Gratituesday: Practicing Our Spanish With Gladis

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Our older boys have been learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone software for three, going on four years. It has been fantastic! Asa was really able to use what he’s learning when he went to Ecuador this summer. We love it when these great skills can be applied to real life.

Last week, Matt took advantage of a perfect teachable moment. We received a letter from Gladis, the little girl we sponsor from Honduras through One Child Matters. It is written first in Spanish with help from Gladis’ teacher. Then it is translated to English for us to enjoy.

I typically pull out the letter and start reading it to my family (in English, obviously). But Matt started reading it, one sentence at a time, in Spanish. The boys then got to have fun working together to translate it as he read. They did really well! It was a fun activity with our lunch, and hearing the phrases in Spanish made it seem as though we were getting to know Gladis more fully.

“The girl Gladis is very happy for your present, and is very happy for your prayers.”

gladis head shot

I find it amazing that I can feel so connected and love someone so dearly even though we’ve never met face to face. Praying for someone will certainly do that for you!

I’m very thankful for One Child Matters. Because of them, children’s needs are being met. Most importantly, these children are learning about Jesus and finding hope. While our family has the opportunity to bless this little girl, we are finding more and more that she is the one blessing us. I love how God works!

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

A Special Map to Send Your One Child Matters Sponsored Child

It’s been a while since I mentioned One Child Matters here. Last week at camp, I was wearing my One Child Matters t-shirt. This sparked several discussions throughout the day with other camp staff members about what One Child Matters does, who they are, and why we as a family are so excited to be a participant with the organization. It was fun to share with others something we are so passionate about. Oh that everyone would/could help meet the needs of a child in another country by becoming a sponsor.

This might seem a little silly, but based on an idea we had a few months ago when we were writing a letter to our little girl, Gladis – I put together a printable you are welcome to use for your sponsored child. We used a map like the one below, colored in where we live, then colored in the area Gladis lives. We prayed over this, then sent it in our letter to Gladis. This is fun for many reasons, in particular because most children in these situations don’t have maps of their own to look at.

One Child Matters Map

If you’d like, print one of these maps to use in your next letter to your sponsored child:  Download One Child Matters Printable Map

Not sponsoring a child yet? Can I encourage you to please look into this, pray about it, and go for it if you feel God’s leading? One Child Matters is an awesome organization, and I’m so grateful and blessed to be working with them to spread the word about taking care of these precious children.

The “Eating Healthy” and “Save Money” Balancing Act

We all want to be healthy. We all want to live frugally. We all want the best for our families. We all want food to taste good. We all want great deals on groceries. We all want delicious food, special treats, our favorite snacks…and if they could be free, cheap, come with a coupon, or be buy-one-get-one free – that would be fantastic.

Yeah, pretty much, we want it all. Is that too much to ask?

Balancing Eating Healthy With Saving Money

Is it just me, or is it tricky sometimes to balance saving money with healthy eating? Especially as our boys get older, I can not believe how much it costs to feed us well. I believe it would also cost a lot to feed us poorly, simply because we eat so stinkin’ much food at our house all the time, every day, all the time.  We can not believe the lie that eating well is too expensive. Eating junk is expensive too. I’ve done the math.

I don’t have any wonderful new tips to share today as we work to keep our real food grocery budgets low. I don’t have any great online grocery deals to share. Instead, I just want to encourage keeping a healthy perspective when it comes to balancing saving money with eating healthy.

There really is great, real food out there that is not expensive. It’s amazing all the wonderful combinations of real food ingredients we can creatively put together to feed our families while staying under budget. We do not need to become discouraged, caving in to buy margarine because it’s cheaper than butter, or buying a cheese substitute because it’s cheaper than real cheese. We do not need to skip the fruits and vegetables because we are afraid of the price tag. They are not more expensive per ounce than a box of empty-calorie crackers. I’ve done the math.

God is going to continue to provide for you and your family. I believe the food on your table is as delicious as your attitude dictates it to be. The health benefits of eating the best you can within your means, while trusting God? Priceless.

