January has been an amazing month for me.  As I wrote in a recent post titled, Post-Holiday Confessions From A Decorator, I had some really, really heavy-duty stuff to deal with the first couple of weeks of the month – which is why I chose to use the holidays to be still, to be quiet and to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.  Last week was my “down time” to review and then renew after all the heavy-duty stuff I had experienced had come and gone.  Little did I know that a simple trip to the movies over the weekend would be the proverbial wake-up call for me to listen up and that another big lesson was coming…

Important messages come to me from the oddest places.   Some of the messages are good and some well, suffice it to say, not so good.  Here’s an example of a good one – I remember when I first began my blog I had numerous articles written and ready yet, I still couldn’t find the words for my opening post that in my view would best explain what I meant by my tag line – Everything begins in the home.  I fretted and fretted for weeks trying to come up with just the right words.  Then I attended my niece, Britney’s wedding and voila, the words were said out loud to me.  Funny- I had been searching for the words in my head – little did I know that I would hear them from someone else.  I remember I felt cold chills come over me when the words started from the lips of Reverend Bob McAden.  A voice in my head said, “Listen up Jamie.  Here are the words you have been searching for”.  I listened and boy oh boy, they certainly were the words I needed.  So, once more thank you Rev. McAden for the words you spoke and then allowed me to share in my blog post, The Sacredness Of Home.  They were (and still are) the perfect words to explain and express the importance of HOME.

Anyway, I had another one of those messages this past Saturday and at the oddest place – the movies!  Here I was thinking I would sit back and be entertained.  Oh no, not this time around – this “not so good” message was meant to teach me I still had work to do on myself.

The Man in the Mirror

The movie, Joyful Noise started out normal enough but something came over me when the Michael Jackson song, Man In The Mirror began to be sung by the incredibly gifted singer-actress, Keke Palmer.  I felt goose bumps begin to erupt, I felt the pulsations in my body of recognition that it was time to focus and I felt the overwhelming knowledge that I was supposed to listen up to every single word…

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways…

If you wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make the change”

Hearing those words brought me a flashback of this past Christmas Eve.  My David and I spent the entire Christmas Eve day in downtown Chicago.  Being home alone we thought that this would be a fun and different way to spend the day so we rode the train into the city and went exploring.  We walked and walked and walked.  It was cold and windy so we both had on heavy coats, scarves, hats and gloves.  While walking down Rush Street a man approached me and asked for my spare change.  Ever the polite southern woman I answered him, “No thank you”.  After all, I was walking briskly in the cold and would have had to take my gloves off to get to my purse to get to my spare change – way too much time and trouble.  Well, I didn’t think another thing about it until about ten minutes later the man was ahead of us on the street talking to another gentleman.  He turned to me and said, “I want you to know I don’t ask people for money all the time.  I just recently lost my job.  You don’t need to be sorry for not giving me yours”.  I was mortified to say the least.  Had I seen my reflection in the mirrored storefronts I passed, I am sure my cheeks would have been red.  But the real shock came two blocks later when we crossed the street and headed in a different direction.  At the intersection David watched the man continue down the street and then stop to talk to a homeless woman.  David watched him take all the money from his pockets and give it to the woman (clearly someone that needed it more than he did) and then walk away. When David told me this, I was stunned and truly humbled.  Here I was busy on my way (on Christmas Eve no less) and I didn’t take the time to give my money to a down and out man on the street when just a few minutes later he gave what he had to someone less fortunate.  It was all I could do to keep walking and not run for the nearest alleyway to privately shed tears of shame and sorrow.  Would I have liked to see myself in a mirror at that moment in time?   Not hardly!

Cleaning my own mirror

So when Keke Palmer sang the words I realized change (actually more change) needed to begin with me.  I needed to look in the mirror, take a look at myself and make a change.  W.O.W.  Here I was comfortably sitting in the movie theatre, “convalescing” from a grueling few weeks of immense stress with the assumption that I had “prevailed” through all the trials and tribulations of the last five years, wanting to relax and enjoy a hit musical-movie.  Yet somehow I was being reminded of Christmas Eve in downtown Chicago in a not so flattering way.  I could visualize the man on Rush Street in total detail.  I even remember the homeless lady- she was wearing a white coat and carrying all her belongings in a grocery cart.

Hearing the words of this song put so much into perspective for me.  The words brought on a myriad of thoughts to ponder and truth be told – many of which might take years to work through.

