Sunday, April 28, 2013

Involving Young Children in Compassion International

Michelle over at Blogging From the Boonies has started a blog link-up this month about how to involve our kids in Compassion International. Sometimes with really young kids (mine is 2.5), it's really hard to know how to get started. In fact, sometimes it's just hard to get dressed and get breakfast on the table, much less try to do something for someone else in a meaningful way that touches the heart of your child.

Children seem to be easily and naturally compassionate, to me, and capable of understanding more that we give credit for. They also have a "can-do" spirit that means they aren't afraid to give things a try. It's a great time to get kids involved!

With my young son, I mostly try to impart a sense of cultural diversity to him by giving him the chance to try new things. Compassion makes this SO easy by providing the free printable (and hard copy) Explorer magazine. Though it is really targeted at older kids, my son still gets a lot out of the activities and pictures. We take the magazine and look through it, and pick out one or two things we'd like to try.

In one issue there were instructions for making a homemade soccer ball out of plastic bags and twine. We did, and my son still plays with it months later! We have practiced carrying plastic produce in baskets on our heads, and two days ago we pulled out our Explorer magazine and made a featured cake, Tres Leches, together. We listened to Mariachi music and ate nachos and talked about our Compassion child in Guatemala (okay, so the article in the magazine was about Mexico, but it was as close as we could get).

Besides the magazine, we also pray daily for our Compassion kids at dinner time as a family, and we have the pictures of our kids hanging at eye level for our son, so that he can see who they are. We read their letters to him, and he draws pictures for us to send them on occasion. I also ordered him a special shirt from the Compassion store, and involve him in my advocacy efforts.

In an attempt to come up with another way to involve him in correspondence, I developed some Sponsor Writing Templates for very young children--you can see them here:Letter Writing Templates for Young Children

I am committed to teaching my son the value of compassion for others, and I hope that by doing so I will foster a sense of social responsibility--and have fun in the meantime!!

Sponsor Theme Packs--Now there's a page :)

I'm adding new theme packs nearly daily for sponsors to print and send to their kids. Today I'm adding a paper doll Psalm 31 themed pack for girls.  To avoid making a new blog post each time, I have set up a page just for the theme packs.  Just visit the home page of my blog and click on the Sponsor Writing Pack page, and you'll find them all in one place!

Thanks! Hope you find them useful!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Sponsor Writing Packet--Trees theme for young kids

Here's a cute tree themed packet for kids ages 2-10 with devotional verse from 1Chronicles. Most of the activities in this packet come from the US Forest Service. Includes cute little paper doll puppets and a puppet stage, plus a mini book and coloring sheets!

Tree themed Sponsor Packet

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sponsor Theme Pack ~ Gender Neutral Ages 2-8, Bees

Much of the artwork/activity sheets in this printable pack came from the US Forest Service Natural Inquirer Website. There are free downloadable magazines available on that site, as well, in English and in Spanish--they make great items to send along to your Compassion Kids! You can order hard copies, also (they are free!!).  Great for homeschooling!  The website for the Natural Inquirer is

The Devotional Verse for this packet is Psalm 50:11- I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.

Bee-themed Sponsor Packet

Sponsor Writing Packet--for Teen Boys! Space theme, with Devotional Verse

Here's a new packet. I know that sometimes it's hard to know what to send teen boys. This packet has space-themed stationery, 2 bookmarks from, and a paper model for your teen boy to cut out and make (please note--the model came from and I have not tested the model, so if you are concerned about how it turns out, please try it yourself before sending it!)

In addition to the "goodies", there is a page with a lovely devotional verse from Psalms, with a space-related theme.  The verse is given in English, Spanish, and French.  The English translation is from "The Message," which I appreciate for it's modern-day resonance.

Thanks for dropping in!  Next up--a packet for teen girls, and a generic packet for any age group.

