Monthly Archives: September 2012

Letter from a sponsored child


This month, I’m joining the Compassion Blogger Network to help promote child sponsorship and encourage my friends and family to sponsor a child. If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child, now’s the time to do it!

This week’s assignment is, by far, the toughest yet for me (which is why I’ve waited until the last possible day to write it): Write a letter from the perspective of a sponsored child, a letter that will inspire people to sponsor a child. That’s a tall order, but as of this evening, Compassion only needs 76 more sponsors to meet its goal of recruiting sponsors for 3,108 children between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30. That’s enough to motivate me to do some creative writing, so here goes my latest effort to encourage you check out the sponsorship page and put a smile on one of those adorable faces.

Thank you for your letter. Thank you also for my birthday gift. I used the money to buy a new jacket. It’s very soft. I started school again. I’m now in eighth grade. I did well on my exams at the end of last year. Thank you for praying for me. I do my best to study very hard. I enjoy school. My favorite subject is maths. I like the Bible verse you sent me about running the race God has for me. School does feel like a race sometimes. When I read your letters, I want to do my best. I want to be a doctor so I can help people who are sick. How is your family? I pray you are all in good health. I thank God that I am healthy. Because of the Compassion program, I get good food and can visit a doctor when I am sick.  

Please pray for my mother. She works hard and is very sad all the time. My father has been unable to get work for many months. They say to tell you “thank you” because without your sponsorship, they would not be able to send me to school. 

I’m going to be part of the choir at my church. Do you like to sing? What is your favorite song? I am learning Amazing Grace. Do you like that song?

In the name of Christ, 





Pinning: I’m Doing It for My Kids!


This month, I’m joining the Compassion Blogger Network to help promote child sponsorship and encourage my friends and family to sponsor a child. If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child, now’s the time to do it!

I’ve been holding back on joining the pinterest trend. Friends are shocked I haven’t jumped in yet, especially since I’ve embraced so many other social media sites. I love cooking and good food, right? Pinterest is great for finding new recipes! One friend frequently blogs about the tasty dinners and desserts she makes from pinterest recipes. She’s always making my mouth water. I’m impressed she actually makes what she pins. I fear I’d find all these great ideas—and never actually do anything with them. To make sure she does indeed try the ideas she finds, another friend has christened the third day of the week “Pinterest Tuesdays” and dedicates this day to creating one craft idea she’s pinned over the weekend. She pointed out that I’m always looking for things to do with Teddy, and Pinterest is full of fun activity ideas for kids. I’d definitely be motivated to put those ideas to use—and I’d have a chance most days.

Thus far, those reasons haven’t been enough to lure me onto this community corkboard, but now I have another incentive to get lost on the Internet’s neverending rabbit trail:

Compassion is having a pinterest contest

I love Compassion and I want to see more children sponsored, and creating a board to show off my sponsored kids is an opportunity to do that.

The contest is super easy:

  1. Create a board titled “My Sponsored Child”
  2. On the board you create, pin the image in this post; a photo of you and your sponsored child or a photo of you with a letter from your sponsored child or a photo of you holding a photo of your sponsored child; and anything else that is relevant to your sponsored child or Compassion
  3. Once you’ve created your board, share the URL via the form at the end of this blog post

The contest runs through Sept. 23; winners will receive gift money for their sponsored children. And what could be better motivation than that?

So I’m inAre you?

Praying for Teddy and Our Compassion Kids


This month, I’m joining the Compassion Blogger Network to help promote child sponsorship and encourage my friends and family to sponsor a child. If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child, now’s the time to do it!

A couple weeks ago, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon about encouragement. His text was Hebrews 3:13, “Encourage one another daily.” He pointed out that while some people have the gift of encouragement, this verse provides a clear baseline for everyone. As I mentioned in my previous Compassion post, I’m remembering to pray for our Compassion kids more regularly, and as I reflected on the sermon, I realized encouragement would be a good thing to pray about. I want our kids to feel encouraged! I don’t want them living without hope for a future, and saturating them with encouragement is one way to provide them with hope. I want to be an encourager in their lives, and I pray they are encouraged by the stories they read in the Bible.

