Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Different Grownup Christmas List

This week we started talking about what to Christmas lists. We start early around here, because I don't like to be caught in the mad rush of last minute shopping. I love Christmas. No, I mean I really LOVE Christmas. This year from July until now, I have tried to do something Christmasy and fun on the 25th day of the month. It has really helped with my craving the holiday season. I don't know if it's the music, the decorations, the hope, or the present shopping, but I become a giddy little girl for a month, and then I wish for it to hurry up and roll back around to November again.

This year, my girls have already started thinking about Lalaloopsy's and video games. I have started making little requests for Sonny and have kept a few things in mind for myself for the past several months when I saw something that I "needed" but couldn't justify on our current budget. So when I got a little catalog from Compassion with this cute little chick on the cover, it challenged me to think a little farther beyond myself. I don't know about you, but I've never thought about giving someone pigs for Christmas. Or chickens. Or vaccinations. Or, the ultimate things we take for granted here in America, Water. But you can do just that. Do you have some people who are really hard to buy for because they have everything they need? Maybe you could look through this catalog and find something that would be meaningful to them. Compassion will send the gift to a family in need, and they will send a gift card to you to write a note for your gift recipient. I know that I would like to get my kids involved in this giving opportunity, but I'm not sure how I will approach it yet. I have a friend who asks their kids to eliminate one thing from their Christmas lists. They pool all of that money together and pick out what they would like to donate as family.

There are plenty of ways you can help that go beyond this year's Top 10 Toys. And they aren't as pricy as you might think.

Five dollars can provide a child or caregiver a Bible in their own language.

Twenty dollars can provide infant formula for one month. Not all infants have the options of breast milk. "Due to their own health conditions and diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, many new mothers are unable or are advised not to breastfeed their newborns. Sadly, other mothers trapped in poverty do not survive in childbirth and leave behind an orphaned infant."

 Ten dollars can provide garden seeds. " A vegetable garden provides food for the family, and abundance can be sold for income. Your gift will help give a family all they need to start their own kitchen garden: vegetable seeds and fertilizer, along with training and any necessary equipment."

 Forty-five dollars can purchase a goat. "Goats can be bred to provide a source of milk, meat and household income. Your gift will help families generate income by providing training and other resources to help them successfully raise and care for their animals."

Sixteen dollars can purchase a chicken. "A chicken is much more than a meal for a family living in poverty — one chicken can provide a source of income, manure for the vegetable garden, and a steady supply of eggs."

 Fifty-five dollars can provide safe water for a family for life.

Thirty dollars can provide regular and routine medical care. "Your gift will help provide medical checkups, surgeries, and other special treatments as needed so that children can grow into mature, healthy, young adults."

These are just a few of the gift giving opportunities you will find in the Gifts of Compassion Catalog. Please click on and see how a little of our Christmas money can make a huge difference all the way to "the ends of the earth".

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mighty Is the Power of the Cross

I had my iTunes running from the computer, just playing though songs. I was thinking through dinner plans, rolling a Compassion blog around in my head, and thinking about how to remedy the fact that I'm just not dealing well with my children today. And all of a sudden this broke through those thoughts and I actually heard what I was "listening" to.

What can take a dying man and raise him up to life again?
What can heal a wounded soul?
What can make us white as snow?
What can fill the emptiness?
What can mend our brokenness?

Mighty, awesome, wonderful
Is the holy cross
Where the Lamb laid down His life
To lift us from the fall
Mighty is the power of the cross

What restores our faith in God?
What reveals the Father's love?
What can lead the wayward home?
What can melt a heart of stone?
What can free the guilty ones
What can save and overcome?

