24 Ways to “Give This Christmas Away”

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In the words of Jesus “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)  and nothing could be more true when it comes to giving at Christmas time.  The novelty of receiving gifts quickly wanes, while the blessing that comes from giving is much more fulfilling for our souls. 

I recently picked up a book called “101 simple and thoughtful ways to Give This Christmas Away” by Matthew West.  Here are some highlights from the book, if you want more, you will have to check it out!

1. Take a second look at that old shoe box (for Operation Christmas Child)
9. Be an angel of the night (shovel snow for someone else at night)
12. Set an extra plate at the dinner table
13. Help those who help others
18. Give the shirt off your back (or jacket)
24. It’s payback time (pay back an outstanding debt you have with someone)
32. Pass the buck (hide money in public places for strangers)
33. Volunteer at a homeless shelter after Christmas (not just around the holidays)
35. Collect a cart (return stray grocery carts or help someone with theirs)
43. Invite a friend to church
44. Leave a message (sing a Christmas song on someone’s voicemail)
50. Have an advent-ure (do things each day of advent)
51. Cross the big one off your list (remove the most expensive thing off of your own wish list)
52. Bake an extra dozen
60. Lose your cool (don’t worry about being cool)
64. Give what they want, not what you want for them
73. Give a goat
81. Give your teenagers the opportunity to shine
84. Surprise the angels (check out the Angel Tree program)
88. Read the name tag
89. Park in the back (leave good parking spaces for others)
100. Give them a glimpse of Jesus
101. Fill in the blank

And what is my “fill in the blank”? 

#102 Host an orphan

Giving your Christmas away is a big thing, you literally may have to give many things up in order to invite an orphan into your home.  You may have to give up some of your savings; your children may have to be willing to give up some of their gifts; you may have to give up some holiday traditions because they may overstimulate or trigger a fragile and traumatized child; you may have to give up a guest room; you may have to give up sleep; you may have to give up the comfort of your typical holiday routine. 

Christmas 2010

But, let me tell you, the blessing you receive in return is so much greater than what you may have to give up. If you have hosted before, share in the comments how you have been blessed by giving your Christmas (or summer) to an orphan.

It’s not too late to give your Christmas away!  New Horizons for Children is signing up host families for this December until Monday November 3rd at midnight (EST).   Visit the Facebook page to see photos and stories of real children who are waiting for someone to give the gifts of Christmas, family, love, and Jesus to them.

Then he said to them,
“Anyone who welcomes a little child
like this on my behalf welcomes me,
and anyone who welcomes me
also welcomes my Father who sent me.
Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

Luke 9:48 (NLT)

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Christmas Is…

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…coming! 

I feel like I have never been so prepared or looking forward to Christmas as I am this year.  When we hosted Sasha I was so looking forward to Christmas, but definitely not feeling prepared at all! 

Early in October, I was ready to listen to the carols, watch my favorite holiday movies, and start decorating.  I doubt it was the commercialism that got me in the mood, I think it as more that I have been thinking about the Christmas hosting program since August ended. 

To me, Christmas is about family and celebrating Christ’s birth with the ones you love.  It’s about love, family, and Jesus. 

And that is exactly what our orphans need… love, family, and Jesus.  So many people are already in the holiday spirit… the giving, the love, the generosity, the thoughtfulness.  I just can’t think of a better time to invite an orphan into your home.  To include them in the memory-making and the celebrating.  The children we serve have never had holidays like we celebrate them here. 

I just imagine my memories of sitting around the fireplace, opening presents, sharing laughs, waiting for Santa, reading the Christmas story with my family.  Do you think any of that can be replicated in an orphanage of 200 children?  Where there is 1 caregiver for every 10 children and no individual attention?  Where everything is sterile and not warm at all?  Where all are treated equally and therefore all get the same generic gifts?  That’s a Christmas far from the one I would desire as a child.