One way I can be an encourager, my pastor noted, is to compliment like crazy. Our kids don’t give us too much to go on in their letters, but what they do tell us, we make sure to applaud. For example, one of our kids mentioned becoming a music leader for his youth group, so in our next letter, we made sure to congratulate him on that and wish him well in his ministry. Another kid mentioned doing well on final exams, so we told her how proud we were of her.

In our letters we also frequently share Bible verses that we have found encouraging and that might speak to the situations they face. I pray regularly from a little booklet, “60 Promises to Pray Over Your Children” by Roy Lessin. A verse in Hebrews 12—”Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us”—inspires the following prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for the example of the men and women of faith who have followed you through life’s journey. Thank you for the testimonies of their trust, the fruits of their faithfulness, and the witness of their walk. I pray that what has been written about them in [the Bible] will be a source of encouragement to my children, and that their patience and endurance would encourage my children to wait on you in full assurance of faith. Bless my children with the blessings of Abraham. Help them to learn from Daniel to be uncompromising; from Joseph to do what is right by not sinning against you; from Gideon to be strong and courageous; from Moses to hear your voice and have your glory shine upon their faces; from Ruth to fully identify with you and your people; from Sarah to believe that you can do the impossible; from Samuel to recognize your voice and speak out your words; from David to be a person after your own heart. Use them to be a blessing, an encouragement, and an example to others of what it means to follow you.

 Won’t you encourage a child in need today by sponsoring one?

Introducing Teddy to extended family … and ranch life


Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled to O’Neill, Nebraska, to celebrate Mike’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary (congrats, Bernard and JoEllen!!). We were excited at the opportunity to introduce Teddy to his extended family. However, we wondered how our multi-racial family would be received by the family that we’re not connected to on our social networks and the local community (after a family dinner, the party would be open to everyone). We were flying from a city pretty evenly split in population by white people and black people to a county that’s … well … not. DC is 42% white and 50% black; Holt County, Nebraska, is 98.5% white and 0.3% black. We weren’t concerned, per se—Mike’s family are great people and I’m sure their friends are great, too—just curious.

I have to admit, I was shocked by the lack of second glances and insensitive comments. I did get one odd comment, by a very sweet elderly lady, but it took me aback more because it was the only such comment I received. And it wasn’t insensitive. It just showed a lack of familiarity with black people. Which is understandable when you have grown up in a place almost entirely populated by white people.

So instead of spending my time fielding unwelcome questions and ignoring uncomfortable stares, I was able to delight in watching Mike’s cousins play with Teddy. They loved him. He was never want for attention. As the youngest in the room, he was often the center of it (although obviously not during the anniversary celebration). One cousin tickled Teddy every chance he got and insisted on a picture with him before he left. Another cousin, 4 years old, happily played babysitter while the adults chatted around the table.

And we got to introduce Teddy to ranch life. Mike’s uncle has several hundred head of cattle, a couple horses, and an extremely friendly dog. The cows and horses didn’t actually seem to faze him much, but he was delighted by the dog—as long as he was safely ensconced in Daddy’s arms, high above. When on the ground, he got quite a few slobbery kisses that freaked him out a bit.

My favorite part of ranch life that we enjoyed but didn’t introduce Teddy to this time was consuming large quantities of beef. Because that beef, of course, comes from cows raised on the ranch. And it tastes amazing. Last time we visited, we were treated to the most delicious steaks I’ve ever eaten. This visit, my beef craving was satisfied with scrumptious burgers. Twice. I could eat burgers every day, anyway. But burgers that come from a cow that once grazed 50 paces away? Man. Each time I feast on this quality of beef, I come away resolved anew to avoid supermarket beef and buy only from the farmers market. (And if the taste didn’t convince me, Mike’s uncle’s lecture about the industrial machine that produces the mince on grocery store shelves would.)