Mighty, awesome, wonderful
Is the holy cross
Where the Lamb laid down His life
To lift us from the fall
Mighty is the power of the cross

What if, for just one day or one week, I just really believed that? Just the cross, not the other stuff we feel like we have to add in. That it really is THE only answer. And a real answer, not a band-aid. The restoring, overcoming, awesome, wonderful, mighty, holy cross.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Monday Mail Call

It's been a few weeks since we've gotten any letters from our Compassion children, but today we received a letter from Lordylien, who likes to be called LJ.
LJ writes that she performed in her school and in a local shopping mall. I'm assuming she was dancing, because I know she is on the school dance team. She says that she is happy at the student center because she has two new friends. At the center they are learning "to become helpful, respectful, and many more." She writes that her family is happy and that they never fight. She also says that the rain is heavy there. This letter was written in August when a typhoon came through the Philippines. The last thing that she writes is, "My prayer request, I hope that I will get you more that's all." I have no idea what this means, and none of the online translation tools make any more sense than this translation. I know that there are several other Filipino languages and dialects that are slightly different than the official language, so I am wondering if that is why I can't make any sense out of it online. The translator there probably had a better idea of what she intended to say, but I still don't know what it means. My favorite part was the little picture she drew at the top. She's never used that space in her other letters.

Last Week's Happies

I decided that instead of just focusing on the school week for the past week that I would just jot down what well overall.

1. LEAVES ARE EVERYWHERE AND EVERY COLOR. This excites me so much.
2. No air conditioning used and heat only used once.
3. One (possibly 2) Compassion kids sponsored this last week.
4. Little girl puppet shows.
5. Homemade halloween costumes. Hey, it's what you do when your child only wants to be Marie from Aristocats.
6. We talked about pumpkins all week last week and had so much fun.
7. Partly because of the pumpkin stuff and partly because it is delicious, there will be pumpkin bread for dinner tonight.
8. The kids had a Meme sleepover with awesome friends last Friday. They had a fantastic time, and we did, too. It was a much needed break that ended in sleeping until 8:00!
9. Halloween is almost over. Just not my favorite day of the year.
10. I just got a letter (her fourth) from my Lordylien. I might even share more about that later.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Safe Water = Life

Did you know that the water that is used to water your lawn is, more than likely, drinkable? How many faucets are in your house? My house has seven. Four are in the same room! And I do enjoy that master bath, probably more than I should. But while I'm enjoying it, 4,000 children are daily dying of water-related illnesses. And that isn't just something I say to cause a twinge of guilt, in me or you. Guilt is useless. I say it to tell you that you can change this. There are fixes for this problem. The issue is that the fixes require money, the affected have none, and we are comfortable. And the thing is, this particular "fix" doesn't even require you to be uncomfortable. It only takes $55 for Compassion International to place a water filtration system, like the one in this picture, in the home of a sponsored child. This big bucket can filter 1,000,000 gallons of water, which is plenty for the family and their neighbors for LIFE. A lifetime of safe drinking water for $55. Fifty-five dollars can insure that at least one family will no long be exposed to Cholera, Typhoid, E. Coli, Amoebic Dysentery, and many other bacterial contaminants that are potentially deadly, especially to young children.

I'm committing to get as many of these donated as possible in the next year. My goal is 58 donations, and I have no idea how that will even happen. I know that our budget is ever-tight, and yours probably is, too. I also know that children are important and there is money to be found if I'm committed to finding it. You can click here to help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I love Fall

I don't know if it's the dropping temperatures after scorching Georgia summer days (and nights, who am I kidding?) or if it is the food, from pumpkin spiced everything to Thanksgiving feasts, or the colors of the ever-changing leaves that I adore most, but I just love it. ALL of it. And this year has been one of the best yet, especially watching it through blue little girl eyes. Here is Kayla looking for her perfect pumpkin. She found it by the way, and it was HUGE. Lily found hers, too. It wasn't quite as big.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Be a Blessing . . .

Before you read anything else, and if you don't have time to read anything else, go here

One of the neat things I get to do with this whole Compassion advocacy thing is request pictures and packets of unsponsored children. I get to look at their cute faces and know a little bit of their history. At the bottom of some of their pictures are the words "Be a blessing in my life." That's what I'm asking you to consider today. Look at these faces, and really pray about what you could do to be a blessing in the life of a child living in poverty. And before you wonder how close you are to living in poverty, understand that this is not what most Americans consider as poverty. We call poverty living below the poverty line, and I won't belittle that amount. All poverty is hard. But this poverty is not the same. This poverty is living on less than the equivalent of one dollar a day. So don't dismiss these faces automatically. Please, really seek and pray about whether God wants you to be a blessing in one of these lives.