Download the Space Theme Sponsor Writing Packet Here

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jonah Themed Sponsor Packet-Free Download

Here is a Jonah Themed packet, suitable for girls or boys, complete with coloring sheets, mini book, and game... Enjoy!

Jonah Themed Sponsor Packet

Free Printable Sponsor Packet ~ Soccer Theme!

As promised, here is the next free printable packet.  Please check back often, as I will be adding Noah's Ark, Daniel and the Lions, God's Princess and Prince, and several Teen themes, including Solar Systems, Angels, and Devotionals.

Enjoy! If you like these, consider making a donation to Compassion International!

Soccer Theme Sponsor Packet

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Printable Sponsor Packets!

So the other day I started by posting templates for allowing young children to engage in the writing experience. Today I'm excited to post the first of several downloadable, printable sponsor packets!

I know sometimes it is hard to round up all the links, sites, and printables in one place and get them ready to send. I'd like to offer these up as one solution, especially for first-time sponsors who may need some ideas to get started.

Each packet is themed and has a stationery sheet, several coloring pages, and a game or maze (or both!).

Today's sponsor packet is butterfly and flower themed (don't worry sponsors of boys--a soccer theme is next up!). This packet has stationery, flower and butterfly coloring sheets, a memory matching game, and a maze.

Butterfly and Flower Printable Sponsor Packet

Enjoy!  Please let me know if you find these useful!

30 Seconds

30 seconds

See her...that one, over there. Yes--her! The little one with the black curls and the shining brown eyes. I know! She really IS cute. What a vivacious smile she has, and that laugh!

25 seconds

She seems to love those yellow flowers. She has them tucked into her patchwork skirt and tied into a crown on her head. She's a princess in her smooth, unblemished bare feet!

20 seconds

Up close she smells like honey and berries and a summer afternoon, all sun-warmed and soft. I hear her giggling with her friend now, and she is talking of the future and of changing the world.

15 seconds

She is praying now, isn't she? Bowed head, curls shifting in the gentle, hot breeze. I hear those whispers of hope for her family and friends in the warm breath as I pass near her sweet rosy lips. Close enough to feel the gentle rhythm of her precious heart.

10 seconds

Her toes are soft in the dirt, her ankles warm in the sun and dirt. Her prayers barely pause when I brush her skin. I don't think she even noticed me, even with the little welt that now marks her brown calf.

5 seconds

I'm sorry, truly I am. She seemed so hopeful, so aware, such a gift,now a statistic. Don't blame me, a mosquito has to eat. Besides, it's preventable, you know... you could've protected her.

0 seconds

Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. It is preventable.
Give Hope. Celebrate World Malaria Day by donating to the Malaria Intervention Initiative page at Compassion International.

Please, all it takes is prevention.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Congratulations, Goodbyes, Hellos, and FREEBIES!!!

One of my correspondent children, Banji Mariyadasu, has left our family fold this month. Thought I truly never got to know Banji, because he was assigned as a correspondent child in January of this year and finished the program on April 1, I do hope that the letters and cards I have sent him have and will continue to touch his life in some small way. I am so very proud of Banji for completing the Compassion Program as a successful graduate, for finishing his education to a 12th grade American equivalent, and for....securing a JOB!!! Way to go Banji Mariyadasu! You are well on your way to breaking the bonds of poverty and I am certain you will become a rock for Christ Jesus!
Congratulations Banji!!

Only a few short days after losing Banji to graduation, we have welcomed a new correspondent child into our fold. This sweet boy is 6 year old Manikandan Palsamy from India. Isn't he handsome?? I just sent my first introductory letter and a packet of goodies to him yesterday. I'm looking forward to getting to know Manikandan and supporting him through encouragement and love in the coming months and years. Won't you please say a prayer for our Banji as he takes the next steps into his future, and for Manikandan as we begin a relationship with him?

