Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that 2014 brings you peace and prosperity! I truly appreciate all of my readers and the time you take to post comments and share your thoughts! 

I have been working on my resolutions for a little while and finally have them categorised and in some sort of order. 2014 feels like a new start but really every day is a new start and a chance to try again and to try harder! I thought I would share my aims for the coming year as there aren't that many of them and hopefully making them public will make me check my progress and report back! 


Time with God - I really need to get back into a regular routine of waking up and spending time in God's Word. I always feel so much better when I do! It really has a positive influence on my attitude during the day. I really need to work harder at keeping my focus on God and not letting life and stresses distract me. I need to trust more in God's plan for me and really need to work on being more content and comparing myself less to other people. 

Influences - I will be cutting out any books, magazines, television shows, and films, that are not either encouraging, educating, or wholesome entertainment. I am cutting out the grey areas! Those things that I sort of justify to myself while knowing deep down that they are not a positive influence on me. A lot more discretion is needed in this area! I have magazines such as Keepers At Home, the King's Blooming Rose, and Shining Stars Magazine as well as a lot of books both fiction and non-fiction plus DVDs such as Homemaking 101 and the Homestead Blessings DVDs so I am not lacking in this area. I just need to resist the temptation of those forms of entertainment that glamorise rebelliousness and a lack of faith. 

Character - This will include not battling against what God designed me to be. Rather I will be embracing my feminine side and my feminine role. I have been doing this previously but not with any conscious effort as I have just done what has come naturally to me. I will be working on qualities including patience, charity, kindness, modesty, submission, and humility. I fully expect to fail .... a lot .... but I will keep working! 


Health - I want to focus more on my health this year. My issue is that, when things get busy or stressful, my health drops to the bottom of the priority list. That is crazy! I finally figured out that if I take care of myself then I will be more able to take care of others. With my caring role at home this is essential! 

Organisation - I am going to be more mindful of what I spend my time on this year. We don't have an infinite amount after all! Many days I seem to be running about from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed and yet there is so much that doesn't get done. I have a new diary on the way so I can keep track of all my commitments and also record any deadlines I set myself. 

Budget - I wasn't sure whether to put this under Life or Domestic! This year I have a proper budget that I am going to stick to. I have a little notepad and am going to record every penny I spend. I am not terrible with money, I have no debt, and carefully consider before buying anything "big" but I do tend to fritter money away a bit too easily. This is a weakness that I want to get under control. 


Cooking - I can follow a recipe but am not really confident at cooking. I have a new book to help me called Mary Berry's Cookery Course. Oh it looks amazing and Mary Berry is just wonderful! I have already picked out a couple of recipes to try including classic beef casserole, chicken and mushroom pie, and lemon drizzle tray bake. I really like that this book is proper home cooking and not fancy food! 

Sewing - I will learn to machine sew properly! The sewing machine makes me a little nervous but I will conquer it this year! I also intend to continue hand sewing and embroidery as I enjoy those but I am so slow! How lovely it would be to sew an apron and then embroider it! Maybe I will start with embroidering handkerchiefs! 

Letter Writing - Now that I am writing to quite a few people I am setting up a proper schedule. It didn't matter if the letters piled up for a little while before I replied before but now that I have my pen pals and sponsor children I end up with quite a pile to write to all at once! The plan is to reply within a week of receiving a letter. 

So these are my aims for the year! A lot of them seem to interlink and a big theme is not wasting. Not wasting my health or my time. I will probably post updates on here throughout the year to keep track and to keep myself motivated. 

Do you make New Year's Resolutions? 



A Sweet Letter From Jeni.

When I first started sponsoring Jeni with Compassion I sent two small financial gift to her. On as a gift for her and one as a family gift. I was so excited to get a letter from her and even more excited to read what they had spent the money on!

She wrote

"Hello, I'm so grateful to the Lord because I can write this letter for my beloved sponsor, Miss Jenny. Me and my family want to say thank you so much to you, who cares about me, even you sent me the gift, for me and my family. I bought school equipment such as school uniform, bag, books, shoes. The rest of the money is needed for helping my family build our house to live in. Right now the house is in the stage of preparing the brick.

