On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


1 Comment >

Did you read my blog posts for Compassion during September? I signed up to write because I thought, “Hey, I already write a blog, we already sponsor two Compassion children, and I think rescuing children from poverty is a good thing.” Easy enough. As I encouraged others to think about sponsoring a child, my own husband suggested that we sponsor a third child.

Since Joselinne #1 is the same age as G, and Joselyne #2 is S’s age, we thought we’d let H help us choose another child. H knew exactly what she wanted: a 6-year-old girl who lives in Rwanda. Because it’s heart-breaking to read through all the biographies of the available children, we simply chose the child who has been waiting the longest. And so, 364 days after enrolling in Kigina Student Center, Brenda has a sponsor. While Brenda doesn’t strike me as a typical Rwandan name, we knew we had to choose her. A whole year of waiting?! Welcome to our family, Brenda. (Isn’t she ridiculously cute?!)

Brenda in Rwanda

Now if you want to sponsor a child from Rwanda or another country where Compassion serves through the local churches, this is the thank-you gift that awaits you after you register.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Another Way to Support JDRF

Type 1 diabetes is near and dear to my heart. In our home, we jokingly refer to S’s diabetes as our fourth child. Let me clarify: we don’t love her diabetes, but constantly checking blood sugar, calculating insulin boluses, and counting carbohydrates is a full-time job!

The other week I shared that you could support the JDRF by purchasing paper shoes at Marshalls. Today I’m encouraging you to get your annual flu shot at Walgreens. (Disclaimer: I am not anti-vaccine, nor do I want to engage in a discussion on vaccines.) Every fall we all get our flu shot (or mist) to help keep the flu virus away from S. Regular illnesses that sideline otherwise-healthy individuals can really wreak havoc on a diabetic person. As an example, S contracted bronchitis this summer from her swim team buddies. She battled high blood sugars for almost a full month as her body reacted to the illness. High blood sugars mean extra finger pricks, extra insulin, checking for ketones, and being extra-vigilant with food choices. See what a pain diabetes is?

So if we can keep S from contracting the flu, we’re all on board to get our flu shot. Okay, 3 out of 5 of us are on board. I bribe the other two dissenters.

If you’re already planning to get this year’s flu shot, why not get it at Walgreens? Save yourself a doctor’s visit (and co-pay) and contribute to the JDRF at the same time. Just print out this flyer and present it at the time of your visit. Walgreen’s will donate $1 for each flu shot.

In other diabetes news, how exciting is this tidbit?! Medtronic has just introduced an FDA-approved insulin pump that used artificial pancreas technology! On Friday, the MiniMed 530G with Enlite was approved for use in the U.S. This insulin pump/continuous glucose monitor (CGM) system suspends insulin delivery when blood sugars start to drop below target levels. Amazing stuff, people! I know that many of you are more interested in the iphone 5, but I’d camp out for a week to get my hands on one of these!

In Just 10 Days….

I will be embarking on an almost-200 mile adventure with 11 other mother runners. Quite a few friends and acquaintances  think that running Ragnar DC is as crazy as deciding to homeschool the girls, but I’m not listening. How many times does a stay-at-home Marine mom get to go somewhere for a weekend sans family and try something completely different from her regular life?!  While I’ll definitely be out of my comfort zone, I think that’s a good thing. Simply click on the title link to meet my 11 teammates, also known as Team Are My Kids Still Chasing Me? Each of us entered a contest sponsored by Another Mother Runner for a spot on this Ragnar team, and each of us apparently thinks that a vacation should include spending nearly 30 hours together in two vans on Friday, October 4, and Saturday, October 5. That’s 30 hours to conquer those (hilly!) miles, eat more carbs than we’ll actually burn, sleep under the stars, and cheer each other on to the finish.

All decked out in fabulous Saucony tee and capris before a recent training run. Saucony is a team sponsor and sent tees, capris, and even shoes!

All decked out in fabulous Saucony tee and capris before a recent training run. Saucony is one of our fantastic team sponsors!


Leave a comment >

This is my final post for Compassion International‘s Blog Month. As I posted here and here, the goal is to find sponsors for 3,160 children by the end of this month. Today’s assignment is to ruminate on the following quote.

“The presence of dignity doesn’t mean poverty is absent.”

