Thursday, November 26, 2009

Attitude Of Gratitude

Even though today isn't officially Thanksgiving in Canada, in my heart it is. Not just today, but every day.

An attitude of gratitude is a choice. It is part of my daily choice to die to self, and to live for Christ. It is a life changing conscious decision to chose life, to breathe life, to speak life, to live life to the fullest. Most of us find it easy to be grateful when we are blessed with good news, a happy occasion, the sight of a beautiful sunrise... but how many of us make a choice to find the blessings in heartbreaking situations, in difficult circumstances, in strife? Is it that we chose not to see it, are we too comfortable in darkness... or that it takes too much effort?

Does it take effort to climb a mountain? To the one who has never climbed one, yes... but to the one who practices, trains for it, and is focused on climbing that mountain, the more the climber is experienced, the less effort it begins to take. Either way, whether you've climbed that mountain before or not, you have the power to chose to climb that mountain. The more you climb, the more it becomes second nature. And... like a healthy heart, body and soul... it begins to feel great. An attitude of gratitude is like a high impact workout for your spirit. Even better, there are no monthly gym membership fees, and everyone can join at any time.

Not a single one of us are spared hardship. Jesus, the Son of God, was not spared -- He had to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8)... So who are we to believe that we should be spared suffering?

"I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble. But be brave! I have defeated the world!" John 16:33

So if pain is inevitable, if we have no other choice but to face battles in our lives, why chose to prolong the darkness, the bitterness, the anger, the disappointment, the pain? Each expression of gratitude is like a candle in the darkness. As long as we find one flicker of light, of gratitude, the darkness is lifted. The more light we find, the less power darkness has over us. Fill your heart with light, and it will no longer have room for darkness. Rather than being overwhelmed by the darkness surrounding us, why don't we make the choice to find the light? If we're not making that choice, then we are effectively choosing to extend darkness. Perhaps the pain, the suffering, wasn't our choice... but what we do from that point IS a choice.

It's not just a choice, but a command:
"Consider it pure joy my brothers--be thankful my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-4)

When we face trials, God tells us that we are to be joyful because the testing of our faith develops our perserverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)

Too hard to feel joy in times of sorrow? Start with the smallest flicker of light. It is there, in the shadows, waiting to be discovered. Don't stop seeking until you find it, and once you find it, don't stop seeking.

On my way home a few Sundays ago, I struggled to see the light in the darkness for a few moments, so I started with the smallest, silliest light I could find, and worked my way up. It sounded something like this...

"Well, God... it's just you and me now. Today was especially difficult, Lord... help me find some good in it... even the tiniest thing (which are often the biggest things)..."

The first thing that came to mind? "I'm alive." How could I not be grateful?

Second thing? "I am breathing. I am breathing in, I am breathing out, and I continue to breathe." It's hard to be grateful when you're not breathing at all.

Third? "I am not alone, God, You are with me." Always.

The more time I spent focused on an attitude of gratitude, the easier it became, and the less power the darkness had. I even got really creative... "Well, Lord... I didn't have to do dishes, housework or laundry today... not that dishes are a bad thing, it just means we have served food... same with housework, it means we have been blessed with shelter... as for laundry, well, one could argue that laundry is good, especially if you're Canada in the wintertime, because it is an obvious sign that you do not belong to a nudist colony.... yeah, about that, Lord... are there any nudist colonies in Canada? But even nudist colonies in Canada would be grateful, for they'd have little laundry to do..."

It's not to say that eternally optimistic people aren't faced with challenges that are just as difficult as those being faced by people who struggle with gratitude. They just make a choice to respond differently.

What will your choice be?

"A Christian is one who majors in appreciation." -- John Versteeg

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jesus Through Osmosis


On our way home from the Christian book store tonight, Jillian and I talked about Jesus and how important it is to keep Him in our hearts, and to guard our hearts so that He'll remain firmly planted there.

I always love asking Jillian about God or Jesus, her answers are so sweet. Today was no exception.

I asked her how Jesus got into her heart, and she said "When I was in your belly, He was in your heart, so that's where I got Him... and now He lives in me, and He just keeps multiplying. Sometimes, He spills out a little, but He always jumps back in."

She's so vivid in her descriptions, so sweet, my heart just melts.