Oh, and the cantaloupe! Mike’s aunt served cantaloupe fresh from her garden! That was a treat we did put on Teddy’s plate. And did he gobble it up! If only we could ship that cantaloupe home…

Ok, I’ve got to stop. My mouth is watering and I want to go back to Nebraska and have a burger and a side of cantaloupe….

17,000 miles logged in Teddy’s first year


Teddy is not yet 1, but he’s already flown 17,000 miles—too bad we can’t claim them! We flew to Las Vegas when he was 2 months old, Seattle at 3 months, and Seattle and Nebraska at 11 months. Recently my friend blogged at Ink Lemonade her tips for traveling with a baby (her little guy has traveled even more than Teddy!), so I’m inspired to write my own post about traveling with a child under 1.

Flying with Teddy at 2 and 3 months old was drastically different than our most recent excursions. For starters, last year, he was small enough to fit on the seat-back table. And we put him there to sleep for part of the flight. On our August/September flights, he was entertained by the seat-back table—for a good 30 minutes! (Pushing it up and down repeatedly and then earnestly maneuvering the locking mechanism = highly entertaining.)

Because Teddy has been known to shriek—quite loudly, often freaking out his friends, but usually in excitement and not distress—I was concerned about five hours enclosed in such a small space. If my boy can move around at will, he can entertain himself quite well. Confined to one square foot? I had no idea how he’d do. I was also wary because for the flight to Seattle, I’d be traveling alone—Mike wasn’t joining me until a few days later. Five hours on my own with a very active toddler—yikes. But I knew other friends had already successfully managed, so armed with a bag full of new-to-him toys, snacks, books, and formula (including one bottle with a dose of baby Benadryl, just in case), we set off.

A wonderful Alaska Airlines baggage check attendant arranged for Mike to be on standby, which allowed him to accompany me all the way to the gate…and, we later found out, kept the middle seat next to me open! Wonder of wonders! Miracle of miracles! Both were hugely helpful.

Friends advised me to introduce toys and other items for distraction one at a time, which was a great idea. Although, between the aforementioned seat-back chair and the foil wrapper from my snack fruit bar, we didn’t even get to the toys until nearly an hour into the flight. Who knew a crinkly piece of aluminum could cause such delight?

The first half of the flight passed quickly and pleasantly, with only a couple shrieks from Teddy. Fortunately, I was mostly surrounded by young families (by definition understanding), and the single guy next to me had Boze earphones, so he slept for most of the flight, unbothered by the exclamations of an excited toddler. I thought about walking the aisle with Teddy to work off some energy, but quickly realized that would be uncomfortable for everyone: It was far too narrow; I would be elbow to elbow with every aisle-seat passenger. But standing in front of our unoccupied middle seat seemed sufficient for Teddy to stretch his legs a bit.

The second half of the flight, Teddy was due for a nap, so I strapped him into his Ergo baby carrier and began bouncing him in the aisle. We were at the back of the bus, so I spent my time sidestepping the flight attendants as they went about their work and fellow passengers visiting the restrooms. Now, on a normal day, if Teddy is tired, he’ll be asleep in the Ergo within 30 minutes. But at 30,000 feet, there’s far too much going on. I bounced with him for an hour and a half. The flight attendants were friendly and let me crash their space when the restroom area was too crowded. And Teddy bounced quite happily without any complaints. He finally fell asleep just before we began our descent.

On the flight back to DC from Seattle, it was even easier to keep Teddy entertained: Mike and I could pass him back and forth. In our bag of new-to-him toys, my friend had included the “nuclear option”: a toy with internal wires that turn into spinning neon lights when a button is pressed. We didn’t need it the entire flight. In fact, we didn’t bust it out until the last 20 minutes of our flight home from Nebraska. But we definitely needed it then and were grateful to have it.

All told, Teddy is an excellent little traveler. I’m not worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas at all. In fact, I think I’ll leave the Benadryl at home.