  • Everyone has their own vantage point from which they view life.
  • The way we present ourselves to the world must always reflect our true selves.
  • Mirrors reflect our true colors not the black and white we perceive.
  • To inspire change in others we must first change ourselves as thoroughly and effectively as we can.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Love is the most important verb in the English language.

I’m not sure where I am going with all this newfound insight.  I just know that besides carrying small bottles of hand sanitizer with me everywhere I go, I will also carry small bottles of Windex in case I ever lose “clear sight” of the reflection others see of me in my words and actions.  Moving forward I want to “clearly” see my true self in the mirror and at the same time I want to present to my family, my friends, my fellow human beings and my earth home the true reflection of who I am.  And, in each and every moment of each and every day I need to be mindful of the power I have as an individual to inspire change in the world.  Let it begin with me as I clean the mirror.

“And no message could have been any clearer

If you wanna make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make the change”

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For the month of December I purposefully chose not to publish many posts on my Blog.  Quite frankly, I figured most everyone had enough to do preparing for Christmas.  With making lists, checking them twice and doing all the multitude of items on these lists before Christmas, who would have time to squeeze in something I wrote?  (By the way, whatever you were thinking as you read that last sentence keep your comments to yourself- I want to think you have missed my weekly posts!)  Anyway, with all the extra time on my hands not devoted to writing I reminisced about Christmases past.  Well, that got me to thinking and wondering about what other people’s favorite childhood traditions of the season were and what they are today as grown-ups.  So, I promptly sent out an email to all the guest authors on the Blog and posed these questions to them with the intention of sharing their responses on the Blog.  For those that had the time to respond, I want to share their answers with you.  Some even sent me pictures as well.

I have to admit I thought this would be a fun thing to do for the Blog.  But, as with most things that happen, I got so much more than interesting info from each person.  I got a wonderful glimpse into their personal lives that not only told me much more about who they are and what makes them tick but, I also got laughs at visualizing some of what they wrote, much to ponder from some of their thought provoking responses and to sum it up – I got a real sense of peace and joy reading their words.  Read for yourself and I hope your heart is filled with joy and laughter as well.

Susan Muehl

Susan and Jane visit Santa

1954, Jane and Susan visit Santa Claus at Santa Claus Land

My favorite childhood holiday memories and what the season now means to me as an adult seem to have blurred lines!  As a child, I thought it was magic!  It was all about our Christmas traditions.  Before Christmas, our mother would take my twin sister and me to Santa Claus Land in Santa Claus, Indiana.  That’s where we got to speak to Santa about what we’d like for Christmas and ride the rides at the park.  Also before Christmas we would get dressed up and go Christmas shopping in downtown Louisville with our mother and while there, we would view the department store windows decorated for the holidays.  The days leading up to Christmas and the few days after were all about going out to visit friends and family, or they came to see us.  My mother shared cookies and fudge she made.  This is also when we would drive around looking at Christmas lights.  Santa had a surprise he always left at our house ~ he would put a special gift on the beds of my sister and me.  We shared a bedroom so whoever woke up first would wake the other and we’d feel around our beds in the dark for the gift which we could unwrap right then.  Now as an adult many of the same traditions remain.  When my daughter was little, Santa also left her a special gift in her bed each Christmas and it thrilled her as much as it did me when I was young.  We established a new tradition in our family and it was choosing a name from the “giving tree” at a local department store and purchasing gifts for that child.  My daughter enjoyed doing that each year ~ she loved trying to find a little girl who seemed a lot like her based on the gift requests.  Nowadays, I still love to look at Christmas lights ~ the more lights the better!  As a photographer, I’ve enjoyed photographing some of my favorite houses over the years and have a special photo album of “the best of the best” which comes out each Christmas.  Spending time with my family and friends at Christmas time is still important to me.  Everybody seems so much busier these days, but when we can take the time to visit, it’s always special.  I enjoy seeing everyone’s homes decorated for the holidays and sharing mine, as well as sharing fudge (from my mother’s recipe) and cookies I have made.  The Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning gift opening with my husband, daughter and son-in-law is a special time each year which I always look forward to.  I have never outgrown the magic of Christmas!

