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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Your Story. Your Legacy.

Our stories, our words, our openings to others say a lot about our lives. It is interesting to begin a conversation with a complete stranger (grocery clerk, massage therapist, hair stylist, etc) and stories just seem to flow. People like to connect with one another. The trick is…what are you telling? What are you saying about your life? What message are you leaving with those you come in contact?

Another step further—What if you could not “say” anything.

img_0387img_3605We recently took a trip to Southern Utah and hiked among petroglyphs of the Anasazi people. It was fascinating to think about walking through handwriting of people thousands and thousands of years old. To see what was important to them—food, feet, animals, people with horn hats, stars, labyrinth patterns…fascinating! Again. No words, just symbols.

 

112246My cute daughter is doing a report on the Northwest Coast Indians and found out they were tribes of people with no specific written language and shared their history and stories through Totems. A Totem is kind of like a book you could read, but instead of using words it used symbols. Totem poles were used as a way of passing down stories.

I thought this was a very interesting idea that could bring up various feelings for people. Think about it!! If you were to create a “Totem” of your life, what would it look like? What would be the main images that you would include. What words (now that we have them) would you include? What message of your life? What symbols would you use?

I think this could be a very fun personal activity you could do to see what comes up from your soul. Think about it. Draw something out. If you like to carve wood–carve away! Maybe make a collage of visual images. Create something. I think a visual of your life’s journey may say something to you. Try it!!

MAKE YOUR OWN CREATIVE TOTEM.  Here are some ideas I came up with…

SONY DSCMaybe make a simple totem for your yard. Pick glass or ceramic beads and make a decorative story line that you know the meaning and symbolism behind.

 

img_0433This made me think of making a personal beaded bracelet that you could create that will symbolize different things within your life. Each bead represents something personal.

 

tumblr_o19gthtumm1v5h6m1o1_1280Maybe make a collage of highlights or things that remind you of your life. [example–pulled off google. Not sure of the source]

 

afb84d4942a1abb2bf4befed1785594dThis made me think of a crafty idea–if you know or enjoy quilting. Quilt symbols of your life and put them together.

 

2044Make symbols that mean something to you personally. Put them together to create a story.

 

 

d4239633957aced98ed266250f0942b1fd4adfbe71b055ee92pimgpsh_fullsize_distrIf you don’t feel too artistic you could always find various mandalas and color them to your own style and put meaning into them with specific colors meaning emotion, certain shapes to symbolize parts of your life, etc. Then you could stack and frame them or take a pic to always have close.   Mandala’s are a symbol, representing the search for completeness and self-unity.

 

Hope this post has given you some ideas to finding your deeper stories and unique ways to share them with yourself and those you love.

 

Happy creating!!  -H

 

Christmas-Giving & Christmas-Living

heart-ornament-hanging-from-a-wire-fence-3840x2400-wide-wallpapers-netI recently read an essay by Henry Van Dyke that I wanted to share about the feeling of Christmas. It talks about the real meaning of “Christmas-Giving & Christmas-Living.” I am going to include the essay in this post, along with a beautiful song by Sara Bareilles, “Love is Christmas.” I am sorry I could not find her actually singing (besides moving live video, which can be annoying to watch), so I have included a lyrics video with her song. Please take the time to read the words and feel the meaning of the song. It is beautiful.

I think this song has especially touched me this season in particular because we had a job change & things this year are tougher financially than they ever have been. I think this song makes you feel that Christmas truly is about LOVE, not necessarily all the other stuff that is easy to get caught up in (the house being a mess, the chaos of stores, the gifts, the food, the expectations we put on ourselves, etc).

May this holiday season bring you the warm feelings of LOVE. And may you want this feeling to last throughout the year, not just a day. Merry Christmas. Love & Peace to you.

Here is the song & then I will attach the essay below.