This is all because of your support. Please pray for the house so the build will be continued until it becomes a strong house for us. And I pray especially for Miss Jenny and family to be always blessed in health, jobs, and dreams, so our relationship will continue, and will be full of love and affection every time."

I can't believe how much she managed to get for the money and it is just the sweetest and most touching letter! 



Friday, 27 December 2013

Flowers from my Brother.

I LOVE flowers! Every now and then my brother will buy me some pretty flowers - almost always pink ones. He doesn't just give them to me though ... oh no ..... far more fun to have them delivered to where I work! He always asks if I cried when I saw them. Invariably .... yes! 



Thursday, 21 November 2013

New Photographs of my Plant-A-Book Girls!

Oh I was so excited to receive these photographs today! I really needed cheering up and then opened my emails to see THREE photographs each of Vivian and Kate. I had ordered some bits for both girls a while back on the Plant-A-Book on line shop and then put it out of my mind as it takes quite a while to get photographs back. I would drive myself (even more) crazy checking my emails otherwise! 

Vivian with her new dress and umbrella. Doesn't she look pretty! 

Vivian and the blanket she picked out.

I decided to buy both girls books as a Christmas gift. 

Kate and her new blanket and wash cloth. 

Kate with her new umbrella! Love her smile! 

Kate with a wash bowl and her new fiction books. 

I am so grateful to see these photographs. Especially of Kate as her first photograph was quite worrying as she looked sad to me. So happy to see them both smiling! 



Sunday, 10 November 2013

Autumn Colour.



Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Tiny Corner.

I LOVE this picture! A pen pal sent it so me one Christmas and I like it so much that it stays out all year. It just shows such tender love and devotion! Technically the little olive wood nativity should only be out at Christmas too but I really like how that plus the picture, the stone with the little believe cross in it and my praying mouse from Ripon Cathedral all work together. 



Monday, 28 October 2013

Next Knitting Project.

Yes .... another scarf and an easy knit wool to boot!  I have given away most of the other scarves that I have knitted apart from a couple of summery ones so I have been itching to knit something more suitable for the cooler weather. I intend to keep this one! 

My Winter coat is navy blue so I think that this glittery wool will be a perfect match. It reminds me of snow and has a nice texture. Not too glittery! I am looking forward to starting the scarf. It will hopefully be a quick knit! I really do need to progress beyond dishcloths and scarves at some point .... 

Knitting seems to be the perfect craft for a cosy evening at home. The weather is certainly cooling off here so indoor interests are on my mind! 

Do you have a favourite Winter craft? 



Friday, 25 October 2013

First Letter from Jeni!

I just did my daily check on my Compassion UK account on the off chance that I have a letter on the way and I do! It is from Jeni and it was the friendship template letter. I do love the feature that shows a PDF version of the letters. It is great to see them a couple of days earlier and also it would be handy if, horror of horrors, a letter went missing in the post. 

As she is very young someone else at her centre wrote down her message for me. 

She said "I would like to thank you for sponsoring me. I pray that you stay healthy and keep loving me. I pray that I meet you one day. God bless you."

Oh that is just the sweetest thing I have ever read! Such an adorable little girl! 



Saturday, 12 October 2013


It has been pretty windy here recently but, as yet, only two apples have dropped off my trees. I brought them into the house and we all shared them. I know people say home grown tastes different to shop bought but it really does! It was the same with the carrots that we ate as well. The flavour is just much more intense. It really inspires me to grow more and to be more organised next year! I would love to grow larger and reliable quantities rather than just dabbling and having just a few of each vegetable or fruit. 

I see photographs and blogs about huge vegetable plots and fruit patches and wish I do that! I am limited by space but, if I were more organised, I could fit a lot more in. 



Saturday, 5 October 2013

New Faces and New Smiles.

Some of these darling faces you will recognise but some are new! I am so excited to have the chance to write to and pray for and just get to know these lovely children. Sponsorship really feels almost like a ministry to me. I always thought that I was too small and insignificant to make a difference and that problems like child poverty were just too big. I really was looking at it the wrong way! I am just one individual but so are the children in poverty. They can't all be grouped together and treated as a whole. They have different likes, dislikes, and needs. Some will open up to a sponsor and some have been too let down to trust again. 