Patti Baron Schreiber

Wow!  It’s hard to pick just one favorite holiday memory from my childhood because my family was so steeped in traditions and they all centered on home.  First came the decorating – it was the same decorations every year and they went in the same location but there was such comfort and joy in pulling the little elf out and setting him on the table or seeing the same ornaments nestled in their boxes, waiting to be hung on the tree.  Christmas Eve began with me setting out a plate of homemade cookies and a glass of milk for Santa.  Then came a visit to my Grandma Martha’s house, where all of my Dad’s brothers, sisters (7!), their spouses and children gathered in a very small space with the men drinking Blackberry Brandy and all of us eating Grandma’s homemade bread.  Magically, when we returned home, Santa had arrived!  Piles of presents were under the tree – quickly placed there by Mom before we left for grandma’s house while Dad and I impatiently waited in the car wondering what she could be doing in there.  After the present opening, we were off to Midnight Mass followed by an open house for anyone who wanted to stop by for ham sandwiches, salads and a dessert buffet.

I have continued many of these same traditions with my own children when they were young and now that they are teenagers; it’s fun to see which traditions are important to them.  Decorating and cookie making are at the top of the list.  This year we can hardly wait to make our special frosted cutout cookies, as we didn’t get to eat any of the time and labor intensive treats last year.  After making the dough, cutting them out, baking and decorating them (a two day affair), my oldest child decided her siblings were hogging the cookies so she hid the plastic bin in the oven.  A short time later, flames erupted in the oven, smoke poured from the vents and the plastic had melted all over the oven and the cookies.  I’m still missing the bottom oven rack which is covered in molded plastic but there’s no doubt in my mind the memory of THAT moment will live on in our minds and give us some good laughs in the coming years.

Jennie Stockslager

When I think of Christmas as a child, I keenly remember making gifts (cigar boxes encrusted with elbow macaroni sprayed gold), wrapping gifts (proud that my mom trusted me) and making millions of cookies – all fun, all exciting.  But I remember, too that at some point during my high school years, I was grateful that the fun and excitement were sustained much longer than usual in our home, all because two little brothers, Rich and Bill, were born when I was 11 and 14, respectively.  The tinsel would have lost its shine for the three older siblings- myself, Chuck and Connie – but because we had two little ones in the house, we were swept into their vortex of believing, which was the best gift ever – and not to be repeated until I had children of my own.

As an adult, I can find myself so overwhelmed with the holidays that if I’m not careful, I start to think of all the decorating, buying, wrapping and addressing cards as a “part-time” job.  At times like this, I recognize that I need to get “real”.  “Real” means getting quiet with myself for as little as five minutes – meditating, journaling, listening to Christmas music, sipping on a cup of chai tea, looking at the snow falling on the twinkle-lighted trees in our yard – anything that helps me remember the truth: I don’t “have” to do anything; I “get” to do the things I choose.  This reality brings me back to the present moment; it slows my mind down…and helps me once again see life as a child.  All possibility.  All magic.  All a gift.

Lindsay Torry

Awaiting His Birth

Awaiting His Birth

Having been given the task of sharing my favorite holiday memory, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks racking my brain, going through them all mentally and changing my mind over and over again about which to share. I mean, there are just SO MANY! However, the answer came to me today as I was watching my children decorate gingerbread houses at my grandparents. My youngest daughter is only two years old, so we are in the really fun stage of exploring every aspect of the holiday season: introducing her to the decorations, lights, music, and that odd, robust old man in the red suit. Today at my grandparents’ house I made a point of showing her one of my favorite Christmas decorations, an antique ceramic nativity set. Now I realize that just about every Christian household has at least one nativity set of some sort, but this one was special. Even as a small child I recognized its delicate beauty, with its soft warm colors and fragile elegance. But the thing that made this nativity unique was the baby Jesus. He wasn’t fixed in the manger like in most modern nativities. No, this baby Jesus didn’t make his presence known until Christmas morning! Every time we went to visit, I would go almost immediately to check his status, anxiously awaiting him in his absence, and always making sure he was there if Christmas had come already. I truly anticipated his arrival! Now, even as an adult, every year I go to admire the nativity and note his absence or presence.

