Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year on the way!

I don't have a reflection on the past year.  I should.  Maybe tomorrow I'll put Super-Awesome's Christmas letter up for you to read, that's a good synopsis of our past year, and funny too!

However, as today arrived I worked on finding two tools to help my New Year get off to a good start.

The first was a new Bible Reading Plan.  Last year I did a chronological plan for the first time and enjoyed it, but I wanted something different for this year.  After checking out two great blogs (here and here) which have a number of different plans described for you, I have decided to try Grant Horner's reading system.

The second was a grocery list... you laugh.  Can't I just write a grocery list down each week?  Yes, but I wanted a comprehensive list that had everything (or at least almost everything) that I could possibly need from the store, so that as the week/month went by if I ran out of something, I could highlight the list and then bring it it to the store.  I found an amazing... no wait, wrong word... the Ultimatest... (yes, that's what they've called it)...  The Ultimatest Grocery list here.  Here's a teaser of what it looks like ;-)

 You can print it off as is (note the Carcinogen section!  Or Super-Awesome's favorite in the baked goods "Pie!Pie!Pie!") or edit your own (didn't need the Carcinogen section, or even the far less cancer-causing Pets section) and print it off.

Happy 2012! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Open

Joining up with Lisa-Jo, The Gypsy Mama for the final Five-Minute Friday of 2011.  Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most important: visit, comment, encourage the person before you. OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:



An open door.
That's what comes to mind when I think of open.  We are praying for God to clearly show us what our next move is.

One clearly open door.  Super-Awesome is in the process of applying for a new job as the current one will be ending on June 14th... that's just a little over 6 months away.  There are several possibilities and while no interviews or offers have resulted yet (at least two applications have yet to be submitted), we are praying for one clear open door.

God brought us here with only one door opening and while we aren't guaranteed it, we are praying for another single open door this time as well.  I pray to be open to whatever next adventure God has in store for us.  We know God has a plan for us and while we still don't understand the purposes and reasons why we are where we are, nor where we are going next, He does.  We are thankful and prayerful.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Bittersweet Letter

I am a mailbox checking addict... there, I've confessed.  Here in the US we also get mail on Saturdays. When we moved from Canada and I found out about this, I was ecstatic.  I was also confused about the flag up, flag down business.  In Canada, I've either had a mailbox right on my house (no flag), a mail box connected to a mail room in an apartment (no flag), or one of those community mailboxes (no flag).  So the only flags I knew about were the ones other people had, mostly on rural type roads.  In Canada, (currently, I believe) the flag up means that the mailman has come and you have received mail.  In the US, I discovered, the flag is put up to notify the mail carrier that you have outgoing mail, and unless you have outgoing mail it stays down. (Isn't it cool that you can send mail out from your own mailbox?  I know you can do that with the community mailboxes back in Canada because there is a general mail slot... but your actual mailbox isn't two way). 

For a mail checking addict like me, this is problematic because unless I have outgoing mail, or watch the window continually (and since we're confessing, sometimes I do...) I don't actually know if the mail has come.  I have, however, developed a "highly scientific" system.  If I don't have outgoing mail (I did try to have outgoing mail all the time, but that gets expensive!) I do a survey of the other mailbox sets that I can see from my house to see if any flags are up and then monitor them throughout the day to see if they've been put down.  Not a perfect system but relatively efficient!  I'm sure a very few of you will find this fascinating and most of you will just be shaking your heads at me!

Anyhoo, because we receive mail on Saturdays, I received mail on Christmas Eve.  I wasn't sure I would, not knowing how the USPS would observe the Christmas holiday (they had the 26th off, in case you were wondering, and well-deserved in my opinion).  But there on Christmas Eve was a largish envelope for me.  In it was a letter from our sponsor child, Maria, in Ecuador.  It is a bittersweet letter because Maria is aging out of the program in January and this is the last official letter we will receive from her while we are her sponsors.  Our family has sponsored someone in Maria's family since 2003.  First her sister and now her.  As I have confessed before, I was part of the "Lame Sponsors" movement before 2010 and as such would write only very rarely, generally around Christmas when I received paper and instructions to write my child.  Thankfully, before I started sponsoring with Compassion in 2010, I learned more about the impact of my letters from bloggers like Ann Voskamp, Lisa-Jo Baker, and Michelle Wright  (if you click on their names, it will bring you to posts about the importance of letter writing). 

