Thursday, January 31, 2013

One less orphan

My sweet friend Ashley and her husband just returned from a whirlwind trip to Haiti to sign some paperwork so they can (FINALLY) bring their baby boy soon! I have added her new blog to my list of friends' blogs on the side of my page, but I wanted to do a special post to share her blog with you. She has some amazing stuff to say on adoption and how we as believers have been commanded to care for orphans. She only has two posts so far, but they're amazing. She also just shared about a super-easy fundraiser to help raise money for the next (and final) trip to Haiti to bring their sweet boy home. Please stop by her blog and offer up some prayers for the family, even if you can't participate in the fundraising aspect of the adoption process!

Ashley's Blog

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kindness for the invalid

It has been hard to keep track of my acts of kindness over the past two weeks. I was keeping track daily in a little notebook, and took that notebook to the hospital (I don't know why), and I haven't seen it since. It might still be in my duffel bag, but that bag is currently on the floor, which means I can't get it. And I keep forgetting to ask people "hey, can you pick up that bag for me?" It also could be in a stack of stuff my mom put on my nightstand, and then that stuff got put in a box until we could look through it later and put it away where it belongs....but so far, we haven't gone through it. We've been very busy napping, snacking, and watching Lost and Community on DVD. And then when I'm alone, I can't get the box because, of course ,it is on the floor. Oh well.

I did want to report, though, that even though I have been stuck in bed both at the hospital and at home, I have still tried to be kind. I have sent some cards to friends that visited me in the hospital, telling them how much I appreciate them. I took cookies to my nurses at the hospital, and tried very hard to always be smiley and polite, and thank them for everything they did, because being a nurse is a hard job. I don't know why nurses don't get paid as much as doctors. Sometimes, they do more work! I tried to buy lunch for my mom and brother the other day when we had to go back to the doctor after it looked like my incision might be infected (I'm fine.) Mom took the gift card, but not my debit card. Oh well. At least I got to buy most of lunch for them. : )

So for now, I can't share what specific acts of kindness I tried to do on each specific day, but hopefully next week I'll get back on track. It will still be hard to do stuff since I'm stuck at home, but I'm working on finding more online things I can do to spread kindness.

Speaking of online opportunities for giving, I have two more ideas for you. These websites ask a trivia question each day, and then when you answer the trivia question, the ad revenue pays for dog food (and cat food) for animal shelters. It seriously takes like two seconds!

Here are the websites:

Free Kibble

Free Kibble Kat

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

I missed Mail Call Monday last week, but I did an early post for it, as we got a letter from Jayid the Saturday before my surgery. This week we received a letter from Said in Tanzania! One of the things I pray for specifically for Said is his school work. He has a positive attitude about his education and seems interested in staying school as long as he can, which is great! However, last year the project sent me a copy of Said's grades (a rare privilege for a correspondence sponsor) and his grades are not so great. Said's been keeping me up to date on when his testing for the end of primary school is coming up, and I have been diligently praying for his studies. No matter what happens, I am still proud of him and the work he does!
Said also drew some pictures for me, but my scanner is upstairs in my house, and upstairs is a place I can't get to right now. So I'll post them when I can. : )

Dear Jessi, 
Praise the Lord Jesus! I hope you are doing well and your family too. If so the Lord be blessed. God bless you in your duties and keep you. I thank you for sending me a gift and a nice letter. I have already taken my final exams for completing primary education. Please pray that I will pass for my exams. 
We are three kids in my family. How many are you? I love football, and you. I pray for you over your studies and your duties. Please pray for me over my studies. 
God bless you a lot and keep you always,

I also logged into my Compassion account the day after I got home from the hospital, to write to my kids, and I saw that Mbari's picture has been updated! She looks so beautiful! I can't wait to get the new picture in the mail so I can hang it on the wall with the rest of the kiddos!

Hello, world!

I am happy to say that I am home from the hospital and am coping reasonably well. I stayed there longer than we thought I would, because that drainage thing they put in you was draining way too much. So I was in the hospital for almost five days (I got home around four in the afternoon on Friday.) Things have been going ok so far.