He is born

He is born

Today was no different as I pointed out all of the figures of the set to my daughter. It occurred to me just how very cool this idea is: withholding the baby Jesus from the manger until the morning of his birthday celebration. What a fun way to anticipate his arrival and keep the focus on the true reason for the holiday season! As an adult, each year it has disgusted me a little more how ridiculously commercialized and really off base our society has allowed Christmas to become. It’s more than a little ironic that a season originally about the spirit of giving has become more about getting the best deal and the biggest gifts. Today I was listening to a local radio station that plays all Christmas music during this time of year, and it dawned on me that of the 10 or so songs I had heard, not a single one mentioned Jesus. Sometimes it feels as though he’s been lost in the hustle bustle, that so many people like to take advantage of the decorating, partying, and gift getting, yet don’t ever get to the heart of the matter. Needless to say, after today’s realization I will be searching out a nativity set with a removable baby Jesus for my own home! And I will look forward to sharing in the excitement of Jesus’ arrival year after year with my own children and hopefully, one day, grandchildren!

Sammi Blake

After having thought about this for several weeks, it is still hard to zero in on what my favorite holiday memory is of when I was a child.  And, as an adult thinking back, I realize that my favorite holiday traditions as a child are the same ones I have now.  I still hold near and dear to my heart the traditions I had as a child.  Four of them stick out in my mind though.  I loved baking Christmas cookies, the annual punch-out chocolate Advent calendar, decorating the tree and riding around on Christmas Eve to see the luminaries.

Each year growing up we spent two solid days making and baking cookies.  We made at least eight- dozen.  I remember my mom and I both wearing our aprons.  Every single year my mom would say the same thing to me and I learned to look forward to it.  She would say, “You are the messiest baker I have ever known”.  Once we baked all the cookies we would wrap them up and give them as gifts to our neighbors and friends.

Our yearly Advent calendar took careful planning to figure out the days each of us kids got to pop a chocolate.  As an adult, I still like getting one for my stepchildren to enjoy.

And, oh the Christmas tree!  Every year our Christmas tree was decorated with ornaments we had made ourselves.  The rest of the ornaments were from my mom’s childhood.  It was the most wonderful feeling pulling all the ornaments out of their boxes one by one.  Each one we would stop and talk about.  I can still hear the tingle of the old rusty bell that was my mother’s when she was a child.  Decorating the tree was wonderful and I remember we took such time and care into placing the ornaments on the tree.  Now as an adult, I take the same joy, love and care in decorating our tree.

The luminaries were lit in neighborhoods near where we lived every Christmas Eve.  After church and dinner we used to ride around as a family to see the lights.  We would always turn Christmas music on the radio and we usually drove around in silence so that we could each reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  I especially loved going up and down the hills, as the brilliance from all the luminaries was truly majestic.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and I look forward to all that it brings.

Crystal Balzer

Ryleigh and Blake with Buddy Rudolph

Ryleigh and Blake with Buddy Rudolph

The Christmas Season as a child and even now as an adult brings me much joy!  I love the smells, the decorations and even the shopping!  Although now as a mother I must admit- my favorite part is creating memories and traditions for my children.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories from my childhood would have to be spending Christmas Eve with my dad (my parents are divorced so this was a special time) and always opening my stocking last (I have carried this tradition on with my own children, after all, the stocking is the best part with each treasure wrapped- it is amazing what you can stuff inside a stocking).  Now with a family of my own we have added a couple more traditions.  We make reindeer food and spread it across the lawn on Christmas Eve so the reindeer know what house to stop at.  We also have an Elf on the Shelf.  The children named our elf, “Buddy Rudolph”.  He arrives each year on December 1st.  He flies to Santa each night telling him how the kids have behaved and when he returns he hides in a different location.  The children rush around in the morning to see who can find him first.  I also have each child pick a gift and we donate it to the Toys For Tots Program.  It is a joy to watch them choose a gift so carefully, each considering what another child their age would like.  It is my hope that when they grow up they will remember the fun, simple traditions we have as a family and even carry them on in their own.

Making reindeer food

Making reindeer food

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you have enjoyed these glimpses into Christmas memories and traditions.  Now I wish for all of you the true peace and joy that comes with Christmas.  See you next year!

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Whenever I think of traditions I immediately start singing in my head the song, “If I Were A Rich Man” from “The Fiddler On The Roof” and feel my body move to the rhythm of the beat much like the lead character, Tevye.  This Broadway play that became a sensational hit movie with the well-known actor, Topol as the lead character is one of my all time favorites.  The theme of the movie has to do with adjusting to changing times and changing traditions.  It is a timeless theme as the observance of traditions gives you safe and secure boundaries in life.  There is comfort and order in knowing from year to year how things will be.

