Holiday Spirit & Giving Ideas

Wow!! The Holidays are upon us and it is a wonderful time of spreading cheer, goodwill and heartfelt gifts.

I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas, a couple great stories, gift giving ideas and more. Enjoy! Enjoy the season of giving. It’s all good.

christmas-gifts-christmas-gift-decorations-christmas-gift-ideas-2014-christmas-gift-ideas-pinterest-christmas-gift-ideas-to-make-christmas-gift-ideas-for-mom-christmas-gift-ideas-for-gir“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”  -Pierre Corneille

GREAT GIFT IDEAS:

‘Twelve Days’ or in this case ‘Twelve Dates’: Every year I try to do a ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ for my parents and my husbands parents. Each year I try to come up with little things they could do each day or every other. I include stories, links, recipes, activities, etc. This year I did ‘Twelve days of Picnics” because life should be a picnic!! Right?  Each ‘picnic’ was a date night of asking each other questions, recipes for a meal together, a gift or activity. Little things to bring two people together. I think when you can make a gift for someone it tells them that you care & took the time.

A Good Read: One of my favorite books this year was Squire Rushnell’s ‘When God Winks at You.’ It is a compilation of stories that illustrate how God speaks directly to us through the power of coincidence. It is a great read. I am going to put one of the stories down below, so don’t miss it.

A way to calm: My daughter has found out how powerful the art of coloring can be. This would be a good gift for anyone, but especially students or people who work in high stress situations. Coloring seems to calm the mind. My daughter started coloring before taking a test & has noticed how well it calms her mind and prepares her to focus. There are many types of adult coloring books, so it is NOT just a kid gift. Get coloring.

Something personal: I think you can put meaning to anything. I bought a bunch of tiny, silver pine cone charms & added them to some ribbon & put a quote that says ” Since the Pine Tree remains green all year, it is a symbol of Eternal Friendship.” I made it to be a book mark for a couple of my friends who like to read.  Write a love note to someone you care about or make a special card that you leave on your loved ones pillow each morning or night for twelve days before Christmas. You could also do something similar for your kids & leave one in their stocking each day & they can read them before bed. You could also make a little photo book of highlights from the year & give them to family or friends. There are so many ideas you can get personal with. Just put some heart into your ideas & the love will shine through.

You can also ‘search’ my blog & find other Christmas traditions and holiday ideas. I have posted MANY over the years. Hope there are some ideas that get you excited. Yay!

 

045c0bf22bcff82025d1dc18d9cda104MAKE IT FUN! Every year I try and get the little cousins together & gift them with a fun party for the holiday season. This year I am hosting a ‘Grinch Party’. I am having all the kids come dressed like Whoville characters (crazy hair, crazy hats, stripes, etc) & bring a crazy gift for a fun exchange. I am going to gather them in a circle & make them sing the silly Whoville song while passing gifts. It will be funny!! We are going to play some fun games & watch the movie. It should be super fun!!

I couldn’t help add this cute chalk idea. Get creative. Make a fun family card. Make a special gingerbread house. This year we bought a gingerbread trailer to decorate because my husband is living in a trailer for a few months while he is away. Make your own ornaments, build ice castles with balloons. Check out this link http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-ice-sculpture-for-kids-of-all-ages/

Make things fun & memorable.

 

pond-town-christmas-lights_f3d882cd-5056-a36a-0ba8bf7ba2cedcb8MAKE MEMORIES: My husband is still living in another state and we only get to see him once a month, so our time is very cherished. He just came home for a few days & we knew we needed to pack in some holiday cheer, so late one night (around 9pm) we jumped in the car & drove 40 minutes to one of our favorite places to see holiday lights. It is a pond that lights up about 30+ floating, light trees that mirror & reflect such beauty. We all held hands & walked around the pond. Cherished memories are priceless. Even though it was late we were sure happy we went.

 

Solutions--1020x200--More-Ways-to-Give_1GIVE: Every year my daughter and I love fixing up ‘groovy girl’ dolls that are in great shape & may just be missing a dress, skirt or scarf. We find them at thrift stores, add some holiday flare, add a note of Christmas cheer & send them to a holiday toy drive. My daughter literally knits scarfs, skirts, dresses, hats, etc for the dolls & they turn out so cute. Use your talents to do something for someone else this holiday.  Here is my other post on good places to make items to give, service ideas’ etc. https://yourhappyplaceblog.com/2015/11/10/give-because-we-have-been-given-much/

 

how-to-revive-your-lovelifeLIFE IS TOO SHORT: Enjoy each day. My husband had an employee come in for work and never leave. She had been employed there for ten years, so she had some great friends. She went in to work & had a brain aneurysm that took her from this life. It can happen that quickly, so cherish each day, kiss those you love, and offer kindness to all those you meet. Make each day count. You never know. This holiday season embrace the chance to be with those you care about.

