9+ Ways to Give Back This Christmas Season

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Yesterday I got the pre-emptive winter blues when I realized Christmas was only two weeks away, which means my favorite season is almost over.

I love the Christmas season for so many reasons: I love the music, the movies, the busy atmosphere, the holiday parties, studying the Advent – all of it! It’s easy to get bogged down with the commercialization of Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas, and sharing joy with those around us.

One big way to spread Christmas cheer is by getting outside yourself and giving back to charities! Today I’ve paired up with Tiffany from Endless Bliss while she does Blogmas, and we are teaming up to share several ways to give back during this Christmas season!

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Give Your Money

Send a Shoebox

Operation Christmas Child

My home church does Operation Christmas Child every year. I loved to pick out a child and an age and pack a shoe box full of goodies. It’s a fun, inexpensive way to give back some joy and good into the world!

Local ministries that support children and teens of low income families/inmates 

Check with your nearest food pantry, homeless rescue mission for a program like Angel Christmas Tree to bring joy to kids and teenagers in your city! My small group each pitched in a determined amount of money and went shopping to sponsor a kid in our local area. It was not only a fun night of shopping, but it also was a great opportunity to give back into our community!

Give a goat

Plan International

With Plan International, there are so many ways to give a family hope. You can support a family by buying a pair of goats for $110! There are several other options in the link above

Send kids to school for a year

International Rescue Committee

Support a young woman by sending her to school for a year. Education is a primary element to abdicate poverty in rural areas. When a young girl has provision to allow her to still go to school, she is less likely to become a child bride, and more likely to build a sustainable business for her family.

Mushayamunda Christian Development Foundation

MCDF is our family’s ministry in Zimbabwe that feeds orphans and widows. You can sign up to sponsor a child’s schooling fees for just a little over $100!

Support a Refugee Family

Hope for the Holidays

Can you imagine not living in your own country, your own home, not being able to work or understand the language? I have good friends in Louisville, KY who have become involved with a local refugee resettlement program. While I couldn’t find a holiday program specificially for this program in Louisville, KY, I did find a Hope for the Holidays program through the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. The deadline is December 13th (today!) so if you’re like for an activity tonight – it’s the perfect fit. 🙂

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Give Your Time

If money is tight this time of year, there are still several ways to give back to your community without spending money!

-Go Caroling at the local nursing home, jail, or in your neighborhood!

-Make homemade Christmas cards to send to widows and widowers in your community.

-Bake goodies and ding dong ditch your neighbors. Leave the food on the doorstep!

-Invite people into your home for a Christmas dinner.

For more ways to give back, check out Tiffany’s blog!

What are ways you can give back to your community this Christmas season?

8 Things I’m Looking Forward to this Season

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

The Nyquil fog has been heavy with us this week.

I don’t know if it was the 6 day weekend I had last week or the cold I’ve had since last Tuesday, but I feel like I cannot get myself together this week. The entire week has passed by in a blur, and I’m feeling a little blue as the things I set out to accomplish in November did. not. happen.

But I’m learning to be gracious with myself in realizing I can’t do it all, especially when I’m already stretched thin everywhere (except for my pants. Girlfriend needs some new pants.) I was looking forward to publishing the last installment of the Creating Space series on Wednesday, but since my last interview was with Mr. M himself, and we were both feeling under the weather, I just let it slide. So this week is just going to be a throw away week. We’ll start afresh on Monday.

Being December 1st, I’m v excited about the prospects of Christmas. And yet I was telling Mr. M it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. Last year I don’t feel like I got to truly celebrate Christmas, as we were in wedding mode until December 10th, and honeymoon mode until December 18th. So I only truly got 6 days of Christmas cheer in there. I’m told this is what adulthood is. The Christmas magic is gone until we’ve got little babes of our own.

And speaking of babies, we’re not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon. Although I’ve made it my seasonal joke of the year that the holidays make me want kids, but I want to give them back on January.

I am looking forward to December, though. And I have a few fun things planned for the blog this month, too.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

Things I’m Looking Forward to in the Blog World

Next week you can look forward to all marriage posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because it is anniversary week!

The following week I am collaborating with Tiffany from Endless Bliss, and I’m looking forward to that because she is doing #Blogmas this year. You go, Glenn Coco.

