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!

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                  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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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Compassion Bloggers in Peru!

 

As the days of November have ticked by, I have wondered how the team of Compassion Bloggers headed to Peru have felt. Being excited and nervous about something that is a few months off is one thing. I imagine that, when the countdown dwindles to the single digits, those feelings are amplified.

Today, the bloggers are on Peruvian soil. Because the time there is the same as the time in New York, maybe they are drinking their coffee and getting a run-down of how their day will look.

I read that two of the bloggers have brought their children along with them, so it ought to be neat to see how the trip impacts them.  Truthfully, I had daydreamed about what it would be like to bring our Kaya with me when I go with the Compassion Bloggers next year. She’s such a compassionate young lady with a heart for children and, if the trip is heading to Ghana, she and our Precious already have an unmistakable bond.

I imagine that the first posts from the crew in Peru will not be posted until later this evening, but I’ll be watching my Google Reader with anticipation.

If you’d like to follow the trip, you can click here. Also, it would be wonderful if you could spread the word about the Compassion Bloggers in Peru! You can find some banners and Facebook cover photos here.

I’ll be praying over this trip – for the bloggers, those that they will meet and those that will read the posts!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mail Call Monday

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

There isn’t mail delivery today because of the observance of Veteran’s Day. However, we did get a letter from one of our Compassion children on Saturday!

Kazihizina2012

Our Kazihizina from Rwanda seems to be warming up to us finally. We were told that she had gone years without letters before she was assigned to us as a correspondent child.

In her recent letter, Kazihizina tells us that they have been busy sowing beans and that there has been a lot of rain. She asks if he have a lot of rain in our area. I know how important the crops are to the livelihood of many families so I hope that the rains were sufficient for watering but not too much for the crops to handle.

Kazihizina tells us that she was able to buy nice clothes with the financial gift that she received for her birthday.  (I am blessed to know the woman who financially sponsors Kazihizina and that she also provides for her birthday gifts.)

Our Kazihizina closes the letter by thanking us for the letters we send to her.

I am very happy to receive them.” 

She also says that she enjoys the beautiful pictures that we send as well.

Recently, so many of our Compassion children have mentioned how happy they are to receive letters and pictures from us. This just reinforces what a gift we can share when we take the time to communicate with our Compassion children.

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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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday’s This & That

Around the house… My girls are working on cleaning up their room, in preparation for a few friends sleeping over tonight. The woodstove is crackling and is surrounded by a dog and a few cats basking in its warmth.

Outside of my window… It is a frosty morning with temps below freezing. I don’t see any signs that the sun will make an appearance today, but I would welcome it for sure.

Confession…  I have been feeling a bit down and heavy in my heart recently. Between some personal stresses in our household and the fact that I have been processing some past hurts, there have been burdens on me that have been hard to shake. Yesterday was an especially hard day and I felt like I was on the verge of tears for much of it. I am trying to cast my cares upon the Lord and seek Him for the peace that passes all understanding. I know this is just a season.

I am looking forward to… Tomorrow is a field trip to see The Secret Garden performed as a ballet. It has been a while since my girls have been to see a show and they’re very excited.  On Sunday, our Kaya turns 11 and we also have a Harvest Dinner at our church. I am so blessed to be a part of a wonderful church family and it will be a special treat to attend this dinner and fellowship with everyone on Kaya’s birthday!

I am reading… When I need a little escape, I have been enjoying books by Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter. Both ladies write fiction based in the Amish and Mennonite culture and so far I have really enjoyed most of the books I’ve read.

I also have two new books on my to-read list.  As a prize for participating in Compassion International’s blog month, I received Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I know I have been slacking in the blog-world recently with just one or two blog posts a week and little time devoted to blog reading.  Hopefully this book will inspire me to put more into this ministry.

The other book on my to-read list is Vertical Church by James Macdonald.  Our pastor has been reading this and has been fired up by wisdom found in its pages

I haven’t taken too many pictures recently, but I’ll share a couple that I took at last weekend’s Operation Christmas Child shoe box packing party.

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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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Monday, November 5, 2012

Mail Call Monday!

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

It was a cold walk to the mailbox today as the snow fell down around me! I think that maybe I should have worn gloves. By the time I got back to my house, my fingers were stiff and sore!

But the walk was worth it! I found a cream colored envelope tucked amongst the junk mail and catalogs.

Today’s letter was from our Johan in East India!

Copy of Compassion 018

This most recent letter was special in that Johan made reference to many of the letters we’ve sent to him since Spring. It seems like he enjoys the letters we are able to send through Compassion online letter writing tool and the pictures that go along with them.

Johan tells us he liked the pictures of Kaya and Luna riding horses and he went on to tell us that he enjoys riding his bicycle and travel on other vehicles. (Johan was able to buy a bicycle with a birthday gift we sent, so I am happy to hear that he enjoys it!)

Johan then mentioned the picture we sent of the tiny turtle we found this summer. He tells us that they have similar looking turtles in his area.

Lastly he told us that he liked the pictures of Kaya and Luna holding baby animals at a petting zoo we went to in the spring. “As your children like the birds and baby goat, same that I also like them. I love them very much and they are found around our home here, too.”

Johan closes his letter in asking for prayer and assuring us that he prays for us always. He signs off with, “Your dear child, Johan”. He is very dear to us, indeed!

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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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday’s This & That

Outside of my window… Gray, gloomy skies are sprinkling rain on us again. While we did not have any damage from Hurricane Sandy, we’ve had days of rain showers.

Around the house… The woodstove is crackling and my girls are busy getting ready to start the day. I’m thankful that today is our weekly trip to the YMCA for homeschool group. With the wet weather, a certain six year old has been feeling a little “pent-up” and the gym class and free swim will hopefully help release a little energy.

Confession… Not only have I been neglecting my own blog this week, I also haven’t read many either. I’ve had computer work to do for my Pastor and a flurry of other activities have taken up my time. Sometimes I struggle with managing my time well.

The one blog post I did read this week was this one:

Gratitude, Answers, then Help : Shaun Groves

I have followed every Compassion Bloggers trip that has been shared since we started sponsoring in the summer of 2009. Truthfully, I think that I will be even more connected to this trip even though I don’t have a child in Peru, the country that will be visited. I’m still in a state of shock, thinking that in 2013, I will be joining the Compassion Bloggers team. Wow!

Excitement… There is a buzz of excitement in the house because today my girls have the chance to buy some goodies to go in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!

This will be our third year helping with OCC shoeboxes and it has become one of my favorite things to do! Throughout the year, we collect giftable items to pack into our boxes of love. Our church has a packing party and we come together to prepare the gifts for the children that will receive them.

Today, I’ll be giving my girls some money and they will be able to choose some gifts to bring to the packing party.  Our Luna has recently learned how to jump rope, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she chooses a jump rope or two for her offering.

If you’ve never participated in Operation Christmas Child, take a minute to click the banner above to learn more!

For those of you who are packing shoeboxes this year, what kinds of things do you like to add to your boxes?

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