Friday, September 28, 2012

We are enough

I wake up a little before the alarm goes off and I praise God for a little more sleep.  The next time I wake up the music has been playing softly for about 20 minutes.  A tad late, but not enough to worry about.  I climb out of bed and head toward the bathroom.  I stumble over one of my husband's shoes.  I enter the bathroom unscathed.  I start my morning business and wonder what to wear today.   I realize it is Friday, jeans day.  Thank goodness!  I don't have to worry about what pants are clean.

I put on my jeans and my favorite sweater.  I got the refrigerator and get my lunch together.  I grab my Kindle and sit down.  I read my passage for the day.  I pause to think about the verse that says the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  I wonder if I actually live that out.  I tweet the verse and wonder if which way people will think of themselves as they read it.  I start reading my blogs for the morning and remember that I have not written one yet.  I finish the last couple and start my breakfast.  I still wonder what to write for today.  The same old thoughts come back that I am not enough.  I live too often like the first instead of like the last.  That sounds like avoid blog topic right?  After all, don't people want to hear this heart wrenching self doubt voice.  That will get the page views and some how make me more of enough in the process.

I leave the house and walk through a spider web beside my car.  Ugh!  I am the worst home owner ever!  My house is always dirty.  The carpet isn't vacuumed and the furniture is dusty.  The flower beds are over run with weeds and there are some huge mushrooms in the back yard.  This looks like an abandoned house.  When will I ever find the time to fix this?  Not tonight.  We have a trip to Carowinds and a lock in.  Tomorrow we will be exhausted, but we will have to do something about the yard then.  My one word this year is faithful and I could not possibly be failing any more at being faithful to the home God has given me.

With these thoughts preying on my mind and spirit, I backed out of the carport and saw the most amazing thing.  My front flower bed that I had worked so hard on and had so little to show for it looked beautiful.  There were cute little ghosties and fun scarecrow decorating the black and weedless dirt.  There was a beautiful bright yellow mum sitting in a pot.  The pots by the front door were filled with bright red feathers standing tall and announcing the front door.  That's what my mother in law was doing while I was putting away my exhaustion from a week of allergies.  I thought about our part time teacher who has bailed me out more than once this month and hasn't gotten paid for it.  (Side note: The payment thing is worked out.  Praise God!)

Photo Credit: ME!


Then I realized it isn't about me being enough.  It's about we being enough.  It's about working together as a team to walk through this life successfully.

Praise God for the team he has put around me.  Thank you for helping me be enough.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What they tell me

A couple weeks ago, I saw something about becoming a Compassion Blogger.  I read the blogs of a couple different child sponsorship companies and I love the stories that I read.  The bloggers for these companies are amazing.  The stories they tell are real and inspiring.  You probably know that I think highly of them because I link so many on my Good Stuff Saturday  posts.  I want to write like that, so I took the challenge.  September is blog month at Compassion. Why?  Their goal is to get 3,108 children sponsored this month.  That is a crazy number!  But that would be an amazing number of lives to change.  So I don't want to just throw up a bunch of random facts copied from other places.  My goal for this blog is to write stories about my real life.  Child sponsorship is a part of my real life, so I want to tell stories about it.  That is what I am doing this month telling stories about my experiences with child sponsorship in hopes of changing some lives, yours and theirs.

The challenge for this week is to write as if I were one of my sponsored children.  However, I do not think I am up to that task.  So I'm going to type out sentences they have actually written to me.


 Photo Credit: Me


From Deethana ('ana' as Ben calls her) in Thailand

"Many teachers at the school have left, but there is only a new teacher so soldiers come to help to teach because we don't have enough teachers.  My parents are cultivating the land to grow rice everyday, so we expect to have enough to eat through this year."  June 25, 2011


"There is 1 new teacher at my school and she's a lady and the other 4 new teachers are coming in this coming Tuesday.  I'm so glad to have new teachers because there are just 7 teachers left in my school now."  July 29, 2011

"I haven't worshiped God because my school is a Buddhist school.  I'm so glad to attend project activity on Saturday.  It makes me learn many things in the Bible. ...  Pray for me that I'll love God more and able to be a blessing to the teachers."  July 29, 2011

"Please pray for my older brother not to forget God during working in Ayutthaya."  September 9, 2011