Tired of the same old cheap real food meals of beans, rice, bananas, and carrots? Ask God to give you more creative ideas, to provide you with what you need, and to give you a heart of thanksgiving. I can almost guarantee that our little Gladis, over in Honduras, has very little variety in her diet, yet all of what she eats is real food and wholesome. She and her family are simply thankful to have food, and they do the best they can. Praise God for his provision!

Remembering her when I look into my refrigerator and pantry keeps me in check.  Gladis gives me perspective and offers me a chance to appreciate anew the abundance we have. From thousands of miles away, she shuts my complaining mouth and calms my heart of discontent when I feel like whining about the price of strawberries. How blessed we are to have access to the luxury of strawberries.

I pray we find balance as we seek to eat healthy while saving money. I pray we look at what we have through the eyes of gratitude.

Let’s all continue to feed our families the best we can, while enjoying the blessing of real food – whatever it might look like on our individual tables.

Hoping to get your budget on track as you work to balance healthy eating with saving money?
Be sure to check out BudgetFocus as a wonderful resource!

So Many Kids With So Many Needs. Let’s All Jump in and Help!

Seeing so many pictures of Asa and his team in Ecuador makes me think more and more of Gladis, the little girl we sponsor in Honduras. We’d love to go visit her someday. Hold her, hug her, play with her, meet her family, and encourage her friends and those who are taking care of her through One Child Matters.

In the meantime, I appreciate so much that Asa is able to love on kids in Ecuador right now. Truly, there are kids everywhere who need love, who need Jesus, who need care, food, medical attention, and education.

asa ecuador

Here is a picture of Asa on Sunday, surrounded by a crowd of Ecuadorian children.
He’s in a skit, performing the part of “the foolish man”
from the story we read about in Matthew 7. 

My heart longs to help more and more of these kids. I know our family can’t sponsor them all, but right here at Heavenly Homemakers – there are a lot of us. You, and you, and you, and you, and you. If each of us sponsors just one child in another country, do you know how many children can be reached? Thousands!

Let’s do this together!!

Please take a look at all the countries and children who are looking for a sponsor. I believe this is a ministry that is very doable for many of us. It is a small financial sacrifice on our part to make a huge spiritual difference in the life of a child.

one child matters

Spend Money Wisely So You Can Be a Generous Giver

If you’ve hung around here much, you’ve heard me sing the praises of both Budget Focus and One Child Matters. They are two very different organizations, focusing on two very different needs. I believe they are both very important and different as they are, I believe the two fit together perfectly.

How?

Budget Focus is a site created to help you get your finances in order. They help you set up a budget, spend only the money you have, avoid debt and climb out of debt, and find financial peace and security. What does that have to do with One Child Matters? Well, when you know where your money is going and how to wisely use your money, you are much more able to put your money toward important needs like One Child Matters.

Spend Money Wisely - Be a Generous Giver

I love One Child Matters for all the efforts they make toward loving children. I love that they work so hard to care for the needs of children. And I love that you and I can so easily be a part of this ministry.

Obviously, getting your finances in order means you can use your money in great ways that go beyond helping meet the needs of children in other countries. There are local needs all around each of us, our own family members and church family members have needs – there are many, many needs. One of the biggest blessings of being financially secure is that you are then much more free to give!

I encourage you to consider One Child Matters as one of those opportunities. Our family has been so blessed by our sponsorship to our little girl, Gladis.

If you’re in need of an online source to help you get your budget on track, please consider Budget Focus. This month, they’ve knocked down the price of their annual plan to make this possible for everyone!

How have you found budgeting to be helpful in your efforts to be a generous giver?

Praying for Gladis

One Child Matters recently sent us a simple prayer card to fill out for our sponsored child, Gladis. I loved this idea and wanted to share!

We simply attached our family picture to one side of the card…

praying for gladis 1

Then we wrote out our prayer for her on the other side…

praying for gladis 2

This prayer will be translated and sent on to Gladis in Honduras. Praying for our little girl is better than any other gift we can send her. We are so blessed to be a part of this!

If you’re not yet sponsoring a child, please join us in this ministry. God is using all of us to change the lives of children and their families. We are so honored to be a part of this!

Gratituesday: Connecting With Gladis By Studying Maps

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Once again, today proved that ministry and school can collide, and that no matter what we’re doing, we can learn something meaningful.