The good:

* I have wonderful friends and family members who have taken care of me, from my mom staying in the hospital almost 24/7 to visits from dear friends to all the help I've had since I've been home (currently my  mom is out running errands while my amazing mother-in-law Denise is cleaning up some stuff around my house.)

*My doctor said my surgery went really well. He said that when he got in there, he could actually see that two of the bone grafts from my previous surgery had failed, and he was certain that this was the cause of my pain. In other words, he's pretty sure he fixed the problem, and I won't need a second surgery. He went ahead and added the stabilizing hardware, added the new bone grafts, and stitched me right up.

*I didn't have to spend any time in ICU, and on Wednesday I was allowed to start eating solid foods.

*I had some really amazing nurses in the hospital. Tina loved my pajamas and my socks and my stuffed animals and told me she was going to steal them. Karen and I had a nice conversation about John Stamos when she brought me my meds during a Full House marathon one afternoon. Chyrelle took great care of me, was really nice and called me "sweetie" and "baby" all the time, and she was always smiling. My first group of PT people were kind, funny, supportive and encouraging (the second group were a little hardcore.) And on my first trip out of my room, when I went to walk down the hall (the nurse's area was right outside my room), I noticed that one of the nurses that worked on my unit is actually one of my patrons from the library! She is so nice. I was about ten feet away from my room and I said "hey! I know you!" And she's like "well, sweetie, what are you doing here?" Even though she wasn't assigned to my room, she came to check on me and talk to my mom several times.

*While I was in the hospital, I had virtually no tummy troubles, and only one real anxiety issue (which was totally not my fault because I woke up in the middle of the night coughing, which hurt unimaginably, and I didn't know my mom was in the bathroom so I went from relatively fine to having a heart rate of 140 in like two seconds.)

*Since I've been home, I haven't had many problems with my anxiety either, which is great.

*I am able to spend a little time on the couch, but spend most of my time in bed, which is pretty comfortable.

*I'm enjoying all the time I get to spend with my mom. She usually comes over around the time Brandon goes to work, and takes a nap with me. Then we watch Lost and hang out until Brandon gets home. I'll be sad when she has to go back to work.

*My pain is usually pretty manageable. My stitches hurt, and my hips hurt, but my back usually doesn't hurt. I do ok with the other pain using an ice pack and two heating pads, and lots of pillows. I can get up and down by myself, I can walk around the house (not upstairs yet, though), and most of the time can get myself settled without any help. And I took a shower yesterday by myself without any help. I was very proud of that.

The not-so-good:

*My tummy has been acting up over the past few days because of some hospital issues, and I'm back to having my stupid allergies and stuff. If I sit up too long (really it's like reclining), my hips start to hurt, so I get adjusted and move to my side. But then I can't stay like that because my stomach gets upset.

*My stitches hurt like crap.

*My arms are covered in bruises, which is fine and pretty impressive, but I also have that tape gunk on my arms and I'm having trouble getting it off. Rubbing alcohol burns my arms. This is a pretty minor problem though, so it's cool .

*We were told that my incision would be four or five inches long, but my mom says it's about nine inches long. Eek.

*Bible study was supposed to be this Tuesday at my house, but we have decided to postpone it until next week. I am sad about this, but it will be ok.

*My pain is usually worse in the late afternoon/early evening. By that time of day, I have been sitting up more, so that makes me achy. Then there's the issue of my meds- I take pain pills every four hours and my muscle relaxers every 8 hours. I take both of them at 4 in the afternoon, so I'm extra achy, and I tend to get overwhelmed around this time. And then I end up crying. This is the main reason we're postponing Bible study, I think. It would take place during the time period when I am whiniest.

All in all, I think I'm doing pretty well. That's what everyone keeps telling me, anyway. It's funny- I've kept myself relatively calm over the past few months by telling myself that my surgery would not be a big deal. It wouldn't be like the original, life-changing surgery I had when I was 13. But it totally is. It's still major surgery. I need to learn to not be disappointed with myself so much when I'm not able to get stuff done on the timetable that I want to. I also need to learn that it's not a bad thing to ask for help. I feel guilty pretty much all the time (except I love having visitors, and I don't mind it when people make my favorite foods for me!)