As I glanced up from my laptop, my eyes locked in on our refrigerator. (Yes, my computer station is in the kitchen; no, I wasn’t looking for a snack.) Like many of you, the kitchen refrigerator in our home doubles as a message board/photo gallery/art display area. An orange laminated chore chart hangs in the middle of a collection of touristy magnets that Ryan brings home from his international trips. A neighbor’s homage to vanilla ice cream sandwiches appears next to S’s National Physical Fitness Award. H’s artwork changes on a daily basis, but today a blue dove flies to a green-leafed tree below a very happy yellow sunshine.

On the front of the freezer door are two clips that hold current photos and letters from our sponsored children, Joselinne and Joselyne. The girls call them #1 and #2 to keep them straight. Joselinne #1 is the same age as G, and we’ve been sponsoring her for almost 6 years. We exchange letters regularly, though her father is most often the letter writer. Joselyne #2 is also from Rwanda, but she–like many African children–lives with her siblings and grandmother. She is the same age as S, and when we saw her folder last year at my parents’ church, I felt a tugging on my heart. (Another Joselyne? In Rwanda? With a birthday a week away from S? Coincidence? No way.) She loves to send us letters and drawings. In fact, her most recent drawings were what drew my eye this morning.

IMG_0001Joselyne #2 usually draws flowers. I think that’s a universal little girl thing to draw, but we never know what else to expect. (Case in point: the semi-nude girl in the bottom lefthand corner.) I’m not sure why she chose to include a cup, but I noticed that the cup is full. The car and the house were also interesting to me. Joselyne’s family does not own a car; she walks to school and church. She walks to fetch water and firewood, and I’m not even sure that she understands that all 4 wheels aren’t supposed to be on one side of the car. Her house, too, isn’t grand, but it has windows and a door. I know that, unlike Joselinne #1, she doesn’t have to worry about finding a solidly-constructed house. In fact, this may be her grandmother’s house.

Joselyne #2 is intimate with poverty in ways that you and I never will be; however, her letters and drawings show me that poverty does not define who she is. As does Joselinne #1, her letters always begin with the same salutation: “I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Always.

Mind-blowing, isn’t it? The average Rwandan, like Joselinne’s parents and Joselyne’s grandmother, lives on less than $2 a day, yet these dear families greet me in Christ and write that they regularly pray for me and my family. That’s dignity staring me in the face. These people know that their worth is in Christ, not in their bank accounts.

This isn’t to say that life is rosy for our Joselinnes. Rwandans face a high HIV infection rate, and their country is still recovering from 1994’s horrific genocide. We don’t discuss these topics in our letters, but I wonder how Joselinne #1’s parents both survived the genocide and why Joselynne #2 isn’t living with her parents. When we send checks for the girls’ birthday and Christmas, we receive thank-you notes telling us about the animals and food they purchased. (And they’re buying milk goats and chickens, not hamsters.)

These two beautiful girls may be the faces of poverty, but their lives are a reflection of dignity, hope, and determination. If you’ve never considered sponsoring a child, consider it today. We’ve chosen to focus on the country of Rwanda, but there are many other countries all over the world where you can make a difference in the life of a child. I promise that it will be a life-changing experience: for a child and for you.

 


2 Comments

An Afternoon at the County Fair

We live in a county that is mostly rural, somewhat suburban, and definitely not urban at all. The annual county fair is a big deal. So much so that there is no school on Friday and students are sent home early on Thursday. On Friday, students get in to the fair for free and all rides cost $1 until 5 P.M.

Though we homeschool, I’ve quickly learned that it’s pointless to schedule a full school day on this particular Friday. After a quick morning of math and language arts (the 3 Rs), we headed to the fair, too.

Everyone goes to the fair. We saw neighbors, soccer teammates, friends from church, friends from co-op, and our pastor and his wife. Yes, life is good in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

Our first stop? The Art building.

H's Honorable Mentions in Primary (1st-2nd) Art. The piece framed in orange is titled "Ping on the Yangtze River."

H’s Honorable Mentions in Primary (1st-2nd) Art. The piece framed in orange is titled “Ping on the Yangtze River.”

S won Junior Grand Champion in for Intermediate (3rd-5th) Art. This is her "Hamster in Ink."

S won Junior Grand Champion for Intermediate (3rd-5th) Art. This is her “Hamster in Ink.”

G's pencil sketch of an Appaloosa took a 3rd prize in Middle School Art.

G’s pencil sketch of an Appaloosa took a 3rd prize in Middle School Art.