 

A COUPLE GREAT STORIES to share with your family this holiday season: taken from Squire Rushnell’s book (noted above) Here is a story to help us remember that we are always surrounded by a divine LOVE.

450872979When God Winks at You is the story of Ken Gaub. Ken was going through a period of uncertainty with his ministry. In the 1980’s is family did an entertainment ministry that they would take to churches, schools, and the back roads of America traveling fifty-thousand miles a year. On one trip, a couple of his sons were driving. They kept in touch between the cars with a CB radio. One son told the other to stop at an exit. While his family went to a diner, Ken decided to take a walk. He walked by a gas station and an empty phone booth. The phone began to ring. Ken stopped and looked around, but the phone kept ringing. He thought it might be for the attendant or an emergency. Because he thought it may be an emergency, he picked up the phone. An operator on the line said it was a person to person call for him, Ken Gaub! He thought it was a joke, but continued. The operator repeated that the call was for him. Ken went ahead with the call. On the other end of the phone was a woman named Millie who had seen him on The 700 Club. She remembered his name and wrote it in the suicide note she was writing. When Ken asked her how she got the number, she said it just came to mind while she was writing her suicide note. Ken explained where he was, but then explained how God was watching over her, that her worries were temporary, and God was the only answer and she would find peace thru Jesus. After a few years, Ken met Millie face to face performing on the road. Today, Ken is still on the road.

*****

il_fullxfull.1092511228_su6kANGELS IN THE BARN by Joan Wester Anderson (She has many wonderful Angel stories that are in numerous books by her)

The after-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother and her two small sons attempted a drive. But Chris’ grandmother lived alone more than 100 miles away and couldn’t get out to the store to buy groceries. “We’ll be fine,” Chris assured her mother. “We’ll take that shortcut that we use all summer.”

However, Chris had forgotten how narrow the short-cut road was, especially with drifts piled high and wind blowing snow across the fields. When another vehicle roared around a curve. Chris swerved and skidded into a snow bank. The other car kept going.

The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out. “Mommy, are we stuck?” toddler Philip asked from under his blanket in the back seat.

“Looks that way, honey,” Chris admitted. They had only seen that one car since they’d turned onto the shortcut. How long would it be before someone came along? How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car’s interior? And why, oh why, had she worn stylish open shoes instead of warm boots?

Chris got out, her almost-bare feet plunging into a high drift, and looked around. Lord please send us some help, she prayed. Then she saw it—a silo and barn roof about a quarter-mile away. “Mom,” Chris leaned in the car, “I’ll walk down to that barn and see if anyone’s there. Keep the kids warm.” Her mother nodded, her face worried.

The journey was incredibly cold and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy. A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls. It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air. Although she had passed it during previous times on the short cut, she had never really taken a good look. Now, she realized with joy, there were young male voices coming from behind a stall.

Maneuvering around the livestock, Chris followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other as they pitched hay. They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and quickly she explained the situation.

“Stay here!” one said, tramping past the cows, grabbing his jacket and going out the door. A moment later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn. There he was, driving a blue pickup truck. “Get in!” he shouted.

Chris hesitated. She didn’t know these men, and her family, down the road, was vulnerable. Yet, there was something so merry about the men that she couldn’t feel afraid. She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup and bounced down the road. There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving. The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeched into position behind it. “Way to go!” his buddy yelled.

Chris gripped the seat. “Do you always drive like this?” she asked, only half-joking.

The driver shrugged. “Well, it ain’t our truck.”

Within minutes the men had freed Chris’ car, and she opened her purse to reward them. But both backed away. “It was our pleasure, Ma’am. Just drive safely.”

Not like you, Chris grinned as she pulled away. But their happiness was infectious, and they were wonderful guys.

Chris didn’t realize just how wonderful until several weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother. Since the snow was almost gone by then, the shortcut was safer. “When we get to the barn, I’d like to stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma’s that day,” Chris told her mother. But when they pulled up in front to where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes.