Anyway...I guess that's all I have to say for this post. I actually started it about four hours ago, so I don't really remember my train of thought. My mom came home with lunch and confiscated the laptop while I ate, and then she kept it for a while. : )

Pre-op. This is before Ingrid the Incompetent came and put in my IV, when I was still smiling and trying to be in a good mood.

When they started  bringing me solid food, I was so happy to find that the hospital exclusively serves my  favorite bottled water, which is impossible to find anywhere anymore! I'm not really a bottled water snob, but my friend and  I used to get this kind a lot in high school and it brought back good memories .

The flowers my coworkers and the Friends of the Library sent to me. I also got flowers from my dad and my grandparents- and lots of stuffed animals! : )

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweet Greetings, a bit early

I will miss Monday Mail Call next week, as I am having my surgery on Monday and will not be awake, much less able to get on the computer! I got a letter today, though, and I wanted to go ahead and share it because it came with such a lovely drawing.

Today I got a letter from our Jayid in India.

This was the first correspondence I have received from a sponsor kid written on Compassion's new form letters (I have, of course, received the "getting to know you" forms for almost all of my kids in the past.) The form is "My Community." Jayid tells us that people in his community are labor workers, and rickshaws and bicycles are common forms of transportation. He says that most people speak Hindi or "Bundelkhandi", and men wear "paint shirts" and women wear saris. He says the weather is hot and rainy, and what he likes most about his community is "culture programme and teamwork." On the back, a staff member wrote this message: 

Dear Jessi, 
He is fine here. How are you? He saying so much thank you for your sticker and card. he is very glad for all this. He is saying that he never go to zoo. Here weather is cold now. He says that zoo is 400 km far away. He want to visit zoo. Pray for Jayid.

Jayid also sent a really fantastic drawing of his community! I absolutely love it. I see he included a peacock and some other animals. He even made the sun smile!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

Today I was very surprised to see we had a letter from Joane, our correspondence sponsor child in Haiti! Joane only writes to us about twice a year (I last heard from her after Easter 2012), so I was very happy to get a letter from her. Unfortunately, with so much time between letters, Joane's letter is basically answers to a bunch of questions that have been asked over the past, oh, seven months? Nevertheless, I was thrilled to hear from her. 

23 October 2012

Dear Jessi, 
I am happy for the opportunity that I have to write this letter to you. How are you and your family doing? How are your activities and your health? I am doing well by the grace of God. My school activities are going well. I don't have vacation in Spring. Yes, my church talk about the Holy Spirit. I received it well. Yes I go to church. Yes I had a dinner with my family. I am doing good. No, I don't play basketball. Thank you for my letter and your prayers towards me. I am happy to hear from you and I'll keep praying for you too. I am praying for [my friend Amanda] to be able to bring the good news of the Gospel in Japan. On June 10, my project organized a nice party for all the children. It was Children's Day. We sang, danced, and told poetry, etc. Do you also celebrate Children's Day? May God bless you. 

Your daughter, 

Between finally hearing from Joane after such a long silence, and learning about the adorable newest member of our far-away family, this week has been pretty good! I'll be putting a big envelope in the mail soon, filled with Valentine's Day cards and stickers for all the kids, plus local postcards for our newest sponsor children (Victor, Mbari, and Brenda), and birthday cards for the kids with March birthdays (Victor, Joane, and Jayid!)

Kindness, Week One

As I said in an earlier post, one of my resolutions for the new year is to do one kind thing each day. I was inspired in part by the 26 Acts of Kindness campaign, which came about to honor the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and decided to carry it into the new year and make it a resolution.

In my search for ideas for acts of kindness, I came across a blog a guy wrote last year, where he blogged about an act of kindness he performed each day. I would like to share my kindness ideas with you- not to brag, but to encourage you to share kindness with others, and to show you how simple acts of kindness can be. I don't think I can keep up with blogging every day, though, so I think I will write a post once a week.

Here, in all their humble glory, are the acts of kindness from the first week of the new year:

January 1: I made a tiny monetary donation to Amazima Ministries, because Katie Davis is my hero. I thought this would be a good way to start off the new year!