There are only 4 days left for 32 more host families to be found for orphans this Christmas.  Please, if you can give some love, family time, and Jesus to a child in need this holiday, please don’t hesitate!  Contact me or visit the NHFC website today!

http://www.newhorizonsforchildren.org/orphan-hosting/view-available-kids-here/

Christmas Orphan Hosting–And a Blast from the Past

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One little storyline from a tv show I watched during my junior high years planted seeds of the orphan hosting concept in my heart 15 years ago.  Can you just imagine how much this old Boy Meets World episode means to me now when I look back at it?  It’s amazing how the littlest things from your past add up to big things in your future.

 

 

–Eric, nobody expects you to take care of all the needy children.
–Then why were they sent to me?

 

Do you think I can have parents for Christmas?

 

Why would you send me that little boy?
Why doesn’t that nice little boy have parents?
Why doesn’t that nice little boy have parents? 
Why did you send me that little kid?

 

I will take care of this.
I can be responsible for the happiness of one little boy.

 

You see, Tommy here doesn’t have a family,
so I thought it would be nice if he could spend Christmas with us.

 

Eric said we can hang out on weekends.
–Yeah it will be like he’s got a big brother… I figured it was something I could do.
 

 

It’s not too late for you to make the difference in the life of a needy child this Christmas!  New Horizons for Children is still looking for Christmas host families.  Deadlines to host Eastern European children begin just 1 week from now!  You can sign up here to take a peek at some of the awesome “Tommys”  out there who just want a family for Christmas.

 

NHFC - Christmas is Coming

“It’s A Meaningful Life”

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It’s that time of year again.  Every time you turn on the TV, there’s another Christmas special, move, or classic playing.  “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of those heartwarming classics that’s been around for over 50 years, inspiring generations. The less popular, but equally as heartwarming Veggie Tales re-creation “It’s a Meaningful Life” puts this story into perspective for both children and believers.

In the Veggie Tales version, the main character Stewart (think Jimmy Stewart Winking smile ) lost his dreams of fame and riches after missing a winning catch in a football game.  That dream was realized by another one of his vegetable teammates, while Stewart stays and lives a seemingly mundane life in their little town with a simple job, wife, and 3 kids.  When his now rich and famous teammate returns to town 15 years later, Stewart begins to reflect back on all he thinks he had lost from that one game. 

Right before Christmas, a mysterious train called the What-If Express takes Stewart on a journey to see what his life would have been like had he caught that game-winning ball. He gets a glimpse into what his rich and yet unfulfilling life would have been like.  He sees that he never married his love or had their 2 sons.  He asks about his daughter, who he knew would be alive since she was adopted.  The train conductor takes Stewart to her orphanage window where she sits alone and still without a family.  Stewart cries and finally insists that his dream life is not better than the life he had with his family.  Compassionately, the train conductor reminds Stewart that God loves Stewart and has directed every step he has ever taken.  Although it seemed mundane, God has great meaning in all his life and has a plan for it all, even when he can’t see it. 

This movie reminds me to 2 great purposes God has – For me, us as believers, host & adoptive  families especially; and for the orphan. 

My life, our lives, may seem simple and insignificant in the grand scheme of the world. But God’s plan is so much greater!  He has ordained every step of our lives, no matter where we find ourselves or how mundane it may seem.  

And in this portrayal, I see so many orphans.  Who, without the love, commitment, and obedience of families, could still be living in that land of “what if”.  They could be alone this Christmas, in an orphanage or foster home.  Instead, God has ordained a special family to host them for this Christmas season or even to adopt them at home forever.  A beautiful portrayal of God’s grace and mercy. Despite their difficult pasts, God can deliver them into the hands of a loving family, resounding their significance in His Kingdom. 

I must conclude with one of my absolute favorite songs, made just for this Veggie Tales movie.  No matter who you are or where you find yourself… you were meant to be!

 

And Steven Curtis Chapman’s story behind the song… about his connection to Stewart as an adoptive dad.

Guest Post–What Christmas Means to Me

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Today, I have my very first guest post!  This post is from Katie, one of my fellow NHFC volunteers.  This post she wrote a few weeks ago was very insightful and inspiring.  I have thought of Christmas in a whole new way since reading it.  Enjoy!

