Blessed to be a blessing: acts of kindness for Christmas

29 November 2012

Hello, friends! Something different for you today.

We worship online with Church of the Resurrection every Sunday in addition to attending our local church. Both pastors are fantastic, but I particularly felt moved by Adam Hamilton’s message this past Sunday. It was about very specific ways we can prepare for the season of Advent, and I would highly encourage you to listen to it when you have a spare half hour! Click here to do so.

Well, John and I felt even more moved to shine a light outwards this season after listening, and we’ve been discussing lots of ways we might do that ever since. I wanted to share one approach with you. I’ve been brainstorming and collecting ideas over the past few weeks for it (like from this awesome Pinterest star!), and now that I have my favorites, I’m excited to unleash them on my community! :)

I wanted to share them with you here, in the hopes that you, too, might be moved to shine your light outward this season. To treat others as better than yourself. To love others as HE does. To focus outward on the joy of giving and the things we are able to do for others, rather than inward on ourselves. We ARE blessed to be a blessing, and if we are open to the possibilities all around us for blessing others, I think we will find that we are blessed beyond measure. There is great JOY in giving!!

SO here they are! My favorite 25 ideas for showing love and kindness to the people around me this Christmas. There seem to be a lot of resources floating around for those with kids (I think Courtney’s are particularly great!), but since it’s just John and I, and I don’t think a lot of y’all have children, I wanted to focus on acts that might be better suited to those in this stage of life!

1. Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive-through of your choice
2. Leave a present in the mailbox for your mail carrier (John wanted me to clarify that it should be left near or on top of the mailbox instead of inside it, and should be clearly marked, so as to avoid mail tampering concerns…)
3. Bake and deliver goodies to someone who would appreciate the pick me up (suggestions: firemen, police officers, garbarge collectors, apartment complex office workers, those guys at the oil change place who are really nice). Doesn’t have to be fancy – boxed brownies with added chocolate chips are delicious!!
4. Donate food to a food pantry (our church collects and delivers food every week, so we’ll be taking extra this month!)
5. Keep a stash of candy canes with notes tied on in your purse, and hand them out to anyone you see who might need a little treat — cashiers, deli workers, taxi drivers…
6. Leave quarters and a note at a laundromat
7. Leave a note and the correct amount of change on a vending machine
8. Ask the librarians if you can pay someone else’s past due fee.
9. Feed parking meters (unclear whether this is technically illegal or not…)
10. Buy a gift card for groceries then turn around and hand it to the next person in line
11. Leave an extra big tip at a restaurant
12. Pick up the bill for someone else at a restaurant
13. Keep a stash of granola bars and water bottles in your car and hand them out to the homeless at stop lights.
14. Leave an encouraging message in sidewalk chalk on a neighbor’s driveway*
15. Figure out something tiny, nice, and unexpected to do for your coworkers
16. Bake something for your significant other to share with his/her coworkers
17. Buy a toy for Toys for Tots or a similar program
18. Leave a comment on every blog you frequent this month. Trust me, it will make their day, especially the smaller ones :) *
19. If you live in a cold climate, scrape ice off your neighbor’s windshield in the morning*
20. Clean out your closet and donate gently-used items to appropriate organizations*
21. Collect all of the travel-size toiletries you have lying around and deliver them to a homeless/battered women’s shelter. I hear the travel-size is perfect because the people they serve are often on the move. Call to check before you go.*
22. Bring Christmas flowers (like a poinsettia!) to a nursing home and ask the front desk staff which resident would most appreciate them. Call to check before you go.
23. Volunteer to babysit for a particularly sleep-deprived friend or relative*
24. Do a chore for someone else in your household*
25. Bring a meal to a new family or someone you know who could use an extra lift.
(And a bonus) 26. Be open to the needs and opportunities that present themselves to you. Choose to leave room in your schedule and budget to seize those opportunities, and, if you’re kind of timid like me, pray for the courage to do so! :)

The asterisks mark free activities! Many more I’ve listed are super cheap. This is not about busting the budget, it’s about showing radical love to others. (Though I DO support the idea of consciously making the decision to spend extra on things like this as opposed to fulfilling another want of our own!)

I am excited to get to giving, and will surely report back closer to Christmas! If you would like to join me, I think that would be just marvelous!! Maybe I’ll even share some of your photos (if you take them?) in my wrap-up post. Feel free to email them to me or post them to the EFM Facebook page if you feel so inclined!

Be blessed this season, friends!

Felt mistletoe

28 November 2012

Friends, I kid you not, I have considered buying felt mistletoe for the past three years. Will 2012 be the year this cheery stuff makes it across my doorstep? Only time will tell. In the meantime, here’s my round-up of current options for you (and me).

Clockwise from top left: Sugarboo Farms — 6.5″ long ($14) | Wisteria set of three — approximately 6-7″ long ($19) | Pod — 6″ long ($15) | Gardener’s Supply — 9″ long ($10)

Warning: This stuff sells out fast every year. You heard it here first!

Christmas cupcake flags in the shop!

27 November 2012

My hand-lettered cupcake flags are always completely customizable, but sometimes I like to whip up something special to show the possibilities. I just listed two sets especially for Christmas, and thought you might like to see!

The first is oh so classic in red and green.

The second is colorful and fun in blue, turquoise, pink, and red orange!

All sets (plus holiday stripe drink stirrers!) are available in my shop!

Now for the hilarious part. My little helper was patiently watching from the sidelines while I photographed these goodies. After about a half an hour, though, she just couldn’t stand it anymore! She spent the rest of the photo session on the other side of the guest room door, grumpy.

Aaaaand I’ll just take this one, thankyouverymuch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

20 November 2012

Yep, a little bit early! (Some of) my family is arriving tonight, so I’ll be signed off for the rest of the week to enjoy their company. We’re having the traditional Thanksgiving menu on Thursday, then getting together with extended family on Friday. What do y’all have planned?

via Martha Stewart and Bon Appetit

On the menu for Thursday:
— Hot corn dip and deviled eggs
— Turkey and gravy (we forgo making an actual turkey and just buy a breast or two from the store! :)
— Stovetop stuffing (I’m sorry, but I have never tasted homemade stuffing that I liked better than Stovetop. Equally good, yes. Better, not that I can remember.)
— Real mashed potatoes
— Fresh green beans (just sauteed on the stovetop with a little red pepper and olive oil)
— Rosemary and sea salt rolls
— Two types of homemade cranberry sauce (John’s contribution)
— Pumpkin pie and apple pie (with cheddar cheese slices!) from our favorite local bakery
— Chocolate chunk pecan cookies (because my Mom doesn’t like pie — weird, I know!!)

Some people down here consider macaroni and cheese a traditional part of Thanksgiving dinner. (I love mac and cheese, but that will never seem normal to me!) Does your family include anything “unusual”?

Safe travels to all, whether you’re going down the stairs or across the country! I am very thankful for all of you!