"I would like to thank God that I am able to be in this project.  I can study the Sunday school, Life Skills, and I can learn many things from the Bible.  I can memorize Bible verses, sing songs.  i like a lot and I love God more."  November 30, 2011


"My favorite Scripture is Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."  January 10, 2012

"For school result, I received the 13th place of the class.  Hope you are happy with me.  I thank God for that.  I'm not sad to receive 13th place of the class.  I will pay more focus on school. ... Next school year, I will do better on school and make you happy. ... During school break, I will help my parents working and be a good child for you."  March 26, 2012

From Roselvina ('ina' as Ben calls her) in Guatemala 

"She thanks you for the Christmas present that you sent her because she doesn't receiver presents.  She asks you to pray for her family and for her studies and for the Compassion project because she wants to be an obedient girl there to God."  February 3. 2009

"She says that she loves you and sens you a big hug and she wants to know if you gave birth to the baby and what the name of the baby is."  February 26, 2009

"Her parents, brothers, and the whole family like sports and what they play most is soccer and basketball."  December 10, 2009

"Her parents are sending you their best regards and gratitude for the help you send Roselvina.  They thank you for everything you send her and for sponsoring her too."  April 15, 2010

"She also says to please pray for her and her family and especially for her father so he will accept Christ in his heart."  July 2, 2010

"Let me tell you that I like going to the Project because I learn about God.  My parents and siblings have accepted Christ.  I ask you to pray for my family and me so we can go on in God's work."  April 16, 2011

"My favorite animal is the rabbit.  I like them because they jump high."  May 5, 2012


As I reread their letters and typed these words, I feel so blessed to be a part of the lives of these two girls.  Their words, drawings, and pictures are so special to me.  They really are like a part of the family.  

Maybe you are thinking about sponsoring a child.  You should do it!  It will be such a blessing to you and your family as well as a blessing to the precious child that you sponsor.  These are just a few examples of the special things I have shared with my two girls.  What will you share with your sponsored child?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm 32

Birthday Cake  Photo Credit: Will Clayton

My birthday was last Tuesday and I turned 32.  My birthday's are usually pretty tame affairs.  A special dinner, a gift, and a few cards.  This birthday was no different in terms of celebration.  However, what is going on in my heart is very different.  I feel like I'm am just now understanding who I am.  Here is something I am just now understanding.

God made me to be more than I ever thought I could be and do more than I ever thought I could do.  AND I am enjoying it just like he wants me to enjoy it.

That sounds awesome right.  Well here's the catch, so to speak.  I'm learning that in order to keep growing I have to stop worrying about what other people think.  Those of you who have followed me for awhile or know me in person know that for me this is not too much of a problem.  I pretty much don't care what about 90% of the people in the world think.  It's the last 10% that are getting me.  I do still worry about what my husband thinks and what my girls think.  I worry some about what my colleagues think and what my fellow church members think.  I worry about what my teens think.  To some extent is important what these important people think.  However it is not more important than what God thinks!

Sometimes I forget that what God thinks is most important!

When I forget that, it makes it hard to grow.  When I don't grow, I stay the same.  When I stay the same, I am not becoming who God wants me to be.  And I don't like that.  I like who I am becoming.  I like saying out loud all those things about myself and being those things.  I have this awesome idea of how I can make a commitment to myself and to God to keep being that person even when I'm scared and unsure.  I've shared it with a few close personals and I've gotten good feedback.  That feedback was delayed from some of them because of internet issues.  In that delay, my first thought was that they didn't like it and I started to doubt what I know God has told me.  So I have put their opinion in front of God's opinion.

Why?

God is the one that made me!  He knows me best.  He knows how I can be the best me.  My friends are awesome, but they are not God.  So I'm 32 and I'm committing to listening to God more and people less.  I'm going to be who he wants me to be and not who others expect me to be.  I'm 32 and it's about time I start acting like I know who I am.  I'm 32 and I need to start being me before I am someone else.  I'm 32 and I need to stop worrying about people who didn't create me.

I'm 32 and I'm going to be me!

(In case you are wondering what my awesome idea is, you'll find out in a few weeks.  It's only close personals for now.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 9-22



Pictures and Videos that will interest you


Pictures of Poverty - Big Smiles from Ethiopia

Isle of Man - Friday Funhouse: September 21, 2012

Compassion - Coming full circle: The Anita Charles Story


Fun Stories
Campfire Cowboys Ministries - Wooly Mammoths cause Memory Loss  -  Apparently, shaking my face was the last of many mistakes I had made those last few days.  Because when I did, they opened the chute gate and let the wooly mammoth out with me on its back and a flank strap being pulled tight to make sure it would really buck.  The next thing I remember is being home two days later.

