Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Little Seed

Waiting.  Silent.  Alone.  The little seed lies shivering quietly in my heart.  Day by day I wonder, I hope... will it ever grow?  Will the sun ever shine on me and cause my little seed to sprout?  Will gentle rains come to water the seed?  Or will this precious seed lie forever untouched, left to the barren place, never to show its beauty, never to show its value entrusted to it by the Maker?

I peer anxiously about for signs of life to nourish my seed, signs of beauty of the heart to encourage my seed to grow.  Dry dust stings my eyes. There is no rain. The dust chokes in my throat, and I despise its stench in my nose.  Thirsty... I'm always thirsty.  The little water that comes my way is rank, dirty.  How can my little seed grow?  Is that all that those in the world around me have to give out of their heart, nothing more than dirty, brackish water?  The murky water drips down my hand as I try to drink, choking on its bitter taste.

And little seed cries. 

Cutting words swirl around on a harsh wind, defying the seed even further... you are worthless...  you have no value...  you are such a burden.  Sometimes not even a word is spoken, but the message still chants endlessly, relentlessly in the despairing look of utter weariness, or in the flash of anger in the eyes.  I wince as I hear the wind scream my name, and say that my destiny is to forever stay hopeless... hopeless.  There will be no change, the words sneer, as they pierce my heart once again.

Tears silently leak down little seed's face.

Night comes.  I lie down on the bare ground.  Shivering.  Alone.  Is there no song to quiet my heart as I fall asleep?  No loving touch of the hand to brush my cheek?  No presence of love to make me feel safe?

Darkness deepens.  The air is thick, heavy, oppressive.  Then come the ugly voices, followed by the sound of a glass bottle shattering. I huddle further into the shadows, hoping to remain unseen for this night.

It is not to be.

Do not touch me, my heart cries out, and little seed covers its face in shame, anguish, despair.

Wiping my tears when we are again left alone, I turn my back, surrounded only by the darkness, and clutch little seed with a desperate fierceness.  Do not die, little seed.  You must live. 

I wait for the morning sunrise, longing to wake up to the someday of my dreams.  As I wait, I remember.

I remember the beauty of the touch of one...  the man who visited my village.  So clean!  his face... his hair... his clothes.  I stared in wonder as I joined with all the other bedraggled children pressed about him. His smile... I had never seen such beauty in a smile in all my life.  It drew my heart like a powerful magnet that I could not resist, that I did not want to resist.  And the light!  Where did the light in his eyes come from, as he looked into mine?  Like sunshine, the light beamed its beauty into my heart and touched little seed.

And little seed stirred.

Tenderly the man hugged each child in turn.  I had never felt such warmth flow from another before... did not know that it was possible.  He placed a hand gently on my head.  You are so beautiful! he said with a smile.  Little seed quivered with joy at his very breath.

Shall I live? wondered little seed.

I sigh at the memory, and fitfully, I fall asleep.

Morning comes.

Hunger wakens me yet again, like a harassing, ragged, unkempt dog.  The barest morsel is all I have to offer, and he sulks to a corner, glaring, whimpering, brooding.

I step out the door, and listen.  Voices.  There's something different in the voices today.  What is it?  I listen again. Something in the sound draws me to follow the path into the village.  Excitement is in the air.  Children running, jostling, crowding... I join them.

And then I see him.

Oh the light!  I look in his eyes, and am warmed by the light.  He smiles, and I drink in the liquid love that flows from his presence. He takes my hand, and draws me to sit with him.  Little seed's heart skips a beat with amazement.

He hands me a paper.  Such a beautiful paper like none I have ever seen.  Such pretty designs.  But the picture!  I gasp with wonder at the eyes of the one in the picture, of her smile.  So much like the man's eyes and smile.  This person has love flowing right from her picture on the page into my heart. 

Who is this?  I ask.

This is your advocate... champion... sponsor... friend, he smiles.  And he reads me the message.

Dear child, I am so full of joy to be your sponsor!  You are like a precious gift, and I love you already.  I'm sitting here looking at your picture, and it's like I'm holding your face tenderly between my hands, gazing into your eyes.  You are so beautiful to me.  I can hardly wait to get to know you, and be friends with you.  Child, do you know what a valuable treasure you are?  I have so much to tell you about this!