After breakfast this morning, the three younger boys and I mixed a geography/history lesson with our outreach to Gladis, the girl we sponsor through One Child Matters. We did a little research on Honduras, where Gladis is from. We printed out and colored maps and flags to send to her. We talked about the distance between our home and Gladis’ (roughly 1900 miles). And we marveled at how big God is to connect us to her in this awesome way.

maps for gladis 1

I should make something clear:  My three younger boys are 9, 12, and 14. They don’t sit and color pictures anymore…ever. But when I told them we were making these pages for Gladis, they ran for the colored pencils – even discussing how colored pencils would be better than markers for this assignment because it would look so much nicer and Gladis could see the maps better. Anytime I mention doing anything for Gladis, their response is always joyful and eager.

Maybe I should ask them to fold and put away their clothes in the hallway/do the dishes/pick up sticks in the yard…for Gladis. Think it would fly? ;)

The end results of our creations are simple. We thought maybe Gladis would have fun coloring the rest of the maps, so we left a lot for her to fill in. But we wanted to show her where in the U.S. we are located (Husker red, of course). Do you see the blue shaded areas on the world map below? That’s to show her that she is there, in Central America, and we are here in Nebraska, USA. We’ll be writing a note at the top of that map, letting her know that we are praying for her, that God is taking care of all of us, and that we are sending our love from our home to hers.

maps for gladis 2

I always wish I could see her face when she receives our packages. I’m told that pictures and maps like this are a treasure to these sponsored kids as they typically don’t have many items like this in their homes. How wonderful that such a simple school lesson for our family will be such a wonderful blessing to Gladis and her family.

Want to print out similar pages to do something like this for your sponsored child? Here are the links for where I found ours:

World Map Coloring Page

US Map Coloring Page

Honduras Flag Printables

United States Flag Coloring Page

Check out this cool Distance Calculator to discover about how far away your sponsored child is from where you live.

If you’re not yet sponsoring a child, please join us! I’m celebrating this ministry for Gratituesday today, because of the blessing it is to my family. I want you to experience this too. Bless a child – be blessed. What a rich gift.

Now your turn. Share what you’re thankful for!  Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life. If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it. We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!

Loving On Teenagers ~ How About Sponsoring An Older Child?

Ah, teenagers. Forget everything negative you’ve ever heard anyone say about them.  Teens are some of my very favorite people. I’ve got two amazing teens living in my house right now. Watching God grow them into mature adults has been delightful. Trying at times? Sure. But so were some of the baby, toddler, preschool, early elementary, and pre-teen years. I guarantee that at age 40, I’m trying at times too. Teens are no worse or better than any other human being. They just happen to be going through huge changes in life while they become more independent. Some of those changes are great, and some are very, very difficult.

Don’t you remember it?  Can’t you look back on your teenage years and remember how difficult some of that was? I remember not knowing how to act as I gave up little girl stuff and became a young woman – relearning who I was. I remember watching others around me and trying to figure out how to avoid doing some of what they were doing, all while trying to still fit in. I remember gaining responsibilities and trying to learn how to juggle them. I remember.  I thank God for the people in my life I had to love me through it. Where would I be without them?

To all of you who have chosen to join our ministry here at Heavenly Homemakers and sponsor a childthank you. Can you just picture the joy on your child’s face when they first found out they had a sponsoring family?

To all of you who are thinking of sponsoring a child but have not yet jumped in:  I challenge you to consider sponsoring a pre-teen or teenager.

one child matters teens

You certainly can pick a younger child, because oh how they need to be sponsored as well. If that is what will fit your family best – like it did ours at the time we were choosing – go for it! We love that our boys have a “little sister” to love on through prayer and mail.

But it could be that God calls you, instead, to sponsor an older child. A child others have overlooked, perhaps. I envision the joy of that child upon finding out that a sponsor has chosen him/her, and I get weepy. Someone wants to help meet their needs. Someone wants to write letters to them. Someone wants to hear what they have to say.  Someone from around the world loves them.

Think of the mentoring possibilities. I mean, with our little sponsored girl, Gladis, we certainly do all we can to encourage her and share Jesus’ love with her. But she’s only four. We look forward to years and years of growing a relationship with her. But those older kids waiting for sponsorship? I bet you could jump right into an endearing relationship in which you help take the load off of the trying teen challenges they face. Picture this! Let the Spirit lead you. Can you see the beauty of how this might work in your family?