The barn was vacant, shabby, with paint peeling and door hinges hanging loose. Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside. Where were the heifers, the floor littered with fresh manure? Even the fan was rusty.

“You couldn’t have seen any farmhands or cattle there,” the woman at the next house told Chris. “No one’s worked that property for years.”

Chris got in the car. “Am I crazy, Mom?” she asked, bewildered.

“No.” Her mother was firm. “This is definitely the place.”

Then how….?  Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas, she was filled with awe. Her angels had worn blue jeans and flannel shirts instead of white robes. But they had delivered the same timeless message to her and to anyone willing to listen. Fear not! The Savior is here! Alleluia!

See more of Joan’s stories at http://joanwanderson.com

Have a beautiful holiday season. Best wishes sent to you & your family.  -H

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GREAT STORIES about finding fortunes

616x510$4 PICTURE holds $2.4 MILLION DECLARATION

A collector who spent $4 at a Pennsylvania flea market two years ago for a dismal painting because he liked the frame now finds himself the possessor of a first printing of the Declaration of Independence.

The discovery was announced yesterday by David N. Redden, head of the book and manuscript department at Sotheby’s in Manhattan. Mr. Redden described the document, found behind the painting when the collector took the frame apart, as an “unspeakably fresh copy” of the declaration. “The fact that it has been in the backing of the frame preserved it,” he said. Of the 24 copies known to survive, only 3 are in private hands, he added.

Mr. Redden said the unidentified owner bought the painting, “a dismal dark country scene with a signature he could not make out,” for its gilded and ornately carved frame. He told Mr. Redden that he discarded the painting, which he disliked. When he realized the frame was crudely made and unsalvageable, he said he got rid of it also.

“But he kept the declaration, which he had found behind the painting,” Mr. Redden said. “It was folded up, about the size of a business envelope. He thought it might be an early 19th-century printing and worth keeping as a curiosity.”

Recently the owner showed it to a friend “who became quite enthusiastic and urged him to look into it further,” said Selby Kiffer, an Americana printing specialist at Sotheby’s “At that point he called us.”

“The discovery of any first-printing copy of the declaration, even a fragmentary one or a poor copy, would be exciting,” Mr. Kiffer said. “But on this one, the condition is beyond reproach. It was folded up when we first saw it — the way the owner said it was in the painting, less than one-tenth of an inch thick. I had to agree with him it was just as well that he kept it that way.

“There has been absolutely no restoration, no repair. It was unframed and unbacked.” Only 7 of the 24 copies are unbacked, he said, which increases their value.  -taken from nytimes, 1991 article

I just saw this story on Mysteries at the Museum & they mentioned that the print went for $2.4 Million (highest auction item ever)

 

horton1ART ANYONE?

If you’re not an art connoisseur, it looks a lot like a bunch of squiggly lines on a page. But to an expert, it’s a stunning find – an original Jackson Pollock, an American painter and an artist considered a master of abstract expressionism.

How this painting came to be on display and up for sale in a local Toronto gallery is the stuff of legend. You may remember the unbelievable story surrounding a woman named Teri Horton, a retired truck driver who loved to frequent thrift shops around North America. When she entered one of them in California in the 1990s, she spotted a picture lying unused in a corner, a piece of artwork that no one seemed to want.

She hated it but thought it was funny. And she was going to buy it for her depressed friend. And she brought it to the counter and the lady said it was $8 and Teri said she’s willing to pay $5, she doesn’t love her friend that much. They were planning on drinking some beers and throwing darts at it. But a friend of hers was dating an art teacher and he looked at it and said ‘you very well may have a Jackson Pollock on your hands.’

And she came back with the statement ‘Who the F is Jackson Pollock?’ And it all began from there. That statement became the name of a 2006 documentary featuring her story, including her struggles to prove her five buck painting was really the masterpiece many claimed it was. It was finally authenticated and now there’s no doubt about its value.The painting has since been assessed as being worth a stunning $50 million, surely the greatest flea market bargain in history.   -taken from Oddee.com

 

magnolias-on-gold-velvet-cloth-1890One day, an employee at a tool-and-die company in Indiana spent $30 for a few pieces of used furniture and an old painting of some flowers and decided to strategically hang the picture to cover up a hole in the wall that had been bugging him.

Some years later he was playing a board game called Masterpiece in which players attempt to outbid one another for artwork at an auction. Much to his surprise, one of the cards in the game featured a painting of flowers that looked a lot like the one he had on his wall. He found that his painting was similar in style to the work of Martin Johnson Heade, an American still-life artist best known for landscapes and flower arrangements.

