probably my darkest hour. My heart was black.  Most of my days were filled with a seething darkness.  I would spend time daydreaming of how I wanted to inflict all sorts of physical harm to Nico’s Mom.

One day, in the middle of a dark train of thought, I passed by a mirror and stopped in my tracks.  I didn’t recognize the woman I saw. For the first time, I realized that I needed help beyond myself.
Tentatively, I looked up out of my dark hole and I prayed. “God, I don’t know who you are but if you are real and if you’re out there, I need help. Please reveal yourself to me.”

And, He did.

It wasn’t as if I was hit by lightning, but very quickly I felt something stirring.  Healing. An unmistakable presence that said, “I am here. I am with you.” Tension was unraveling within me

Truly, in that next week, a dozen little “coincidences” popped up here and there through seemingly random situations. I wanted signs and I was getting them left and right. It was still somewhat awkward, though.  I had spent so long proclaiming my stance against God, that it was uncomfortable to fully dive into seeking.

One Sunday morning, as Jay and the girls were getting ready to go to church, there was a strong and unmistakable thought in the forefront of my mind.
Get up and get ready to go to church with your family.”
I remember thinking, “Are you nuts?”  I didn’t think I was there  yet.  My memories of the church of my childhood flashed and I squirmed inside.

But, the message was persistent and despite my inner conflict, I found myself on auto-pilot and getting dressed.  I can still remember the look on Jay’s face when he asked what I was doing and I told him I was going to church with him.  He was absolutely delighted.

That is how my journey began, You know, there is so much more to the story….but I’ve shared the first few chapters.  From that day in 2008, I have been learning more about what a true relationship with Christ looks like.  The road since has had ups and downs, but it has been an amazing journey. Looking back at how our trials brought both Jay and I to the Lord, it puts our current trials into perspective as well.  Sometimes it takes feeling weak and broken to remember that there is One who gives us strength to get through another day.

Thank you to those who asked this question and prompted me to share my story. This post ended up a lot longer than I meant it to be and there is much of the story that wasn’t shared. Maybe I will save those other bits for another day!
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weekly Prayer Child

This week’s prayer child is the lovely Kai from Ghana.

(She has been sponsored! Praise the Lord!) 

KaiGhana
I look through the Compassion International website at least once a week and the Lord leads me to a child (or sometimes many children) to pray over.  My hope is to be able to connect her with a loving sponsor. At her age, she has already been dropped by at least one sponsor in the program.
Kai is visually impaired and also suffers from asthma. She lives with her parents and her siblings.
If Kai is pulling at your heart and you would like to learn more about her, please take a second to visit her link on the Compassion website. Click here to read more!
If you could say a prayer for her, and also for her future sponsor, it would be appreciated. Thank you so much!
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Therapy

Today, therapy came in the form of a wood pile that needed to be relocated.

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The truth is, I’ve been on shaky ground for a while.  Carrying the weight of heart-break for well over a year has changed who I am and how I cope.

Yes, I can still see blessings and special moments for what they are, yet the recognition is almost always followed by a , “Yes, but…..” There is joy in our home, but it is often coupled with the sense of missing.

It is hard when someone you love walks away from you.  It is harder still when abandonment issues from your childhood seem to lurk, ready to surface at a moment’s notice. For so long, there has been an underlying current of pain and confusion in my life and my family here at home.

Watching someone I love walk away, down a path that looks dangerous, brings moments of panic. Maternal instinct makes me want to shake up those who are supposed to be her guardians.

Sometimes I feel just like that picture of a solid rope, frayed so much there’s just a few strands holding both ends together….

Today, a seemingly innocent exchange online brought enough pressure to fray those last fibers holding me together.

I went to the woodpile, tears streaming down, and filled my arms with as much as I could hold.  With each trip, I carried as much as I felt like I could hold without my arms giving out.  I’ve been trying to give this weight of my pain to God and feel like He isn’t taking it.  It continues to pull at me. Ever present, in various degrees.

As I shifted the fire wood from place to place, I cried and prayed.  At times, my prayers were screaming out in my head. “Take this weight, take this worry, take this pain from me!”

Muscles growing weary, each armload of wood put in its new place would leave me with a momentary feeling of the freedom from a burden. Through the menial back and forth of my task, a sense of peace washed over me and the realization that this healing process will be one that is taken step-by-step.  I can’t move a woodpile in one trip and this burden won’t be lifted off of me in one moment.

I do believe there will be a time when the heart-ache isn’t such a presence in my day to day life. I may have to keep giving this to God, one armload at a time and take the relief of each momentary release from the burden.

Today, I am thankful for the therapy found in a pile of wood.

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Ten Random Things

Today, I will treat you to ten random tidbits about yours truly.

  • For the first time in my adult life, I have a matching set of dishes, thanks to a Christmas Gift.  Up to this point, we’ve had a few of this kind of plate and a couple of that kind of plate. Now, I smile when I open my cupboard and see a stack of cheerful rainbow dishes sitting there.