As the words sing to me, little seed sits up, drinking in the pure water. Love pours into my heart, and warms me.  Little seed closes its eyes, listening to the pulsing heartbeat of the song, feeling the light, and suddenly a little sprout emerges from little seed.

It startles me.  I look at little seed with wonder.  It's someday, says little seed.  And I nod my head in agreement.  Yes, someday has come.

The man holds my hand, and leads me into a beautiful room.  Children crowd together, giggling and laughing, and the very air around me breathes with anticipation and joy.

The fragrance of freshly baked bread fills the air.  I have never smelled such an aroma like this.  A plate heaping with warm bread is set before me.  Eat as much as you want, the man says.  There is always fresh bread here, a gift from your sponsor, and there will always be fresh bread for you to take home with you.

I take a bite.  I have never tasted such bread as this before.  I eat until I am filled. The delicious taste lingers long after I have finished, like a new friend holding my hand.  Little seed nods at me, and I grin with delight as the first true  leaves appear.

A pitcher of water is set before me... pure, clean, sparkling.  Living water, the man says, living water for you.  Drink all that you want.  There will always be living water here for you to drink.  I take a sip.  I have never tasted such water like this.  It's sweet water.  I drink deeply.  And it satisfies like no water I have ever had.

And the light... so much light in this place!  As the light fills my heart, the darkness leaves.  Little seed hugs my heart, and the sprout inches up taller.

Day after day I come to this place, eat of the fresh bread, drink of the living water, bask in the sunlight.  I am growing in the blessings given here, and in the love and provision faithfully and extravagantly given from my sponsor.  I have armfuls of treasured letters from her, my precious friend, and her words speak life, blessing and honor into the very core of my being, the home of little seed.  She says I am royalty...  a valuable treasure...  made in the image of God. She says that I have been given valuable gifts to develop and use, and I have hope, an awesome destiny and a beautiful future.
Day by day I discover that the words are true, and little seed grows stronger and taller.  Its roots grow deep.

I have learned to sing in this place as love has sung its song to me.  Little seed and I sing together our lifesong every day, because I am a person of value and worth, created to love God and worship Him.  I am gifted, blessed and loved.  Little seed has grown so tall, so beautiful, and good fruit grows on its stems. Everyday I eat of the sweet fruit, and have abundance to share with others.  I carry a piece of fresh bread with me everywhere to share with the hungry.  When a thirsty one comes to my door, I bring a cup of living, sweet water.  Joy bubbles out of my heart, and as I smile and stop to touch the head of a small child, I see the little seed in her heart... quivering... waiting... longing to sprout and grow. 

It will.  Someday has come for this little one.

Little Seed is my story of one child being lifted from the despairing place not only of hopeless physical poverty, but poverty of the soul, not being treasured and valued.  She is brought into the love of God where her little seed thrives and grows with the reality that she is a person of value and worth.  Her life is radically changed by people living out of the overflow of the love of Jesus to give and invest in her, and she in turn begins to nurture the little seed in the lives of others.  

Do you have fresh Bread to give?  Do you have Living Water to share?  There's a little seed waiting to be nurtured by you.  Tell her that someday has come.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Plants... One Waters... Both Bless!

Saturday afternoon, I discovered that I had just been given a very special gift... a new correspondent child!!!  I am so excited and blessed all over again!  There is nothing quite like the experience of building relationships with children in poverty around the world...  I've been discovering firsthand what an incredible privilege and blessing it is for both the child and for me. 

While I financially sponsor a few children of my own, I initially received each of my Compassion children through the Correspondence Sponsorship program.  Many people want to help children by financially sponsoring them, but don't wish to carry the responsibility of writing consistently to their child, so they release them to another sponsor to be the correspondent.  Very cool teamwork, in my opinion!
One is the financial sponsor, and the other is the correspondent sponsor... and both are doing their part to bless and encourage the child, and to help lift him out of poverty, both inwardly and externally.  It's like one doing the planting, and one doing the watering, but both working together to bless!

If you currently sponsor a child through Compassion, but writing letters each month and working at developing a relationship with that child is not something that you have been faithfully doing, I encourage you to consider one of two options to bless your precious child:

1.  Commit yourself to writing consistently to your child.  Find out just how important your letters are to your child... read what children have said about this at Blogging From the Boonies. This post was such a revelation to my heart and understanding, and I haven't been the same since in how I write letters to my kids!! The relationship you build through letters is just as important as the financial giving...  one helps to lift your child from poverty from the inside, and the other helps to lift him externally.  Both are equally vital to the child's well-being.  Children in poverty have embraced the lie that they don't matter, that they are of no value.  When other children in the project receive letters from their sponsors on mail day, and your child continues to receive none, the lie unfortunately is reinforced.  Commit yourself to writing faithfully to your child.  Use the online email writing tool if that works for you... I know it does for me!  I'm currently writing to 13 children around the world that I can send emails to, so they hear from me 1-3+ times a month!  As much as I like handwritten letters, they only get sent about once every 1-3 months because of the time, energy, and cost.  The email doesn't cost me any money, it's quick, simple, my hand is happy, and I can even upload photos into the letter and choose a template for the stationery to delight my children.  You don't have to have very important things to say... just write.  Your simple letters in the child's hand let them know that they matter... that they are of value, and they are lifted from poverty on the inside.

2.  If you don't want to write on a consistent basis, please consider releasing your child to a correspondent sponsor to write letters and build a relationship with him.  I'm friends with sponsors around the world who absolutely LOVE writing to MANY children each month... and know that many or most of them would absolutely LOVE to receive another correspondent child!  Our hearts ache for the many children who rarely, or never, hear from their sponsors, especially when we would love to do that part.  These correspondent sponsors are all at their max for financially sponsoring children... for some it's one child, for others it's 20...  yes, 20!  While we may not be able to squeeze in another child financially right now, we still have plenty of room for writing to more, and would love to be part of that sponsor team for these children... one sponsor blesses financially, the other blesses by building the relationship.  You can call Compassion and let them know that you wish to release your child to a correspondent sponsor, and from experience, I can tell you that letters will be flying off to your child within hours!  Every correspondent I know immediately sends off the first email within minutes of receiving the child, and then is busy putting together little paper gifts to send in the mail.  The joy that the correspondent feels upon learning that they have a new correspondent child is intensely awesome!  Not only is the child blessed, but so is the correspondent!  You can call Compassion at (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT.

Maybe you are reading this, and cannot take on the financial sponsorship of a child right now, but the Correspondent Sponsorship program interests you, and you would like to be involved with this.  Call Compassion and ask to be put on their waiting list!  The longest I've had to wait for a child is about a month, and the shortest was about 1 day!  The moment I found out about each child, there was such an explosion of JOY..  I couldn't wait to write that first email!!  And I love the relationship that is being built, letter by letter, prayer by prayer, for each of these precious children.  The love that is poured into me and other correspondent sponsors for these kids is just so amazing.

Several weeks ago, I asked Compassion to again be placed on the waiting list, this time for a Honduran girl under 12 years old.  (I'm always pretty specific about the child that is on my heart!)  Honduras is the first country I want to visit after school is finished, and I want time to build a relationship with her before I go on that trip.  I've been praying for her, waiting for her, by faith have already been buying some little gifts to send to her with another sponsor who is visiting Honduras in a few months, checking my account daily to see if she had shown up yet, and... finally... Whoo hoo! Yes!  She's here!  So welcome with me my newest correspondent sweetie to my nest... 10 year old Astrid. :o)  I love taking the kids' profile photos and turning them into special pictures both for them and for me... to see each child as royalty in God's kingdom.

Maybe you are in the position where you CAN take on the financial sponsorship of a child, but would like someone else to be the correspondent.  There are three Compassion children very specially on my heart that I personally want to sponsor, but simply cannot take on any more financial sponsorships at this time...

The first one is this precious 8 year old girl in the Philippines, Brenda Rose...

The second is 9 year old Saifali who is living in the Red Light district in India...

