Friday, December 13, 2013

Fives on Friday- FIVE places to shop that give back

This Christmas season I have tried really hard to shop locally and to shop at non profits and organizations that give back to others.  Here are just FIVE of the many that are available.

1- Beautiful and beloved-
Every purchase you make will help empower a survivor of slavery. They have amazing necklaces, bracelets, scarfs, purses and other amazing pieces.  They also have men's wallets.  Each piece tells a story of someones life and what they are trying to do to overcome injustice in their lives.

2- Mercy Ink-
Each gift helps support adoption.  They create beautifully designed prints, and necklaces.  They have prints specifically designed for adoption as well.

3- Amazima Ministry-
OK, So I totally want to be Katie Davis when I grow up.  She runs a huge ministry in Uganda Africa. Her ministry employs Ugandan woman and feed hungry children.  They have beautiful paper bead necklaces.

4- Punjammies -
This is a great place to get awesome pajamas! The international Princess Program supports women who have been freed from sex trafficking and help them achieve lives of hope and dignity.

5- Sole Hope-
This is a pretty awesome place too!  You can buy T-shirts, shoes, and bags, but the really neat thing is that you can host a shoe cutting party.  Sole Hope cleans and heals the feet of those infected with jiggers in Africa by creating closed toed shoes. Shoes heal and protect feet from further infection.  Sole Hope also employs the men and women in Uganda and surrounding areas to actually sew the shoes together.  

 These are only FIVE of the thousands of organizations available. Research and find the perfect gifts for your loved ones this season.  This season purchase to change a life! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where did Christmas Go? And Why didn't I see it leave?

The kids and I just watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Its one of my favorite movies.  Jim Carrey does a great job being Grinchy.  He's mean, vile, stinky, and lacks the Christmas spirit completely.  I mean he eats glass and his dirty socks run away from him.  He steals presents, trees, and even the last can Who Hash.

  During this season we all can get  mean, vile and stinky.  Some of us can even lack Christmas spirit. I know that we each can have our own Grinch moments. Maybe we get a little annoyed waiting in the incredibly long line just to buy a shirt that we are sure they will return.  Maybe its trying to find a parking spot at the mall that does you in.  (I mean really, can anyone drive this time of year?)  Maybe its looking for the only thing your child asked for, only to find out the store is completely out.  Christmas can be hard.  Christmas can be crazy. Christmas can be grinchy.  But it's something else...There is something that lingers in some of our hearts.  Something that you can't put your finger on, or you just don't want to admit it.

There is another  little character in this story that has a big presence in our hearts.  A small Who, or What that needs to be talked about.
Cindy Lou Who...  Cindy Lou is the littlest Who. That's the Who that has all of the what's that makes all of us think...Where did Christmas go?

She doesn't get all of the stuff that we call Christmas.  The hustle bustle, maxing out credit cards, buying ridiculous gifts.  Feeling pressure to make ornaments, throw a party, bake cookies, make unquie wholesome family memories.

The pressure!  For some of us the pressure is just under the surface waiting to explode.  For others, we are still trying to figure out where to even start.  Thanks to Pinterest we are all completely inadequate.

Cindy Lou Who- Where are you Christmas

I find myself searching to find Christmas...
Where did it go?  What happened?  When did it disappear, and where was I when it left?  How could Christmas up and leave right under my nose?

Last year and the year before I remember it.  I participated.   I remember the presents and wrapping paper.  I remember decorating,  and mall searching.  I remember countless trips to Target searching for THAT toy.  I even remember a year when my husband was out on Christmas Eve looking for something, anything, that we could wrap and give as a gift.

I remember the panic of thinking we "forgot" someone on our list.  I remember stressing out about 'how many' gifts family  members had, and how we could make it even.  Searching through the piles of presents and making sure that everything was fair.

I remember the MORE.  I remember the WHAT.  I remember the HOW MUCH.  The EXCESSIVE.  

That's what Christmas is all about, Right?

The hustle, bustle, presents.   Crowded malls, long lines, sale items and maxed out credit cards.  Consumerism at it's finest.  

We want to live up to all of the imaginary expectations.  We want to participate.  After all, that's what we have always done, each year it gets bigger and bigger.  We try so hard to create a manger scene out of toilet paper rolls, or wrap a wreath in burlap, only to fail and add to the stress of the season.  

Y'all it's hard to see past the stuff and see the stable.  Its hard to FEEL the season and not just be a participant in it.  Christmas is not about a checklist of duties and gifts.  It is about THE gift.  The only gift that has ever mattered...EVER!

