New Project: 365 Days of Thank You

As a blogger, regularity has never been my strong point. Hence the six week gap between this post and the last. Alas, I’m not writing to gain fame or a book-deal (lucky that – according to the pros, if you intend on becoming a proper blogger, you will post at least two or three times a day?)!

To say I am pleased with the outcome of the recent Sunflower Effect project is an understatement. $1343 for the beautiful women and children at Mercy House is a huge win! Not to mention discovering so many ways to raise money and awareness, on a budget. Thank you again to all of you for your support and help and generosity in helping reach – and zoom past – the $1000 goal.

It is time for a new project. This one is purely selfish… for my own sake… a form of therapy.

Dad & ITwo weeks ago today, my precious dad passed away after a brave, three year battle with pancreatic cancer. Sitting with him in hospital for a week, as he slowly slipped away was the hardest, most gruelling thing I’ve ever done. I will never be the person I was before November 2012 exploded into my life. Now, a fortnight later, the funeral is over and people have started getting back to normal life. All that remains is the journey of grief which, I’m learning, is long, frustrating and – flat out hard.

My relationship with my dad was not what I would’ve liked it to have been and I wasn’t able to share much of my life with him – just one of the many disappointments and losses I’m processing.

A friend gave me a map yesterday, outlining the grief process… it shows a path that winds around and around, through many different emotions – seeming to be getting nowhere – and honestly, during the last two weeks and especially these past few days, I’ve been fighting to keep myself from spiralling downward, hand in hand with those old bitter foes – disheartenment and depression.

To add to this, my youngest child, my precious little boy, is graduating from pre school today and will join his older sisters at ‘big school’ next year. While this is a happy and exciting day for him, I can’t help but feel sad and a little grieved… while having three young children at home and at different stages of early schooling has been hard work, after having little people with me everywhere I go for the past eight years, I will miss my little buddy. Along with this transition comes new questions – am I still needed? Will I have a place in the world next year? To some that may sound a little dramatic but bear with me, this is where I’m at right now.

So, in an effort to keep myself looking towards the future and at the blessings from God which can so easily escape my attention these days – I’ve decided to launch the “365 Days of Thank You” project.

They say it takes a year before you start to feel better after the loss of a loved one, which is why this project will go for a year. I feel daunted by the task – a year is a long time, 365 is a big number – but I need to keep myself looking at the good things, the blessings, the moments I can be grateful for.

I must warn you, this may not be the most exciting blogging project for readers. Some posts may be very short – even just a couple of words maybe – depending on where I am in myself and on this journey. I’m not aiming for literary or creative excellence – but I am blogging it specifically to try and keep myself accountable. Any encouraging comments, likes or shares posted on the blog, facebook, twitter or instagram (jonileimgruber) you can offer will be very much and humbly appreciated.

As we all know, the big black hole is way too easy to fall into and terribly difficult to climb out of so, if you’ll be patient with me, one day we will see the beauty God will bring from this time.

Thank you and I hope you’re doing okay, wherever you are on your own journey.

Joni xx

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

~Perfect (teleios) = that which has achieved or reached its goal, objective, purpose.*

*Beth Moore – James Mercy Triumphs

Goal Reached

Exciting news – the $1000 goal has been smashed! $1343 has been raised for the beautiful women of Mercy House in Kenya.

To all of you who donated, sponsored and supported, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We did it!

Online fundraising for The Sunflower Effect*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (

Sisterhood be the CHANGE cup

Good morning 🙂

I just added $80 to the Mercy House tally.. thanks to the generosity of my brother (!) and also our

 ‘sisterhood be the CHANGE cup’

… For one month we put all our coins in a cup for Mercy House, it adds up pretty quickly!

Cost me a few coins and took me 0 minutes..a really good way to raise money!

Here endeth the update.

Happy Friday!


*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (

Half Way There!! :)

So I’m finding that I don’t have much time to blog.. but that’s okay.. I can keep you easily updated via Twitter and Facebook.

Great news – today the tally reached $552!! I’m so happy about this. I have set out to raise $1000 for Mercy House, I’m getting there! Thanks so much to all of you who have generously donated – the women and babies at Mercy House will benefit more than we can imagine, from your generosity.

This month I’m focusing on selling some baby clothes on eBay (generously donated by my friend Lee-Ann over at Nine 50 – check out her peruvian jewellery, hand made by women, providing an income for their families!)