G's pen and ink of a Siberian tiger and cub also won a Junior Grand Champion prize for Middle School Art.

G’s pen and ink of a Siberian tiger and cub also won a Junior Grand Champion prize for Middle School Art.

After reveling in their art wins, the girls wanted to visit the livestock. Here’s some of what we saw (and petted).

How can you just walk by and NOT pet the goats?!

How can you just walk by and NOT pet the goats?!

We watched these lambs get baths (power washing and Ivory soap) before they were tied up to dry in the sun.

We watched these lambs get baths (with a power washer and Ivory soap) before they were tied up to dry in the sun.

Piglets, anyone?

Piglets, anyone?

A quiet calf rests in a clean bed of hay.

A quiet calf rests in a clean bed of hay.

Posing with a friendly calf for cow-loving Compassion child Joselynne

Posing with a friendly calf for cow-loving Compassion child Joselynne

Underneath all that fur, there's a rabbit in there.

Underneath all that fur, there’s a rabbit in there.

Poultry amuses me. With these skinny legs, no one is eating this bird.

Poultry amuses me. With these skinny legs, no one is eating this bird.

Finally, we headed to the rides. While I tried to push away concerns about germs and safety, the girls squabbled over whether to ride the Ferris wheel or carousel first.

G and S on their first-ever Ferris wheel ride.

G and S on their first-ever Ferris wheel ride.

DSC03472

Waiting for their turn on the carousel.

H's face as she rides a flying elephant: pure happiness.

H’s face as she rides a flying elephant: pure happiness.

All in all, we had a great afternoon. And thank goodness we have another year before we have to go again.


1 Comment

A Conversation with My Childhood Self

This is my second post for Compassion’s Blog Month. My assignment? Have a conversation with my childhood self. Here’s what I would want my much-younger self to know:

Laura, you’re going to learn a lot of lessons in the coming years. Some of these lessons will come easily, while others will cause you some pain. But take it from your grown-up, almost-40-year-old self, you’re going to learn plenty!

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’ll have plenty more bad haircuts, and there’s no sense in crying over your hair. It will grow out.

3rd grade school picture, c. 1983. Notice my monogrammed sweater and wings.

3rd grade school picture, c. 1983. Notice my monogrammed sweater and wings.

2. Take some art lessons! Don’t quit piano in 9th grade! Your academic aspirations won’t suffer if you foster your creative side.

3. Do some strength training and put some muscle on your upper body. You’re not going to like what’s in store for your knees.

4. Don’t be so shy. Yes, it’s no fun that I’m saying the same thing that your mom tells you, but you’re going to do a whole lot of relocating in your adult life. Force yourself to be more outgoing so that you’ll know how to make friends wherever you live.

5. Don’t get too attached to the thought that you don’t want to move around as an adult or that you’d never marry someone in the military. Hint, hint.

6. Forget about waiting tables over summer break. You’ll never have a career in the restaurant world, but you will spend a ridiculous amount of time teaching and coaching children.

7. Seriously consider writing at least one research paper farther ahead than the night before it’s due. You’re really going to appreciate sleep when you’re older!

8. Continue to memorize Scripture. Powerful verses are going to come to mind exactly when you need comfort and wisdom the most.

9. Learn to trust God completely. Know that He is sovereign. You might think that you’re going to fall apart at times, but He won’t ever leave you to face your struggles alone.

10. Don’t judge others when you don’t know their circumstances. You’ll be amazed at who your true friends are later in life.


Leave a comment

Don’t Forget Your Shoes!

Paper shoes, I mean.

Want an easy way to make someone’s day? Buy a shoe. Or two. Or three.

If you already enjoy shopping at Marshalls–can I tag my neighbor Sam in a blog post?!–there’s another reason to take your purchases to the check-out line. Buy a paper shoe and help find the cure for Type 1 diabetes. (I told you it would be easy.)

Every $1 spent on a paper shoe goes directly to the JDRF Paper Sneaker Campaign and funds research such as the artificial pancreas project. There are other ways to contribute to this amazing organization, and you can read about them right here. But today I’m just encouraging you to pick up a pair of shoes at Marshalls. (And Sam, you can tell your husband that I said it was okay.)

Need another reason to shop? Here she is. S is our extra-sweet daughter who has been living with Type 1 diabetes since she was 3 years old. You can’t see her insulin pump, but you can see her beautiful smile.

My extra-sweet S with a goat named Jane.

My extra-sweet S with a goat named Jane.