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - Friends in High Places - Yes. I’ve got friends in high places here in Albania and it pays.
The particular high place I’m referring to is a pizzeria which may not seem that high to you. But to me, it’s very important!

God Stuff
Prodigal Magazine - Do you want to be innocent or relevant? - To put it another way, a lot of people want the Christian world to look like the world of seven-year-olds.  Pure, innocent, child-like, bland, lacking anything that would be controversial or provocative…or worth paying attention to.

Mustard Seed - Faithful Friday: Faith like a child - When some one or something was chasing you, you ran to Mommy or Daddy because you knew they would protect you.  You would leap into their arm and not worry about falling.  The idea of them not catching you never even entered your mind.  This is the kind of faith Christ wants from us. He wants us to leap into His arms and not worry about falling.


A Deeper Story - Grief: 3 little girls and God somewhere  - My wife died, and that’s completely all there is to it.
In one moment, breath and dreams and family and tomorrow.  In the next, nothing.  Just that quickly did death find my family and measure our days short.
The end.
The Exodus Road - The river of Human Trafficking: An Illustration - And, so, what do you do? You can’t be all three places at once, and there are small children drowning literally all around you-literally, all around you.
And it doesn’t take long to realize that a single you is nowhere near enough.
Glimpses of Glory - Googling your perfect church  - What would yours be?
If you knew that you get find the place where you belong by simply typing in some key words, what would they be?
Mine?
“Sara Groves, Shane Claiborne, spiritual mutt, community, dirty, freedom, grace, love, prostitutes, lepers, Aids, Holy”
Compassion - It takes Humility to be One  - After his guest went back home, the teacher started feeling proud of himself, knowing how wise he was. He started recalling all the wisdom he had and how much others respected him for it.
Suddenly, he realized that he had become arrogant. Therefore, he wanted to remove his arrogance by mopping the floor several times as a reflection of his repentance.
While listening to his teacher, Andy realized that he used to experience this same kind of struggle, so he began reflecting on different kinds of pride. Finally, he figured out that there are three kinds.


Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/signs-of-pride-it-takes-humility-to-be-one/#ixzz27Cbj1URs

Mustard Seed - Temptation Tuesday: Avoiding Temptation  - Try as I might, I have been unable to avoid temptation.  As a Christian temptation is supposed to bounce off me like bullets off Superman, right?  When do I get that Christian superpower?  I know what I’ll do! I’ve got it!  I’ll lock myself in a dark room and close my eyes and cover my ears.  That's gotta work! 


Regular Living Stuff
World Vision - This Campaign:  Why isn't poverty an issue? - But there’s one issue I’ve missed hearing from both candidates’ campaigns: I haven’t heard a word about what they propose to do for those who suffer from poverty — here in the United States or around the world.

101 Books - The Dangers of Trusting Wikipedia - Let’s talk about that for a second. How ridiculous that Wikipedia “requires” Roth to provide a secondary source, other than himself, on what inspired HIM to write a novel, to create art. Amazing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy and Reading

Worm  Photo Credit:  Matt Erasmus

Earlier this week, I read this post.  It made me think and think and think some more.  I came to the conclusion that I blog (at least in part) because I don't believe people will take my words seriously in real life.  Somehow having control over them here feels like they have more weight.  I'm not sure what to do with that.

I think I will take this advice and this advice.  I'm unplugging for my day off and reading a couple good books.  I might even get on the treadmill and read one.

But before I do a few good things this week.

1.  Tuesday was my birthday.  I got some amazing flowers and got to go out to eat.
2.  My Christian club helped out with the Drama Club Talent Show production for the United Way.  Over 100 people and over $250, not to mention a whole lot of kids show casing their talent on stage and behind it.  WAY TO GO KIDS!
3.  I have today off, so I got to sleep in.
4.  I had a good meeting on yesterday.
5.  I get to take Ben to school today!
6.  I got a pretty good email back from Starbucks about my complaint I filed.

Thanks for reading this little blurb and for coming back tomorrow.  Ya'll are wonderful!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Show us your relationship

I'm taking a break from my Love in the Real World series because...

