Another Good Year

There are thousands of families, just in the two counties we serve (King & Snohomish) who struggle to put together backpacks and supplies for their kids to start that first day of school. So many children out there who have to show up on that first day and explain why they don't have pencils or paper or a backpack. School is tough even when you have everything you need - supplies, support at home, a good teacher, a quiet place to do homework - it goes beyond difficult when you have none of those.

Proverbs 31:20 Ministry has been providing backpacks to the children in the area shelters we serve for several years now. What started out as a hundred to 200 kid endeavor has grown into 602 filled backpacks this year. We had started by learning the first name, grade and school (when possible) of every child we serve and then fill their backpack as per their school and grade's specification. If a child needs 24 pencils, we put 24 pencils in their backpacks.

Unfortunately, costs and need have both grown. The Ministry spent over $10,000 on school supplies this year and had a few thousand dollars worth of donated supplies to use. Without a pretty substantial influx of donations this year, backpacks are in jeopardy for next year. That breaks my heart. It is just so tough for everyone right now and even for those who used to be able to give in such large amounts simply don't have the funds.

What do we do about it? I'm not super-familiar with our public school system and how they spend their money but it seems to me that if we all have to spend about $200 just on supplies to send our children back to school, something is horribly wrong somewhere.

I know there are gazillions of opinions on the topic out there. I also know several people homeschool in part because of the perceived ineptitude of management in public schools. There was a statistic I heard on one of those news magazine shows (Dateline or 20/20 - I can't recall where I heard it) that stated public schools ask for more money and say they can't teach our children on $10,000 per child per year. Private schools do it for about $3,000 per child per year. Where is the difference? What do private schools do - and what can they do - differently from public schools?

Can anyone enlighten me?


4 Reluctant Entertainers Giveaway

It's been a while since I've posted about a giveaway but this one is simply too much fun, especially considering what I'm planning over the next month. Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers is hosting the giveaway for "The Briefcase" bbq from Teak and Wicker and More.

How cute is that??? You can pack it up and take it with you everywhere you go. It has some fun features, too:

Folds to a convenient briefcase size
Comes with a handy spatula and fork that clip to the inside of the lid for easy storage
3-position adjustable chrome plated cooking grid with removable handles
Charcoal fueled
Baked enamel finish
Fold away warming rack

Teak Wicker and More sells everything from garden accessories to patio furniture. For someone who is in the process of "fixing up" her backyard due to having to rip it all apart last summer, this is a website-come-true for me. I'm off to shop, dream and plan.

You, in the meantime, head over to Sandy's and see about entering for that giveaway. If you win, let me know! I'd love to do a happy dance for you. I won't argue if you hope I win - I'd love to give this one to my husband for his birthday.



Trafficking Site

I don't usually do this but if you are here today, take a moment to go to my other blog, Fight 4 Freedom and read today's update on trafficking. It has rocked me to my core - I grew up in New Jersey. I know the places this man forced his captives to work. I have friends in New Jersey with young daughters and to think how easily they could be swept up into something like this. The same thoughts cross my mind every time I look at my nieces.

It reminds me why I do what I do, why I am trying to learn everything I can, trying to work in any way possible to end this evil. We cannot rest, we cannot stop drawing attention to the horror of human trafficking until men like Allen Brown have no opportunity to do what they do. They feed off of fear and violence and use women and children to feed their greed.

They need to be stopped. I hope you can take a few minutes to read the story, click the link and read the Attorney General's indictment. Sit and meditate on the fact that this is happening here. In the United States and not only in New Jersey. Think of your daughter, her friends or the daughters of your friends. The smartest, savviest of women and children are still kidnapped, drugged, taken into this world in some of the most incredible ways I've ever heard. Just when you think you have figured out a way to keep something from happening - they come up with a new way to get around your safeguards.

We can't rest until the price traffickers pay is so high, the price their clients (johns) pay is too high (we need to start shaming them in any and every way possible) and the people they traffic have a safe, secure place to go for healing. We simply can't rest.

It starts with how we speak. Enough saying something is "pimped out." Enough saying a woman is a prostitute. Pimping is not glamourous and a woman (or child) is prostituted. Pimps get their money by forcing others to work for them in degrading and dangerous ways. They force their victims through violence and drug addictions - often addictions they perpetuated so they could control their women. As for those who are prostituted - find me one who aspires to walk those streets. They don't want to be out there - they feel they don't have a choice. As someone who looked that choice in the face, I can imagine getting to that point. Every day I thank God I had other options (and a HUGE dose of fear to actually step into that world) but every day there are women and children who don't feel they have those options or are forced into it.

Ever day.



Well, I didn't exactly trust it yesterday but since today is an almost exact replica, I think I'm going to risk it and say our normal Pacific Northwest Summer has returned. Cloudy, upper 50's to mid-60's in the morning; sunny and mid-70's by late afternoon.

As a friend of mine said recently - for those of you who were praying for sun, thank you for turning down those prayers a bit.

It was 107 last Wednesday and we were all pretty sure we were going to melt. Or spontaneously combust. It was too hot and before all of you who live with those temps talk about how wimpy we were - remember how many places you go have air conditioning. That's the norm in places that are regularly hot. Most places here are the opposite. We rely on our marine air - beautiful breezes and thick clouds to cool us off. Not electric air.

It was a tough couple of weeks.

I'm grateful for days or relief (temperatures begin to climb again in another week), for being at a particular hardware store at just the right time (we now own a portable air conditioner - I'm just too old and too whiny to suffer through THAT again) and for all the different people I was able to meet and talk to (people actually do like to chat more when life throws a curve ball...not so wrapped up in their own routine) as we suffered together. Most of all I'm grateful for what didn't happen - no heat exhaustion or heat stroke for anyone I know or our animals. No overheating cars. No broken air conditioner at work. Those places who opened or stayed open later because they had air and could offer a safe place for people who couldn't stand the heat... the list could go on.

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

Even in record heat.