 

And now the beautiful and meaningful essay by Henry Van Dyke. I took it from the lovely book, “It’s All About Christmas”

 

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Happy St. Nicholas Day

banner-largeI LOVE the story of ‘The Real Santa Claus’

Before the stores commercialized Christmas & it became all about the gifts, there was a man who truly did give gifts from the heart and brought Joy and Love to others, his name was Nicholas.

The real Santa lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey. His name was Nicholas.

Nicholas’ parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.

Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a “dowry” and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn’t have dowry money, you didn’t get married.

This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn’t live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn’t be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.

The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.

In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!

The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!

And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small “clink” as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?

Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. “Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!” Nicholas said, “Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me.”

Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn’t want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops look after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn’t any food, he found wheat; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.

Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a saint.

This is the story of the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas. To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children.    [taken from StNicholasCenter.org]

I love that he was a man who liked to give, but had no need of attention for his giving. That is how giving should be.

Today, is December 6th and St. Nicholas is celebrated on this day. In celebration each year my small family  writes little love notes to one another on strips of paper and slips them into a special pair of wooden clogs throughout the day of December 6th. Then during dinner we take out the slips of paper and share the love with one another. Its a wonderful, loving, giving tradition.

This year I passed on the tradition to all my siblings in hopes that they will spend today writing kind things about one another and sharing their love around the dinner table.

In all we do, may there be love. Peace to you this day & every day.  -H

Tricks or Treats

With Halloween quickly approaching I thought it would be fun to put together some ideas to celebrate the many spirits of Halloween. Pick and choose what fits your personality. Enjoy!!

Are you more of a TRICK or TREAT person?

My husband I believe would be both!! He loves a great trick on someone & he loves the treats. I have to share a funny trick he played recently–He was camping out in high mountain country and before the camping trick we talked about pulling a great trick on the brother-in-laws that would be going on this trip. My husband and I talked and planned a very good (some would say MEAN) trick & it went really well. My husband took a small, portable speaker that had a remote that was controlled by his phone. On his phone he put an app that had a “Bear sound.” In the middle of the night, when everyone was in bed, my husband hit the button & the bear sound began. It sounded like a bear was snorting and moving in the woods behind them. First, our brother-in-law, Dan heard the sound & yelled, “Did you guys hear that?” One of our other brothers, Bud was quietly listening to his earphones & only heard Dan yell. Bud began to move around & listen for any noise. Then my husband hit the button again. He could not help lying in his tent laughing quietly to himself. Dan immediately yelled, “Did you hear that? We have something in the bushes.” Dan quickly moved to his tent for his bear spray. By this time my brother, Bud was lacing up his running shoes as fast as he could. My husband stepped out of his tent, waiting to see what was going to happen. My husband climbs out of his tent to find Dan reading the can of bear spray with his headlamp & Bud getting dressed as quickly as possible. My husband grinned to himself & hit the button again. Dan began looking with his light for any movement in the bushes, aiming his bear spray & ready for anything. Dan looked at my husband and Bud, “Do you see anything?” he asked. My husband calmly replied, “I see a speaker!!” Dan said, “What?” My husband busted out laughing & pointing at the speaker. They were all ready to kill him. An hour later, Dan yelled from his tent, “Well played!” My husband just laughed and laughed.

Another fun prank that is a classic is one of the kids favorite!! Down from our house is a guy that changes up his costume each year, but once you visit his house, he will chase you down the street. Gets the kids every time.

Another scary one that the kids continue to talk about was a kid dressed up in a black cloak (the kind that has a hood & long enough to touch the ground). This kid was walking through the forest near our home & scaring everyone in sight. It was probably even scarier because it was NOT Halloween. The kids in the family all still talk about “the creepy guy in the forest.”

A few other fun ideas: when you go to give your kids a Halloween goodnight kiss–throw in a pair of glow-in-the-dark fangs. Write something spooky with liquid dish soap on your kids bathroom mirror, so when they steam up the bathroom, the message will appear. Put red kool-aid in the shower head, so then the water comes out red.