She understands about Jesus, God, salvation, and heaven in such a pure, Jillian-like innocence, a pure simplicity... there was never a choice, her beliefs "just are". That innocence is precious to me, in so many ways. I treasure seeing her living for Christ every day through how she loves others unconditionally, gently, sweetly, patiently... she's one of my greatest inspirations.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

God's Sword


When we step aside and allow God to use our lives for His purpose, putting our entire life in His hands and giving ourselves completely to Him, it is much like becoming His sword for His battle. We don't always understand the battle, what He will ask us to do, where He will take us, or even His purpose, His plan.

We simply know that it won't be easy and that at the end of each battle, we may feel as though all we've gained is a chink in our blade...

Yet, we are to trust our Master, we are to fully die to self.

Does a sword ever question its Master? Does a sword ever hesitate in its Master's hands? When is a sword not brave, not willing, even knowing that its Master will not set it down until the battle is finished and won?

Inspired by Sunday morning's sermon at Living Water Community Church, Dalton, Ohio.

I have experienced the feeling of being God's sword in the last few months, especially so in the last few weeks, and it has been an awe inspiring experience. When I heard this message in church on Sunday, it took my breath away all over again. I had not seen it from this point of view, but it all fell into place and began to make sense for me in a way that was real, relevant, relentless...

Saturday, October 17, 2009



"Hope raises its voice sometimes.

It has to talk louder than fear."


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dear Sponsor Child... Topics!


Once in a while, you may get "writer's block" when it comes to writing to your Compassion child. Uhm, I can't honestly say that I've ever had writer's block very often, *cough cough*... but if you've struggle with what to write about, here's a neat idea that I used last year.

Our Compassion girls really seem to enjoy hearing about all our traditions and holidays, so one idea led to the next, and I decided to write to them about all the holidays we celebrate in Canada, in chronological order.

Each holiday had it's own little paragraph, explaining what the holiday was, how it was generally celebrated, and any traditions or thoughts I could share about the holiday. The letter turned out to be three pages, typed! I think they will enjoy this letter. We included one of those mini calendars for the girls. Terry and I went to the dollar store Wednesday after work, and found one with puppies, and two with kittens. Bessy loves dogs, Emily and Martha will probably love the kittens. I went through each month in the 3 calendars, highlighting holidays that I had written about, as well as our birthdays and theirs.

It was a lot of work, but I think they'll enjoy it. I'm kicking myself now, though, for not translating the days of the week at the top of each page, as well as the names of the months. I know I don't have to, but it would have been thoughtful of me to do that... *sheepish grin*

I asked them to share the differences between our holidays and theirs, and to tell me about their favorite holidays.

I look forward to hearing what they had to say!

What about you -- do you have any topic ideas for the days when you need something different to talk about?

What has been popular with your Compassion child as far as topics go?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear Sponsor Child... Think Ahead!


It's April.

Time to pull out summer holiday stuff... Canada Flags, 4th of July stickers... right?


Have you ever tried to find children's valentines in November? If you've ever had to do that once, you remember the following valentine's day to put some aside for your Compassion children's correspondence the following fall.

The reality is that it takes 2-3 months for a letter to reach your child. It doesn't seem like a long time when you consider how much a letter travels...

  • From your house to your country's Compassion office.
  • From there, the letter is opened, read, and everything is checked to be sure it's labeled and appropriate for your child. It is placed into a package destined for your Compassion child's specific country.
  • Once it gets to the Compassion country's headquarters, I believe it is translated, and then sent to the child's Compassion center where it is distributed.
  • So much love, so much care and attention, as well as prayers, each step of the way.

As you get in the habit of writing to your Compassion child with a "think ahead" mindset, you begin to plan in advance for what you'll send. You'd love for your child to receive valentines in February, and Easter stuff in the spring, Christmas cards in December, no?

Do yourself a favor -- when each holiday passes, check out the clearance shelves, and pick up a few extras to tuck into your correspondence kit -- you'll be glad you did about 9 months down the road...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Sponsor Child... Organization!


One of the greatest joys of sponsoring a Compassion child, is to correspond with them. Receiving a letter from them, especially one with a photo, is like Christmas morning. Those precious letters from Martha, Emily, and from Bessy, are amongst the first things I'd save if the house caught on fire, once the kids/pets were safe and sound.

Last year, in an attempt to better keep track of the correspondence, I created a binder for each of our Compassion girls. I filled the book with page protectors, and placed the Compassion photos and account info, mailing labels and such in the first pocket, and then filled the rest with each letter sent or received, in chronological order.