...and the third is this older boy, 15 year old Carlos Roberto  :o)  in Honduras,  as the older children, particularly older boys, have a harder time finding sponsors than the "cute little ones."  If one of these three children interest you, and you would like to be a team together with me to bless these children, please email me asap at would be such a joy and delight to have the privilege of loving and encouraging these children together with you!!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Glimpse into My Lidia's World

This precious sweetie is Lidia, a child that I already love very much.  I've only received a few letters since I became her correspondent sponsor last March, but she instantly won my heart in a very special way.  Her first letter informed me that her mom, a single parent to 3 young children in the family, was faced with surgery for a tumor in her throat, and Lidia asked me to pray for them.  Her mom is only 27... that's like the age of my own kids!  I was definitely praying for this young woman, not only for health, healing, and restoration, but for God's peace to fill each one during this stressful time.  In her second letter, Lidia thanked me for the small money gift I had given her as a "I'm-so-happy-to-be-your-new-sponsor-and-I-love-you-already-gift..."  She was looking forward to wearing her new blouse and pants which she purchased with the money, to celebrate when her mom came home from the hospital.  And her third letter just completely delighted my heart...  "The doctors were surprised because my mom didn't have cancer.  My family and I believe that God healed her.  My mom trusted God to make this miracle for her.  Here at the project, my teacher and classmates and I pray for sick people.  If you pray to God with your heart and faith, your requests will be answered.  (Whoo hoo!!!  Now that's a girl after my own heart!!!)  Thank you for making me so special as your sponsored little girl that you chose.  I send a strong hug with my love."  Be still my heart...  oh! how I love this child.  God just downloads a very special love for each of my sponsored kids the moment that I receive them, but as I get to know them, that love only grows continually deeper, and these kids are so incredibly precious to me.

But right now, I'm sitting here blinking back tears...

I had been googling for photos of Nicaragua where Lidia and Axel live, when I came across another Compassion sponsor's blog post of their trip to Nicaragua to visit their sponsored child.  The photos of the project were so interesting to me, to see the classes that the children participate in, the setting where they are ministered to, and the little project library and so on.

But then I saw the photos of the child's home...

I mean, I knew that my kids live in poverty, and that we're serving to lift children from poverty, both inwardly and externally, but somehow, seeing these pictures just hit me in a much deeper place. 


The reality of my precious Lidia and Axel, as well as the rest of my sponsored children, living in poverty such as this just seems overwhelming. Somehow I had this mental image that a house made with "cement walls" wouldn't be as bad as a house made of "mud walls..."  but seeing these real photos of a real sponsored child's home, made me come to grips with the reality that it's still abject poverty.

Axel writes how he loves to be at the project center, that he has lots of friends, the teacher cares for them and teaches them the Bible, and he is happy there...  and seeing the photos of this sponsor's visit to one project, it's no wonder. 

This is the kitchen where meals are prepared for the children of this project...

The "lab" for learning to use computers, which sometimes has internet access...
Classes the children can participate in, such as the cosmetology class these girls are enjoying...

And the project library where the children can come study and read.

(You can read about this sponsor's visit to Nicaragua here...)
I just came across this beautiful music video of  the Pool Boys who took a trip to Nicaragua to visit their sponsored child and do ministry at the Compassion sites with other Christian artists Zoe Girl and speaker/author Matthew Turner.  I love seeing these children so delightfully happy with the activities at the Compassion project.  :o)

One of my dreams is to visit Lidia and Axel in Nicaragua next year when I am finished with school.  I am so moved by every story I hear of sponsors visiting their children!  Here is another beautiful music video, this one of a Child Visit Day for a Compassion advocates' tour... tears just instantly came when I saw the face of the sponsored girl leaving on the bus at the end of the video... her eyes are so compelling, and her look just draws me in.  

When I visit Lidia and Axel, I hope to see lots of other children that I will have found sponsors for during this coming year.  :o)   Because my heart is so moved with compassion for my two Nicaraguan children, I specifically asked Compassion for packets of children from this country to advocate for, and yesterday I received them. :o)  So I would like to introduce some very special children...

Heyssel Paola from NI-111 is 8 years old, and lives with her dad and mom and a sibling.  She enjoys art, playing with dolls, and walking; her school performance is average, she regularly attends church activities, and she is responsible for cleaning in the home.  Typical homes in her community are made of tin and have dirt floors.  Most adults are unemployed, as is her dad also, but some work as street vendors earning the equivalent of $41/month.  Heyssel's birthday is April 15, 2004.