January 2: I wrote a thank you note to my Mammaw for fixing us fried oysters for New Year's Day. They were so good. I ate way too many.

January 3: I brought my friend a small scented candle. I like to get her candles, and if I find a yummy-smelling one that's inexpensive, I usually get it to put up as a surprise for her.

January 4: I bought my coworker a sweet tea to go with her lunch.

January 5: I registered with and answered trivia questions to earn food for needy people around the world. Ad sponsors on the website pay for the rice, which goes to hungry people. It's insanely easy and you can answer questions for a few seconds, or a few hours.

January 6: From my sickbed, I wrote Valentine's Day cards for all my Compassion kids, plus birthday cards for the ones that have birthdays coming up, and also labeled sticker sheets and post cards for each of them. It took an hour and a half, what with seven kids to write to!

January 7: I registered with, an organization that allows you to read children's books online (at various age levels.) For every book you read, a book will be donated to children who don't have books! What a fun way to support literacy in children. This is a fun and simple activity that you could do by yourself, or with your kids.

Being kind is pretty easy. And a lot of times, it doesn't cost anything. Have you performed an act of kindness recently?

Black lung

I don't really have the black lung, but I am coughing a lot and yesterday my wimpy little coughs were reminding me of that one scene in Zoolander. They're worse now. My coughs, I mean.

I have tried really hard to stay healthy before my surgery, despite the fact that I work at a germ farm (aka, a public library) and despite the fact that my coworker who has no concept of personal space came to work sick last week. And yet, here I am, sick. I missed church yesterday, which was depressing. I missed Brandon's first basketball game of the season, which was extra depressing because after my surgery, I will not be able to go to almost any of the games (the gym is full of the world's most uncomfortable folding chairs. Even without being recently operated on, I have trouble sitting in those chairs.) And my surgery is one week from today. I am worried that it will be delayed because I am sick. And I'm worried that if it's not delayed, I will end up even sicker because of hospital germs and the fact that I will be reclining a lot.

So I am asking my friends to please pray for me, that I will get over this bug extremely quickly, and that my surgery will go on as planned and without incident. I know I just have a cold or a sinus infection or whatever it is, but I already have so much stress surrounding me right now- I don't need any physical complications along with that. And I still have to work this week- I can't stay home and rest, trying to get better. I thank you in advance for your prayers!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Meet Brenda

I was told a few days ago that it would probably be a long time before I got a new correspondence sponsor child, as Compassion seems to be pretty well set with correspondence sponsors at the moment. I logged in to my account this evening to double-check Jayid's upcoming birthday (it's almost two months away, so that means it's about time to send him a card and some stickers!) and was stunned to see a new name on our account! I am overjoyed that little Brenda has been added to our far-away family.

Brenda is 5 years old and lives in Mexico. We have never written to or sponsored a child in Mexico before, so it will be exciting to learn about her country- and also to send her things in Spanish! Thank you, Lord, for this unexpected blessing. I pray  that Brenda's financial sponsors are in it for the long haul, and we will be able to have a relationship with her for a long time to come.

Overwhelmingly adorable!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January Letter Topics

I have some friends that sponsor children through various organizations. These friends never write to their kids. I don't get that. I really try not to be judgmental, so I ask why they never write. Usually they say they don't know what to write about. So this year, I'd like to make an effort to write some posts about letter-writing topics. Here are some ideas for this month.