I am working on some theme letters at the moment so each child gets a letter on each theme. This makes it easier for me now that I have nine children to write to. I am not the most organised person! So the main part of the letter will be the same, with minor adjustments for age, and then the start and end of the letter will be personalised. I don't have many ideas for theme letters so far and am trying to think of more. If you have any topics to suggest let me know! I am working on an Autumn themed letter at the moment, and am planning a daily life letter and something snow and Winter related too. 



Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New Photographs of Vivian!

Checked my email account today to find two new photographs of Vivian! I knew that sponsors received a photograph of their child when they sent an order through the OLS but I was expecting a wait of months so was surprised to see the photographs so soon! 

I ordered her a new uniform, a school bag, and a wash cloth set not long after I started sponsoring her. I love that I get to see her in her new school uniform! Perfect timing as it has been a bit of a stressful time here. 

I just ordered her Christmas gifts so am really looking forward to seeing another photograph! 



Thursday, 26 September 2013

Guest Post - Lizzie on Sponsorship.

Something a bit different today as I have a post to share from Lizzie! Lizzie is a Compassion sponsor and we met on the Compassion forum. Right from the start I was so impressed with how dedicated she was to her sponsor and correspondent children. Lizzie blogs at Love is an Action and posts about letters from her children, Compassion, and her fundraising and volunteering. She also makes beautiful sponsor bracelets with beads representing each country and there are some lovely examples on her blog. Lizzie is on an incredible journey with Compassion and here, without further ado, here is her guest post! 

It has been two years now, since I saw her face for the first time. I call her "my angel" because God truly sent her to me. Aprila was my first Compassion child. When I requested a girl correspondent, I didn't know what I expected. But I would never have guessed it would be like it is. I would have never guessed that this little girl would change my life.

I was 13 and loved little kids. I loved writing letters. So it made sense to ask Compassion for a girl to write to. If I was going to get a girl to correspond with, I might as well read up on Compassion. So I read the entire site, mesmerised by it all. I read the stories. I read the stats. I learned about countries I did not know even existed. 

I learned what poverty was and that it is real. 

I did not understand at first. My family was poor. We were the ones with old cell phones and hand-me-down clothes. All we got on TV was the very basic cable channels. No Discovery channels for us! Reading about people dying from curable diseases and hunger and about people being enslaved (yes, it still happens), I slowly began to see that we weren't so poor after all. 

Then, along came my girl, my angel. I glanced at her face, and she stole my heart. I can't say that it all became real then or that my life instantly changed. After reading through many Compassion-related blogs and learning about Indonesia, though, I did begin to change. 

Before I had realised we weren't that poor, but I still lived like we were. Gradually, I began to understand that we were quite well-off. And I started to live like it too. Why buy more nail polish when I already have more than I need? I started to buy sticker for my angel instead. And could I really complain about eating sandwiches when my angel might not even eat lunch today? 

It has been a crazy two years. So many changes took place in my life. If someone told me back then that I would be sponsoring a child, no a 21 year old girl, I would have laughed at them. Or if  someone told me that my list of people to pray for would grow by 11 children around the world, I would have thought them crazy. But it has happened. 

Compassion is an amazing ministry, and they are changing lives. When I started partnering with Compassion, I thought the poor children's lives would be changed. I was right. But I completely missed something. It changed my life too! 

After getting a letter from my angel, I decided to ask for another correspondent - a teen girl this time. Let's just say, I kinda totally fell in love with Compassion! Now, I sponsor an older girl and a lil guy, correspond with 7 sweethearts, and co-sponsor another girl. Each one has touched my heart and made me think about things differently. 

I wanted others to realise how blessed they are and feel the incredible joy that comes from having a relationship with a child in poverty. So, I became a Compassion advocate. Even as I think through all the things God has done through that, I am amazed. A couple more kiddos have loving, writing sponsors now. Knowing that I played a small role in that is crazy! 

I am so thankful that God brought Compassion into my life. He definitely knew and knows what He is doing. I am just so excited to see what His plan is with all of that as it unfolds into a beautiful picture. 

Thank you Lizzie for sharing your Compassion journey with us! 

If you are interesting in finding out more about Compassion and to take a look at the children in need of sponsors please click here.



Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Little Book Shelf.

I recently reorganised my little book shelf because ... erm .... I needed more space for books! I do have a lot of books but at the same time I want to display my pretty knick knacks too. As the shelf is nice and tidy I thought it was the ideal time to take a photograph to share! 

My lovely pen pal send me the cards and the magnet so I wanted to display them! It is special when someone makes the effort to actually make a card or gift! 

I love Kisses from Katie so much and have read it twice now. It is the sort of book that inspires you to actually do something to help children! I also have four books from Rod & Staff which are the sweetest Mennonite stories! 


Quite a few of these books have been gifts from pen pals which I appreciate so much! I also keep my magazines on this shelf as I like to look back through them. There are also books that I have bought for myself such as the ones from King's Blooming Rose and those from the Castleberry family. 

I am not sure how long it will stay this tidy but for now it makes me smile when I look at that little corner! 



Monday, 16 September 2013

First Letter From Loani!

Eeeeek! My first letter from Loani has arrived! This is the first letter from my Compassion children so I am hoping that the others will arrive soon! 

It is a fill in the blanks style letter which is fab as it gives me so much information about Loani. I think it will be a lot easier writing letters now that I have received one if that makes sense. Before you receive that first letter it is a bit like writing into a void! 

A few of Loani's favourite things! 

Favourite food - Chinese rice. 

Favourite song - "the girl of your eyes."

Favourite subject - Spanish.

Loani lives with her parents, brothers, and niece and her birthday is 4th September. She recently turned 13! 

Her favourite things to do include studying, reading the Bible, doing her homework, drawing, and colouring. 

She had plenty of questions to ask me too! She wants to know my favourite colour, food, and the things that I like to do. 

She drew me this pretty flower with little hearts too! I can't wait to write back and answer all of her questions and ask some of my own! 



Monday, 9 September 2013

Garden Bits.

Things are ripening all over! Every time I wander around the garden I end up eating baby tomatoes .... some of them are a little hard to reach as the garden has become a little wild! I planted a squash and that has gone crazy. For so long there was just one flower and a couple of leave but, after the recent rain, it has exploded! There are leaves and flowers and twirly tendrils stretching out on stems of up to four feet in length. Only one little squash so far but I will be keeping my eye on it! 

My tayberries are almost finished now and I am planning on planting it into the garden for next year. It did quite well in a pot but it became a bit top heavy and really needed something stronger to climb up. 

There are tomatoes in pots as well as tomatoes planted in the garden. Somehow all the seedlings seemed to survive and it was tricky finding places for them all so there are tomatoes in the flower beds! 

Now these are my experimental and slightly scary plants! Tomatillos! The stems are so thick and there are these little lanterns all over them. They look beautiful! They aren't ripe yet and I think it will be a while before they are. Then I have to figure out what to do with them! This was another example of all the seedlings surviving so over half of a raised bed is taken up with tomatillo plants. 

Courgettes! Some of them have ended up huge! I really should have checked on them more often as, after a little rain, they grow so rapidly. This year I have grown round courgettes. They look nice but I think I prefer the normal ones. Maybe one of each next year! 


I still have apples on my trees! So excited about that! I have been watering them like a crazy person and checking them for bugs and pests. I can't wait until they are ripe! I think I will be eating a lot of apples! 

I have been thinking about what I have learnt from the garden this year and what changes I will make for next year. There have been some successes and some failures. All learning opportunities!



Friday, 6 September 2013

A Letter from Vivian!

I am sure that I don't need to tell you have dance about excited I was to receive a letter from Vivian! I really wasn't expecting a letter this soon but I am delighted. 

Vivian very sweetly introduced herself and said that she is working hard in class and is preparing for the end of term exam. She is hoping to pass with flying colours! 

Oh and she drew me a picture too! 

I think this letter would have been written when she was told that she was sponsored so that would be before she received my letters. I can't wait for a letter that is a response to one of mine! 



Thursday, 22 August 2013

Buzzy Bee!

I am slightly scared of bees but these were so cute and really furry! Plus they were totally absorbed in their task so paid no mind to me at all. I would never try to film a wasp! Now those are scary winged beasts! 



Monday, 19 August 2013

Princess Gift for Vivian!