I love this format, because it enables us to read the letters much like a story, and it makes it easy to search for information. With the page protectors, I don't have to worry about the kids handling the books, I know the letters will be safe. Since I use zippered binders, I can tuck extras into the inside pocket. That way, when I want to write to them, I have the stash of stickers, books, coloring books, photos, postcards and such right at my fingertips! Anytime I find stuff I know will come in handy, such as holiday things (Valentine's Day cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards, Easter stickers, etc), I know exactly where to put it!

In each letter, I encourage them to share their prayer requests... here were some recent ones:

Martha -- Praying that her school will be able to meet the needs of the students, especially the classrooms and the availability of teachers.
Bessy -- for her father to find work.
Emily -- no specific requests, other than a general request for us to pray for her family's health.

I love these three as though they were my own. I wish they were here to play with Jillian!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009



I recently received an email from Compassion inviting sponsors to join their new interactive network called OurCompassion. It's a place where sponsors can connect with other sponsors, share ideas, compare notes, post photos or videos, and talk about their Compassion children and their experiences as sponsors.

I was hoping something like this would come to life. I've always hoped I could connect with other people from all over the world who sponsor children in Honduras, specifically in the two Compassion projects where Emily and Martha attend, or where Bessy, the girl that my mom and I sponsor attends a Compassion project.

I couldn't wait to sign up... and signing up was super easy!!

Already, I have found someone from the UK who sponsors a little girl in the same project as Martha. When she writes to Sindy, her Compassion girl, she will ask if Sindy knows Martha. Sindy will be 5 in a few weeks, and Martha will be 7 in December, so they're close in age, they might even be friends. Wouldn't it be something if the internet brought together the sponsors of two friends?

I look forward to learning more about how others keep track of their correspondence with their Compassion children, letters sent and received, what they send with their letters, what the kids enjoy the most, and what the family gifts have provided for the families. I want to reach my full potential as a sponsor, I want to honor God in my relationship with these precious girls. It's important to me to make the most of the honor and opportunity to be in their lives.

Do you sponsor a child through Compassion? If so, have you tried OurCompassion yet? Let me know what you think!

Where does your sponsor child live?

If you don't yet sponsor a child from Compassion, will you consider sponsorship today, right now?

If you live in Canada, click HERE
If you are in the U.S., click HERE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009



I love numbers, I love statistics, I love spreadsheets. Thankfully, I even like budgets, especially when they're not mine; the ones at work, for instance!

Beyond numbers, I also have a passion for Compassion, God, and people.

This morning, I watched a video about the inspiring journey of the 1 that grew to 1,00,000. From one to one million, each one with a story of compassion.

One million children released from poverty in Jesus' name and given HOPE. These precious children are not faceless, nameless numbers and statistics, they are God's children, they have families, hopes and dreams, they matter, and so do the other children waiting for their turn to join this first million.

If there are a million children sponsored, imagine how many more children would be released from poverty, given food, clothing, education, love, and HOPE if there were a million SPONSORS?

Please take a moment and watch this video, and consider sponsoring a child. If you can not sponsor a child at this time, we still need you, they still need you. Pray for them, and consider donating to (Canada) or (US) in order to help support the children still waiting for sponsorship.

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done."
Proverbs 19:17

Canadian friends and family, this is your link to changing lives! Click HERE
For our U.S. friends and family, this is your link to changing lives! Click HERE

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Compassion Bloggers - India


I have to admit, it has been really difficult to write again on the family blog, after having followed these blogs for the last week…


I am emotionally wrung out, and I'm not sure if my heart will ever be the same.

I'm not sure if I'd want it to be.

These folks flew to India as Compassion Bloggers in order to bring awareness to the work that Compassion does, and the difference that sponsorship makes, not only in the life of a child, but in the lives of families and communities. Feel free to read more information on it here.

After having heard about a family of five living in a house shack in India, a house so small that it's smaller than most Canadian bathrooms... so small that some family members sleep outside on their front lawn the sidewalk... how can I look at our house the same way again? The boys complain about sharing a room, and frankly, Terry and I have had our share of complaints over the fact that they share a room... those complaints seem so insignificant now. The list goes on. We get frustrated that Jillian uses an entire bottle of body wash in the bath when she plays in there for hours. We have a bath. Our bath is inside our house, our bath is not a bucket of dirty water on the street in our neighborhood, with which we bath in public. The soap can be replaced (although the price of the soap she wastes every month equals the price of a sponsorship... what could we cut out, save on, and make a difference with?)

How can we live simply, so that they can simply live?

If you feel led to have your life changed through sponsorship while changing lives... these links are for you!