A couple weeks ago, I saw something about becoming a Compassion Blogger.  I read the blogs of a couple different child sponsorship companies and I love the stories that I read.  The bloggers for these companies are amazing.  The stories they tell are real and inspiring.  You probably know that I think highly of them because I link so many on my Good Stuff Saturday  posts.  I want to write like that, so I took the challenge.  September is blog month at Compassion. Why?  Their goal is to get 3,108 children sponsored this month.  That is a crazy number!  But that would be an amazing number of lives to change.  So I don't want to just throw up a bunch of random facts copied from other places.  My goal for this blog is to write stories about my real life.  Child sponsorship is a part of my real life, so I want to tell stories about it.  That is what I am doing this month telling stories about my experiences with child sponsorship in hopes of changing some lives, yours and theirs.



They are about halfway to their goal of getting 3,108 children sponsored!  God is really moving and this is really happening.  I'm so excited!  But as excited as I am, I have seen the faces of the kids that still need sponsors and my heart goes out to them.  I want to sponsor them all because I want to make their lives better.  But that part of me doesn't trust God enough, so I'm going to focus on the excited part.  Compassion is hosting a contest for Pinterest.  

I think this is a neat way to celebrate the children that we sponsor.  We can pin the things that remind us of the child.  We can pin the things we have in common.  We can visually share the relationship we have with our sponsored child. 

It isn't all fun though because as I was searching for pins I realized how vulnerable this makes me.  I can't keep this relationship to myself.  By pinning things, I am opening up the relationship to potential criticism.  If you go look at my board, then you'll see what I think about them.  When you see what I think about them, then you might be thinking about the things that are missing from the board.  It is not complete yet, but I can't think of that much more to add to it as well.  So you can see that I don't know that much about them.  I don't have many pictures to put on there.  I have not visited them in person.  I can not verbally describe their personality.  I don't even have a lot of personal photos on there.  So don't judge me too harshly because I'm still really bad at this sponsorship thing and I just pray that God will use my feeble efforts to make a difference. 

Quoting from the email I received: "The Pinterest contest is an opportunity for you to share your heart for children in poverty and, to bless little ones in need, in a new and creative way."  So if you like Pintrest, you have a new challenge.  If you like a challenge, go to Pinterest and start pinning.  And if you have a heart for children in poverty, go show that off because it is a special part of you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What to do about bad service...

Starbucks at Nerima  Photo Credit: shinji_w
(Not this location.  This location is in Japan.  I'm just using the photo of the sign.)

Last night we took our youth group to Starbucks.  I have stated before on here that I am trying to only drink fair trade coffee, so going to a coffee place is a dilemma for me.  Do I ask if their coffee is fair trade and seem like an obnoxious customer or do I just get something non-coffee?  In the past I have gone with something non-coffee, but now Pumpkin Spice Latte's are out and I wanted one.  So I asked.  And I was treated to one of the rudest experiences I have ever had in the restaurant industry.  After asking if the coffee was fair trade, the employee said, "I think the Italian blend is."  It wasn't a nice 'I'm not totally sure, but here is what I know' kind of a voice.  It was a 'why are you asking me this ridiculous question' kind of voice.  I kept on though.  I asked if the Pumpkin Spice Latte could be made with that.  (I assumed the answer to be no, but I wanted to be sure.)  The employee responded, "That is espresso beans.  And we don't have any Italian blend anyway."  Once again in a 'I can't believe what a stupid customer you are' voice.  And the last comment about not having the Italian blend made said to me that they wouldn't be making any either.  No big loss.

I ordered a caramel steamer.

I sat down to wait and heard that same employee telling another customer about all the 'uneducated people around here' in a rant that had something to do with trash in the wrong place.  Not sure what that was about, but I don't think it is appropriate to call customers that to another customer.  I chalked it up to the guy was having a bad day.  I waited and waited and waited for my order.  (It came second to last.)  Drew told me it was ready and I went to pick it up.  I walked over to the pick up area and was rather confused.  There were no hot drinks there.  Only one white cold drink with whip cream and caramel on top.  I don't get cold drinks, so I have no clue what it was.  I picked it up and it said whip cream and caramel that I ordered and it said 3 of 3 which was accurate.  All but one other kid had their drink, so this one must be mine.  I gave it to one of our kids who didn't order anything.