  1. New Year's. There are so many options with this topic. You can share your prayers and wishes for your sponsor child in the new year. Try explaining the concept of new year's resolutions to older kids. Are you making any resolutions? Ask your child to pray for you as you work to accomplish these goals. In 2011, I asked Tasya to please pray for me as I made it a goal to read through the Bible chronogically. Ask your child how the new year is celebrated in her country. Do some research into your child's country to find out if there are any new year's traditions in that country. Our kids love it when we surprise them with knowledge about their country! They feel honored that we took the time to learn about their culture. 
  2. Weather. January is a good time to write about winter weather. If you live in a climate that experiences all four seasons, write to your child about snow and ice. Even if you haven't had any snow yet this year, tell your child about some memories of snowstorms in the past. I found a picture of myself as a little kid hunched over in a snow fort and sent it to Tasya. She loved it! Most Compassion kids live in climates that do not experience cold weather as some of us in the United States know it. If you live in an area that doesn't get snow and ice, tell your child about that, too. Tell her that in some areas of your country, people this year have received two feet of snow, while your own climate more closely resembles the climate in your sponsor child's country. Our kids also like learning that they have things in common with us!
  3. Holidays. Do some research into the country where your child lives. Check out a Wikipedia article on the country, or visit your local library. My library system has a truly wonderful online resource called Culturegrams available to patrons. It can be accessed from home. A simple search may reveal there is an important holiday in January in your child's country. For example, Haiti's independence day is celebrated on January 1. Republic Day in India is celebrated on January 26, and there are other national holidays in India in this month, as well. 
  4. Sports. I am not a big sports fan, and I still don't understand the purpose of American football, but January is jam-packed with American sports games. Basketball season and football season are occurring simultaneously. You could tell your child about any local sports teams in your area, explain the upcoming Super Bowl, or even just tell your child that January is a busy time for sports fans in America, and ask him what kind of sports he likes. Ask if they play any sports at the Compassion project. Tasya likes swimming with her friends, Said writes to me about soccer tournaments, and Tae wrote about a truly fascinating Thai sport called sepak takraw, which is like volleyball (there's a net), soccer (you can't use your hands), and a trampoline all rolled into one. 
  5. Inauguration Day. In the United States, Inauguration Day will be soon. Take a moment to tell your sponsor child about the festivities and ask her to pray for the leaders of your country. Look up the name of the president or leader of your child's country and tell her you are praying for them. Explain to your child the importance of praying for our leaders. Share a relevant Bible verse with your child, like Romans 13:1, or 1 Timothy 2: 1-2
I hope that if you have been stuck in a letter-writing rut, you will find these ideas helpful. Even writing to your child once a month is better than nothing! Can you think of any other good January-related letter topics?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oh, hello, 2013. I hope you are better than your predecessor.

Happy New Year!

We didn't do anything special to celebrate New Year's Eve last night, but we did have our anniversary dinner a few days early (carry-out with a gift card we received for Christmas.) I started the new year off this morning by having breakfast with my husband (something that rarely happens), and writing letters to my Compassion kids. My family is going to have lunch together later at my grandparents' house. Mammaw is making fried oysters. I'm pretty excited about that- they're delicious and we usually only get them once a year. My evil reflux has been acting up lately, though, so I hope lunch goes ok in my tummy and doesn't make me feel bad for the rest of the day.

Did you make any resolutions for the new year? I did. I'm not going to be mad at myself if I mess up, or whatever, but I think it's good to set goals, and what better time to make a life change than the new year?

This year, I would like to do the following:

1. Do one kind thing each day. This world desperately needs more kindness. Every little bit helps.

2. Clean out my house, top to bottom, giving away as much as I can- and making a point to not collect a ton of junk throughout the year. My money can be spent on better things.

3. Eat more vegetarian meals. I'm still contemplating going vegetarian full-time. The fact is, eating lots of meat is bad for you, and we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables anyway. Plus, eating animals can make you sick because of the poor way we treat the animals we eat.

4. Read 1000 books. This actually shouldn't be that hard, but I do want to also make an effort to read more Christian non-fiction books this year (for example, I have a few by Priscilla Shirer checked out from the library that I want to read in the next few weeks.) I also want to read more non-fiction, too. I kind of slacked off on that. I've got a huge list of stuff to read on Goodreads, and I've already got some great stuff picked out on all kinds of topics.

5. Pay off my smallest student loan. Getting rid of it will lower my total loan payments, and it will be nice to get rid of a chunk of debt. The smallest loan I have is a little less than $900. It may not seem like much, but when you make minimum payments (or even a little more than that), it takes forever to whittle down, because they apply the payment to the whole group of loans, plus the interest. So my goal is to continue making my regular payments, but to also specifically work on knocking out that one loan- which, like I said, will lower my total loan payment (at least, one of them. I have six.)