Welcome, Manikandan!
Speaking of Hellos... On the amazing Our Compassion sponsor forum, discussions went around not long ago about templates for writing to your sponsored children, and Michelle from Blogging From the Boonies asked if anyone had developed child-friendly templates (e.g., templates younger children could use to correspond with sponsored kids). I think that's a great idea for young kids, especially since I have a 2.5 year old and sometimes struggle with how to involve him!

Several people popped up with excellent templates, including and especially Elephant Grace, who also offers correspondent kits. I thought I might take a stab at the challenge, as well. So, here are the first of my downloadable templates (more to come in the future) for young children to correspond with your sponsored child! Just click on the photo and it should take you to a pdf for download. These templates are specifically geared toward very young kids (e.g. ages 2 to 5) who may need help writing, so that they can feel like they are a part of the sponsorship experience. 

I'm hoping in the future to develop downloadable sponsor packets by theme for those who might need a quick solution or might just be getting started.

Thanks for stopping in, I'd love your feedback about the templates, I'd love your thoughts about themes for future packets, and I'd love your prayers. I'd also really love it if you'd pass my blog along and if you'd check out my ETSY store...100% of purchase price for all items on my store goes to Compassion Child Survival Programs!! GREAT for Mother's Day (which is coming up--so don't forget your mom!). To date, over $400 has been raised and donated through my site/sales thanks to your generosity and purchases!

Conspiracy of Love handmade jewelry for Compassion

Friday, April 19, 2013

Through the eye of the needle

Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 all tell the same story of a man who came to Jesus asking what deeds he could do to have eternal life. After a brief discussion of keeping the commandments, Jesus finally says to the man:

"Then there is only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in Heaven. Then come, follow me." [Luke 18:22, The Message translation]

How often we read those words but still hang onto all our things. How many of us have sold all we own? Not me, I know that much. I think that is why, when the man walked away in sorrow and heavy-hearted, Jesus told his disciples that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man (or woman) to enter the Kingdom. Because he knows how hard it is for us to trust that we can let go of all of our unimportant "stuff" and dedicate our lives to loving others.

You know, it only takes giving up a small portion of our wealth to care for at least one who needs it. My prayer for this weekend and the Compassion Sunday that will be celebrated around the globe is that many, many hearts will be burdened to sponsor a child in need and change the story for that child.

If you would like to sponsor a child, please visit today and change a life forever.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Suffering

Yesterday was a sad and tragic day for our country at the Boston Marathon. My thoughts and prayers go out to each and every injured victim and family member of an injured or lost loved one during this time.

Evil is everywhere, persistent, angry, vengeful, ugly...but I know the victory has been won and I know that good has triumphed over evil. One day there will be no tears, there will be no pain, there will be no suffering, no hunger, no doubt, no anguish. God's loving tears for the death and suffering of His own Son will wash away all our sorrow. We will be free!

Please remember that while the media focuses on the perpetrators of these awful crimes and disasters, we live and work among countless unsung heroes. Let's remember to focus on the bravery, selflessness, and compassion of the angels and heroes that don't get the flashy media attention the villains do, but whose love and mercy scream "Get thee behind me, Satan!"

One story from yesterday's tragedy is that of Carlos Arredondo, a 52-year old immigrant from Costa Rica who has suffered his own fair share of family tragedy when he lost one son to war and another son to suicide, who sprinted to the scene and used his own clothes to help bleeding victims.
Image from New York Times

Two soldiers who ran in their army fatigues finished the race then ran straight into the explosion site to help others to saftey.

New England Patriot Joe Andruzzie carried a woman to safety after the blast.

After running 26 miles yesterday, many of the marathon runners continued to run---straight to the Massachusetts General Hospital where they donated blood to the victims of yesterday's tragedy. In fact, so many people jumped to action to give blood that the Hospital and Red Cross had to stop accepting blood donations!

All over the city, Bostonions proved that they are heroes, as well, by offering showers, clean clothing, meals, rides, phone service, wi-fi access, and housing to stranded marathoners.

