Expanding Borders While Staying at Home

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for your kind comments on Monday’s blog post. I’m enjoying writing again and seeing the story start to unfold. Today, you’ll hear from Anna Marie. — Sarah

I’m receiving my third chemo treatment as I write. Once this is done, I’ll be 25% through my initial chemo—nice progress! Thank you all for your encouragement. My blood counts were good today, and I’m receiving an iron infusion this week and next to help keep those red blood cells happy and growing.

With stay at home orders still in effect, it’s nice to have a way to expand our borders, in thought at least. We recently did an afternoon/evening focusing especially on children in poverty around the world. Before telling you what we did, I want to introduce you to two ministries our family has been blessed by.

Compassion International’s mission is to “release children from poverty in Jesus’ name,” primarily utilizing child sponsorship. You can choose a child to sponsor by country, birthday, etc., or sort by longest waiting. Besides the monthly sponsorship money (a little more than a dollar day), you are encouraged to correspond with your sponsored child. It’s made simple by their website and app where you can send photos, coloring pages, etc. Since some of us are beginning to learn Spanish, we love having a sponsored child in Latin America who sends us letters written in… Spanish. 😉 Of course they are translated into English as well, but Joshua enjoys reading the originals and finding words he knows. It’s also a “real life” reminder of why we want to learn Spanish: to communicate with others. This correspondence is a great opportunity to speak words of hope and encouragement into a child’s life, as well as helping our children develop hearts of compassion for children in poverty. It’s so easy to take our blessings for granted!

Feed My Starving Children provides simple meals (“manna packs”) to families in poverty worldwide. Packed by volunteers (before COVID-19), the manna packs are distributed to starving children by organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse. They also have an online marketplace featuring products made by men and women who are able in this way to earn income to provide for their families. Profits support these artisans and provide meals to hungry children. I love their mugs; and their bags, baskets, etc. are beautiful and nicely made. I just saw that they currently have a little Mother’s Day gift shop section with some lovely “Mom” mugs and other things!

Since Christopher and our children have enjoyed helping pack meals, I was excited to find that they have “solidarity meal kits” available in the online store. Containing a manna pack, leader’s guide, and several testimonials/stories from around the world, the solidarity pack was a perfect way to get a “taste” of reality across the globe.

In the afternoon, the girls colored paper dolls we printed off the Compassion website. Those and many other free activities are available here.  While they colored, Joshua read to us about those countries from the Friends Around the World Atlas. He also built puzzles featuring the continents we would be reading about. 

Cooking the manna pack was simple—just boil water, add contents of the bag, and cook as specified. Its flavor was similar to chicken ramen, with a texture reminiscent of oatmeal. While it cooked, we read the stories, finding each country on the inflatable globe that served alongside the girls’ paper dolls as our centerpiece.

We enjoyed our evening and I was again challenged to be thankful for all the blessings we have, and to do what we can to help “the least of these” around the world.

Anna Marie

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee
an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and
clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came
unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily
I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”
Matthew 25:37-40.

Books for Christian Kids that Make an Impact

Today is an exciting day for me as I begin writing the first draft of my last book Finding Change’s sequel. There’s something special about this part—watching with awe as a story unfolds into written form. It fills me with joy to have an opportunity to impact children’s lives through a book. I would love prayer for this book project if the Lord brings me to mind.

Over the years, one way the Lord sends encouragement is through letters and emails from readers. Here’s part of one email I received permission to share, along with these delightful pictures!

“We started reading Book 1: Summer with the Moodys today as a family during our read-aloud time. Before we started, my five-year-old was very excited to learn about the connection of you with the books mommy has been reading as I’ve been toting them around for the past few months now. He was also very excited that you believe in the Lord. I guess even small children know what a rare find good, Christian books are.

“Anyway, we read through the first chapter and he asked that I keep going. This was so timely for us today. When we were done, he asked me if I read him the first chapter to help him to remember to not be scared if he hears a noise at night and the second chapter to remind him to have a cheerful attitude during the day. His eyes were glued on me the whole time I was reading, but I didn’t realize the details his little five-year-old heart was picking up on. What a blessing! He’s never been that engaged with a book. I really enjoyed the first two chapters myself. I am looking forward to continuing through the series and will probably be purchasing some more sets for gifts in the future. 😉

“Just wanted to share what a blessing your book has been for us today. Thank you for serving the Lord with small children in mind! I pray the Lord continues to lead you down a path of writing.” — Hannah

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of
the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”

(1 Timothy 4:12).

Anna Marie Maxwell’s Update on Her Journey

Today Anna Marie’s sharing the latest on her treatments. Thank you for praying! Sarah

As you can probably tell from the picture, my long hair is gone. I’ll be sharing more about that journey in a forthcoming post. Abigail blessed me by making these sweet matching hats for me and Simon Peter!

Hello everyone! I’m so overwhelmed by God’s goodness as I sit here at my parents’ home, listening to singing birds and looking out at plants and trees decked in their spring finery of abundant blooms, with towering evergreens and beautiful blue sky as a backdrop. The weather has been perfect for walks and time outside on the patio, too. I am so very thankful to have the opportunity to receive this treatment and be here at my family’s home while doing so. They are taking such good care of me and Simon Peter! And I’m so thankful for modern technology that allows communication to span the miles via FaceTime, text, and photo streams

The children are doing great and are enjoying their time with Daddy, as well as Grandma, Aunt Anna, and Aunt Mary who are a tremendous blessing!