By this point, I was furious.

And so was Drew.  He said he didn't hear the further complaining of said employee because he walked off earlier in the conversation.  It really, really, really bothers him when people talk down to me.  So he walked off in order not to say mean words to that guy.  I posted on Twitter and Facebook about my pumpkin coffee dilemma.  I got a few ideas.  I also posted on Twitter that I had received a bad attitude and the wrong order.  I don't normally rant like that because when people do I roll my eyes and think, "Get over it!"  Even as I was posting I knew I was being rather over sensitive.  The other employees were doing their jobs magnificently and they didn't seem to be talking to the rude guy at all.  This mistake was certainly not their fault.  We had a group of 17 walk in and kinda take over.  The other employees didn't bat an eye.  They did their job and were pleasant.

So here is my question, what do I do about it?

I didn't get the rude guy's name.  I don't think he was wearing a name tag.  I do plan on sending an email complaint when I look up the appropriate addresses.  (I also send compliments that way too when they are deserved.)  There are TWO other coffee places along that road and another Starbucks in town.  I plan on visiting those a time or two before going back to this location in question.  However, this is all the fault of one employee.  I don't want to write off the business or location entirely because of one guy.  That seems pretty narrow minded and a little vindictive.  So is my complaint and a couple cool off visits elsewhere enough?  I would like to avoid that guy entirely, but once again that seems rude and vindictive.

What would you do?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 9-15



Photos

The Isle of Man - Friday Funhouse: Sept. 14, 2012 - This one has funny parents, funny kids, funny food, funny office, funny driving, funny phone conversations, a funny grandma story, and MORE.  You want to see this one.


A super awesome new blog I found
Campfire Cowboy Ministries - Never Fight Dinosaurs or This will happen - I swatted him away with cowboy ninja-like precision and at once, his instinct for survival kicked in.
There are your average bees. I like to think of them as your next door neighbor who flies a little airplane. They can take off and land and get where they’re going. Then you have freakin’ Maverick from Top Gun. This bee-one-bomber pilot must have had flying lessons from Yoda because he had to be using the force.

Campfire Cowboy Ministries - People are people  - I said all that to say this.  People are just people.  That’s it.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I’ve known some really good people who had a quick lapse in judgement and did the wrong thing.  I’ve known some not so good people who had a quick lapse in judgement and did the right thing.  Chances are, you know people like that too.  Chances are, you’ve put your faith in someone who let you down.  Maybe it really crushed you.  Don’t let it.  Here’s why.

Campfire Cowboy Ministries - Givin it, aint yours anyway - I used to think that all churches wanted was my money.  But as I got closer to God, He finally started to get some things through my thick skull.  One of those things was that the more I gave-whether it was time, money or possessions, the more I would get back…and that has been proven time and time again in my life.  The other thing I figured out was this-nothing I have is mine!  And guess what?  Nothing you have is yours, either!

Cowboy Campfire Ministries - Dumb things that smart people do and what we can learn from them  - Scarlet gets out in her high heels (I really don’t know what she was wearing, but I can’t picture her in anything else) and gets the gate open. Stacey drives through and waits for her to close it and get back in.
And she waits…and she waits…and she waits.
Finally, the passenger door opens and Scarlet gets back in…breathing laboriously.
“What took you so long?” Stacey asks.
With a huff of breath, Scarlet then turns to her chauffeur and exclaims, “I had to climb over the gate after I shut it!!”
More great posts to read

Isle of Man - This blog exists to rid the world of jerks - No one was born as a full-sized, adult jerk. It took time and development. Specifically, it took people refusing to speak truth into their lives and to tell them that they aren't the most important person in the world.

I was at the grocery store, recently. I was about to check out, and I saw a line with only one person in it. She didn't have a very full cart, so I went ahead and got in line.

Biggest mistake -- ever.


Compassion - Who told you? - Who told you that God cannot use us to transform these children into responsible and fulfilled Christian adults? Who told you?
Who told you that God will not answer all our prayers when we call upon Him? Who told you that God will not grant us all the resources we need to do His work effectively?
Who told you that we cannot challenge all Christians regarding the biblical mandate to reach out to the poor and the needy? Who told you?


Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/who-told-you/#ixzz26XXbZ0Mr



Run with the big girls - How to increase your energy: Part 5 - There is something about tuning out all the noise around you, all that extra stuff that just seems to continually get in the way.  Quiet is good for the soul.  Not feeling like you have to answer every phone call or email or text message is calming for you.  That’s why I recommend you go unplugged for at least one day a week.

The Church of No People - Why I am an extreme political moderate  - I have to agree.  That kind of “moderate” would make me want to judo chop him right in his moderate bone (the ossicle).
But I’d like to give a playful, but serious response, because I consider myself a moderate…
…a very extreme moderate.  I’m the most closed minded moderate I know, in fact.  I hope you’re ready because I’m about to open a whole can of moderation on your sorry faces.
101 Books - Your Search Questions answered: Volume 12  - This edition of Your Search Questions Answered has an annoying words theme.
For the most part, a lot of my juicy, funny search terms this time around were related to my post about 7 annoying words that should die a horrible death. That post tends to generate all kinds of weird traffic.



Some good September 11 rememberences

Beta Christian - 11 - We don’t heal by giving our enemies the finger while raising up towers. We heal when we love one another. This is the way a simple man once showed me. The only thing that He raised for the world to see was a cross. Not to show how much power he had, but to show how much love He had. Three days later, he raised His temple, to show that He does have power, not to raise buildings but to raise His people from the dead. 


She is Fierce - Even if we tried   (This link may not work, but it is worth checking on later.


I'd laugh, but all this happened to me - "Oh them lions!" (A Vintage Post)  - I confess that I dread days like this.  Things like marking the anniversary of the September 11th attacks are exactly the kinds of things that we USAmericans so often get so wrong.  We produce countless documentaries so that those who suffered the greatest losses can watch those planes and buildings blow up over and over again.  We profit from their pain, selling souvenirs disguised as remembrances.  And we focus on the wrong things.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

God sightings




It was a Tuesday morning and we were nervous.  We prayed in the car as we were leaving our neighborhood.  Then the car stopped.  In the middle of the prayer and the street, it stopped.  The third car in 10 days that stopped working.  We weren't deterred.  In my heels, I helped push it into a parking lot.  We made a few phone calls and finished our prayer.  That day God got us a new car for $46 a month.  Not just any new car, but a car that I'm in love with for the first time in my life.  We met a wonderful lady at the credit union who saved us money and helped us get rid of our bank that we don't like.  Later that day we got my car and renewed our relationship with an amazing car dealership that is honest and has incredible service.  They oiled our door hinges, cleaned the window, and wiped down the interior before we left the lot.  We broke 3 cars and God showed up with better.

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At work, a difficult colleague was confronted.  I breathed a sigh and praised the Lord for someone caring enough to say something.  A positive conversation about making leaders of our students and challenging them to be more made me love my work place all the more.  An outside perspective that encouraged us makes me believe in what we can accomplish.  The moment where I see a difficult student get it is when I see wonderful possibilities.  A field trip opportunity has got my students scared and excited about Spanish.  There have been growing pains and God showed up at my job.  

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I was stressed about Drew being out of town and having extra errands to run, but they all got done with very little waiting.  My parents sent a package with an awesome coat for Ben and a bracelet witha great story for me.  Drew's phone has been really messed up, so we went to have someone look at it.  It isn't fixable, but it isn't broken.  We didn't know what to do, but we came home and tried a new charger.  It is better.  Not fixed, but better.  We went to the mall and isaw a former student.  I waved.  He smiled broadly and waved his arms.  He came over to talk to me and I realized how special this is.  Drew and I had a conversation about our schedules and we both feel the same way.  That is a wonderful.  Life is stressful and God showed up to hold my hand through it.

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A game at youth was a roaring giggling success.  Wednesday night we had more kids than chairs.  The new youth attendees enjoy themselves and come back.  Some kids are praying at the altar on Sunday MORNING!  We have leaders that we trust to lead the younger ones.  We have younger ones that are excited.  We got to attend an amazing back to school rally and the kids were inspired.  We have kids asking for prayer in areas of life where they struggle. The future is looking bright because God showed up to speak to hearts.

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I feel totally unworthy of such attention from the creator of the Universe!  He is making his love so tangible and visible that I am speechless and a little winded.  


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dear God,

I'm taking a break from my Love in the Real World series because...