It takes nothing but cowardice to cause disaster, but it takes courage to be a hero. Yesterday proved that while we have cowards in our midst, we have far more heroes, far more good people just waiting for a chance to help others.

Please say a prayer for the families of yesterday's victims, and for the heroes that gave so willingly.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Compassion Sunday Prayer Request AND Free App Recommendations

This has been a really busy spring for me, and it's wearing me thin. I'm so grateful that I have the wealth of opportunities I do, though, and wouldn't have it any other way (except maybe to have those opportunities spread out a bit more on the calendar!)

Coming up in just a little over a week, on April 21, I'm hosting our church's first ever Compassion Sunday event! I'm worried about it. I speak in public and I dance in public, so I'm not so worried about speaking in public (although I am quite worried I will cry). What I'm most concerned about is the responsibility I feel for finding sponsors for the sweet children on the packets that arrived in my Compassion Sunday box last week. This is an opportunity for me to release the reigns over to God and let Him handle finding sponsors. I'm just the spokesperson.

As part of Compassion Sunday, I do have a page set up where you can get a jump on the process and read my Compassion story, and have an opportunity to sponsor a child! You can visit my Compassion Sunday page at:

And now for the random part of this post... I've been having a ton of fun lately playing with some great apps for the Iphone for modifying photos (framing) and for creating scrapbook pages directly on the iphone (or iPad). Now what I really love about this is that I can play around with it using the pics I took on my phone without ever having to connect to my computer, and I can do all this while I'm waiting, say, at the doctor's office or on a plane, etc. They also connect directly to Facebook. 
This photo was framed in imikimi then set on a background in Papelook

I tried several, but the two I like best (and these were free!!!) are Papelook and imikimi. I've attached a couple of examples here of what I've done with these. The uses for these apps are several: you can send your kids framed photos of themselves or your family; you can create mini-scrapbooks, bookmarks, notecards, print-to-puzzle images, stickers (if you have printable sticker paper), calendars, and all sorts of other goodies. 

This was done in Papelook

Check them out! They're free!  And, sponsor a child!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Two Pieces of Mail

My mailbox generally doesn't excite me much. I hate to say it, because mail gathering time is one of my favorite times of the day (ask me who is going to be upset if the Postal Service quits delivering on Saturdays??).  Most of the time I get a ton of junk mail, a stack of bills, and if I'm really lucky I get a magazine. I don't subscribe to many, so those really lucky days are few and far between.

Saturday, however, was a really really super lucky day...I opened up the mailbox to find not one, but TWO letters from my sponsored kids!!  And, both were from kids who have already written me once, so I'm really shocked to have received letters again so soon!

These letters were from sweet Florance in India, who is one of our correspondence children, and Mohamed, who was the first of our sponsored children.  Mohamed is just 4 years old, so his letters are still more or less form letters, with a little bit of information about his life tucked inside. This letter was super special from him, because it talked about how he used the Christmas gift we sent him. His family was able to buy some rice, some corn, a dress, and a ball. Bless his sweet heart, he asked me how my job is going!  I thought that was really cute. He also asked how my friends are doing, which is cute. His prayer request was for his family to have peace and good health. Wise requests for a four year old. Sweet Mohamed wants to be a policeman when he grows up.

My letter from Florance continues to show me what a joy she will be to correspond with. I sense in her an intelligence and a strength, and a joy that I hope grows and stays with her as she ages. It's hard to sense much through short letters that reveal fairly little, but there's something about her handwriting and her phrasing that brings those characteristics to mind. Of course, heaven help me if anyone ever makes any personality judgements based on MY handwriting, they'll all think I'm crazy... oh. wait. Maybe I am... 
Kho Kho
Anyway, Florance shares that she enjoys Kho-Kho, a local sport that I had to look up on Wikipedia, and I still don't understand. It appears to be some sort of a 12-person game of tag, and is apparently very popular in India. She also tells me she really likes curd rice, which is rice with Indian spices and yogurt mixed into it. The word "curd" threw me off a bit, but having read the description (thanks again, Wikipedia, what would I do without you?) it now sounds fabulously yummy (but I really like Indian food). She writes that her father is a mechanic and her mother is a tailor. This is interesting, as her profile information has her living with her father and her mother appeared to be out of the picture. So now it seems maybe she has some contact with her mother, after all. Her prayer request is that her community will be free of Dengue fever. 
Curd Rice