I sent off a little gift package to Vivian and decided on a princess theme! I really wanted to send her a doll as most little girls love them. I know I did! I wasn't sure if a plastic doll would get damaged in the post but then I saw a plush one which should withstand bending. I also sent a colouring book, crayons, tiny sticker books, and the sweetest tiny plastic tea set. It really was teeny tiny! 

I got to send her a letter too along with the package! This time I wrote a little about things that I liked to do when I was young. Mostly themed around princesses, teddy bears, and tea parties! I can hardly wait to get a letter from Vivian! 

Equally exciting news was that the Plant-a-Book on line shop reopened at the beginning of August! I got myself so muddled up trying to decide which items Vivian would need the most. There are quite a few products on there from uniforms and books, to blankets and socks. I decided to buy her a basic uniform set, a school bag, and a wash set. I think new shoes might be the next order. Or a blanket. Or an umbrella.Or a set of fiction books. Or a non-school dress. See! There are so many things to choose from! 



Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Little Update Post.

Finally back on the internet! My laptop died so I had no internet access and I really missed blogging! Glad to be back to it now. I will try not to go crazy and post every idea that has been swirling around in my mind! 

My first letter from Loani has arrived so I will post about that soon. I need to take a photograph of the letter as she drew an adorable flower picture! 

The weather here has been good overall. Really humid the past couple of days though! The garden appreciates the bit of rain that we have had and I have appreciated the sunshine and blue skies as I walk to and from work. Even though I walk through town to get to work, I find it really quite calming. Nice to be out in the fresh air! 

I have had my hair cut too! Probably not something that most would get excited by but proper haircuts are a rarity for me after an unfortunate incident where I ended up with short layers that looked like a mullet! It put me off letting anyone cut my hair for a long while. I had heard a lot of good reports about this particular hairdresser so decided to just go for it! I wanted layers but the fringe was a spur of the moment decision. I like it though!

This Sunday is the annual Afternoon Tea Party which I am really looking forward to! I have a pretty dress and am planning on curling my hair and generally having fun being as feminine as possible. The hostesses always do a wonderful job so I am looking forward to a fun afternoon with delicious cakes and even a raffle! 

I hope that you are all enjoying the Summer! 



Thursday, 1 August 2013

2013 Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I am so glad that so many of you liked the little gifts that I picked out. It has been really exciting!

Here are the prizes!

Using the random number generator the winner of the 2013 giveaway is ......

Sian! Congratulations! 

Please contact me at home_keeping_hearts@yahoo.co.uk to confirm the address for delivery!



Friday, 26 July 2013




Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Single and 27.

It sometimes feels like everyone is getting married and settling down. It seems like getting married is the big grown up step to take in life. Even though marriage isn't as highly regarded as it once was there are still plenty of people either marrying or doing the more modern equivalent and living with a partner. Living in sin as my Grandma says! 

Sometimes I wonder about God's plan for me and question and push and generally stomp my feet and demand my own way like a fractious toddler! I would love a road sign or two just to show that I am on the right track as it is easy to feel like life is rushing on and on and I am standing still. I have to be careful as I know that, if I let it get hold, then these sinful thoughts will embed themselves into my mind. Negative influences can  come in many forms. Some are so obvious and easy to avoid but others, the dangerous ones, are more subtle and insidious. The romance novels where the man and woman are so unhappy while single and gloriously happy once married and where the book ends with everyone neatly paired up. What do I want to give most influence from? A fluffy Christian romance novel or God's own word in the Bible? 

I always assumed that I would get married. I wasn't one of those girls who dreamt about a big white dress or picked out flowers for the bridal bouquet but there was always this vague idea that marriage would happen. The older I get though the more I feel that marriage isn't God's plan for me.  Of course, I can't be sure of this! I just don't feel dread imagining a future without marriage. There is a certain contentment from just trusting in God! 

Marriage is a gift from God but so is singleness! Singleness sometimes has such negative ideas surrounding it. Mostly in the minds of other people! An older single must be desperate to get married, must be feeling left behind, and must be waiting to finally get on with their proper role. It hurts sometimes that people make little comments about waiting and being left on the shelf as though being single means that I am somehow deficient or lacking or not doing God's will. It is perfectly possible to a productive Christian without being married. If anything I have more time and energy to devote to God. Not just studying His Word but also putting this into action in my life. 