If you have a teenager yourself, consider sponsoring one that might become a friend, pen-pal, confidante, and inspiration to yours. The friendship and mentoring possibilities are vast in the case of sponsoring an older child. I pray you consider this. I pray you take on this beautiful opportunity of sponsoring a child in another country.

Whoever you choose, whatever the age, whatever the country – know that this choice you are making is a huge blessing, both to you and to the child you sponsor. Please join this ministry!

Gifts You Can Include In a Letter To Your Sponsored Child

Just yesterday we received a postcard from Gladis, the little girl we sponsor through One Child Matters. I keep falling in love with her. Her card was so sweet. She’s too little to write herself, and you could tell that she was telling someone what to write.

…I am happy for the present you sent and will take care of it. I like to color and draw and I like books with pictures in them…

What was the present we sent? Last fall, Malachi and I made her a bracelet. We went all out with pinks and purples. I couldn’t help myself.  Malachi was so sweet and loved making this for his “little sister-friend” in Honduras.

One Child Matter Gifts

Writing and sending letters to your sponsored child is such a meaningful way to connect with them. Including little gifts is also a lot of fun and always blessed the child, not to mention, it always gives us such joy to share what we have.

What items are okay to send along with a letter to your sponsored child? One Child Matters does have strict guidelines. Rightly so. They know what ships well and what doesn’t. They don’t want your gifts to become damaged on its way to your child. Here are some great suggestions:

  • Photos of your family
  • Colored or painted pictures your children have created
  • Flat paper items – like bookmarks, stickers, or postcards

The gifts need to fit inside a standard business sized envelope. Always make sure you include your child’s ID number with the enclosure. The bracelet we sent wasn’t flat, but it did fit the other guidelines, so it was okay. Here are items you need to avoid sending:

  • Bulky items and used gifts
  • Seeds, cash, coins, and magnets
  • Crayons, chocolates, and candies (these can melt along the way and ruin your letter)
  • Electronic items and musical greeting cards

When our family was blessed to spend a day at the One Child Matters in Colorado Springs last year, we got to spend several hours sifting through sponsor correspondence. We checked to make sure ID numbers were on enclosed items, and readied them all to be sent overseas. It was so much fun (and a little tear-jerking to me) to see all the sweet love going out from sponsors to their children.

ocm_4

With our newest letter heading out to Gladis, I plan to print off some coloring pages for her – seeing as she likes to color. :)  That should ship well and be fun to receive.

What items have you sent to your sponsored child?

If you’re not yet sponsoring a child, please join our ministry here at Heavenly Homemakers!

Have You Written Your Sponsored Child(ren) Lately?

This is one of those tasks that falls into the same category as “shake your vanilla extract,” “dust your ceiling fans,” and “sort the piles of paper on your desk.”  We know we need to get around to it, but other pressing to-dos – like “make sure everyone has clean underwear” – keep pushing those down on the list.

Here’s a friendly reminder and challenge for us all this weekend:  Write a letter to your sponsored child.

It will only take a few minutes. It is always enjoyable. Your kids can be involved. And you know, without a doubt, that your letter will bless the child who receives it.

Here’s our little girl, Gladis, holding a package from us last summer. How excited she must have been to know that everything in that envelope was hers!

gladis with package

We’re so thankful to know that One Child Matters is taking such good care of these kids. Our monthly donation plays a big part in that. But simply throwing money at someone isn’t enough. We want to communicate with our sponsored child how much we love and pray for them. A few simple words on paper, along with a colored picture or photo of our family means the world to these kids. Write your sponsored child this weekend! (Next week, I’ll share some ideas for little gifts to include with your letter.)

If you’re not yet sponsoring a child, please join our ministry here at Heavenly Homemakers! You’ll be amazed at what your monthly donation of $39 can do to meet the needs of a child. And your prayers specifically for them are huge. Let’s all be a part of this rich ministry together.

Now, to all of us who already sponsor a child, go start writing your letter – before you forget or become distracted. Then, after you finish, dust your ceiling fans and shake your vanilla. We’ll all feel so accomplished. ;)