Stiven Gonzalo from NI-152 is 6 years old, and lives with both his dad and mom and another sibling.  He enjoys playing with cars, playing soccer and other ball games.  He is in kindergarten where his performance is average, and he regularly attends church activities and Bible class.  Typical homes in his community are made of cement floors, wood walls, and corrugated iron roofs.  His parents are employed as laborers, and day laborers earn the equivalent of $75/month.  Stiven's birthday is June 30, 2006.

Karina Celeste from NI-128 is 5 years old and lives with her mom and 2 siblings.  She enjoys singing, playing house, and art, her performance in kindergarten is above average, and she regularly attends church activities. Typical homes in her community are made of dirt floors, wood walls, and tile roofs.  Most adults are unemployed, but some work as street vendors earning the equivalent of $33/month.  Her mom is employed as a laborer.  Karina's birthday is March 26, 2007.

Agner Javier from NI-152 is 5 years old, and lives with his dad, mom, and another sibling.  He enjoys soccer, art, and bicycling; he participates in church activities, and his performance in kindergarten is average.  His duties at home include gathering firewood, caring for animals, and washing clothes.  Typical homes in his community are made of cement floors, wood walls, and corrugated iron roofs.  Most adults work as day laborers earning the equivalent of $75/month, and his dad is sometimes employed as a farmer.  Agner's birthday is August 12, 2007.

A Compassion friend of mine is advocating for this Christmas baby  from Nicaragua, so we're adding her in with these other precious Nicaraguan children. 7 year old Kimberly Judith of NI-191 lives with her grandmother and one sibling. For fun, Kimberly enjoys playing house and playing ball games. In primary school, her performance is average, and she also attends church activities and bible class. Typical homes in her community are made of of dirt floors, tin walls, and corrugated iron roofs, and the average wage for those with employment is $78/month, but Kimberly's grandmother is unemployed.  Kimberly's birthday is December 25, 2005.

If your heart is Moved With Compassion for any of these Nicaraguan children, please email me at  And if you would be interested in sponsoring other children from Nicaragua, you can find them here.

With a heart moved with compassion,
P.S.  I just started a Pinterest account this week because of a Compassion contest... every time my pin is repinned, it's an entry into the contest.  The winners are chosen randomly... 5 separate winners will receive $25 each for their sponsored child, and 10 separate winners will receive $100 each for their sponsored child's family.  The contest started on Sept. 17th, and ends tonight.  Please repin for me... I would love to win one of these special gifts for Lidia...  Please repin this for Lidia! Thanks!! :o)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Babushka's Paper Ball Ornaments: Sharing Childhood Memories

When I was a child, I was smitten with the paper ball ornaments my grandmother made for decorating her Christmas tree.  Babushka recycled old Christmas cards for these, carefully centering the designs and cutting them out in circles, gluing them together along the edges, and adding silver glitter for the crowning touch.  I found this picture of a similar ornament, though it's not nearly as enchanting as my childhood memory of the ones that Babushka made!  I wish I had one of them now...

You can send the supplies for your child to have the fun of making these.  Cut out circles from Christmas cards and score or fold the sides before sending to your child... make sure to send your child a photo of what the finished product looks like!   
Christmas Paper Ball Ornament

Years ago when I first saw Scandinavian woven heart ornaments like this one here, I fell in love with them, and promptly made some myself.  They were fairly simple to make, and I loved seeing them hanging up like miniature baskets to fill with tiny treats or even little love notes.  How about making one for your child, and then also sending the materials already cut out for her to enjoy making them too?  And consider sending them with some tiny note cards decorated with a Christmas sticker or stamp design on the front, and suggest to your child that they add a little love note in the heart basket to give to their family on Christmas.   Scandanivan Heart Ornament

This ornament is even easier to make using strips of paper. For an extra flair like the ones pictured here, cut strips of double sided cardstock, which you can find in scrapbooking supplies.   Heart Ornaments from Strips of Paper

And here's one more adorable paper ornament for your child to make...  the template is a very simple star shape... and this is yet another use for those old Christmas cards!  Use the template provided here to cut out your own ornaments for your kids to assemble...  Pyramid Box Template

As a child, I absolutely adored making paper chains...  I loved licking the ends and sticking them together, and watching my chain growing longer and longer.  So much fun!  These inexpensive strips can be ordered from places such as Oriental Trading. Paper Chains

These are just a few of the myriads of ideas for making paper ornaments.  Maybe you have treasured ones of your own that you use each year, or special memories of ones from days gone by... consider how you can share a replica with your sponsored child to enjoy and share your special memory together with you.


