How we organize child sponsorship letters {plus win a copy of A Heart That Cares!}

compassion binder-4 I so loved reading Courtney's vision and the heart behind her book A Heart That Cares, which teaches kids about child sponsorship. We've loved being involved with Compassion International to sponsor a child. I thought I'd share some details today about the practicalities behind sponsorship (dealing with all the paper involved!), and then I'm going to give you a chance to win a copy of Courtney's book!

My kids love receiving a new letter from Elian, who lives in Peru (oh, how I would love to visit and meet her someday!), and I didn't want to just file the letters away or recycle them, because they really are special. It took me a few years, but I finally found a system that works great for us for organizing, storing and showcasing our child sponsorship letters and information-- it's completely simple-- just a binder!

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Gigi glued a photo of Elian to a piece of paper and decorated it, and then we slipped that into the front clear pocket of a 3-ring binder.

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The front inside pocket holds info about Elian's home country and the basic info we received from Compassion when we first sponsored her.

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Then we hole-punched all her letters and drawings and put extra blank letters in the back for us to write to her. Now the kids can flip through it whenever they want.

We've been sponsoring a child for a long time now-- first, Sixto from Bolivia from when we first got married, and now Elian (Sixto "graduated" out of the program a bit early).

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And while my kids don't know any different because we've always done it, I love that now they can see a little more of why behind our sponsoring Elian, through Courtney's book A Heart That Cares. I asked Gigi about Elian after reading the book, and even after two years of writing and receiving letters, she still didn't get that Elian wasn't materially blessed like we-- so it really opened the door to have some good conversation with her.

They totally love the rhyming story and the pictures, too, and it overall, it really helped them to understand how our sponsorship helps Elian.

If you'd like to win a copy of A Heart That Cares, simply enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

You'll note that one of the options is to like my Facebook page-- well, I just wanted to point out that it's my NEW Facebook page as I am merging my GGH page with my old Simple Homemade page. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget, you can help children in the Philippines by donating to Compassion's typhoon relief fund.

Teaching Kids About Our Global Community

photo (2) Hello, lovely readers! I'm very excited to share a guest post today with you from my friend Courtney Christenson. As we wrapped up 31 Days of Intentional Community, I was struck with the thought that I wanted to touch on connecting with the community at large, that is, having a global awareness while being intentional in our local communities.

My friend Courtney wrote a sweet book that can be a great tool for teaching our kids about this idea of being mindful of others around the world and how we can make a difference in the lives of others who have less than us. Stay tuned for a chance to win her book later in the week.

Help Children Affected by Philippines Typhoon

I planned this post before I knew about the needs that our neighbors in the Philippines were facing after that dreadful typhoon hit. If you are wondering how you can help, please consider donating through Compassion International where over 84% of your money donated goes directly to children in need (I love how transparent they are about that).

And now without further adieu, here's Courtney...

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One part of intentional community that can be somewhat complicated is the global aspect of our community. While being responsible members of our global community is seemingly getting easier and easier, it is also getting easier to ignore it all as we bury ourselves in our own little bubble of busyness.

Communicating these concepts to our children can be especially challenging...to the point that we either gloss over tough issues in an effort to protect our children or we just choose not to address it at all.

Personally, I believe that educating our children about global issues and giving them age appropriate ways to get involved is one of the first steps towards emulating the love of Jesus for those around the world.

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I feel so strongly about our responsibility as parents to raise our children in a globally minded way that I wrote a children’s book, A Heart that Cares as a tool for starting this process. It is the perfect way to generate a heart-changing conversation with your kids about compassion while giving them a tangible way to help others in our global community.

A Heart that Cares focuses on child sponsorship which is a great way to help those in need. If you haven’t seen Nicole’s previous posts on child sponsorship, here’s a quick run-down. Child sponsorship works within local communities, providing resources children need to stay healthy, get an education to hopefully break the cycle of poverty and also develop their spiritual life.

Child sponsorship is also a great way to get your kids involved in their global community in a personal way. Instead of talking to your kids about "those people" out "there", they can build a real relationship with a real person...as in REAL community on a global scale.

For more information and resources on starting these conversations with your children, practical ways you and your family can make a difference or to get a copy of A Heart that Cares for the kids in your life, visit Growing Global Kids.

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About Courtney:

Wife to the perfect man for me. Mother of 2 little girls. Believer, advocate, domestic disaster, photographertraveler, adventurer, beach lover and slightly hippie. I believe that I can change the world…I just never imagined it would look like this.

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What other ways can you think of being engaged the global community intentionally? How can we teach our kids to do this as well?

2 Ways to make the holidays more meaningful {Noonday Collection + a Thanksgiving craft}

For information on this week's awesome bundle sale, click here! Over $1000 worth of books, mentorship and products all about healthy living. Ends Saturday night! photo-header-planashow

You guys, I'm so excited to share with you today a company I recently discovered. How would you like to find beautiful jewelry and accessories that is the very key to lifting families out of poverty? (I also have a blog post up at One Fun Mom today, which I'll tell you about down below).

