a card-making day

I wanted to create some beautiful gift cards to go with Mother’s Day baskets I’m making to sell (a new venture of mine).  Just a little something to tuck in the basket to personalize it.

I had an unexpected day off work today, so I could really get into creative mode!  I settled into my craft room with a nice cup of hot tea and time to create.

Looking through my paper scraps for beautiful papers

I have quite a few papers with pink and brown, which I LOVE together, so I choose these.

Love this new glue strip dispenser--no more glue sticks!

I also got some sweet little decorative brads at Tuesday Morning

to embellish my cards.  And voila!

One of many different designs!

Ugh, they’re a bit blurry.  A photographer, I am not 🙂

I feel good about what I've created today. I think they'll look good in the gift baskets! Just using scraps...you can make something lovely!

A "test" basket! Still trying to decide on all the items.

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Meet Mari–our sponsored child

We have traveled to the Dominican Republic for two reasons: our yearly vacation and to meet Mari Luz, a child we sponsor through World Vision! We will spend the day with Claudia, tireless and enthusiastic Director of Donor Relations (and our interpreter); Maria, World Vision sponsor liaison; and Raymond, our driver.

We drive through Santo Domingo, beginning in a relatively good neighborhood and, after a wonderful tour of the World Vision national office, ending up in Mari’s slum. “It doesn’t look that bad,” I tell myself. I’ve seen worse, in Kenya. At least the street is paved and there are businesses, such as they are, lining the street.

The "nicer" part of the slum where Mari lives.

Then we walk down a steep hill, and descend into another realm.

Mari's home is at the bottom of the hill.

I am overwhelmed by the poverty. There is only a dirt path between the “homes”–makeshift structures that are so dismal and small it’s hard to imagine one person living in one, let alone a family of 6. I would venture a guess that many avid dog lovers in the U.S. would not house their pet in such a place. But such is the home of our darling sponsored child.

She is standing in the doorway, timidly peering at us. She knows we are coming. I don’t recognize her immediately, as the most recent picture was from months ago and little girls change so fast. But we look into each other’s eyes and she shyly smiles–she knows me from my pictures, and I recognize this is our girl. “Mari?” I ask. She nods almost imperceptibly. I’m fighting back tears. “Hola Mari!” She smiles and looks at the ground. Her grandmother and great-grandmother greet us and invite us in to their one-room shanty.

There is a chicken strutting around the kitchen and a small dog sniffing for its next meal. Three of Mari’s cousins are also there, being cared for by the grandmothers. They are all BEAUTIFUL children.

Mari with her great-grandmother and a cousin.

We ask Mari questions through our interpreter about school and life, which she quietly answers. I must tell her 10 times “tu es muy linda,” one of the few Spanish phrases I know. She is extremely shy, but sits with us for photos, her grandmother telling her often to smile.

Then we bring out the gifts we have carefully chosen for her. We hand her a Hello Kitty backpack FILLED with fun things: pencils, markers, writing tablets, coloring books (“Winnie the Pooh” she says with quiet delight), bracelets, hair stuff, a pink calculator, a Bible story book, and a photo album, which we promise to help her fill with pictures from our visit. She’s a bit dazed, I think, but seems quite happy. We have brought gifts for her parents and brother and sister (who are not there), and food items for the entire family.

I think all little girls like Hello Kitty!

Then Grandma tells us that Mari can’t go to school because her school shoes are “broken.” We ask Claudia if we can take Mari to buy her some new shoes, to which she enthusiastically replies, “Yes!” Mari is wide-eyed as we drive about 5 miles to a Payless Shoe Source.

Claudia thought it was the first time Mari had been in a car.

She quietly but cheerfully picks out two pairs of sweet little black shoes (one larger pair for when she grows out of the other) and some socks (we pick out white for school but she loves the Dora socks, so how could we resist buying them for her?)

First we measure....

She felt and LOOKED like a princess!

It is hard to say goodbye to Mari but we look forward to watching her grow up over the years through photos and letters. We are committed to her.  Having met her makes the journey together that much sweeter.

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I want to be more like my son

I love to hear about people who put their faith into action.  People who don’t just sit in church and listen to stories about God and read books and study the Bible.  Jesus called us to be people of action–not just hearers of the Word, but DOERS!  Here are a few people groups that I LOVE:

Foster parents (personal heroes of mine)

People who feed the hungry in our country, especially children

People who feed the hungry and sponsor kids in third-world countries (a loud shout out to World Vision!)

People who use their own money to travel to poor countries to help with medical and feeding needs

Adoptive parents (the Gospel is all about being adopted into God’s family)

My youngest son, Liam (he’s 21) is one of these “doers.”  ImageHe recently gave his life to Jesus and became a radically different person.  His life now is marked by love and devotion to God–the exact opposite of his former life.  God has used my son to bring me closer to Him on many occasions.

One of those occasions was last year, shortly after Liam was hired as a barista at a coffee shop in Salem.  I came home one day to the washing machine doing its thing, and a large garbage bag sitting on the floor of the laundry room.  I looked inside the bag and saw a blanket covered in grass and dirt and assumed it had come out of his or his girlfriend’s trunk–from their last visit to the park.  I said, “hey, looks like you cleaned out your trunk” and he replied, “actually, there’s this homeless guy who comes in to the coffee shop every day and we give him coffee.  He doesn’t have any place to do his laundry, so I offered to do it for him.  Is that okay?”  I can’t really express the love and admiration I felt for my son at that moment and how thrilled I was that he was putting his faith into action.  I said, “of course it’s okay” (but I admit I WAS wondering just how long he was thinking we’d do the guy’s laundry).

The next day there was more laundry….and a ripped coat.  Liam had offered to sew his only coat for him.  (Not wanting to thwart Liam’s plans, I did sew the coat myself, as I wasn’t sure if my sewing machine would get ruined in the process–and Liam did seem relieved!)  He also told me that another barista, Justin, was letting Jere, the homeless man, sleep in a tent in his yard for a few weeks!

I don’t like labels.  One I especially dislike is that young people are ALL [fill in the blank with something negative–lazy, self-centered, etc.]  No, they’re not.  I know MANY amazing, compassionate, generous young people, and Liam and Justin are two of them.

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Seeing people

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Does everyone’s first blog entry contain “I never wanted to do a blog; what would I have to say that people would be interested in?”  I’ve read that in several lately, so it must be a prerequisite to blogging!  I … Continue reading

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