If you live in Canada, click HERE
If you are in the U.S., click HERE

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unexpected Treasure


As you might have guessed from the widgets on the right side of my blog, I support the work of Compassion International. Although I love that they are a Christian organization, I believe that their universal language speaks for all of us... HOPE and LOVE in action transcends all barriers.

As a Compassion sponsor of two little girls in Honduras, I couldn’t wait to “see” Compassion through the eyes of some of my favorite bloggers. I knew I would never be the same, but yet how do you prepare yourself for what you’ll learn, what you’ll see, and what you’ll hear…? You simply can’t. The images burn into your mind, the stories break your heart, and you know you’ll never see the world through the same eyes, ever again. There is hope, though, hope in a God that calls for us all to do what we can “for the least of these”, to serve the widows and orphans, to help the poor. Hope in the Body of Christ who responds to that call, and sponsors these precious children.

God’s timing was incredible this week. As I read through the blogs daily to witness the Compassion Bloggers’, a letter came from one of the little girls we sponsor. Her name is Emily, she lives on the northern coast of Honduras, and since she is only 4 years old, her mother writes to us on her behalf. What I absolutely love is that her mother tells us through these letters about the changes that our sponsorship has made in their lives, she tells us how much Emily loves to go to school, and that her health has improved because of our sponsorship. She tells us that she prays for our family, and that she is so thankful for our sponsorship. She sounds like such a wonderful mom, I really love her too, this isn’t just about Emily, this is about Emily’s family and their well being.

For those of you who sponsor a child, you are likely familiar with the standard Compassion photos that we get with our initial package, and then again every year or two. I cherish those photos, they are treasured and loved. I have even laminated them, along with the matching prayer cards, because I am so afraid that they will become torn and tattered over time. Along with the letter I received this week, was a piece of orange construction paper stapled to the back of the Compassion stationary. The children usually send artwork along with their letters, so I didn’t remove it right away, but later on, when I did, I got the shock of my life. Tucked away inside the folded construction paper, was one of the most precious photographs in my entire collection. A photograph of Emily and her little sister. I was moved to tears. A bawling mess. I can’t even begin to fathom the lengths that someone, somewhere, had to go through to bless me with this precious gift. There are no words. I can’t help but wonder if Emily’s mom even has a picture of her precious babies. Just knowing that God has led me to make a difference in their lives is enough for me, to hear the joy in their voices is enough for me… this picture, this most unexpected treasure… How do I thank them for this honor? How do I find the words?

I wanted Emily's family to “see” how much we treasure and appreciate this photograph, and I wanted to send them more pictures as well. When we decided to go hiking at the nature park this afternoon, I got an idea, and took the camera, and the precious photo of Emily and her little sister with us. Once we were there, I got pictures of the kids holding the photo. I wanted it to symbolize that they are with us, in our hearts, in our prayers, everywhere we go. It will be the first few photos in a long tradition of photos… our own version of “Flat Stanley”!

Why take my word for it when you can discover the joys of sponsorship for yourself? I encourage you to go to Compassion's website, and find out how you can make a change in a child's life... and in YOUR life... TODAY.

If you live in Canada, click HERE
If you are in the U.S., click HERE

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Grow" (2005)


I had written this for the kids and included it in a scrapbook page back
in 2005. From time to time, I like to go back and copy some old journaling
and include it in my blog in order to be able to look back through the years
and see how I've grown since then. Enjoy....

Brandon, Joshua and Jillian,

I am sure that I have shared my greatest love, my passion in life, quietly from time to time... if not by words, I hope I've shown it by example. The ability to express it with words or pictures and do it justice seems to elude me. Since it is such a large part of who I am, though, I feel it is well time that I share it through my scrapbook album.

My goal is to inspire you, Brandon, Joshua and Jillian. I want you to know not only who I am, but to find strength in who you are.

Simply put, my passion in life is a deep spiritual faith in God's love and purpose for us, especially in troubled times. It would be easy to resent the pain and conflict in my life, to ask "Why me, Lord?" time and time again, when it seems as though hardships have plagued my existence from my earliest years onward. I love that I can trust God, put my life in His capable hands, and say "Let Thy Will Be Done" with absolute faithfulness, even when it would sometimes seem that He has all but abandoned me. Instead of becoming bitter or angry when I suffer, I faithfully fall to my knees, and I express thankfulness that as God's beloved, when I am physically and emotionally crushed like the petals of a precious flower, rather than being destroyed, I am made stronger. My worship and love for God deepens. My soul, much like that crushed flower, emits a fragrance so beautiful and pure that angels weep in quiet understanding. That's how I GROW as a Christian, as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.

Rather than to shelter us, like the most fragile of flowers, God lets our hearts bleed. It's His love for us that inspires Him to let us feel pain in its rawest form. He created us to withstand everything we experience in life; every ounce of joy and pain is redeemed by God to fulfill his purpose in us. Triumphs and heartbreaks make us GROW closer to Him, makes our faith GROW strong and pure, unwavering, perfect, and ultimately all-consuming.

God's love and purpose for us is my greatest love. As you GROW through life, may it become your greatest love.




Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sea Glass In The Sand


Originally written in 2005...

Sea Glass

On a recent trip to a beach on the southern shores of Nova Scotia, I found a beautiful cobalt blue chunk of sea glass. With the intent to keep it as a trip souvenir, I placed it in my pocket.

Subsequent visits to beaches near our home revealed more sea glass treasures. With soft shades of green or white, along with the occasional amber or orange, or my favorite, cobalt blue, our collection grew with each new visit to the shore.

In little time my love of sea glass took on new heights, and I become more intrigued. Where did it come from? What did it used to be? How many years had it rolled around in the ocean before finding its final resting place? Who had it in their hands...?

In so many ways, sea glass reminds me of our journey in God's care. We are born, as fragile as glass, and then tossed into life as a bottle might be tossed into the ocean, with a message and a purpose. Years of being seasoned by the waves and the sand takes their toll, but in the process, a beautiful treasure emerges, shaped by the elements and experiences that life has brought.

Unique, beautiful, and colorful. God never loses sight of where we are, and He always knows just when we'll be ready to rest on the shores of life at the end of the voyage. Once there, He will hand pick us and bring us Home.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dear Sponsor Child... Extras!


It's the icing on the cake...

The cream in the coffee...

The cherry on the sundae...

When it comes to writing to our Compassion children, the extras that we include with the letters can be so much fun!!

Unless we're at a loss as to what in the world to send!!

It's one of the things that I discuss the most with fellow sponsors, because we never know when we'll stumble upon someone's fabulous idea and steal use it!

As a photographer, photos are in abundance, and they're a standard item for us to include in our letters to our Compassion children. I usually have a theme in mind when I write to the children, and either gather photos to fit the theme, or take photos to match the theme. If you don't have an abundance of photos, take more, or use the ones you have! Your Compassion child will appreciate seeing the world through your camera lens!

Some photos we've sent: Family, the kids, our pets, parks and nearby attractions, nature/scenic/landscape, animals, flowers.

Ensure that your photos respect the cultural and economic differences -- no inappropriate clothing, and no photos of your house or any significant material possessions that would accentuate their poverty.

If you're still "stuck", there's always........... Stickers! Remember the good ol' days in third grade, when the biggest excitement about getting an "A" on your work was the Scratch & Sniff sticker you'd get as a reward? Close your eyes and take yourself back to that time... you can smell it, can't you? Lean closer.... closer.... scratch your screen.... ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

It's universal, it seems... children seem to love stickers. It's one of the first things I was told to bring on Compassion trips... stickers! In abundance!

We normally purchase the large sheets of small stickers at the dollar store, and cut them into smaller sheets the size of business cards. That way, the children can feel free to swap with friends, share, keep some, use some, do whatever they'd like! I normally put them in a small snack sized Ziploc bag. I just label the bag, and include it in with the letter. We have a lot of fun searching for large quantities of stickers we haven't sent yet, although I'm sure they don't mind getting duplicates from time to time!

I like lists, so why don't I do the rest in list format? (I heard a sigh of relief out there in Blogosphere! Come out, come out, where ever you are!)

Coloring books
Mazes activity books
ZonderKidz books **
Paper dolls
Small Calendars (5x5)
Hidden Pictures (SchoolZone or Highlights)
Birthday and holiday cards
Flash Cards (a few at a time)
Puzzles (24 piece puzzle, a handful of pieces at a time, number the back!)

** Since some of our Compassion children speak Spanish, we have really enjoyed sending them the ZonderKidz "I Can Read"series of bilingual (English/Spanish) Bible story books such as this favorite:

There are a ton of other books in the I Can Read series, even Christian ones, that are wonderful to send along with a letter. They're the perfect size, and the illustrations are sweet! One of my favorite was "Snug As A Bug", and "Mommy, May I Hug The Fish?"

What are some of your favorite things to send along with your letters?

Would you like to build a relationship with a child who needs your time and love? Consider sponsorship today!

If you live in Canada, click HERE
If you are in the U.S., click HERE