And really, we can all expect *mostly* Christmas related posts for the rest of the month. I also decided today on a whim that I was going to join Kate from A Thought & a Half’s Instagram challenge, because I love a good Insta challenge.

 

My very favorite blog I love to read this time of year is Brennan’s 25 Days of Ugly Christmas Apparel. I featured him on Hugs & Lattes several years ago, and I am psyched that he’s back for year 7.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

What I’m Looking Forward to in Real Life

I mentioned this in the previous section, but y’all – our first anniversary is upon us! I cannot believe Mr. M and I have been married for a year already. This has been the most joyful year of my life, and I can’t wait for many more. You guys know that we love to get away, but with the holidays and our work schedules, we are going to wait unitl January or February for our little anniversary getaway. Instead Mr. M has planned for us to spend some intentional time next weekend here at home. I’m excited to see what he has planned!

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

And like the extrovert I am, I planned a Christmas party for, of course, our anniversary weekend. Woops. We have approximately 1 billion tacky Christmas mugs leftover from the big day, so we are pulling together a few friends to give them away to while we stuff our faces with delicious holiday food.

Every year when the Advent rolls around, I love to center myself on what Christmas is truly about. Besides the joy of the festivities with family and friends – and the presents of course – Christmas is a time to celebrate and reflect on my faith and the coming of Jesus Christ. I love following along with She Reads Truth’s Advent series. I believe their plan starts on December 3rd on the app or online.

This year we are spending Christmas in both North Carolina and Tennessee, so I’m excited to hole ourselves in a cabin for a night, and then see my family for a night. We’re still figuring out what it looks like to spend Christmas with both of our very large extended families; and I know it will be a matter of compromise and grace as we navigate making our own traditions and still incorporating family into the holidays. Maybe in a couple years when we have it all together (haha) I’ll be more inclined to write about it.

Last month I wrote down something I was thankful for each day, as a way to intentionally celebrate Thanksgiving. I decided to continue the tradition with December. It’s a great reflective practice to look back at the end of each day and find a moment of joy and gratitude.

What are you looking forward to this month? 

 

Road Trip Survival Kit

Road TripSurvivalKit

ATTN: Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which means today is Road Trip Day!

When I was kid, all 8 of us piled up in our 8 seater Suburban and we were subject to weird smells, crampedness, and the occasional bickering that comes along with the territory *or should I say, lack  of territory. I’m looking at you, seat stealer.

As a “grown up,” our family has expanded. My sister brings her best friend to Thanksgiving, I bring Pai, and we have an adopted brother and now a grandma who lives in the South that travels up North with us! Talk about a caravan. I don’t think anyone can truly understand how grateful I am that we take 2 cars. This means that a) I actually have a little more leg room. You know us 5 footers need all the leg room we can get. and b) I get to drive some of the way. I normally hate driving, but for long road trips I would rather drive because it helps with car sickness and makes the time go by faster.

I’ve done my fair share of road trips, whether with the fam bam, youth groups, or even by myself, so I’d say I’m pretty qualified to present to you the perfect road trip survival kit to make the trip smoooooooth.

-The proper clothes. This means yoga pants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt that you can take on or off depending on who is controlling the AC/Heat flow, and slip on shoes. Do. Not. I repeat, Do. Not. Wear. Shoes. That. Lace. Especially if you’re sitting in the crucial spot where your seat has to fold for those subjected to the back row with full bladders have to wait for you to get out. Grab the TOMS, or some boots you can just slide into. If you’re eternally freezing because your toes never get good blood flow, then bring a pair of fuzzy socks for when you don’t want to wear your foot restraints (aka shoes.)

 

-The proper tunes and headphones. Sure, bring the Christmas and Broadway playlists but be prepared for your boyfriend and brothers to be in a horrible mood by the time Sleigh Ride comes on for the third time. This is where you break out the headphones. You can only bring the other humans with aggravated ears so far into exasperation before they break. Note: Pai can stand two hours of show tunes. This Thanksgiving we’ll see if he can make it to three.

 

-Mess-Free snacks. Load me up on a Gatorade and some Honey BBQ Fritos for road trips. Less mess, less sugar for the car sick lady.

 

-Pillows, blankets, Benedryl*. Get comfy and sleep the whole way. *I’m not a drug user.