A couple weeks ago, I saw something about becoming a Compassion Blogger.  I read the blogs of a couple different child sponsorship companies and I love the stories that I read.  The bloggers for these companies are amazing.  The stories they tell are real and inspiring.  You probably know that I think highly of them because I link so many on my Good Stuff Saturday  posts.  I want to write like that, so I took the challenge.  September is blog month at Compassion. Why?  Their goal is to get 3,108 children sponsored this month.  That is a crazy number!  But that would be an amazing number of lives to change.  So I don't want to just throw up a bunch of random facts copied from other places.  My goal for this blog is to write stories about my real life.  Child sponsorship is a part of my real life, so I want to tell stories about it.  That is what I am doing this month telling stories about my experiences with child sponsorship in hopes of changing some lives, yours and theirs.

The challenge this week, write a letter to God.  Lots of words came down to this...



Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post Silence

Dear Reader,

I had a great story that I planned to write, but this morning the words won't come. (I'm shooting for Friday.)  In fact, this morning no words will come.  My mind keeps racing with the seemingly endless list of things I must remember while Drew is gone to a pastor's gathering.  I am a little stressed and that means my need for silence is greater.  I need to sit and listen to nature around me to calm my spirit and focus my energy.  So I'm going to take this time to sit quietly, read the Bible, and pray a little before I start my crazy week.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

I do have a couple pictures for you of what we have been up to recently.  And a guest post today on The Esau Project.  Does that make this non-post better?  Hope so.

Love ya,
Andrea

 We don't eat at this little diner often enough.  I just love the atmosphere





Saturday we had a car wash.  This guy even wanted his car washed in the rain.
I got a new car and I love it!


Here's more of my fabulous car.

Don't forget to go check out the guest post!  It's another letter.  This one is to my 18 year old self.  Go take a look!
 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 9-8


Lots and lots of reading material this week!

Thoughts on Politics
Of Paper, Pints, and Tweed - Cruciform Politics
Shawn Smucker - Why Christians should be in the Minority 
The Church of No people - Why Political Parties are like Beer 
Thoughts on Live, God, and Ministry - Thoughts ont he RNC and the DNC 

Overseas Observations
World Vision - Married at 13

Journey of a Christ follower to Albania - Two worlds

I needed to hear this, so maybe you do too
Life and Theology - Encouraging Boys to be Boys 
A Deeper Story - I am not third


Great stories that I read
Thoughts on Life, God, and Ministry - I know the plans I have for you
Beta Christian - He was there 
The Esau Project - It's not your fault
Compassion - Freely Receive Freely Give

God stuff to make you think
NoSuperheroes.com - Are we bridge builders or bridge bombers?
Top of the Page - One reason why people don't come to church 
Stuff Christians Like - Dear God
Katie Hawkins Missionary to Albaina - God's Temple


Just for fun
The Isle of Man - Friday Funhouse September 7, 2012 


A chance for you to change the world
The Sound of Hope - Help us keep our wheels turning 

Friday, September 7, 2012

FREE Books for YOU!

These are the actual books you could get!  (One at the top got cut off.  Sorry.)


I have been cleaning out my book shelves recently and I also read this blog post and won this giveaway.  That led me to think about what I could do with the books I have cleaned out.  I am giving away the books that I don't want any more!  I will even pay for shipping.  So it is a totally free book that arrives at your door.  I have linked them all to their Good Reads reviews, so you can see what people thought of them.

Hard cover

Gringos in paradise by Barry Golson
Dune road by Jane Green
Zeke and Ned by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Lempriere's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk
Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Soft cover

The Lace Reader by Bruonina Berry
36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A work of fiction by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 
The Alienist by Caleb Carr  (This one is older and the cover has a tear in the corner.)
Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
The Last Days of the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport
Nowhere Near the Sea of Cortez by Jim Harris (The author came to speak to my college class and the book is signed by him.  However it does have my first name in it.)

Some of these I have read.  Some I have started to read and didn't finish.  And some I haven't read.  However, I won't tell you which ones or what I thought because I'm a book snob.  So my review might not reflect the view of most people.  The GoodReads site is probably better.  


To CLAIM your BOOK, just leave a comment below with which one you want.  I will contact you for address.  Hopefully late next week I can get them in the mail to you all.  Thanks!


I hope you get what you want and have fun with this!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Letters from my girls

I'm taking a break from my Love in the Real World series because...