June Magnuson: June 4, 1917, to August 22, 2012


Last Wednesday, after fighting a long, steady battle with Alzheimer’s, my grandmother breathed her last. I won’t be able to attend her graveside service today, so I offer my tribute to her memory here.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve picking my way down Grandma’s private beach on Orcas Island, listening to the waves crash against the rocks and looking for the perfect sanddollar, the one that wasn’t cracked and might, just might, still contain little sand stars. We also searched for colorful shells and smooth rocks. We’d bring them all back to her house and keep them—for who knows what. (My aunt has since shared that she plans to make mosaic garden stepping stones from these still-saved treasures, which is a fitting memorial, I think.)

Another favorite pasttime was curling up under a blanket on her cushioned window seat reading and looking out at her garden. My grandmother loved to garden. She had a thriving plot beside her house and out front. I loved to pick blueberries from her front garden, eating them on the spot. I have to admit I did not inherit her green thumb. (I struggle to keep cactuses alive.) But fortunately, at least one son and daughter did. My father prides himself on his tomato plants and I grew up stuffing my face every spring with the strawberries he tended. And I know one aunt keeps a beautiful garden that served as the backdrop for her daughter’s wedding several years ago.

Fortunately, I did inherit my grandmother’s love of books and writing. Early in her career, she reported for The Seattle Times, and throughout her life, she kept full bookshelves. She also passed on her travel bug. My grandmother loved to travel, and she did so extensively, picking up original art and other souvenirs everywhere she went. We share this desire to to bring back artistic momentos of our travels. In fact, we both framed pieces purchased from street vendors.

I did not see my grandmother very often as an adult, but I’ll be forever grateful that I was able to see her the week (including the day) she passed. And Teddy got to meet his great-grandmother. She was unresponsive during our visits, but I’m glad I have a picture to show Teddy when he’s older.

Rest in peace, Grandma June. Your memory lives on.

Our Compassion Kids Care About Teddy!


This month, I’m joining the Compassion Blogger Network to help promote child sponsorship and encourage my friends and family to sponsor a child. If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child, now’s the time to do it!

Mike and I have both sponsored Compassion children since before we were married. I remember sitting in the balcony of the gathering place where my Christian college group met, on the edge of my seat as I listened to the speaker explain in vivid detail her experience with child sponsorship. I was right there with her as she described meeting kids in the program. It was the most enthralling speech I’d ever heard, and afterward I joined the throng of people crowding the Compassion table, perusing all the cards with descriptions of children in need of sponsors. I don’t remember what drew me to Edilania—I think her March birthday probably had something to do with it—but my relationship with her lasted her entire life in the program. A few years ago, I got notice that she had graduated and was considering nursing school. She didn’t indicate any interest in continuing correspondance, so I have no idea where she is now.

I’m ashamed to admit that my correspondence with her while I sponsored her was not regular. I was one of those sponsors who sent money and not much else. Because it took so long to hear back after writing, I truly didn’t think my letters were that important. But thanks to Compassion’s embrace of Web 1.0 and 2.0, I’ve come to learn that letters do matter—immensely. (The organization blogs and tweets constantly about the importance of keeping in touch with sponsored children and how much children value letters from their sponsors.) In fact, Compassion has gone out of its way to make writing our children (we’re sponsoring two more since Edilania moved on, and Mike’s young man hasn’t graduated the program yet) ridiculously easy. For one thing, we can write online. We do everything else online, so this makes connecting with our children too convenient to avoid. We can even upload photos. I never sent them before because I was too lazy to print them.

So we’re connecting with Nayra, King, and Kitibwa much more frequently now. And we’re learning firsthand that they really do care about their sponsors. There’s still a time lapse between communications (the translators have a lot of letters to translate!) and the younger children’s responses are often abrupt and don’t always seem to answer our inquiries, but we know they read our letters because as soon as we mentioned we were in the process of adoption, they all let us know they were praying for us. What’s more precious than knowing a child in another country is praying specifically for my family?! And when we shared our joyful news of Teddy’s arrival, they each offered their congratulations.

Because we’re writing more frequently, we’re feeling more connected to them. Our money isn’t just helping some random kids have a better life. We’re getting to know these children—and remembering to pray for them more regularly.

So many more children need this kind of relationship. Won’t you consider sponsoring one?