Singleness can be a blessing whether it is a temporary situation or a permanent situation. God places us exactly where He wants us and we get the opportunity to grow and learn from the situation we find ourselves in. Well we do if we open our eyes and look around! 

Some find it strange that I love all the home making tasks and yet may never have a family of my own. I get comments about it being pointless. As far as I know single people still eat, clean, have gardens, and have clothes that need mending! Learning a new skill is never pointless. I know that knitting is teaching me patience far faster than anything else! 

God is using this season of my life to draw me closer to Him. To teach me to turn to Him first and to look to His will. Whether this season lasts a few years or the rest of my life there is joy, contentment, and peace to be found in trusting God completely. 



Monday, 22 July 2013

Random Post - Monday 22nd July 2013.

A bit of a random post today! It has been unusually hot here these past few weeks. Far too hot for me! I love the weather in Spring and Autumn as the Summer is generally a bit too warm for me. I love seeing the blue skies and flowers blooming but I long for the cool breezes and even miss the clouds! 

I really need to start thinking about Christmas. Early I know! It has been far too hot to give it a great deal of thought but I am planning on cross stitching some pretty Christmas ornaments. I am so slow at stitching though that I probably should have started already! Plus the Christmas letters to my sponsored children need to be sent off in September! 

I have been watching television a lot less! No more random scrolling through the television channels looking for something, anything to watch. I did watch Love's Unending Legacy as I love the books! I really like the adaptations and they are so sweet and stick to the story pretty well. I have also watched two lovely DVDs over the weekend! Both are produced by Moore Family Films and they were so fascinating to watch. One featured the Moss family and the other followed the Moody family. It was just amazing to see an insiders view of how two Christian families work. Families that pray together and where the siblings really are best friends. The interviews with the parents were inspiring and the children were just adorable! 

This weekend has been a bit of a letter writing weekend! I had a few letters to write to my pen pals and sponsored children and had also had some photographs printed which arrived last week. I wanted to get them sent off straight away as it would be far too easy to put it off and then a whole month passes by! With home and work both being so very busy lately things have slipped a little with my writing but I was determined to catch up this weekend and I did! 

One of the photographs that I sent off! I tend to be very camera shy .... you can probably tell from the lack of photographs of me on this blog. Even this picture has most of my face covered up! 



Sunday, 21 July 2013

Plant A Book and Vivian.

So excited to introduce Vivian to you as well as Plant a Book which is the charity that I sponsor her through! Vivian is 7 years old and is an orphan. She lives with her aunt and two younger cousins. She has the sweetest smile! She likes skipping rope and wants to be a teacher when she grows up! 

Plant a Book is a sponsorship charity on a much smaller scale than, say, Compassion or World Vision, and provides support for the children attending Galilee Primary School and Waddington High School in the Kayole-Soweto slums of Nairobi in Kenya. 

You can choose a child to sponsor from the website and you get to write to them and the child will write back 3 times a year. You also get an annual photograph! 

Another difference between Plant a Book and the bigger charities is the price of sponsorship. It costs just $12.50 (approximately £9.00) a month to sponsor a Primary School child. It is also $12.50 a month to sponsor a Secondary School child on the basic programme and $20.00 per month for the lunch included programme. 

There is also an on line shop which is open during term time. Now this is exciting! You can buy your child a uniform or books or clothes through this site. You make your order on line and then a member of staff at the school buys the items in Kenya and gives them to your child. So, it is easier, you don't have to pay postage, there is no customs charge, and you are helping the local economy! You also receive a photograph of your child with the gift you send via this on line shop! 

You can post gifts direct to the school if you see something special that you know your child will love! As it is a small charity it is really helpful to them if you make a donation towards the customs charge that the school will have to pay to collect the package. I am going to send Vivian a doll! 

Isn't she adorable?



Thursday, 18 July 2013

Thou Shalt Love.

Thou shalt love. The duty of loving - there is nothing of that in the codes of abstract duty. It is impossible to exclude that from its fundamental place in the system of duty whose constant spring is in the fatherhood of God .... Of this quality in duty it is no Christian's place to be ashamed or afraid. None of us may melt it away or sink it out of sight. In its prominence lies the soul of the duty that we do. We may not try to make that duty cold and soulless which has its true being in the central commandment which is its living soul - "Thou shalt love."

Phillips Brooks.