Last week I saw something about becoming a Compassion Blogger.  I read the blogs of a couple different child sponsorship companies and I love the stories that I read.  The bloggers for these companies are amazing.  The stories they tell are real and inspiring.  You probably know that I think highly of them because I link so many on my Good Stuff Saturday  posts.  I want to write like that, so I took the challenge.  September is blog month at Compassion. Why?  Their goal is to get 3,108 children sponsored this month.  That is a crazy number!  But that would be an amazing number of lives to change.  So I don't want to just throw up a bunch of random facts copied from other places.  My goal for this blog is to write stories about my real life.  Child sponsorship is a part of my real life, so I want to tell stories about it.  That is what I am doing this month telling stories about my experiences with child sponsorship in hopes of changing some lives, yours and theirs.

Grandma Writing a letter  Photo Credit: cote

The idea of child sponsorship began when I was a kid and I saw those sad commercials.  I suppose some would label them as propaganda.  Personally, I would say truth and little bit of guilt which isn't always a bad thing.  Anyway I decided when I grew up, I wanted to sponsor a child because I wanted to change a life.  As I grew up, I worried about money and thought someday when finances are more settled.  God didn't let me leave it at that though.  He brought Compassion into my life as a young married wife.  It wasn't the right time, but I was impressed with the company.  As a soon to be mother, God brought them back again.  The time was finally right.  It wasn't right because I had all my finances in order.  (HA!)  It was right because I was getting ready to have a kid.  I was going to be a mother and that connected me to so many other mothers out there.  So I picked up packets from Spanish speaking countries and decided on Ina, as Ben calls her, from Guatemala.

I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be a mother and not be able to feed, house, or educate your child.  These are very real concerns for mothers out there in 3rd world countries.  Some have to make horrific decisions about who to feed tonight or who to educate or who to keep.  These decisions can have such long lasting effects that only entrench these people further into poverty.  It is a depressing cycle and can easily feel too big for one person this person to change.

There is something you can do!  You can change things!

Child sponsorship is a powerful tool for change!  The money I provide every month ($38 x 2) will help keep my two kids healthy and full.  When they are healthy and full, they can go to school.  When they go to school, they can get a good education.  A good education provides them with the ability to reach their dreams.  When they reach their dreams, they become doctors, teachers, policy makers, community leaders, etc.  Those are positions of power that have the ability to change the lives of hundreds.  So my $38 x 2 a month can change 2 lives and those 2 can change hundreds.

Not only do these 2 precious girls get food, water, education, and health care, they get to know Jesus!  Compassion provides a child development center for these kids and their parents.  Parents can come to learn better parenting skills and sometimes job skills.  The kids can come to learn more about Jesus and have some fun while learning life skills.  Compassion works with churches in the area to ensure the children have a pastor.  I have received letters from these pastors.  They give me insight as to the dangers in these particular areas where these girls live.

However, letters from the pastors are not the highlight of my sponsorship experience.  The highlight is the letters I get from these girls.  Their letters and drawings give me a chance to get to know them better and to know how to pray for them.  It gives me a chance to see what is going on in their lives.  And most importantly, it gives me a chance to know them.  It isn't just about the money.  It is about the relationship I am developing with them.

I got sidetracked before I told you about our second girl.  After following a couple other blogs, I developed a heart for Thailand.  I searched for children in Thailand on Compassion's child sponsorship page.  I narrowed it down to one area and God just put Ana, as Ben calls her, on my heart.  I looked over the choices several times and she was the only one that touched my heart.  So we sponsored another one even though we couldn't really afford it because Ana, like Ina was meant to be a part of our family.

Developing a relationship with them has not been easy.  There are many times I feel like a total failure because my letter isn't heartfelt enough.  It is a struggle to know what to say and what not to say.  But nothing that is worth it ever came easy.  It takes work to develop relationships and these are just like other relationships.

So what can you do?

GO TO THE SITE that I have linked to 8 times now.

THEN:

Pray for one, ten, all the children there to get sponsored.
Sign up to be a correspondence sponsor and write letters to children who don't normally get them.
Become a sponsor and start creating your own relationship.

Be aware that you will be the only sponsor for the child and it is preferred that you will sponsor them until they complete the program (18 to 22 depending on country).  This should be a long term relationship between you and this child and God.  Please don't enter this lightly.  Let Him call you to sponsorship and to the child you are to sponsor.

Will you at least go to the site , look around, and say a prayer?