 

Now for all you TREAT people out there–here are some yummy ideas you could create for Halloween.

pumpkin-punchPUMPKIN PUNCH BOWL: All you need to make a memorable party punchbowl is dry ice, a very large pumpkin and two large bowls that nest inside one another and are safe to handle dry ice. Hollow out the pumpkin, ensuring the opening is wide enough to hold the bowls. Place the larger of your two bowls in the pumpkin and use tongs to layer the bottom of the bowl with dry ice. Place the second bowl on top of the dry ice and fill the bowl with your punch. Carefully pour hot water into the bottom bowl to activate the dry ice vapors. Replenish the dry ice as needed throughout your party.

You can also do this same idea with a large witches cauldron.

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You can also use a pumpkin for a fun ice bucket idea.

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halloween26 – Place glow sticks in the bottom of an ice bucket or cooler at your Halloween party. Photo credit: Alison Sherwood asherwood@journalsentinel.com

GLOWING BEVERAGES: As the stream of trick-or-treaters slows, invite your neighbors over for a drink. Toss a glow stick or two in with the ice in your cooler so they’ll open up to an eerie gleam.

64-non-candy-halloween-snack-ideas-the-ultimate-list-of-healthier-halloween-treatsYUMMY DEVIL SPIDER EGGS : The usual with chopped olives for decor

halloween-treat-broom-sticksSWEET LITTLE BROOM: Recess peanut butter cups stuck in pretzel

817461fb0e4340ea9aeb0a9b8522a14bHEALTHY LITTLE RELISH TRAY with a cute pumpkin center piece full of dressing

Well, I hope these ideas get you started in planning a spooktacular Halloween!

Give because WE have been given much

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This time of year makes me truly reflect on the many things I am grateful for. I think my heart gets to a place of deeper meaning, of stepping more outside of myself and wanting to do more for others. I think we all begin to feel this sense of holiday spirit. We gather with our families, grateful to have family. We see fall colors and are grateful to be given the gift of seeing. We see the seasons change and are grateful for change within our own lives. We sit together and give thanks.

I know for me, I especially want to do more, to serve, to be an instrument in God’s hands, so I decided that I wanted to create a list of opportunities for all of us to GIVE, because WE have all been given much.  I hope you will look at this list and find an opportunity or two that your family can embrace together. I hope you will find a little more service this holiday season, so when you are sitting down with your family, your heart will be even more full of giving, of love and grateful for the abundance in your own lives.  Peace to all of you this beautiful holiday season.

Some fun ideas to share with your families:  Spread the LOVE. If there are some ideas you like—share them with your friends and family and make the chain of LOVE even bigger.

occ+shoebox

Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child.  I LOVED this idea because it is not hard to do, benefits children around the world and will bring smiles to all who open.  You literally fill a shoebox with small gifts for children and then send it. You can even pay a little extra $ to track it and discover the destination it is going. I think it would be a great project to do with your family just before Thanksgiving. The drop off dates are just before Thanksgiving Nov 16-23. Check out the link to this great project. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

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Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets for groups like Project Linus, Wrap them in Love, Stitches from the Heart, Binky Patrol to name a few.

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Make cards to send some LOVE: make cards for kids in the hospital http://www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.com/make-cards.html  Write a letter to a woman with breast cancer at http://www.girlslovemail.com or fill out a letter online to servicemen at http://www.forgottensoldiers.org/write-a-soldier/

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Donate items for The Hugs Project: They are looking for a variety of items including handmade christmas ornaments and stockings, food items, socks, etc. They create care packages for troops http://www.thehugsproject.com   here is a link to the full item list of what they are looking for http://www.thehugsproject.com/care-package-items/

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SoleHope: Makes shoes out of jeans for Kids in Uganda. http://www.solehope.org/who-we-are/

dog-treats

Make a dog treats for a local shelter: here is a recipe from the Humane Society http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/animal_treats/bowser_biscuits.html

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Make place mats or decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels http://www.doinggoodtogether.org/bhf/blog/six-ways-to-help-meals-on-wheels  Make sure you contact your local area to find out their specific needs.