Friday, September 21, 2012

More Christmas Printables

I have loved paper toys and printables since I was a young child.  Cutting paper with scissors, decorating with crayons, and putting my creations together using rubber cement or the glue that had the funny rubber tip or that paste type glue in the jar with the little plastic stick....  this was a delight as I created all kinds of childhood projects with these.  I vividly remember the little paper cardboard Helms bakery truck that my Dad gave us kids from his work, and the fun of folding it up.  The paper toy that was my favorite (besides paper dolls) was the special fold-out "Night Before Christmas" play house that I was given one year before Christmas, and the hours of delightful play it provided.  So now it's a special interest of mine to find sweet printables to send my sponsored children.  It takes so little really, to spruce up a letter with a little something extra tucked in the letter.  In addition to the nativity play sets that I posted yesterday, here are a few of the other Christmas printables that I have discovered along the way.

I absolutely LOVE these little bird ornaments!  They will go perfectly with my winter themed letter this year that I will be writing in January...  :o)  They can be used as ornaments, as a mobile, or as other decorations, as they are not limited to being a "Christmas only" printable.  Winter Birds 
I love this beautiful star... it's just perfect to go with a "star" themed Christmas letter, and would be a delight for your child to hang in their window.  Yellow Star  

Here is a variation of the star...  Blue Star
Last year I discovered this lovely swag set of the 12 Days of Christmas...  just perfect also if this is your theme for this Christmas! 12 Days of Christmas  

Here's a darling little train set to delight the hearts of your little boys...  Christmas Train 

Another adorable Disney play set...  this Christmas village would also go nicely with the train set.  Christmas Village 

Bless you!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Printable Nativity Playsets and Finger Puppets

Setting up the Christmas creche is my first step for decorating for Christmas and one of the last to be taken down each year.  Children love to make their own nativity sets to play with and to display... a lifetime ago, my oldest son Kevin who was about 5 at the time, surprised me with the most adorable nativity set that he had made all on his own...  it had little paper stand up figures that he had drawn and cut out, and carefully set up inside a little brown cardboard box!  I was so surprised and completely delighted!!!!

Sending a nativity play set to your sponsored child would not only be a great pleasure for creative play, but also might be the only creche their family has.  and I'm sure that their parents will love seeing their child's work just as much as I did in seeing my own son's creativity!  Here are some of my favorite Christmas printable nativity sets that I have found... I'm having a hard time choosing which one I want to send this year! 

I love the rich colors on this one...

This delightful set for the child to color and assemble is the one that I sent to my older children last Christmas.

By adding a loop of paper behind each figure, your child has a sweet set of nativity finger puppets...

I love this darling set of finger puppets that I sent to my younger kids last Christmas! 
This is the same set in black and white only... for kids to color or if you can't print in color.

This set also has the option of printing in full color or in black and white for the children to color...

Another simple but sweet design for the little ones to enjoy...
I also like the little pocket design for the child to slip over his fingers.

And don't forget Crechemania's many free creche printables that I shared on my last post!

 Blessings to you today as you bless your sponsored child!


Monday, September 17, 2012

A Gift to Warm the Heart

One thing I have discovered from sponsoring children around the world, is that they are the most grateful children I have ever met... they are absolutely thrilled with receiving a post card, a photo, a letter, a small toy, a coloring page, some pencils, and they treasure these gifts.  Kids in our culture for the most part just cannot relate to this level of gratitude.  I recently was reading on another sponsor's blog the story of her sponsored child who dearly wanted a ball.  Just a ball.  My heart breaks for these children who long for such simple items that are ordinary and inexpensive here. I was so moved by the experience Amanda shared when she visited her sponsored children in Honduras this summer, and gave them each a doll...  the heart warming response of her oldest girl, 13 year old Ingris, just blew me away... totally.  Tears still spring to my eyes reading her story over again...  Amanda wrote, "I have never seen such profound gratitude from anyone before! ...When Ingris pulled the doll from her bag, she immediately clutched it to her chest, closed her eyes, and began stroking its hair. For a good 30 seconds she would shake her head, pull back to look at the doll, hug her, and stroke her hair again, all the while thanking me over and over again. I'm almost positive she has never owned a doll before."