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  • I have had my nose pierced for seventeen years now! Wow, does that seem like a long time! I’m not as “alternative” as I used to be, but I love wearing a hoop and can imagine myself being an old lady and still rocking the nosering!

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  • I have an awesome big sister named Stacy. We have so many great memories of our childhood and, looking back, we really did get along so well.  I was a bit of a pesty younger sister, but the five year age difference didn’t keep us from having lots of fun!

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  • I am a bit of a compulsive reader.  I’m not just talking about books, but also random things like the backs of shampoo bottles. This is why the internet can be such a dangerous thing for me.  When I started hearing about the newest craze, Chia Seeds, I wanted to read up on them and ended up spending over an hour reading three dozen websites and all sorts of reviews on them.  I may have passed this characteristic on to our Kaya, who tries to do things like fold laundry while reading a book.

 

  • In August, our family got our first aquarium in response to Luna’s birthday request to have a pet fish.  Little did I know how much I would come to love keeping and watching the little swimmers! I had heard that having an aquarium can reduce stress and now I believe it!

IMG_9565 (We have seven fish, all named by my girls. They would not stay still for this picture, no matter how much I pleaded! They are Carrot, Mickey, Sylvia, Picasso, Panda Rose, Kenya, and Africa.)

  • This coming Sunday, I’ll be playing the djembe drum with our church’s Worship Team again. It is cathartic, in a way, to use a talent that culminated from my ol’ hippie partying days in a new way to worship our God.

drummin[3] (Hippies.)

  • Last night, my husband had me laughing so hard that my sides were aching and I was gasping for breath. I love that something as silly as doing a seated tap-dance routine to a goofy song can crack us both up.  Truth is, I am laughing again just picturing it in my head. :snicker:

 

  • I am looking forward to getting some snow.  To date, we’ve had just one day with enough snow to get out and sled, then it melted away again. I find this odd and a bit disconcerting. I like winter in New York and I love the cozy feeling of being in our warm house as the snow falls and builds up outside!

 

  • For Christmas, Kaya bought me the sweetest little ceramic bird.  On its belly, it says, “You’re so thoughtful.”  The little birdy sits on my nightstand and I look at it every morning and throughout my day.  It reminds me to do what I can to live up to this motto.

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  • It is already after ten in the morning and I need to get up and get motivated!  My workout is done for the day, but I have a to-do list that includes my daily household tasks as well as bringing in the firewood that is stacked outside.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Mail Call (With a Side Order of Technical Glitches!)

(Sorry for the re-post!  Looks like IntenseDebate comments are crashing when someone comments on the blog through a mobile device.  Trying to figure out how to fix that.  In the meantime, I had to delete one comment and post this again!)

Seems like we’ve had less Happy Dances at the mailbox than I am used to over the last few months.  Our Precious, who used to send us two letters a month, hasn’t been heard from since November. For a while, it was rare to go a whole week without hearing from one of our kids.

So, Monday Mail Call posts haven’t been popping up every week, like they used to.

We did hear from our Kazihizina last week, though!

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She is 16, but a project worker still writes letters for her. I do wonder why that is.  I know that, when she was assigned to us as a Correspondent Child, she had been dropped by several sponsors and had gone years without so much as a letter.  I imagine there may be a level of distrust in getting attached to a sponsor. While I would love to have a letter directly from her and create a strong sponsor/child bond, I just do my best to send lots of love and support and lift her up in prayer.

Kazihizina’s letter tells us that she was on a break from school and will be entering P5 when school starts up again in January. She asks for support and prayers so that she will do well. 

We’re told it is the rainy season in Rwanda and they have planted beans, corn, potatoes and ground nuts. The letter says she would also like to know about our news.

The letter is just a few lines and we likely will not hear from her again for three or four months. In cases like this, it can be difficult for sponsors to really feel connected to children who rarely write and do not share much information.

My advice would be to remember that God connected you with this child for a reason. We may need to learn the lesson of pouring our love and effort into a child with whom we may never really form a close bond. We may never know the kind of impact we will have by being faithful in writing, in prayer and in loving someone who may not reach back with the same love.

Have you heard from any of your sponsor children lately?  I’d love to hear about your letters!  Leave a comment or, if you’ve blogged about them, please feel free to link up below!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Praise

Today’s choice is from a fellow redhead – Leeland. We won one of his CD’s from a local Christian radio station and I was struck by how pure Leeland’s worship is.  There is something in his music that goes straight to my heart.

 

I hope your Sunday is blessed.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year – A New Series!

I’ve recently suffered a bit of a Blogging Burn-Out and lacked the time, energy and inspiration to much into this blog.  It came to my mind to start a new series.

“BFTB Readers Ask…..”

I need your help, though!

My plan is to answer a question or two from my readers each week.  So can you do me a favor?  Think of something you’re curious about and ask me! Do you wonder about our Compassion journey, have questions about Compassion’s programs, or want to know more about me?

Really, anything is fair game.  (Of course, there are some questions I may not be comfortable answering, but you can always ask!)