So when I began those new sponsorships, I also applied the same letter writing principals to my previous sponsor child Maria from Sponsor Hope.  Can I encourage you that a real relationship developed?  That in my one year of earnestly writing to her once a month and praying for her more often really made a difference.  It did.  My bittersweetness is that it came too late for her sister, and while an encouragement to her, was only a year of letters, when it could have been 4 years.  But God is gracious and we are not to worry about yesterday's regrets.  May I encourage you to start writing more if you haven't been a regular correspondent?  It truly does make a difference in the lives of these children.

I'd like to share parts of Maria's letter with you.  For some background, Maria's father passed away in 2009 and her mom passed away unexpectedly this past August.   Maria is the youngest of  6 children and is 18.

Hello dear sponsors please know I am so thankful for how you support me in my sad moments.  Thank you for your prayers, I tell you that I am doing well and always trying to get through the loss of my mother.  Thank you also for the prayers you send.  You are wonderful people, kind and nice.  I am doing well in my studies.[...]

I tell you that I recently wrote my second trimester exams and I did a really good job.  I want to tell you about a new idea I have had, I have been thinking about going into the career of being a chef.  It would be a new diploma, so I would have two.  Both would be lots of fun and I'm praying that I will reach my goal of having two professions.  I know I can do it.  I have a positive mindset and I'm working really hard.  I know with God's help I can do it and thanks to your help as well. [...]

I went to visit my mother's grave. [...] I never imagined I would ever be visiting her there but I know I must be strong and accept and try to understand that we all must die someday, nobody can live forever and so we don't suffer, God waits for us who believe in Him with open arms.  God has given me tests and I have managed them.  I know I have experienced a lot of hurt and bad things and I didn't think I would get past them but little by little I try.  Never think I forget you.  I love you like you were my second family. [...]

I hope your kids and all your family are well.  May the King of the Heavens take care of you, protect you and continue to bless you.  Blessings, Maria.

I don't think I need to make too much comment.  What a blessing our time with Maria has been. 

I am pleased to tell you that we'll be able to keep supporting her family as she has a niece who is entering the sponsorship program and we will be sponsoring her once Maria moves out of the program.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas to me from Compassion!

The wonderful folks at Compassion gave me a gift for Christmas.  A new photo of Andres Camilo.  I've been sponsoring Andres since October 2010 and this is the first new official picture I've received.  So excited to see how he's grown.

I sent out letters today and I have taken a photo of the letter and goodies that I am sending to Andres Camilo.  I need to also highlight some wonderful people who contributed some of the goodies that I am sending to the children in this mailing.

Take a look at this letter and these goodies.  First person I need to thank is Kelly Robey from Kelly Alison Photography.  I won a Facebook contest through Kelly's studio.  I won a photo session and so we had her photograph our family.  So the two pictures of our family were taken by Kelly. Fabulous aren't they?  

Next, as a follower of Michelle Wright's blog Blogging from the Boonies, I entered one of her contests and won 25 Shutterfly cards.  If you look at the top right corner you'll see one of the cards that I had made from those 25.  It features all of our sponsor children and then 1 John 4:11 on the back in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.  

Last, but not least, in my streak of winning things to benefit my sponsor kids, I entered a contest to win a correspondence kit from Jill at Compassion Family.  Guess what?  I did win it!  I chose a kit for a young boy, as I have two of those in my sponsorship family and I have a harder time to find cute papers for them.  So the paper with the animals around it came from Jill.   A big thanks to all of these ladies!   I'm pretty sure Andres Camilo, and the other children, will enjoy all these wonderful goodies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Way cool - "Peppermint Serving Tray"

Saw this at ClipperGirl's Saving Spot this morning and then checked out the original post at Tutto Bella and then informed Super-Awesome that I was going to the store to buy peppermints.  Go to either of these posts for the instructions.  Here are my photos:

Arrange in whatever pattern you like

At the 8 minute mark, center ones aren't melted completely.

Out of the oven. 

Waxed paper removed.   Not exactly a circle, but not bad!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Something for the sponsor kids for next Christmas... and my kids right now.

Pardon, you say.  Have I not noticed that Christmas is still 9 sleeps away?

Yes, I do know, but in Sponsor world, it's done...  You have to get those Christmas things out by the end of October to make sure that they receive it by Christmas.

Anyhoo,  saw a link at my friend Laura Faye's blog  a mom, with nails that is perfect for sending to the sponsor children because it is a paper craft that they can cut out and make.

  Make your own Nativity set.  At Marloes De Vries' blog from the Netherlands.  Isn't the internet amazing!

You can print it off in color, or print off a coloring sheet version.  We'll be doing this tomorrow.