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Make something homemade to help: Here is a list of handmade items that are accepted by a variety of charities.  http://www.handcraftingwithlove.net/charity/hcharity.html

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Make a bird feeder to feed the birds in your backyard–that is giving too!  Here are some directions: http://www.marthastewart.com/270700/pinecone-bird-feeder

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Well, I hope these ideas get you started to giving of yourselves even more during the upcoming holiday seasons. Remember, it is easier to give with a grateful heart.

Peace to you. -H

Traditions to bring people together 2

For this post I am again going to take from some of the religious traditions that were shared on Oprah’s Belief series and then share some of my own ideas of how you could incorporate the ideas into your world. Enjoy.

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Zen Buddhist Lotus Flower: In one part of the series you were able to catch a glimpse into the life and traditions of Zen Monks. They shared a special lantern celebration.  I did a little bit of my own research and found The Lotus Lantern Festival that celebrates Buddha’s birthday. It is traditionally called the Yeondeunghoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) and was originally more of a religious and national event, not like a festival.  Here is a link to give you an idea of what it is like. It looks amazing–lanterns take the form of fruits, animals…it looks beautiful. People can even make their own lanterns.

In Buddhism the lotus is a symbol of the true nature of beings, which remains unstained by the mud of the world and is realized through enlightenment. Traditionally the lotus (“padma’’) is a very important symbol in India and for Buddhism. The lotus has been ascribed with special meaning since the time of ancient Indian mythology.
The lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. The flower closes and sinks underwater at night, to rise and open again at dawn. Untouched by impurity, the lotus symbolizes the purity of heart and mind.*taken from buddhachannel.tv      

My idea:   Create your own lotus lanterns with your family & then hang them somewhere special–above the dinner table, outside in a tree, etc.  Here is a Youtube with an idea of how to make them 

    This may be a great idea for a New Year celebration. You could create lanterns & even write something on them–hopes for the new year, gratitude for things from this previous year, dreams, desires, etc.

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Bringing people together through music: In the series it explained how Israel is a place torn apart by religious separation, but luckily a music group was bringing together young people from different religions and having them work together to create something beautiful–music.      Music has a power all its own–it heals, it transcends, it liberates, it inspires, it brings people together. It is a heavenly gift that swells hearts here on earth.

My idea: Step out of your usual music comfort, listen to something completely new, maybe even foreign and see how you feel. Music can have positive and negative effects, so make sure you select genres that lift and inspire the soul. Also, step out of your music comfort by attending a local concert and experience the symphonic melodies first hand. Try it out and see how you feel.

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Trust yourself: This part of the series I can honestly say, I was yelling at the television. I could not believe this guy would free climb (no ropes or anything) to such incredible heights. It was somewhat terrifying. You would definitely have to have tremendous faith in your personal belief in what you could do. One slip–you would be gone.

My idea: Do something that you have never tried or something that scares you. When you are able to accomplish a personal hurdle, you definitely feel you have reached a higher point for yourself. When you continue to trust your instincts, feelings, gut, desires, etc. you will be in a better personal place.

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Pray: Prayer was a huge message throughout the series. Whether it was the woman with cancer and was surrounded in a prayer circle to people praying in a sacred place, prayer beads to traditional dances that went on for days…prayer was shared in every culture and religion. It was a beautiful sentiment.  Prayer I believe holds a very strong gift, whether you pray alone or in a group, there are answers to what you need.

My idea: Give thanks in all you do. Hold a prayer in your heart. If you have a big decision or struggle you are facing, do not be afraid to ask others to help pray for you and your situation. Have faith and know you are not alone. I just read a great story this morning that shares some great examples of prayers being heard. Check it out—http://www.faithit.com/the-refs-said-if-he-points-at-god-again-hes-done-thats-when-his-sister-slipped-him-a-note/

Well, I hope these ideas help you to have a beautiful day.  Peace to you. -H