Armin is from Indonesia. He is 8 years old and lives with his uncle and aunt. His household duties include carrying water and running errands. Armin's uncle is sometimes employed as a teacher and his aunt maintains the home. Arminto enjoys soccer and playing with marbles. He is an average student and attends primary school.

Claire is from Togo. She will be 8 years old on New Year's Eve. She lives with her stepfather and stepmother. Gathering firewood, helping in the kitchen, and cleaning are her household duties. Her stepfather is sometimes employed as a farmer. Claire enjoys singing and playing group games. Her primary school performance is average. There are eight children in Claire's family.

Rony is from Honduras. He is 13 years old and lives with his father and mother. Rony is responsible for carrying water, gather firewood, and cleaning. His father is employed as a farmer. There are four children in the family. Rony enjoys playing a musical instrument, playing ball games, and bicycling. His primary school performance in average.

Matthew 25 says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" If you can find a better embodiment of "the least of these", do for them. If not, please consider these little ones.

Monday, October 10, 2011

School Is More Fun with Typing Cows

Well, I think that our unit on Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type was the funniest yet. Both of the girls really got into it. We got to paint with water colors and write our own note to Farmer Brown. It was very memorable. We also used the idea of notewriting and made a birthday card for our sponsored child, Yeimi. That was another good way we could involve Lily. The whole thing went really well and was well received. It was a lot more laid back, and some of the activities were very basic. I'm not sure Kayla learned a ton from it, other than that grown ups can write really silly stories about cows and that electric blankets are warm and cozy.

We finished up our Math unit on fractions and measurement this week. There were no difficulties there at all, other than the motor skill task of lining up items at the end of a ruler. The only thing we have left in this book is addition and subtraction, so we are taking this next week to review. The one complaint I have about the Modern Curriculum Press workbook is that material is not often revisited after a chapter is done. My plan for next week is to determine where we need to focus more attention. We will review time, money, patterns, number words, ordinals, and place value. Then I will add these activities in during our addition and subtraction work.

Reading lessons are also going well. The biggest change I see is that Kayla has started picking up more books and reading them on her own. She will come and ask for help if there's a word that she cannot sound out, but she wants to read to herself. She also still wants to be read to, especially if there is much more than one sentence per page. She has also started reading some books to Lily, and that is really cute.

Friday, October 07, 2011

"Spend yourselves", "satisfy the needs" "and I'll say, 'Here I am'"

A few weeks ago, I got a little card in the mail from Compassion. I've gotten a few things from them since we began sponsoring Yeimi in April, and I've received a few additional items since becoming an advocate a few months ago. But this was just a little foldout card that said "Isaiah Challenge" and encouraged advocates to choose one of three Compassion ministries to strongly focus on over the next year. I knew that there was an upcoming Compassion-involved film coming out called 58:, and it is based on Isaiah 58. I figured (correctly) that the two were related and didn't really even think much before checking the Water of Life box and dropping it back in the mailbox. Water of Life had been on my heart all summer, and I had requested a demo filter system the week before.

Today, I received more information about Water of Life focus of The Isaiah Challenge. They weren't kidding about praying for God to give you a big goal. Their suggested goals seem huge to me. I'm talking HUGE, as in more people than I speak to in an average month. Okay, if you know me well, that's probably not a very impressive number, but for me it's pretty much beyond belief. But I do still need to pray about my goal. I would like to have something concrete that I am striving for, even if I hope to exceed it. Well, after all that, I decided that I should definitely start reading Isaiah 58. I probably should have done this first, but I didn't. Here is some of what I found, first in the NIV and then in The Message.

Isaiah 58:9b-11 NIV “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail."

Isaiah 58:6-12 The Message
6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past."