Everyone who knows me tends to associate me with Christmas. I get random texts that usually go something like this… “I saw a blow up snowman at Lowes today and thought of you.” Or “I found Christmas cookie cutters at a yard sale and thought of you.” Or “You’d be so proud of me. I bought a Christmas present for someone, and it’s still only August.” It’s common knowledge that I adore Christmas and celebrate it year round. My iPhone has a Christmas countdown app on the main screen, so I will ALWAYS know how many days are left (crucial information). I listen to my Christmas music from January to December. I watch The Nativity Story in August. I sing “Oh Christmas Tree” in the shower. I leave several pieces of Christmas decor up in my house year round, simply because I can’t bear to put it away. My family believes I may have issues… I believe they may be right. But it’s ok… I’ve made my peace with it and embrace who I am :-)

The question is WHY do I love it so much? Most people get exhausted just thinking about Christmas and all the stress it brings (the shopping, the social schedule, the twisted lights, the excessive commercialism, and all sorts of other things that stress people out during the season). They wonder how a celebration of Joy, Hope, and Peace so quickly turns into stress, heartburn, and depression.

Christmas evokes powerful emotion from me for reasons that may come as an interesting surprise to some. When the enemy convinced Adam and Eve to turn away from God in the Garden of Eden, perfection shattered, and we were separated from God. The enemy danced in victory and caused all manner of carnage and destruction on earth and in the lives of all the people that God created and loves. But just at the right moment in time, Jesus came into the world in the most unlikely and shocking way to bring man back to God and bridge the gap. The element of surprise. A swift and decisive “checkmate” out of nowhere. A landed invasion. Nobody expected it. Certainly not the enemy. Christmas is a celebration of that amazing piece of history that shifted the course of humanity and offered hope where there was none before.

Decisive surprise victories draw visceral responses from us. When James Bond looks as though he has lost and suddenly delivers a surprise blow out of nowhere and walks off calmly into the distance as the enemy is seen stunned and plummeting to his doom, we fist pump the sky from our theater seats. When a chess player appears to have lost but suddenly moves a key piece into a decisive checkmate and cracks a slight smile knowing what he was doing all along, we get thrilled. When a football team calls a “Statue Of Liberty” trick play and wins the game to the shock of their opponent and the entire stadium of fans, we throw our bowl of chips in the air and excessively celebrate in our living rooms (Shout out to Boise State fans). When Frodo finally destroys the one ring and Sauron’s freaky eyeball goes wide with shock and utter surprise as his tower crumbles and topples in defeat, we rejoice. When a poker player lays down a surprise royal flush and laughs as a Mount Everest sized pile of chips moves from the opponent to him, we laugh along with him. These are all things that evoke wild delight, cheering, and hysteria out of us. They are things that make us leap out of our chair and scream “YESSS!!!!!!” (Or if you’re a calm, rational individual very unlike myself, you remain in your chair and clap in a dignified poised manner).

THAT is what Christmas means to me. And just as we throw our Superbowl parties, celebrate victories, and gleefully call up all our friends the moment a new Bond movie comes out, Christmas is a massive celebration to me. Sure, snowmen and reindeer have nothing to do with Jesus birth, but hey…. showering confetti and giant foam #1 gloves have nothing to do with the game of football either. It’s just all part of the ecstatic celebration. I do it in fun and as part of the joy of the victory and the ramifications of that victory.

I listen to The Nativity Story soundtrack a lot while I’m working in my home office, and by the time I get to “Is There A Place for Us” (otherwise known as Ring Christmas Bells. Track 17 if you care), as Jesus is just about to enter the world and change EVERYTHING, I’m usually up out of my office chair looking something like this…

REVERSE THE CURSE, BABY!!!!!

That’s what Christmas means to me. “The Lord your God… turned the curse into a blessing for you, because THE LORD YOUR GOD LOVES YOU!!” -Deut. 23:5

He wrote Himself into our story and became human and reversed the curse on humanity and gave us hope and life! The ultimate hero!