He asked the Kennedy Galleries in Manhattan, which handles many of Heade’s works, to take a look at his painting. They verified that the piece of artwork covering the hole in his wall was a previously unknown Heade painting, since named Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth. In 1999, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston purchased the painting for $1.2 million dollars.  -taken from Oddee.com

 

MORE If you liked these stories, here is another link to many other thrift store finds that were incredible treasures. Wow!  http://boredomtherapy.com/incredible-thrift-store-finds/

GREAT STORIES to keep you going

Sometimes I think we all have little dreams that are seeds that continually strive to grow within us, fighting for us to help them push through to the surface of our lives. We get caught in the ‘busy,’ the time stealers & forget that we have hidden dreams that want to find their wings.

Lately, I have been feeling like my  life has been lots of different directions without any true purpose, so I have been trying to tap into more creativity.  There is something about stopping and asking yourself what you want to accomplish & then seeking to find a little seed within & nurturing it to grow.

We all need that. Take a minute and ask yourself about a forgotten dream, an unrealized goal, a little part of you that tugs internally.  What is it saying? What is it desiring of you?

Here are some great stories about people who have tapped into something they desired to do & where it led them. Enjoy.

e46123b5cd2ab5774c0e9ff1d97928f1GRANDMA GATEWOOD

Even now, six decades later, Emma Gatewood’s story still resonates.

Grandma Gatewood, as she became known, was the first woman to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail by herself in 1955. She was 67 years old at the time, a mother of 11 and grandmother of 23. She’d survived more than 30 years of marriage to a brutal husband who beat her repeatedly.

Gatewood hiked the trail carrying a homemade knapsack and wearing ordinary sneakers — she wore out six pairs of them in 146 days from May to September. She  brought a blanket and a plastic shower curtain to protect her from the elements, but she didn’t bother with a sleeping bag, a tent, a compass or even a map, instead relying on the hospitality of strangers along the way and her own independent resourcefulness. She’d sleep in a front porch swing, under a picnic table or on a bed of leaves when necessary, and she ate canned Vienna sausages, raisins and peanuts plus greens she found on the trail and meals offered by strangers.

Her story, as author Ben Montgomery describes it, is one of “overcoming hardship and finding yourself and finding peace.”

Her story doesn’t stop with that first hike. Gatewood returned to thru-hike (hiking straight through in less than 12 months) again in 1957, making her the first person, male or female, to successfully tackle the Appalachian Trail twice. Gatewood said the second time was so she could enjoy it. She completed the trail again in 1964, doing it in sections, becoming the first to hike it three times.

In 1959 she headed west, walking from Independence, Mo. to Portland, Ore. as part of the Oregon Centennial celebration. She left two weeks after a wagon train, but passed it in Idaho. The trip covered nearly 2,000 miles and took 95 days.

Emma Rowena Caldwell was born in 1887 on an Ohio farm, one of 15 children, the daughter of a disabled Civil War veteran. She traded the hard life of the farm for marriage at age 19 to Percy Gatewood, but life didn’t get any easier.

For more than 30 years, “she put up with being married to a stubborn, ignorant, hard-fisted man who beat her over and over again,” Montgomery said.

Then one night he broke her teeth and cracked a rib, nearly killing her. A sheriff’s deputy arrived at the house, and arrested Emma, not Percy. She spent a night in jail until the mayor of the small West Virginia town where they lived intervened when he saw her blackened eyes and bloodied face.

She managed to get a divorce — unheard of in those days — and raised her last three children alone.

Sometime in the 1950s she saw a “National Geographic” magazine article about the Appalachian Trail. Her daughter, Lucy Gatewood Seeds, has said in interviews she believes the fact that no woman had yet hiked the trail presented a challenge to her mother. An obituary quoted daughter Rowena saying her mother stated, “If those men can do it, I can do it.”

Gatewood attempted the trail in 1954, starting in Maine, but broke her glasses and gave up, determined to try again. She did the following spring.