Those are some pretty strong "if, then" statements. I do not "spend myself" and I still seek my own satisfaction most of the time. I guess it only follows that I am seeing empty places and dry springs in my life. I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to try to take God up on a few of those, and I have a long way to go. Over the next few days, I will post more about Water of Life, what I want to do, and what you can do. But for now, if you are willing, please pray about what God wants you to do with this challenge and His promises if we obey.

Monday, October 03, 2011

My Mailbox Dance Today

Today we received two Compassion letters, both from correspondence children. One was from Lordylien in the Philippines, and the other was from Nigusse in Ethiopia.

Lordylien (age 11) writes in her 3rd letter:
How are you? I hope your in good condition. I am now in Grade VI. I have a  new friend  named Erika and Uruna. My favorite subject is Math. I learned new things in the CCFC Lifestream Student Center to be a good child and to read the Bible. Thank you so much for the uniform and the school supplies you gave me. Me and family are always happy. We are together & no fighting or whatever. We eat together, and pray as a family. I have a question. How old are you?My prayer request is that we could see each other soon. Thank you so much. God bless you!


I'm assuming that her financial sponsor sent a gift that purchased the school supplies and uniforms. However, I don't know for sure because I was told that she had not received a birthday gift "in years". Either way, I'm glad she has the things she needs and that she seems to be the happy girl she appears to be in her photograph. As for the prayer request, I didn't expect that one so soon, but maybe I should be praying for that opportunity. Her student center was one of the ones visited during the recent Compassion bloggers visit, so I'm sure she's now well acquainted with the idea of a sponsor visit.

Nigusse (age 13) writes in his second letter:
How are you doing? I am very fine, praise be to God. God bless you. I lost my father and mother. I feel bad about this case. We celebrated our new year holiday nicely. We called our new year holiday "Enkutatash". Pray about my education to be active student. I pray about you. God bless you.

Also enclosed was his report card, which indicates that his will be repeating a grade. From the information that is available on the website, and Compassion is looking into this further, it sounds like the loss of his father is new. I'm wondering if this is what has caused his difficulties in his schooling or if he always struggles. All of my children are fairly new, but he is the newest. Please pray with me about Nigusse's education. I really do consider it to be of vital importance in breaking the cycle of poverty.  I never wrote about Nigusse's first letter. It really is one of my favorites that we've received. There was a section where he listed his favorite things. Under best pet, he wrote, "Ox".

So here they are, two children close to the same age who are receiving services from the same organization, but oh so different.

Weekly School Update - a few days overdue

Lily is going through a crying/whiny spell when she can't have your undivided attention, and that is trying to suck the joy out of our school days. However, it's not totally successful. It's still fun to watch things click in a Kindergarten brain, even if you're having to raise your voice over a toddler who is crying all the way to her room. This week, we started talking about measurement in Math, and that has been a lot of fun. We didn't actually touch a ruler until today, but it was still fun to watch her measure crayons in different units like paperclips and dinosaurs. Teaching Math is so much more fun than I learning it, at least from as early as I can remember. I'm pretty sure it's her favorite, too.

We also made a little more headway in our reading book, and Kayla is reading a lot more on her own. Some of it is context clues from the pictures, but a lot of it is all her. I can't say that she loves the reading lessons, but she does love being able to pick up a short book later in the day and read it to herself without my help. And I think she knows that the lessons are what allows her to do that. We also read Harold and the Purple Crayon and did some activities that went along with it. Both girls really enjoyed reading it, and they never got tired of it during the week.

There are a few things that I hope will go differently this week. First, I do hope that Lily relearns the rhythm of our school mornings and entertains herself more. I would also like to do more Math activities this week that are not in her workbook. I think we're coming to a good time to go back and review some of the earlier things that the book covers in more real-world ways. I'm also looking forward to finding more books that Kayla can read by herself. I think she is really finding that to be empowering, and I don't want it to fade quickly. I also want to start some copywork for a little change in pace for handwriting. I'm looking forward to a new week.