Inspiration

Holiday Acts of Kindness: Pay It Forward

kindness

Teach your children well: here’s one sure-fire way to successfully kindness on.

If your heart and your wallet have different ideas about making monetary donations, it is time to summon your inner regifter.  An unwanted gift could be a welcome donation to a charitable organization. For help selecting a charitable organization, visit the Better Business Bureaus’ Wise Giving Alliance. You can also contact the government office responsible for registering charities in your state. A little research upfront will make sure that your donation is put to good use.  If the process of selecting a charity seems daunting, remember, you benefit from giving as well.

Involving your children in the selection of and contribution to a charity teaches valuable lessons.

Give to causes in your own backyard as well as internationally. You have an opportunity to make a difference.

Some charitable gifts are tax-deductible if made to a qualified organization.

But be sure your organization meets IRS guidelines, as there may be different tax breaks when you donate certain types of assets to charity. 

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Inspiration

Share the Love: A Volunteer Christmas

volunteer

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people who don’t have family nearby, a home to sleep in, or food to eat. Helping others expressed the true holiday spirit. 

A great way to be a good in the world is to do good for the world and the people who inhabit it. Volunteer a few hours of your time to work in a soup kitchen and help serve those who are in need of a hot meal. You can also use this time to get your family involved and impart good moral values on your children. For many years running, I have volunteers at Glide Memorial Church in downtown San Francisco and enjoyed each and every minute of it.  I bet your community has a place like Glide that can be your “happy place” meaning that you make other people happy and that alone filled YOU with joy.  But if you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area around Thanksgiving or Christmas, come on down, and we’ll have fun together serving up some love:

GLIDE on over and Serve a Meal!

The Volunteer Resource Program at GLIDE places about 10,000 volunteers each year, totaling 65,000 hours of service. www.glide.org Meals Program is a transformative experience. This program requires 85 volunteers each day to fill the breakfast, prep, lunch and dinner shifts, 364 days a year. With your help we can serve up to 2,400 meals per day to our community. Volunteers assist with everything from serving food, to busing tables, to handing out silverware and condiments. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves, and make some beautiful human connections! you have any questions please feel free to contact the volunteer team at volteam@glide.org or 415.674.6081

Inspiration

O Christmas Tree

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Decorating a tree can be a highlight of the holiday experience. Why not go green this year? Buy an artificial Christmas tree. People love my blue and silver “disco tree” which I got at yard sale a few years ago. It is VERY festive!  On average, over 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year—that’s over 30 million trees cut down each year, trees we could be saving and using for oxygen, housing material, and paper products instead of decoration for a small amount of time. Consider buying an artificial tree—you will save money within the first few years and they look just as nice without the mess of pine needles!

Learn more about the history of the Christmas tree here!

Inspiration

My Whole Life Becomes a Prayer

black and white cold fog forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I am liberated by silence,
when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life,
but in the living of it,

I can discover a form of prayer in which
there is effectively no distraction.

My whole life becomes a prayer.

My whole silence is full of prayer.

The world of silence in which I am immersed
contributes to my prayer.

—Thomas Merton

 

This post is an excerpt from Prayers for Hard Times by Becca Anderson, which can be found at Amazon and Mango Media.

Inspiration

Giving the Gift of Sustainability

heifer

In this era of decluttering, try giving acts of kindness instead of things! Don’t want or need anything for Christmas? Have a friend or loved one that wants something unique? Visit www.heifer.org to view and purchase some of the most helpful and generous gifts that can be given, but they’re not for you or anyone you know. Heifer International is an organization that works with communities to end hunger and poverty by providing sustainable agriculture equipment and animals to families in need. You can “purchase” a goat for $120, a flock of geese for $20, a hope basket for $50, and browse the website for other options. These gifts are priceless (figuratively) and won’t go unappreciated or unused. Think about the positive impact you can make on a family this holiday season instead of giving your friend another novelty T-shirt.

Inspiration

Rich Enough

seaport during daytime
Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

 Receive, O Lord, all my liberty.
Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me.

I give it all back to You and surrender it
wholly to be governed by your will.

Give me only your love and your grace,
with these I will be rich enough,
and ask for nothing more.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, 16th Century

 

This post is an excerpt from Prayers for Hard Times by Becca Anderson, which can be found at Amazon and Mango Media.

Inspiration

Holiday Magic

art blurred blurry bokeh
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Chimney cleaners and inspectors do not have the most glamorous jobs. Fireplaces are often filthy, and there is waaaay less singing involved than Mary Poppins would have you believe. However, one chimney sweep had a profound effect on a friend of mine when she was about five or six years old.

It was summer break, and her siblings were outside the house with friends. A strange man was over, and his head, arms, and torso were hidden up the chimney in Sylvie’s living room. Of course she was sitting a few feet away, asking questions each time his head reappeared, despite her father’s pleas to leave the man alone. After a few seconds of silence, the man gasped and squeezed out the chimney and into the living room.

“You will not believe what I just found!” he said, holding his hand out with a small piece of red fabric. “Santa must have snagged his suit on the inside of your chimney and left this behind.”

Sylvie was dumbstruck. Proof! She had proof! Santa was real!

Though Sylvie now knows the truth about Santa, she still has that small piece of fabric, and it reminds her every year about the kindness of strangers and the importance of sparking joy in someone’s life.

If you’re not a chimney sweep, find other ways to inspire joy in the young people around you. It is, after all, the most magical time of year.

Inspiration

DIY Holidays: Crafting Love

 

snowmanMake your Christmas presents this year. It’s more personal and will save you money.

From a tin of homemade fudge to a colorful knitted scarf, your family and friends are sure to appreciate your hard work and thoughtfulness. You can also think bigger! Here are some organizations that allow you to knit, sew, and quilt your way to a better world.

Socks For Soldiers knits socks for soldiers serving in the Middle East.
Stitching Up The World knits, crochets, and sews items to donate to a variety of organizations. Their main effort is items for chemotherapy patients in New Hampshire. Based in Candia, NH, USA.
Threads of Love provides clothing, blankets, and other handmade articles for premature and sick infants. Threads of Love has chapters in the United States, Canada, and London, England.
Tiny Stitches is based in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and provides basic layettes to disadvantaged newborns and preemies in north Georgia. They also provide burial ensembles to families who lose an infant.
Ugly Quilts for the Homeless, My Brothers’ Keeper.
Victoria’s Quilts Quilts for cancer patients.

Inspiration

Saved by Love

man and woman standing beside body of water during sunset
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
therefore, we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone;
therefore, we must be saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous
from the standpoint of our friend or foe
as it is from our own standpoint;
therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love,
which is forgiveness.

—Reinhold Niebuhr, 1952