You can read more about this amazing woman in Ben Montgomery, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, wrote “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.” Published in April 2014

This was taken from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2015/01/05/grandma-gatewood-survived-domestic-violence-to-walk-the-appalachian-trail-alone-at-67/?utm_term=.8d57d9a04be8

 

TAYLOR

Once Upon A Time, there was a girl named Taylor. When she sat down to eat lunch in her school cafeteria, the girls she’d once called friends stood up and moved to another table. They had cast Taylor out of their clique because instead of going to parties with them on weekends, she’d stay home and write songs on her guitar. The outsider landed a development deal with a record company and moved with her parents to Nashville. She would go on to become the first artist since the Beatles—and the only woman—to record three consecutive albums that spent six or more weeks at number one. Taylor Swift is still writing songs and once told a Nebraska audience, “What does it matter if you didn’t have any friends in high school when you’ve got 15,000 of your closest friends coming to see you in Omaha?”  -taken from Oprah, The Power of Quirk

 

Here is a video I made a couple years ago that I thought would fit perfectly into this topic. Enjoy

 

Seek something you need for your life and push through to do it!!

Enjoy your day!  -H

GREAT STORIES about perspective

Morocco-by-campervan-sidi-kaouki-beach-fireThe only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.

The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground–it just may be a smoke signal that summons The Grace of God.

“Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.”                                   -Dan Brown

main_900This story reminds me of the zen parable of the Chinese farmer

Once there was a  farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest up and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “Maybe yes, maybe no,” said the farmer.
Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Maybe yes, maybe no,” was all the farmer said.

 

vishen-lahkiani-book-list-reading-change-perspective-socialSometimes you just need to change your perspective. Enjoy your day!  

 

GREAT STORY

6eb60d5fcde77af6bd352606ef09bb3eI have been reading Pam Grout’s newest book, “Thank & Grow Rich” which has been a great read. THANK YOU, Pam!! She has some great stories and I wanted to share one that truly shares how money cannot buy happiness.

I think it is easy for all of us to think if we had more money, a bigger house, a better car…we would be finally HAPPY. Even though we have heard time and time again by the richest of rich that money doesn’t buy happiness, we still wonder. Reading stories like the following reminds us of the reality of what is truly important. Enjoy!

Here is the story from Pam’s book…

The only thing the one-percenters have over the average Joes is this: They already know that accumulating money doesn’t bring lasting happiness. They’ve already figured out that having a gazillion dollars in the bank doesn’t produce the profound contentment after which the rest of us lust.

Take Ken Behring, for example. Growing up in Depression-era Wisconsin in a house without central heat or hot water, Behring fell for the lie that he’d be happy if only he were rich. As a young boy, he mowed lawns, caddied at golf courses, delivered newspapers.

He had spunk and drive and eventually became an uber-successful real estate developer. By the time he was 27, he was a millionaire. And he got all the stuff he thought he wanted: a big house, a boat, fancy cars.

When that didn’t bring any real happiness, he tried “better stuff”: bigger houses, a bigger yacht, fancier cars.

Eventually, that began to reek like the other stuff. Maybe he was going for the “wrong stuff”; maybe he should try “different stuff.” Maybe buying the Seattle Seahawks would make him happy.

Nope, foiled again. He eventually sold his professional football team and started hunting in Africa, flying over in his private jet. When he could, he’d take supplies, books and medicine for the local guides and their families.

LDS philanthropies (the charitable branch of the Church of Latter-day Saints) heard about his trips and asked if he’d be willing to make a detour, to drop off supplies to Kosovo war refugees. After loading up 15 tons of canned meat, they noticed extra room and added six wheelchairs.

While in Romania, Behring, who passed out the wheelchairs himself, was grabbed by one of the young refugees, who had stepped on a land mine and lost his legs. “Don’t leave just yet,” said the grateful young boy, who refused to let go of Behring’s leg. “I want to memorize your face so when we meet again in heaven, I can thank you one more time.”

“It was the first time I ever felt real joy,” says Behring, who has since given away nearly a million bright red wheelchairs. “It changed my life. This [charitable work] is the greatest thing I have ever achieved in my life.”

The good news is that because our financial system us an antiquated cultural story, it can be changed.

It starts with a new definition of wealth: the ease and freedom to be generous. The ease and freedom to pursue your dreams. The ease and freedom to live for the upliftment of all creation.

Choosing the joy and gratitude frequency generates a different kind of capital, one that feeds the soul, one that serves your real desires–to be of service, to be a channel for love, to create insanely beautiful things.

 

I LOVE THAT STORY. I hope anyone who reads this (or her book) will walk away feeling that life is about a higher purpose and that we are the instruments to channel the good things of this world. I hope we can all begin to see the larger scale of humanity and the direct connections we all have and begin to use our gifts and talents to touch the lives of others.

Peace and Love to you today.  -H