These sweet children really brought light into my day with their letters, which is proof positive that sponsorship is as much a gift to the sponsor as it is to the sponsored child. I hold my breath every time I head to the mailbox now in the hopes that I will have a letter waiting. I can only imagine the children at the projects around the world waiting with baited breath in the hopes that their sponsors have sent them some token from their lives--a letter, a photo, a sheet of stickers...any reminder of the world beyond the boundaries of poverty where dreams are allowed to grow, thrive, and sometimes even come true.

Being so excited to get mail from my kids reminds me of the importance of sending mail to my kids! It's so very important. I look forward to the mail....and I know they do too!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Absence of Love

I'm reading an amazing book right now. In case you hadn't noticed, I love to read. I mention a lot of books in my posts. I've been a reader since childhood. To be honest, I tend toward fiction as a way to escape stress in everyday life, but every now and then I'll get on a little kick and devour some nonfiction. I've noticed that the only nonfiction I seem to truly enjoy revolves around either human rights or academic theology.
The book I'm in the midst of now is called "Escape from Camp 14" and it details the story of a man named Shin who was born and raised in a North Korean labor camp and managed to escape. He is the only person born in a labor camp who has escaped, to the best of the authors' knowledge.

I'm halfway through the book. Shin's story is a brutal one. It's clear that the North Korean population as a whole is denied much, but the labor camp populations are for all intents and purposes, living out the lives of concentration camp prisoners--in many cases from birth to death.  North Korea denies the existence of these labor camps, despite the ability of any Westerner with "Google Earth" to zoom in on the country and clearly see the fences surrounding the compounds.

Though the story told in the book is one of a physically brutal existence--one even those living in poverty in the United States would likely struggle to imagine--what really struck at my heart was one statement in the book. The author states, "During his years in the camp he [Shin] said he had never once heard the world "love," certainly not from his mother..."

Can you imagine emerging into your 20s having NEVER once heard the word "Love"?  Having been isolated in a black hole of a nation, with no hope for a future outside the bleak physical struggle and starvation of the thousands around you; beaten and starving with little knowledge of a giant world existing just outside the confines of your relatively small country, and with the concept drilled into you since birth that you are worthless-absolutely nothing...all because of who you were born to?

In my relatively uneducated opinion as regards human rights violations over the past centuries, the conditions in North Korea must surely be one of the worst human rights situations in modern times.

Here's the thing. Shin and the countless other North Koreans suffering in isolation, poverty, starvation, and unawareness of a God who loves and values them are just examples of a vast GLOBAL population of children in poverty who have rarely, if ever, heard someone say they are loved and valued.

Do you want to make a difference in the world today? I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the way to make a real difference in the future is to feed the souls of the children. The more I learn about who the real victims are in situations of dire need, the more I'm convinced that children always receive the brunt of the abuse and the least love. Who do we think those kids will grow up to be if they are starved of love, starved of hope? What are we expecting?
If we want a more peaceful world, with cross-cultural understanding and shared dreams then we need to feed those values to the children. Our children, our neighbors' children, and the global population of children. I don't mean force-feed our ideals. I mean SHOW LOVE. If each person shows love, compassion, patience, understanding, sympathy....those seeds will grow and develop as God intended.

You have the chance to help. You can sponsor a child and feed that child not only food, but words of love and encouragement...hope and dreams.  Please help, and please pray--for all the children, but please pray specifically for the population of North Korea. God knows they need it.