So what am I going to do to celebrate this Christmas?? Well, I’m going to host an orphan through New Horizons for Children and celebrate my absolutely favorite holiday by giving hope and joy to a child who has lived far too long without it. I am going to share the JOY and give it out freely instead of confining it within myself. I’m going to bring clothes, food, and HOPE to those in my local community who have none. You can tell me I’m overboard and to calm down, but you can’t stop the wellspring of victory celebration from spilling out of my heart and my smile. You can’t wipe the smile off the face of a fan whose team just won the Superbowl… and you can’t wipe the joy off my face either.

This Christmas, I encourage you to find what God created you to do and go do it with JOY in celebration and revelry that we are NO LONGER without hope! Perhaps you can join me in opening your home to an orphan and shower them with the true meaning of Christmas. Most of them have never even heard of this extraordinary love the Father has lavished on us!

70 days till Christmas…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…

If you would like to read more from Katie, you can visit her blog here – http://summer4anastasia.wordpress.com/

Hosting Reflection #26–Living Out the Meaning of Christmas

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Christmas. What is it all about? It’s that time of year when we celebrate Christ’s birth.  We share our thankfulness that God gave him to us as the ultimate gift, so that we could find peace with God. Jesus willingly came to earth as a King in disguise, without the honor, dignity, respect, accolades that he was due… all for us.

And what does Christmas look like for us?  We receive gifts from family and friends, and give them in return.  Observe annual traditions of decorating, celebrating, and feasting.  We go to church and thank God for giving Jesus to us.

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of all of this. Of course, I am no where near His awesome omniscience, omnipotence, majesty, mercy, grace, and love… but I still wonder about it.  What does He think when He sees what we have made of Christmas?  I am sure He is glad we recognize and celebrate Christ’s birth. I imagine that He likes to see our time together with our loved ones. “He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23b) But does He ever yearn for us to do a little more?

Christmas is about Christ’s humility, ultimate sacrifice, and unending love.  What can we learn from that and bring into our Christmas celebrations?  What could we do to reflect that in our lives? What if we made Christ and His desires the center of our holiday traditions?

There are so many things that could become new family traditions that redirect the focus of Christmas back to Christ… Invite a needy family to your Christmas dinner, have your children buy gifts for a toy drive instead of for each other, lead your Bible study in volunteering at a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve, rather than spending money on family gifts put the money towards a family missions trip, invite the widow in your neighborhood to spend Christmas morning with your family, and of course the one nearest to my heart, share your Christmas with an orphan who is hungry for the love of a family and the love of God.

What a way to change the perspective of your Christmas, by welcoming a child into your home all in the name of Christ’s love.  It may mean giving up some of your traditions, some of your usual pleasures, some of your comfort… but that is exactly what Christ did for us. 

Can you just imagine God’s great delight to see you and your family honoring Him by giving your Christmas away out of love for an orphan?

Let me tell you, it is such a joy to know that your willingness to share your Christmas with a child who probably never imagined spending a holiday with a family.  Every moment is a gift.  Every time you look at them, it is a reminder of God’s goodness. Every bit of love you share is a reminder of how much Jesus loves us. And every bit of love you receive back from them is just a little taste of the immense joy God must feel when He knows we love Him!

There are only 2 weeks left for this year’s group of NHFC orphans to be chosen by Christmas host families. Only 14 days!  Please ask God what he would have you do this year to live out the true meaning of Christmas.

– View Waiting Children Here –


Give Christmas Away

Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

 
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (MSG)

Adoption Fundraiser–Use Your Gift Cards for Good

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GiftcardHeartJPG

Can you believe it? Christmas has already come & gone! I hope you and your kids have gotten everything you asked Santa for! 

It seems like one of the most popular gifts is gift cards.  Did you know that…?

Somewhere between 6% to 10% of all gift cards go unused. (Source)

Don’t let your gift cards go to something you don’t really need or go unused this year!

PlasticJungle.comYou can donate your unwanted gift cards to our adoption fun!

By using Plastic Jungle, your gift cards for hundreds of nationwide retailers can be traded in for cash!

Message me if you have any gift cards to donate, with the amount and name of retailer, and I will let you know what to do to get it donated to our adoption.

Thank you for using your gift cards for good!

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