Make Yourself at Home

We showed up at the Student Life Camp as they were unloading for their 9th week of camp. It was really amazing watching these college kids empty four large Penske rental trucks and set up for more than 1,000 kids. When I complimented one of them, they said, “Oh this is a small camp. This is easy.”

Compassion had agreed to let us visit with Maureen and even though she was free to let others do her setup work, she asked our family if we minded hanging around while she performed her duties. (A true example of her heart and work ethic!)

We were happy to just watch and thrilled when they let us help. My hubby did a little drilling:

My kids helped with the packets of the children needing sponsors:

Everyone pitched in and constructed a replica home you might see in the slum, where Maureen grew up.

After she gives her compelling and touching testimony, she stands in the doorway of this mock home and answers questions.

People are moved at the image of this beautiful girl who has been rescued from poverty.

As I helped Maureen hang some “fact cards” on the interior walls of the home, she said, “This would be a nice home in the slums of Africa.” I remembered Vincent’s home and I silently nodded my head.

Once the home was completed, our family of five gathered inside. The average size of a family in Africa is usually at least five and I wanted my kids to see what it felt like to live in such a small space:

As I sat there with my family squeezed into the small, one-room dwelling, the nicest home on the block, I thanked God once again for His gentle reminder, this tangible example of perspective.

I’m pretty sure my family will never forget it.

Our New Daughter

When I met her in the slums of Mathare Valley, I knew Maureen was special. I watched her march into the heart of hell in her crisp, white satin blouse and heeled shoes and I didn’t doubt for a minute that she’d been rescued from poverty.

But I didn’t know that God would bind our hearts and our lives in such an unbelievable way. Just four short months after meeting in Kenya, our family drove to meet Maureen at a Student Life Camp while on vacation last week. Compassion and Student Life partner with the goal of child sponsorship and they invited her to the United States this summer to travel from camp to camp sharing her amazing testimony (and thousands of precious kids have been sponsored with Maureen’s help!)

Through Facebook and email, we have become dear friends. But I wanted my family to meet Maureen. They fell in love with her and understood immediately why I fell in love with her and Africa.

We spent 2 glorious days together, eating pancakes and bacon in our RV, italian food for dinner and a late shopping trip to WalMart. Maureen taught us a bit of Swahili, we taught her how to eat sunflower seeds. She called my children her siblings. She referred to me as Mom and we exchanged necklaces. She called my husband Dad. And I cried when I learned that this was her first hug from a “father”:

We laughed and prayed and enjoyed rich fellowship together with our new daughter.

God is slowly revealing a pretty amazing plan for our lives to be intertwined…

We will meet again.

*Updated to add: Maureen isn’t one of our sponsored children. She is actually about t0 graduate from Compassion’s Leadership Program and will graduating from the University in just a few short months.

WFMW: Buy in a Group and Save

Have y’all heard of Groupon?

It’s pretty new to me, but I love the idea of getting a great deal on things!

How It Works:

  1. Each day Groupon features something cool to do/buy at an unbeatable price.
  2. You only get the deal if enough people join that day… so invite your friends!
  3. Check back the next day for another awesome Groupon!

You can sign up to get emails for deals in your local big city. I’ve been pretty impressed with what they’ve offered so far at deeply discounted rates for restaurants, services, stores, etc.

Occasionally there are online deals. I’ve only bought one thing and it was from the cute dress shop Shabby Apple. The deal: $100 gift certificate for $40! That’s a 60% savings!

*UPDATED TO ADD* Just learned that you can shop different cities and occasionally there are online deals! I actually found the Shabby Apple deal under the Baltimore if your interested, but hurry!

Have y’all tried it yet?

Groupon works for me!

Next week, there’s a themed edition of WFMW: Your best bathroom or kitchen tip (organizing, cleaning, etc.) Please remember that themes are just suggested and you’re always welcome to link up a helpful tip.

(in)Couraging Art {Giveaway}

*UPDATED* Congrats to random number 35, Mrs. 007 is the winner! Don’t forget to shop Dayspring with the code THANKS2010 for 25% off anything and everything by July 31st!

Recently, I made the decision not to buy a single home decor item for my walls and shelves unless it meant something to me.

I took down about half of the stuff in my house and it was liberating. On my walls now: paintings and drawings from my children, pictures of Africa, heirloom linens from great greats, and art.

I call it Meaningful Decor. Or “Have I told you the story behind this?”

One of the perks of writing for (in)Courage is being paid in product-usually enough to buy a couple of small things or one bigger thing each month. (If you are related to me, you already know this since every gift I’ve given for the past year has been from DaySpring!)

I love LOVE LOVE the beautiful art infused with bright colors and scripture. If my walls are gonna talk, I want them to say something meaningful. I’m not kidding: this art (in)courages me:

DaySpring is giving away this beautiful gallery wrapped canvas -John 3:16 Heart & Globe (my very favorite) to one reader today:

Tell me where you’d put it as your entry. AND-DaySpring is doing a 25% anything and everything sale right now–coupon code THANKS2010, expires July 31st, so hurry!

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Product Details:
*Size: 16″ W x 20″ H x 1.5″ D
*Made in the USA
*Product by Show Offs Art

P.S. Want an extra entry? Answer this question in my Blog Frog Community: “What blogs inspire you?” and leave an extra comment here to let me know.

S’More, Please!

Our RV vacation hit the spot (even with a nasty 24 hour bug that hit two of my kids!! It was bad. And I know bad.)

But before and after all the bad, there was hiking and swimming and creek-wading:

Chigger-scratching and geocaching:

And some serious mudpie-making (this alone won me the title VACATIONING MOTHER OF THE YEAR):

I hope you’ve had at least a day or two to stay(cation) or vacation….what did you/are you doing to “get away” this summer?

Tell me s’more, please!

P.S. Is there really anything better than campfire s’mores?

What I Want My Children to Know -A DIY Project

“I believe I am here for a special purpose and that God has given me all I need to carry out His plan for me.”

I can’t remember where I read these words. But they impacted me so much, I jotted them down on the back of a receipt and held them close.

To see the little DIY project I created with these words, visit me over at (in)courage.

P.S. I’m taking the rest of the weekend for family. See y’all on Monday!

Modern Family Fun: Geocaching

Now, obviously I’m not in the know or up to speed on all things modern. Are you in doubt? Evidence: in 1999, I thought the Internet was a passing fad and possibly of the devil. Okay, I might have been partially right on the second one.

And we just started our first trial of Netflix.

Point made.

But, why am I just learning about  Geocaching??

Oh my goodness, our family was created for this frugal treasure-hunting-through-the-thicket adventures! (In case your as behind-the-times as I am, here’s a brief definition:  Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. Search for a geocache below or learn more about getting started.

And it’s fun!

We had a GPS, Delilah was her name. She was a bossy gal until she was stolen from our car during church. (May the lost thief find their way. Amen). But you don’t have to have one to play this great family game! You can download an app off iTunes (the free trial lets you choose three hunts) for $9.99. There are also cool Geocaching devices for kids. I think my son wants to ask Santa for a child’s version. Anyway, there are many ways to play.

The iPhone app allows you to plan your road trips and it marks all the Geocaching spots. There are thousands and thousands, many that allow you to take a treasure/leave a treasure (just a small object).

This week we’ve been Geocaching in our recreational vehicle. We are official nerds.

Here’s our first Geocaching adventure:

The treasure:

There was a little trinket for us to take and we left one in it’s place. There are usually logs to where you can write a note, your name and date.

Have y’all gone geocaching before? Or even heard of it for that matter?

(P.S. There are hundreds of hidden treasures in the State Park we’re visiting!)