For these kids who have so little, any Christmas gift you send would be a treasured item for them.  Right now is the time to consider what you would like to send to your child, get anything ordered online that needs to be ordered, make any little craft projects, and shop for special items.  Christmas preparations come extra early for sponsors, as we need to plan ahead to get little gifts bought and in the mail 2-3 months before Christmas. Here are some ideas that may help you in planning your gift.

How about starting a tradition of sending your child a vintage nativity creche or an advent calendar each year... or both!?  Sponsored children of all ages would enjoy either of these.  Last year, much to my delight,  I discovered Crechemania, who carries gorgeous replicas of vintage creches from around the world  Many of them are free downloads for you to print off on nice card stock paper for your child, while most of the premium downloads are offered at a very reasonable price.  Depending on whether you will be cutting and assembling these yourself before sending in the mail, or whether you will be giving it to your child to have the fun of doing it himself, you will want to check the skill level of the individual creches... though most are very simple to assemble.  

What child doesn't love opening the little doors on an advent calendar?  Vermont Christmas Company offers many choices of beautiful advent calendars in various sizes... from card size to jumbo.  Some come with their own envelope, which is very handy if you would like to send this by itself.

Other paper gifts would include coloring books, stickers, origami paper and patterns, a small book of sudoku puzzles... I found this at the Dollar Tree for $1, and the directions are in Spanish, French and English!  There are lots of options for free printables, such as paper dolls, play sets, and paper toys.  Watch for posts later this week, as I will be searching through my files for my favorite printables to share with you.  :o)  

If you sponsor through an organization like World Vision or His Hands Support Ministries where you can send gifts other than paper items only, you might enjoy starting the tradition of sending a small, non breakable ornament each year.  You have lots of wonderful gift options for you as well... an new article of clothing is an extremely significant gift for a child living in poverty. I keep my eyes open all year for ridiculously great sales on children's clothing, and often buy really nice items for 70% off or more. 

If you have a girl, I highly encourage you to give her a doll.  Someday when I visit my girls, I plan to take a Heart4Heart doll to each of them, but since I'm limited in the size package I can mail, the doll pictured here is my favorite baby doll to send to my little girls for now...  you can find it at Target for only about $3.50!  So adorable!  And in case you're wondering, I have managed to tuck this doll into a 6x9" padded mailing envelope.  :o)  Just barely.

If you're looking for something other than a baby doll and something that will fit in a 6x9" envelope, these Li'l Ones are another great choice, and are about $5 - 7 at Amazon.

Other suggested items would be a bracelet or necklace, a stuffed animal, a jump rope, or finger or hand puppets, such as the adorable Folkmanis finger puppets.

 So apparently soccer is the #1 favorite sport of boys around the world outside of the USA... and is called football to the rest of the world... I didn't know this until sponsoring a boy! You can send a soccer ball by deflating it first, and including a small hand pump in the package. Other gift ideas for a boy would include small cars, pocket LED flashlight with spare batteries, pocket calculator, a yo-yo, or what the first child I mentioned was dreaming of, a ball.  I saw a video clip of a boy who had received a shoebox of gifts from the Operation Christmas Child project, and he said his favorite gift was the harmonica.  I was delighted to find that a local store carries real ones in my town for only about $6.

I found these adorable mini lunch boxes at the dollar store last year, and have been having so much fun filling them with a few small gifts for a couple of the kids...  I bought a bunch of these little stuffed dogs for only 10 cents each on clearance after last Christmas!  They light up when you squeeze them, and say, "Ruff, ruff! Merry Christmas!"  Any of the mini lunch boxes I don't need for my own sponsored kids will be included in the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes that I will be working on next month, and filling with marbles or legos.

Know that whatever you send, your gift will warm the heart of your sponsored child... and guess what?  Don't be surprised if it warms your heart more than any other gift you give this Christmas...  that is just what happens when you give to someone who has so little in material possessions, but who is so big in gratitude.