Today I am going to share a very special interview with you. Jill's blog Compassion Family is one of the first I followed. She has been such a blessing in my life and has inspired me so much! I hope you enjoy and learn from this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been married to Kevin since 1996 and we have two daughters, Sydney and Kayleigh. We have moved quite a bit in those 16 years ~ having lived in 7 states and 12 different homes!
I am a violinist and love to teach kids to play. I currently have a very small studio with only seven students (two of whom are Sydney and Kayleigh) because I most of my time goes into homeschooling my girls.
I have been a Compassion sponsor for 18 years and love everything about this ministry. I sponsored my first child (Judith in Kenya) when I was in college and very quickly realized the impact sponsorship had on her life. I soon became an advocate and haven't looked back.
I love to read, garden, run, take photos and hike.
What is your favorite part about being a Compassion sponsor?
I love the opportunity we have to have a real, one on one relationship with a child in another country. It takes time, but through regular letter writing, a real relationship is established and after many years it's a beautiful thing. I love how God uses sponsorship to bless both the child being sponsored and the sponsor. When I first became a sponsor, I had NO IDEA how it would impact me. I have learned so much about what it means to be a Christ follower through the simple act of sponsorship. God has used the ministry of Compassion International to teach me so many things.
Why do you blog about Compassion?
I first started blogging about Compassion as a means to share our sponsorship story as well as advocate for children still waiting for sponsors. I used to just write on our family blog, but we eventually decided to make that blog private and only open to family and friends since we posted so many details about our girls and our daily lives. About two years ago I wanted a new focus for my advocacy and really have a desire to encourage others, families in particular, to pursue sponsorship as a family. In my own family life, sponsorship was my thing and the rest of the family wasn't that involved. I really wanted to change that and embrace the ministry of Compassion as our family mission. Out of that vision, Compassion Family was born. I'm very intentional about including my own young girls in the sponsorship experience and hope that comes through on my blog. I love to connect new sponsors with children, but I also love to encourage and inspire current sponsors in what they are already doing.
Do you have any Christmas traditions involving Compassion? If so, what are they?
We have all our Compassion kids' photos in ornament frames and hang them on our tree. I've also slowly been collecting ornaments that come from the countries Compassion works in. I don't have many yet, but I have a wooden owl I got in Peru that I love. We also have a little guitar ornament that came from my husband's trip to Nicaragua earlier this year.
The other thing we do every year is make a countdown chain and write our Compassion kid's name on each strip. Everyday we pray specifically for that child as we take their link off the chain and countdown to Christmas.
What does "enough" mean to you?
I always think of Proverbs 30:7-9...."Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?'"
I love this because this person is crying out - don't give me too little, but don't give me too much. It seems both poverty and abundance play a role in keeping us from God. I am blessed beyond measure and certainly have too much when it comes to material possessions, but I'm working on this. I am fascinated by and drawn to the minimalist lifestyle because by paring down my material possessions, I can learn to be satisfied with less. I also love Philippians 4:12 ~ "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." I have so much to learn in this area and these scriptures help me know how to pray for growth.
How do you focus on Jesus during Christmastime?
Honestly, it isn't any different than any time of the year. My deepest desire as a mother is that my girls will choose to follow Jesus in all they do, and I'm very intentional about making our lives all about Jesus. It seems very natural to focus on Christ this time of the year. We chose not to do the whole Santa thing when the girls were very young, but we don't ban the idea either. We talk a lot about how Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ and how we can give gifts to him by giving to the least of these. We have a Veggie Tales video that tells the story of St. Nicholas and how he gave gifts to the poor, so it all ties in nicely with our ministry with Compassion.
If you could give anything to your Compassion children for Christmas, what would it be?
Hope. I would love to be able to stand (or kneel) in front of each child, wrap my arms around them and tell them how much I love them, how much God loves them and how special they are - how much potential they have. I want to fill their hearts and head with messages of hope so they can rise above their circumstances and know they have value and worth in God's eyes.Don't forget to hop on over to Compassion Family and say "hi" to Jill!