I understand the security in traditions.  Growing up, each holiday had very definite traditions.  What we ate and when we ate Thanksgiving dinner was the same from year to year.  I will never forget one year getting our Balzer clan together for Thanksgiving and several of us debating how to properly make a broccoli casserole.  You see some of the kids were old enough to want it done the way they traditionally ate it in their own homes while others liked it a different way.  Oh, the perils of not getting to keep the traditions exactly like you want!

Gorgeous butterfly

Photo Credit: Susan Muehl

In my family of origin we opened all our Christmas presents Christmas morning.  I had friends that got to open one on Christmas Eve.  I remember one year my family debating on changing our tradition and opening one gift each that Christmas Eve.  I can still feel the lump in my stomach over the mere thought of breaking with tradition.   I get why Topol held so tightly to tradition.  Breaking with what you always do or changing it can be difficult on your psyche.   Besides which, just like Tevey discovered in the movie, once you bend tradition just a wee bit, there is the risk of continuing to bend and bend until voila, the tradition disappears!   By the way, I am happy to report that we didn’t bend our tradition that year and we opened all our gifts the next morning.  In fact, I don’t think growing up we ever veered away from opening all of our gifts Christmas morning.

Year after year with my own three kids, holiday traditions remained constant and predictable.  Nothing ever changed.  My kids knew Christmas Eve meant church, dinner and a drive through nearby neighborhoods to look at the luminaries.  Those of us in my family that aren’t curmudgeons (I’m not naming names) still do this every Christmas Eve.  Then, Christmas Day had another set of traditions spread through the day.

A new tradition

Things never changed…until just a few years ago when I discovered a NEW tradition for the Christmas season.  Turns out, it has become my very favorite.  I discovered this tradition quite by accident.  I happened to be in Richmond, VA sometime obviously near the upcoming holiday and was invited to my niece’s house for dinner.  My niece, Jackie and her husband Scott had also invited his parents over.  When Barbara O’Connell arrived, she came in the front door lugging a huge garbage bag that appeared to be very heavy and very full.  Ever the one to not mind my own business, I asked what was in the bag.  “Advent gifts”, Barb said.  I was intrigued.  Then she showed me the Advent Calendar she had made Jackie and Scott for Advent.  Now I had always had an Advent Calendar in my house for the season as well.  But, traditionally mine was full of chocolates to punch out, one for each day of Advent. (My three kids spent copious amounts of time each year writing a spreadsheet of sorts to methodically divvy up the days equally amongst the three of them so that they could pop open the same number of chocolates on the Calendar.  This was more time consuming than choosing a tree!)  Barb’s calendar for Jackie and Scott was not only gorgeous – it was her handmade creation to boot.  Barb went on to say that her tradition for Christmas was to give each of her kids’ one small gift for every day of Advent.  With Scott now married to Jackie, she made sure Jackie was included.  I can still see Jackie’s infectious smile as Barb explained the whole thing to me.  Jackie loves Advent gifts.  In fact, she told me it’s one of her favorite traditions.

Bird loving berries

Photo Credit: Susan Muehl

The very next year after witnessing Barb O’Connell’s Advent tradition (it was too late to start that year) I began my own with my kids, David’s boys, spouses and grandkids.  My David is Jewish so Danny, his wife Lindsey and Michael get a Hanukah gift for each of the eight days of Hanukah.  Addison and Austin (my step-grandchildren) like this Advent tradition better than any other or so they tell me.  Many of the gifts they open are freebies we have collected over the year.  Once Austin got a small flashlight.  Several years later, it still sits on his nightstand beside his bed.  Mind you, these daily gifts are really, really small items.  There isn’t a lot of money invested in them.  But the fun I get in doing all this and the fun I think they all get in receiving them is priceless.

The season of Advent

By the way, for any of you unclear about what Advent is here’s a simple explanation.  Known as the season of “Anticipation” and ”Hope”, it marks the beginning of the new Church calendar each year in Western tradition.  Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and prepares Christians for Christmas.  It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday closest to November 30th and ends Christmas Eve.

As Advent approaches the gifts are almost ready.  I love this time of year and am giggling inside with the anticipation of it all.  Thank you Barb for teaching me about this O’Connell family tradition.  Making this a tradition in the Balzer-Solganik family has been wonderful.  Oh, and Barb, you should sell your calendar creations.  They are true works of beauty!

To traditions…

Whatever your traditions are for the season, I hope you enjoy the special moments to come.  Life is to be lived with bliss.  Let this season be full of blissful moments!