You could ask me through the comments section of this post or by using the Contact Form on the right hand side of this page.

Or, you could ask on the BFTB Facebook page! Come and join us!

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Power of a Word

The trend in the blogosphere has been to choose a word to focus on for the duration of the year.  I have a bit of a stubborn streak (perhaps it is the red hair) and I bucked the trend the first few years that those posts showed up.

This year, though, as those posts started showing up in my Google Reader, I have to admit that one word always came to my mind. It seemed like, whether or not I intended to participate in the Word of the Year, I was being given a word.

Ironically, that word is

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As thoughts rambled through my mind, I realized just how many ways this word could apply to some changes I’d like to make, not just for the year of 2012, but also beyond.

Truth is, I can be pretty selfish.  Perhaps it is human nature.  Sometimes I put more time and thought into what I  want than I really should. I want to focus more on what I can give.

Give… Time. As I headed into the Advent season with the idea to plan special time with my girls, I didn’t realize what a pleasure it would become.  Yes, I can spend all day with my girls, but the opportunity to share a special craft, story or game became a highlight to our days.

Give… Attention.  Like above, some days speed by like a blur and I find myself moving so fast that I miss opportunities to slow down and really interact with those I love.  A question can be met with a frantic, “Not right now!"  A simple request can be met with an exasperated sigh. How many moments to I miss when I fail to slow down, get down, establish eye contact and answer that little question or request.

Give… Encouragement.  A pat on the back, a kind word, a short note sent through the mail. It really doesn’t take much effort to give a little encouragement to those in our lives. I hope to do this more.

Give… Compliments. I know how a genuine compliment can lift my spirits and I hope to be mindful to look for things in people that I can compliment and build up.

Give… Service.  This is a big one for me.  I have felt such a pull to find more ways for our family to get out there and serve.  I hope that opportunities open up for our family and I am able to find new and different ways to volunteer.

Give… It to God.  The truth is, our family is currently going through one of the most painfully heartbreaking seasons yet. I’ve shared a bit about it here in the past, but as the time goes on and things just continue to grow into a bigger mess, the pain weighs so heavy on me.  Some days, I feel like I am barely hanging on. I hope to keep my focus on giving my pain, my worry, my heartbreak to God.  When I am at my breaking point, it is God who has something to give to me.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Give… Thanks.  In all circumstances. A reminder that this is God’s will for us.  I do find myself reflecting on the many blessings in my life, but it is when it comes to pain that it becomes harder to be thankful. Looking back in my walk with Christ, it is the times that bring me to my knees and the very end of myself, that I cling to Him the most.

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I’ll be doing my best to keep this word in mind as I go through my days.  I’ve printed the picture above off in various sizes and have placed it around my home where I hope that I’ll be reminded regularly.

Have you joined the Word of the Year movement?  Please share your word or the link to your blog post below!

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Another Look at Letter Writing Day

Walking through the store this weekend, a display of Valentine’s Day cards caught my eye and reminded me that we hadn’t sent any Valentine’s goodies to our Compassion children yet. While our letters may not arrive at their destination by February 14th, we still wanted to share them with our children.

This morning, while Kaya and Luna sat down to some learning, I pulled out the needed supplies and started on another round of letters.

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We decided that the Pet Pals valentines were the most gender neutral, so those are the ones we chose.  I had some heart printed paper bags in my craft closet, so we will use those as well.

Before I started writing letters, I printed up ten sheets of stationary on paper with colorful birds along the top and bottom.  I also printed our sponsor number and each child’s name and number on labels, which will be stuck on each paper bag.

Before writing, I always look at the picture of the child I’m writing to and I pray for them.  I ask God to lead my pen and to bless the words I share.

(Truth is, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I have relied heavily on the new online letter writing tool over the last few months. Except for the handwritten birthday cards we’ve sent out recently, the last few rounds of letters have all been sent online! I still pray before writing that way, though.)

Our Johan in East India was first on the stack and so the first letters was for him.  Once I finished writing, I took some Valentine’s Day cards and stickers and put those in his bag.

As some people have asked me, I do send things like this even to our older Compassion children.  I tell them that they are free to pass on any items that they do not wish to keep and I don’t imagine that they would be offended by receiving these tokens of our love and affection.

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Once Johan’s goodies were tucked in his bag, I used a paperclip to keep the bag closed and also to attach his letter to the outside of it.  I arrange it so that the label with the necessary information is seen from one side and the letter is facing the other side so that no matter which way you look at this bundle, it is clearly labeled.

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Because I send to multiple children, I use a large manila envelope to mail our letters.  I slipped Johan’s bundle in the envelope and started on the next letter!  If I find that ten bundles will make this envelope too bulky, I might end up splitting the shipment up into two different envelopes. 

It may take me a day or two to handwrite all ten letters, but I will certainly have everything mailed out by mid-week so that the children will receive them in February or March.

Do you have a method to Letter Writing Day at your house?  I would love to hear about it!  Are you sending Valentines to your children around the world? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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