I flew here a week ago Monday and received my first chemo that Tuesday. It went well, and I haven’t had much in the way of side effects yet. There has been a little nausea and tiredness (though hard to tell if tiredness is a result of chemo or the whirlwind of the previous week!) but not even to the level of morning sickness yet. 🙂 I got my port placed Monday and had my second round of chemo yesterday. The plan right now is to get chemo each Tuesday. Because of receiving multiple IV medications, some of which have to be administered very slowly, I’ve been at the clinic for 7-8 hours each chemo day.

There are many opportunities to visit with other chemo patients and nurses during that time. I have been encouraged by the faith and hope of many, but there are definitely some hurting people who need the Lord Jesus.

A prayer request going forward is that my blood counts will stay up. I was already on the low end of normal (they said probably because I had a baby not long ago!) and chemo can lower blood counts fairly quickly.

If it gets too low, I might have to delay chemo treatments until it comes back up (which would extend my time out here), or would possibly need blood infusions at the hospital (which we would like to avoid). I’m doing my best to eat lots of foods that help to boost blood cell production, am taking an iron supplement, and will probably be getting some iron infusions to help with that as well.

While cancer isn’t a journey I would have chosen myself, I can honestly say God is so very good and He is showing Himself faithful every step. I woke early last Tuesday morning and as I meditated on Luke 24, which I recently memorized for Resurrection Sunday, it was as if the Lord “stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17) and “girded me with strength unto the battle” (Psalm 18:39), while I thought of “Jesus Himself” drawing near and going with me, desiring to open my understanding that I might truly KNOW Him, just like He did for those disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was as if I could hear Him tell me, “Peace be unto you… Why are you troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your heart? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself…” And because He lives, I can face tomorrow and every day with the certainty that He has already conquered sin and death itself! Praise the Lord, He is risen indeed, and is come that we might have life more abundantly!

Thank you for praying!
Anna Marie

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us,
while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened
to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

An Outdoor Challenge Activity for Kids

We all know families have more time together, and what could be better than a challenging activity in the envigorating spring weather?

Christopher came up with a new activity for his kids. The goal was to reach a prize on the back fence without touching the grass. They had to work together to come up with what they wanted to use.

Ruthanne, Lydia, Joshua, and Daniel set in motion, with a little help from their Auntie Sarah (Anna Marie’s sister) and cheering on from the rest of us. All in all, it took about a half-hour from the time the first item was placed off the deck until the fence was reached.

What can you think of that would be a creative challenge for your kids?

Ruthanne appears to be the mover and shaker in placing items.

Dilly Bars = the reward (don’t worry: they weren’t melting in the box but waiting in the freezer!)

Since Daniel’s stature is smaller, he found it more of a challenge. He didn’t care to pass his sisters or brother either. I love the look of determination here.
He made it!
This girl was a go-getter!

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but
one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And
every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all
things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown;
but we an incorruptible.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Resurrection Sunday at the Maxwells

I wanted to share a peek into some of the Maxwell Family’s Resurrection Sunday celebrations. It’s safe to say that most people worldwide had a very different day than normal. But being in this stay-at-home place affords more time than ever to focus on relationships. Whether it’s a relationship of a close family member or friends whom we can check in on remotely.

We’re so grateful for Christ’s redeeming love and His conquering death! “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

In a nutshell:

  • Time in God’s Word
  • Special outside visit from John’s crew bringing coffee
  • Watching church services via LiveStream
  • Resurrection Sunday Dinner
  • Weather that was colder than on Christmas Day, with howling winds and rain (the cold front hit midday)
  • Family prayer via FaceTime for Anna Marie

We’d love to hear how your Resurrection Sunday went. What did you do, and how was it different?

I think there is something little kids love about holding Ellie’s leash (power?).
Nathan and Melanie’s crew
Christopher making Resurrection Rolls with the children (you know the kind where you put the marshmallow rolled in butter in the middle and it “disappears” when baking).
This beautiful crew!
Such a small group for Resurrection Dinner but how blessed we are!

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Grandma’s Bookbag

Keeping life normal for our children is good during difficult times so Grandma’s reading time continues via FaceTime. Here are four more favorite preschooler books. Some of the books are only available used on Amazon but since they are board books, for us they have held up well.

Trucks is a pull tab book by Priddy Baby (All the links in this post are Titus2’s Amazon affiliate links: see the Titus2 Privacy Policy for more information). The younger crew (and some of the older ones too) enjoy pulling the tabs and looking at the various types of trucks on each page.

Find My Feet by Salina Yoon is a fun book with a different type activity. The body of an animal is on each page. At the bottom of the book is a wheel the child can turn that spins through various feet. The goal is to match the animal with its feet.

I Am a Dump Truck and I am a Fire Truck are solid board books with colorful illustrations leading to discussions our preschoolers enjoy about the actions, people, and vehicles in the book.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise thee” (Psalm 63:3).