 

-Your patience. Because you KNOW everybody’s going to get on your nerves at some point or another this hours upon hours trek.

 How far do you usually travel during the Holidays? What do you like to bring on roadtrips?

When that (Butterball) Hotine Bling

Butterball

This weekend I did the most adult thing I’ve ever done besides work full-time and pay rent. I roasted a turkey and hosted Friendsgiving.

I did so much research all last week leading up to Saturday that I was positive this was going to go without hitch.

And then I pulled the turkey out of the refrigerator at noon with the packaging still on. In all of my researching, I never noted that you’re supposed to thaw the turkey unpackaged. First of all – why? Secondly – ew. I opened the turkey package to find a still frozen turkey. Naturally, I called my mom. For the most part I kept my cool. But when she said I might have to buy a thawed turkey or an already cooked turkey I got off the phone and cried. Not the soft, silent tears. Oh no. The tears that stream down your face and say, “I let a week of stress pile up into one catastrophic moment.” Some say I’m dramatic.

Mom directed me to the butterball hotline. Ah yes, the hotline for all desperate people like me trying to do nice things for people. I imagine that the butterball hotline is a call center full of grey haired grandmas with gravelly voices and Southern accents they use to call people pet names.

I wonder how many turkeys you have to cook to answer the butterball hotline. . .

And I wonder how many people call the butterball hotline sobbing. . .

The lady that answered my call sounded more like a nasally Sarah Palin and she didn’t call me, “Honey,” which disappointed me, but she did tell me to run water through the turkey cavity, which I tried.

So there I was with a tear-streaked face, running water through a dead bird in my sink and the inability to shake the thought: “This used to be alive. This used to run around.”

This lasted about twenty minutes. I’m thankful water is included in my rent.

Halfway through the watering of the bird, my Grandad – the man who knows everything about cooking turkeys and makes two turkeys each Thanksgiving – called me and walked me through removing the giblets. I was really hoping Pai would be here for this. But he wasn’t. And even though I called him 18 times, he never answered.

I had to do this by myself.

I woke up Saturday morning a strong, independent woman, and I ended Saturday evening a stronger, more independent woman who stuck her hand up a turkey’s butt to pull out his organs.

Running the water through the bird must have softened it up, because four hours later, a cooked turkey was carved and served. My house was filled with 12 adults, 2 toddlers and an infant, lots of warmth, food, and love.

And then everyone left and Pai and I just laid on the floor, pooped.

Did you host a Friendsgiving this season? How did it go?!

My Grown Up Christmas List

Last night, Charis, (who is twelve) said, “It doesn’t feel at all like Christmas. I’m not as excited for it anymore.” Abigail told her, “I first felt that way when I was twelve, too.” I personally don’t remember when I first felt that way.

I try to keep a childlike wonder about Christmas. I want to stay really excited for Christmas – enjoy the spirit, the atmosphere of busyness, all the goodies to eat, and the never ending joy that should abound.

But when December 24 rolls around, I feel more let down. I find myself equating with Scrooge more and more. I don’t want to be a pessimist who hates Christmas. I want to enjoy being with my family; I want to enjoy giving presents; I want to enjoy singing Christmas songs and laughing.

But it’s hard to enjoy all that when sickness falls, or when you’re not used to being around children 24/7 anymore (somehow three years can undo all that you were used to for 18), or when your bank account doesn’t allow you to buy the presents for the people you want to give gifts to, or the kind of presents you want. It’s hard to sing and be excited for Christmas and what it all means when the only thing that plays on in the news is tragedy, economic downfall, and the divide of people within the nations.

I resonate with Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List” every year even more.

All the ugliness in the world is out of my control. All I can do is pray and put on a smile.

It would be nice to be six again. 

Amy Grant is my favorite Christmas music artist. Listening to her reminds me of driving up Smokey Mountain with my parents when I was five or six to go to a doctor’s house for a Christmas cookie party. My mom loves Amy Grant, so of course listening to her reminds me of my mom. So for the last installment of Christmas Carols, I’ve got “Grown Up Christmas List,” “Sleigh Ride,” (because it’s my fav) and “Tennessee Christmas” because, duh, I live in Tennessee.

Merry Christmas, friends. I hope you enjoy time with your family or friends, or family AND friends. May Christ’s blessing be upon you on this Holy Eve.

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