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For the Children

Children have always held a very special place in my heart. After I left the public school classroom, I was often asked if I missed teaching. The answer is that I donít know yet. Though Iíve been home with my own children for almost 15 years, I continue to be involved in the world of children. Iíve taught ďFriday SchoolĒ for the umbrella school we attend for the past 10 years. Iíve taught kids at church and served on staff for a church as Director of Childrenís Ministries. (Did this job as a volunteer a couple of times, too.) Iím not trying to give my resume; Iím simply making a point. Kids are important to me. I donít know if I miss teaching, because so far I havenít quit! :o)

In my interactions both on the Internet and at conferences, Iíve met some amazing people who pour out their lives for children. It occurred to me that many of you also have a heart for kids and might want to learn more about these ministries. Thatís why I developed this pageóto let you in on the beautiful things some friends of mine are doing to take care of the children. Check them out!

Orphans First

Orphans First, started by Janey DeMeo is a ministry expressing God's heart to hurting children. Their website offers stories of specific children and ministries to children all around the world. You can also subscribe to receive periodic prayer requests.

This prayer newsletter is sure to touch your heart and youíll be blessed as you pray for children from all around the world.

When I met Janey at a writerís conference in May of 2005, I was immediately drawn to her and her deep heart for the children. It wasnít long before I was determined to do an article on her ministry. My original idea was to say nice things about her work in hopes that people might contact Orphans First and become prayer warriors and/or financial supporters for the ministry. Instead, the interview took an unexpected turn, and I realized I had much to learn from Janey about entering the suffering of others and trusting God to care for your heart in the process. (You can view this article, called ďTeach Your Child To Identify with Those Who SufferĒ)

A Child to love

Periodically, I get inquiries about information on adoption. If you want to read how one courageous woman opened her home to many beautiful children with special needs, youíll love this precious website. Over the years, Rosemary J. Gwaltney has opened her home to children. You can find their pictures, their stories, and parts of Rosemaryís journey at this site. If youíve ever considered adoption, especially of special needs kids, this is a wonderful place to start learning. Or, if you havenít considered adoption, but just need your heart touched today with the things that brush the heart of the Father, this site is worth your time.

Amani ya Tuu

This beautiful site tells heart-rending stories of African women whoíve suffered incredible abuse, dislocation, and loss, but have found their hope in Christ and through Amani ya Tuu. Amani ya Tuu trains displaced African women to create beautiful products from toys to purses to quilts. These products are sold so that the woman can support themselves (and often their children or younger siblings.) These products make wonderful gifts. I have a story precious to my heart that involves Amani ya Tuu. Their wares were displayed at a writerís conference I attend and I really wanted to purchase something from them for the girls in my Bible study class. I had on money. While I looked at the products a writer friend slipped up behind me and said, ďmy husband surprised me with a gift. For years we worked as missionaries and I never had spending money, but this year he found some extra and slipped it in my purse with a note. Itís more than I need. Iíd be honored if youíd buy something with part of my money.Ē

I often think of that story when I think of giving. God sure blessed a bunch of people with that little stash of cash. My friend was blessed by her husband. I was blessed by my friend. The girls in my class were then blessed by my purchase. And all that money spent went to support the amazing woman in Africa who made the products. Isnít it beautiful how God multiplies His gifts?

The next year Amani ya Tuu was represented at the same conference. I bought myself one of their beautiful dolls and God used the doll to open an opportunity for me to share about the ministry of Amani ya Tuu at my church. I keep the doll in my livingroom where she sits to remind me to pray for the courageous women of Amani ya Tuu, Woman who have overcome incredible odds and learned to love beyond intense pain. Sometimes I pray generally for the ministry. Other times I pray that God will specifically bless each person who had a part in my handmade doll, from the woman purchased the textiles, to the one who dyed the fabric, to the woman who sewed her clothes, to the one who embroidered her eyes. This is also a great visual for children to teach children to pray for those they havenít yet met. Perhaps youíd like to purchase a toy for your child and use it to help teach him to pray.

Please take time to check out this site. Youíll love it. And next time you want a unique present for someone, please consider shopping with Amani ya Tuu.

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