A few of my auctions have ended, making a tidy $35 (not bad for so little work and zero outlay!)

I still have a few auctions yet to finish and still more items to list. If you need some clothes for a baby boy, have a look at my eBay listings, all proceeds to Mercy House or email me.

Anyway, must go, I have children to get to school and a day to tend to!

Have a good one!

Joni xx

*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (

Don’t Ignore that Idea!

How tiny is this seed.. is maybe half a centremeter long..

..but look what it created in my garden, when I planted it and watered it:

Just because seeds are small isn’t reason enough to keep them hidden away, unplanted.

It’s exactly the same with our lives; changing other’s lives. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the problems of this world. Our minds become crowded with thoughts like, “I can only give a little bit.. I may as well not even bother.. What difference will it make anyway?” These thoughts are definitely not from God. In fact, I truly believe that the little seeds of ideas you’ve been mulling over for a while, the ones which would help you raise a few dollars for a charity, or the little things you could do to help a friend – they’re probably from God. God doesn’t immediately give us a massive, fully grown tree – He gives us a seed. And if we plant and water it, we’ll see what it can grow into.

That’s how I feel about $10. It’s not a huge amount of money but it’s a seed. As a challenge to myself, I want to aim to raise and/or donate $10 every week to Mercy House. I’ll have to get creative because I don’t have truckloads of time during the day. I’m going to have to be smart, work hard and be dilligent with the little seeds I have.. the list of ideas and opportunities is growing and I’m working on a plan so that none are wasted. I figure, if God gives me a seed, I really don’t want to waste it. What’s more, if He has given it to me, that means He’ll help me plant and water it, He’ll work my day so I have plenty of time, energy and inspiration. He’s there every step of the way when we plant and water the seeds He has given us.

It is impossible to see what can become of a seed until it has been planted and watered. Why not plant your seed and see what God can do with it?

What seeds, ideas, thoughts, projects have you been mulling over? Do you think it’s time to plant?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Joni x

*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (


One More Woman, One More Baby – Both Safe

Another amazing, beautiful story… another woman saved… another child saved…

Read here about Edith and her precious baby Hawi… last week was a tough one for them, but they made it through and are now in the loving hands of Mercy.

* * *

I went to parts of Colour Conference last week and really enjoyed myself – as I always do there! So, there are many thoughts banging around in my mind, too many to be able to write about yet.. I need to sort it all out before I can put it down here. So please forgive me if my postings are sparse this week!

Joni xx

*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (

Week’s Wrap Up

Hi all

I’m off to Colour so I won’t be on here much for the next few days..

But before I go, here’s a little wrap up of the week, in case you missed anything.

I started the week sharing a little bit about myself and why The Sunflower Effect means so much to me.. we jumped on board with the Mercy Spring Drive (no cars involved!).. I’m collecting non-fiction soft cover books for the Mercy House school room. Contact me if you’d like to donate any....and we learned about Mariama Boubacar and her family and how she has learned important tips which will help keep her future children alive..

Mercy House is going amazing things and I love being a small part of that! I hope you do too 🙂

Have a lovely weekend everyone!!

Joni xx

*The Sunflower Effect supports the work of The Mercy House Kenya and Kristen Welch (

True Story: Mariama Boubacar


Name: Mariama Boubacar

Age: 25 years

Origin: A hamlet near Ouallam, in the west of Niger

I was married at 15 and pregnant at 17. Unfortunately, that first baby died through lack of assistance. It was only on the third day of labour that the baby came into the world lifeless. At the end of my second pregnancy I ended up with fistula because no-one helped me during birth. Continue reading

Mercy’s Spring Drive

Do you have any non-fiction paperbacks you don’t need anymore? Mercy House wants them!

They’re having a Spring Drive (as they say in the US..)

Mercy House Spring Collection Drive: Paperback non-fiction books!

We are collecting books to build a “library” at the maternity home. Besides Jesus, education is the key to our girls’ future success. Most of our girls are below level (some primary), and we want to instill in them a deep love for reading.

We are collecting non-fiction books (only paperback due to weight) on all things science, art, picture books, etc. to fill our homeschool library (Fiction like Laura Ingalls Wilder book is also acceptable).  Continue reading

What The Sunflower Effect Means To Me…

Sometimes we hear of tragic things happening and we want to help – but often we feel helpless and give up before we’ve even started. The problems of this world are huge – too much for one person to solve.

But they were never meant to be solved by one person. Continue reading