Take some time this season and just be like Cindy Lou Who.   Think of the WHY and the WHO.  Try to FEEL the season and FEEL the presence of Jesus.  He is there, He is always there.  Take time in the hustle and bustle to celebrate the true reason.  Celebrate the birth of our savior that was born for us and died for us.  Perfectly human and perfectly God.

Cindy Lou Who got it right in my opinion.  She sought after the "least of these".  She looked after the homeless, the hungry, the naked, sick,  and thirsty. (Matthew 25: 31-46).  She went after the one whose heart was two sizes to small.  The one that no one had hope for, I mean he didn't even receive Christmas cards.  

I pray that you can go after this season with a new attitude.  Not an attitude of more, but an attitude of less.  The least...

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)

Read about the true meaning of Christmas...
Matthew 1:18-2:1-12
Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-21

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Advent (better late than never)

For the past few years my family and I have celebrated the Christmas season with a countdown to Jesus birthday.  Each day of the countdown the boys open a bag.  In the bag is a bible verse for the day representing the birth of our Savior.  Each bag also has a random act of kindness, or a special treat, craft or family activity.  

I have made my own bags in the past and used paper bags. Never really pleased with the outcome.    This year I finally found affordable burlap bags at Micheal's!  I love them and they were $1.00 for two.

We hang the bags on the garland going up our stairs, that way we do not forget to open the bag for the day.

I printed and laminated the bible verses. I could not find my original list, but I did find another one you could use. 

Every year I add to our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  I try really hard to meet the needs of our local community.  I encourage you to look in your own community and and make an impact.  Call your church, the homeless shelter, the local hospital or nursing home.  Ask what needs your family can meet.  Remember that you do not have to give money.  Your time and your gifts are truly valuable as well. 

Below is the list that I add and change to every year.

Advent- Countdown to Christmas

-      Take a box of toys, puzzles, balls, crayons, coloring books to local Children’s hospital.
-      Place one dollar bills throughout the dollar store.
-      Drop off laundry detergent and dryer sheets at Laundromat.
-Bake cookies and goodies to give away to the fire dept.
-Bake cookies and goodies to give to neighbors.
-Buy toys for needy kids.
-Pick up buggy's from the parking lots.
-Go Christmas caroling.
-Make ornaments to give to local nursing home.
-Place post it notes with encouragement throughout Target.
-Offer to babysit for free.
-Give out gift cards to strangers.
-Drive through neighborhoods and look at Christmas lights with hot chocolate.
-Make star twig ornaments to give away
-Cook a meal for a friend, just because.
-Leave a note of encouragement on a car windshield.
-Tie balloons to random cars
-Collect canned goods from neighbors and donate to local food pantry.
-Pay for the next person in takeout line.
-Donate books to a preschool, school or library.
-Take gently used toys to preschool.
-Write cards to grandparents and mail them.
-Give sweet treats to our mailman, dry cleaners, garbage men.
-Collect old clothes and donate to shelter.
-Do something nice for a family member, siblings.
-Take a giant can of coffee to homeless shelter.
- Use sidewalk chalk and go to a friends house and draw pictures and write words of encouragement on their driveway.

Please comment below for other fun family ideas, I am always looking to add to my list.
Happy Advent!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

People with kids

An Ode to parents everywhere...You are not alone.

People with kids are tired.

People with kids have broken furniture.

We have to go to places like Monkey Joes, and Chucky Cheese.

People with kids have 'refrigirator art'.

We can give "the look".

We can count to three very well.

Our couch has been peed on.

If we get a candy bar, we have to share.

We receive gifts of weeds and dead bugs, and display them proudly.

We have piles of dirty laundry.

People with kids have sticky floors.

We can recite Disney Movies verbatim.

We eat our food in shifts, even when its cold.

People with kids never sleep alone.  We usually have a foot in our face.

We wipe snot on our jacket sleeves.

People with kids drive mini vans, and still think they are super cool. 

People with kids read the same books over and over again.

We say "Yay!, good job" when our child falls down.

Grown men wear princess hats and have tea parties.

Grown women cry over a scribbled, colored piece of paper.

People with kids...

I am a "People with kids".  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  The snot, crying, screaming, laughing, giggling little joys that God has blessed us with, are ours.  Only on loan from the Lord.  They make me better. I am constantly striving to be the mom they need me to be.

During this crazy season filled with artificial things, keep your eyes to the one who create you to be a "People with kids".  And remember that you are a child of God.  He is the ultimate Father, who sent His child to us, to save us...