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Then, on the heels of Thanksgiving starts the busiest season of the year – the Christmas season.  For me, both holidays signal a time of not just fun and family gatherings but a time of giving to those not as fortunate as I am.

Glorious fall leaves

Photo Credit: Sammi Blake

Everyone has traditions for the holidays.  My family and I certainly had our own while I was growing up.  Most of my Thanksgivings were spent in Roanoke, VA with extended family.  Two of my aunts, Aunt Mary Ann and Aunt Becky were members of a Woman’s Club that always served a Thanksgiving dinner to the less fortunate the night before Thanksgiving Day.  In many ways, this set the tone for the entire Thanksgiving weekend.

This tradition of serving food to the less fortunate left an indelible impression on me.  I can see that it helped to shape me and instill in me the value system I have today.  It is my heart’s desire to carry on a tradition such as this with my daughter Ansley who is a week away from her first birthday.  From the time she was just a little bump in my belly I have thought about how I wanted to teach her the important things in life.  Reverence to God and the Earth as well as Stewardship to others are some of the core values to name a few.

Ansley was due to be born last Christmas Eve.   Funny, growing up and as a young adult thinking about having my own children, the only month I thought I would never want to have a child was in December.  God has his own timing I guess!  Once I knew her due date was Christmas Eve, I knew I was being given an angel.  So what if it would be in the month I had always said I would avoid having a baby in!  Not that I really thought she would come on her due date.  And, guess what?  She didn’t.  Ansley came a month early.  She was born on Thanksgiving Day.

I don’t want to relive the details of why Ansley came early.  Suffice it to say I don’t remember much of that day and didn’t get to see, touch or hold my daughter until a couple of days later.  The first time I “viewed” my new daughter was on a camera.  No celebratory Thanksgiving meal for me and as for my family- well, Ben and Kathleen brought it into the family waiting room and everyone except me ate there.  I couldn’t even get out of the hospital bed.  I have to say though that looking back I realize this last year has flown by like the speed of light.  And although that particular Thanksgiving was not the most traditional Thanksgiving, I can now say it was not only the most memorable, but also the most special Thanksgiving I have ever had.  I have a healthy, happy and yes – beautiful little daughter that is thriving.  For this I give thanks.

Beautiful fall day

Photo Credit: Sammi Blake

I also give thanks for having the opportunity to help my stepchildren learn the importance of stewardship.  Recently, my stepson, Austin had a food drive at his school.  It actually lasted the entire month of October.  While doing my normal weekly grocery shopping I bought items for the food drive.  I got enough food to fill a grocery bag for almost every day of the food drive.  At first Austin didn’t understand why in the world I would have bought so much- I took this as a teaching moment to explain about giving to the less fortunate.  I talked to him about how blessed we are and that we get to pretty much eat whatever we want at our meal times.  I told him that many kids throughout the world and even right here in our own city don’t sit down to regular meals.  I explained to him how important it is to help others in need.  Since that conversation there have been several times when Austin has talked about people in need and the other day he even reminded me about how he got so much Halloween candy while Trick-or-Treating.  He asked me if he could share his candy with the less fortunate.  I explained to him that it was important to provide nourishing food to those that need it.  To say that his desire to give even his precious candy to others touched me would not even cover the emotions I felt during this conversation with him!  Austin’s heart is in the right place.  For this I give thanks.

The Christmas season was another important season of stewardship I was taught growing up.  I can remember at least one year adopting a less fortunate family and giving gifts to them instead of getting many gifts for the three of us kids.  Doing this in your own family might seem a bit extreme.  You might even think your kids would rebel.  I challenge you to try it – the outcome might surprise you.  I can remember only feeling good about getting less and giving more.  For this I give thanks.

I myself need to do more for others.  I do know though that doing one small thing can always lead to another.  I challenge anyone reading this to start a tradition of stewardship with your own children and keep it going through the entire year and then, through their entire lives.  Teaching them stewardship is giving them a gift that keeps giving.

I give thanks for so much.  I truly am blessed in more ways that I can begin to count.  May you be as blessed.

To giving thanks.  Oh, and Happy Birthday my precious daughter…

Ansley

Photo Credit: Sammi Blake

Our children are our future.  We need to teach them to reach out and help others in need.  Start planting the seeds of caring in your own family when your children are young.  Instilling the value of stewardship never begins too soon.

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