I'd like to introduce you to Noonday Collection. The name comes from the sweet and simple truth found in Isaiah 58:10:

When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your night will become like the noonday.

Isn't that an amazing word picture of what a difference dignified work can be in someone's life?

The best way to see what Noonday is about is to watch this short video, sharing about the first artisans to work for Noonday, in Uganda, and the impact the jobs have made on them personally and in their community.

Noonday: Kampala, Uganda. from Jessica Honegger on Vimeo.

My friend Amy, an ambassador with Noonday says this: "I think Noonday is amazing because it actually lifts women out of poverty by providing them with a job so that families lives are transformed. We can use our purchasing power to support women in developing nations worldwide, connecting us to our fellow sisters. Join me on this journey, and together we can do much."

I wanted to share Noonday with you as a wonderful option for Christmas gifts because their products are so lovely but the work they are doing in making a difference in the lives of their artisans is even more amazing. Most of the parts that make up their jewelry are found/repurposed as well, which I love.

I don't consider myself a huge jewelry person but I am seriously in love with almost everything in their catalog. Here are a few things I'm hoping to add to my own collection:

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I had a little trunk show with Amy last night and it was such a fun time to try on jewelry and chat--  about making wise choices with our spending, fair trade chocolate, adoption, and of course, how Noonday is equipping these artisans in powerful ways.

I'm so in love with Noonday that I thought I'd spread the word here too, continuing my trunk show on the blog, if you will.

If you'd like to do a little shopping, head to Noonday and upon checkout, select Amy Brockhaus as your ambassador and Nicole Bennett as truck show hostess.  That will get your order added in with my trunk show (which might earn me some discounts- thank you!) but your order will be shipped directly to you. I think you'll find them a really worthy company. Happy shopping!

{photos from Noonday Collection}

And now, before we get totally ahead of ourselves and carried away with Christmas, I do have a simple, but meaningful, Thanksgiving craft/tradition that I'm sharing about over on One Fun Mom.

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Head over there to read about my family's blessings box.

As I consider the idea of bringing a little hope to the poor

opportunities to serve "Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart's cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?" ~Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr

I love this quote. We live in a broken world; it's never going to be completely "fixed" on this side of paradise. And since we can't fix it, we might as well sit back and let things worsen, right?

Well, no, I don't think that's the way God intended it. We might not be able to solve the problems completely but we can see where our service can make a difference, whether that's by planting one tree, or by feeding/clothing/educating one individual.

We get tangible proof of the difference we are making in sweet little Elian's life whenever we receive a picture and letter from her. She thanks us for the little gifts we send her and tells us what she spent her birthday money on (she was born just a day after our Gigi). She lives worlds away, but we are able to bring her a little hope every month through our sponsorship.

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Last week Gigi went to her first American Heritage Girls meeting. Have any of you done this with your daughters? It seems like a really sweet group to belong to-- think scouts-that-sell-cookies but Biblically based. (AHG girls sell candles. I'd prefer cookies. But I digress.)

At each meeting the girls eat lunch together (props to Gigi for joining a group that is with all girls she didn't know at a private Christian school), and then do some kind of project, usually service-minded.

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The girls each decorated a brown paper bag and then stuffed it with snacks, and a little strip of white paper with verse on it. We chose Philippians 4:13 from the pile of verses for her bag.

Then the leaders talked about how sometimes we see people standing on the street with a sign, and sometimes we don't know how to help them. We can pray for them, first and foremost, the leaders said.

But now we would take the lovingly-decorated bags and leave them in the car. Next time we passed someone in need, we would have something tangible to give them. It was so simple; the girls understood the need  and how they'd be helping.

Of course, a snack bag doesn't solve homelessness. But it's a way to give, to serve, and to bring a little light to the darkness.

We headed to Trader Joe's right after the meeting, and for the first time ever after shopping there weekly for years, there was a homeless woman and her daughter sitting outside in the parking lot. We were able to bless her with the bag Gigi made.

Such providence to have us there at that time right after making it. Gigi was nervous and had me hand over the bag, but I think she could see the woman's gratitude. And it was great to talk with her in the car afterwards about how God used us right then and there after she made the bag to bless that woman.

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Elian is a budding artist. She can't write her own letters to us yet, she dictates them to her tutor, but it amazes me to see that what she lacks in academic skills, she makes up for in artistic talent. I can't wait to see how going to the child development center regularly helps her in her studies.

By sponsoring her, we not only enable her to get more educational opportunities, but also

  • Food and clean water
  • Medical care
  • Important life-skills training
  • Most important of all, hearing about Jesus Christ and being encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.

My hope is that by sponsoring a child (or children, as we plan to sponsor one for each of our children as they grow a bit older) as a family, my own kids will learn the value of serving the poor-- the seemingly small things we can do to make big impact. And as we give, serve, and invest of ourselves as a family, our kids will receive first-hand feedback on how they are making the difference in the life of another child.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion