Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Journey With Compassion....So Far.

It's not even 11am yet, and I've spent the last 40 minutes or so tearing up on my couch and wondering just how much of a bad idea it would be to empty my savings to go on a Compassion trip. Currently, there is a team of Compassion bloggers in Uganda, touring the centers and meeting the children and families supported by Compassion.

Follow the Compassion Bloggers in Uganda

And the stories they are sharing are breaking my heart, then putting it back together. Stories of brokenness, of slavery, of hopelessness. Stories that make you realize that sometimes, doing everything is not enough. But then, then there are stories of hope and restoration. Of what Compassion does in the lives of "the least of these". Of what it's like to meet a child you sponsor. And both ends of the spectrum have me a blubbering mess.

And I want to hop on a plane to go join them. And someday, I will. But now is not my time. But just because I can't get on a plane right now doesn't mean I can't make a difference. I can continue to support the child I sponsor. You can do the same. Compassion's goal is to get 400 children sponsors during this trip. You can click here to see the list of kids in Uganda needing sponsors. As I write this, there are 3386 kids on the site needing someone to give them hope. Will you be that person?

The more I become involved with Compassion, the more I absolutely love the organization. I first heard about Compassion in high school, and have sponsored 4 children (at different times) since then. Through sponsorship, I have had the opportunity to interact with this amazing organization in several ways. At different times over the years, I have seen what happens if a child moves away from a center, what happens if a sponsor can no longer afford to continue, and what happens if you get behind in your payments. Every time, Compassion has responded to the situation with grace and hope for all involved.

Then, about a year ago, I started blogging for Compassion. It is such a pleasure and honor to receive the emails from Bri and the team with an assignment. Over the past few months, I haven't been so great about Compassion blogging. For that, I apologize, and commit to get back at it this year. How can I not blog about something so close to my heart? I love having the opportunity to share what this great organization is doing in the world.

In December, I had my first experience working a Compassion table at a concert. A friend's father is a Child Advocate and invited us along. I never realized that the people working the Compassion table at events aren't employees or regular event staff! I had such a good time that I came home and looked up how to become one of those volunteers. I am now officially a Compassion Child Advocate! In the process, I learned so much more about Compassion and what they do around the world. With everything I learned, my respect for and love of this organization grew.

There are a lot of organizations out there helping children and families. There are others offering child sponsorship. So why do I think Compassion is the best choice?

Five Things I Love About Compassion:

1) Holistic Care. They don't just throw money at the problem and hope it will go away. They partner with the families to meet physical needs as well as spiritual, emotional, and educational needs.

2) Church Partnership. Compassion doesn't set up centers around the world. They partner with local churches, enabling them to be the hands of Christ, as they should be. Rather than start something new, or promote themselves, Compassion relies on the people who know their community best, and then creates a bond between those communities and the sponsors.

3) Life-Long Commitment. They are invested in helping children in every season of life, from providing prenatal care to scholarships and university-level leadership training, through their four different programs.

4) Integrity. They are trustworthy and transparent. Every year they publish their financial reports on their website for anyone to see. They have received the highest ratings from Charity Navigator for over 5 years in a row. Plus, they operate based on the "Four C's" that set them apart from others.

5) Financial Responsibility. Your money goes exactly where they say it will. They are committed to making sure at least 80% of all their money goes to the programs and children they are working with. Usually, they surpass this goal. Last year, nearly 85% of all income went straight to the children.

This has been a long post, so thank you for sticking with it. By now, I hope I've convinced you that Compassion is an amazing organization making a difference in this world one child at a time. And I hope you've been inspired to join forces with them. Whether you decided to sponsor, blog, advocate, or a mix of these opportunities, you will not be disappointed. Your life will be changed in ways you never expected.

Do you sponsor? Did you decide to sponsor after this post? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm Ready, 2014!

I can't believe it's already 2014! The past year just flew by! And it was a great year. I did a bunch of new things, and had some incredible adventures (and I just realized I never shared about Iceland...we'll see if I can make that happen this month.) I really enjoyed 2013, and I am looking forward to 2014 even more. Let's take a look back, and a look ahead, shall we?

2013 was deemed "The Year of Awesome". I set a bunch of goals. I didn't meet each of the twenty-six goals, but I did make progress on nearly each one. Some I achieved, though! Like, I read 50 books, was really good with my budget, left the country twice, and tried one new thing each month. I came super close to my book-reviewing goal (I did 14, my goal was 15). There were only three things on my list that made little-to-no progress. I'd say that's a successful year!

I even found new things to enjoy and set new goals during the year, like taking up running and joining the Group-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.  I filled up my Books Read notebook completely (my fave books of the year to come in the next post). I spent 10 Days Without Technology. I went to Iceland and did adventurous things I never expected to ever do in my life, and I crossed some stuff off my bucket list. It was a fantastic year.

Looking ahead to 2014, I've been thinking hard about what kind of goals I want to set. I'm not going to set another 26 goals. That's a lot, and I don't want to be overwhelmed this year (that's one of my goals: rest and relax). To be honest, I'm still getting them all set, but it's going to be a much shorter list than last year, though the goals will still be important and awesome. Like, I'm toying with the idea of aiming for 500 miles run this year. I haven't decided yet. But some of the real goals on my list: Pay extra towards my loans, get to a certain jean size, read the Bible in 90 days, and cross 4 more things off the bucket list.

I'm going to continue adventuring and trying new things, but we don't have a set goal of a new thing every month for this year. We do have a list of things to try, though! I'm really excited for the possibilities of this year, and for where God is leading me. I'm excited to rest and have fun, while growing and adventuring. Bring it on, 2014!

How was your 2013? Got any big plans for 2014?

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