Thanksgiving Traditions

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Last year I posted quite a bit about our Advent and Christmas traditions but I just realized that I haven’t said anything about what we do for Thanksgiving.

I know there is a lot of discussion and debate about the fact that the Thanksgiving story we were all taught as children isn’t correct and what actually happened isn’t anywhere near as warm and fuzzy. I have thoughts on this but this isn’t the post for that.

The current reality is that our country DOES observe Thanksgiving and it is a wonderful opportunity to think about all the things in our lives we are grateful for! So this is how I view it. I also feel that observing a month of gratefulness as an excellent way to prepare our hearts for Advent. That said, I keep it very simple so we don’t end up exhausted before we even get to December.

Corn Kernel Thankfulness

Starting November 1st (yep this post is a bit late but there is no reason you can’t start now) I put a bowl of un-popped popcorn on the table along with a jar that I tie a pretty ribbon on.

I also put out our cornucopia which I plan to add to every year (except this one since I’m in the middle of a move and all my yarn is gone). But this isn’t part of my tradition just a fun decoration (you can find the pattern here).

Anyway back to the corn. Every evening at supper we go around the table and each say what we are thankful for. Everyone is allowed to say as many things as they would like. For each thing they list they put a kernel of corn in the jar.

I allow the younger kids to say the same things night after night. They are still learning the concept and my main goal is to instill a habit of expressing thanks and a heart full of gratitude so I don’t mind them repeating the same thanks every day. I do encourage the older kids to think of new items to be thankful for each day. I freely offer suggestions when I think it is needed.

In past years we have simply popped the corn (in my awesome whirley-pop!) on Thanksgiving so the more they have been thankful the more they get. But since we have popcorn on a regular basis already this isn’t all that motivating. Next year I think I’ll make caramel corn out of the corn in the jar-that should prompt LOTS of thankfulness!

Operation Christmas Child

OCC boxes

Another thing we usually do in mid to late November is participate in Operation Christmas Child shoebox collecting. The past few years we have been out of the US and not able to participate hands on (but we did build our boxes online). Next year we will be back to being able to participate more. Collection week is always the week before Thanksgiving week and we spend time during that week volunteering at our local collection or relay centers. There are also opportunities from Thanksgiving weekend through most of December at the Regional Processing Centers but sign up for those volunteer positions happens earlier in the year and fills up very quickly. Next year I will let you know before registration opens!

When we first started we took the kids to the store, grabbed a plastic shoebox and let them pick out items for a child their own age and gender to fill the shoebox (and hubby and I packed one each for a teenager). Now we collect items for our boxes all year. We also always include a note and a picture. I will post more early next year about collecting year-round or you can check out Clip With a Purpose, a blog dedicated to packing boxes on a budget throughout the year. If you are just now thinking about packing I suggest each family member packs one box for a child of their choice. You can find instructions and drop off locations at the OCC website.

Do you have other November/Thanksgiving traditions? Please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas!!

Make sure you subscribe to my blog (using the form on the right), I will share more about Operation Christmas Child next year and I am considering sharing my “secret family recipe” for the best stuffing ever-you won’t want to miss it!

Giving Back Wednesdays-Adoption

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 1:27 NIV

 

One of my Proposed 2016 Resolutions for The Church is to care for orphans and widows.

 

There are several ways to do this, and it must be a two pronged approach: Adoption and Economic Empowerment. There are many, many children in the world who need a family to love them. For most of these children reuniting them with their biological families is not possible.

 

However, we also need to prevent orphans by empowering families to support themselves. There are programs in place already working towards this. We need to adopt children who have no families to love them AND empower families who want to care for their children to do so!


There are three times as many churches in America as there are foster children available for adoption. That is ridiculous. If one family from every THREE churches would adopt one child from the U.S. foster system there would be NO children without parents in our country. I see no excuse for there to be any adoptable children in U.S. foster care given these numbers.

 

I propose we (The Church) make a push to have at least ONE family from every church in America pursuing adoption. Some will be adopt through foster care and others will adopt privately, either domestically or internationally. The rest of the church needs to rally around this family (or families if your church is BLESSED enough to have multiple people rise to the challenge).

 

They need to be supported emotionally, financially, and physically (with supplies they will need, help with kids or household tasks etc). Not everyone can adopt but EVERYONE can support an adopting family in some way. If we do this we can end the orphan crisis in the US and make a significant dent in it internationally.

Let me give an example of how the church can support adoptive parents in a way that will  bring more children home to families:
International adoption costs between $35-50 thousand dollars (this varies widely based on agency, country, and other factors). That is a very large cost that most families can’t afford on their own. If an adopting family attends a moderately sized church of 500 adult members and each adult member commits to donating $100 a year to an adopting family that would fully fund one adoption per year within the church. That is LESS THAN $10 A MONTH.

Most people can come up with $100 a year or $10 a month. Some churches are larger and could sponsor more adoptions (or help a smaller neighbor church with theirs).
I know there are some people who are in a season where even $10 a month is not possible right now but there is something everyone can do. Can you help with a fundraiser? Can you clean out your closets and donate clothes in the adopted child’s size? Or donate to a fundraising yard sale? Can you offer to mow their lawn while they are gone or after they get back while they are bonding? Can you watch their other children? Everyone can do SOMETHING.

 

Every third Wednesday on Giving Back Wednesdays we will be talking about adoption. I will feature a child available for adoption, an adopting family who could use some support, and/or a child available for hosting (more about that later).

 

Remember everyone can do something.

 

Meet Elizabeth, our first featured child. 

 

elizabeth-225x300

 

Isn’t she just a cutie???

Elizabeth was born 2010, she is currently in an orphanage in Eastern Europe awaiting a family.

She has special needs that her orphanage is not able to care for or get medicine for. She will have a longer, more full life in a family.

She is very smart and very well developed for her age.

Her special needs include:  Spinal AmyotrophyWerdnig-Hoffman disease. These cause her muscles to die and the care she needs is not available where she is. She desperately needs a family.

She needs special care, rehabilitation, specific medications and good nutrition to have the best life possible.

 

How can you help?

 

Could you be the family she is waiting for? If you have considered adopting pray about if she is supposed to be part of your family. If not, you can donate to her fund on Reeces Rainbow which will help her family pay for her adoption once they find her. You can also share this post or her profile page on social media in hopes that her family sees her soon.

If you would like more information about how to adopt Elizabeth contact Reeces Rainbow. 

This little girl deserves the best life possible.Will you help to find her a family?

New Years Resolutions for The Church


church resolutions

I propose the following New Year’s resolutions for The Church for 2016:

“The Church” means the entire body of Christians worldwide.

  • We will feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. (Matthew 25:35)

    We will support and volunteer for organizations whose mission is to provide for the poor. They may provide food, shelter, education, medical care or other needs.

  • We will welcome the stranger.  (Matthew 25:35)

    We will welcome strangers into our communities and into our churches and help them in any way we can.

  • We will clothe the naked. (Matthew 25:36)

    We will put a stop to human trafficking. We will not tolerate those who perpetrate it nor the industries that support and encourage it. We will make our local churches sanctuaries for those who are being held captive; a place where they can get assistance, resources, and protection.

    We will partner with organizations who are already serving this purpose and provide them financial assistance and manpower as well as invite them to educate our congregations.

  • We will visit the sick and prisoners. (Matthew 25:36)   

    We will have a system in place for caring for the sick in our local churches and greater communities in any way possible.

    We will parter with and encourage our congregations to support and participate in prison ministry.

  • We will care for orphans and widows. (James 1:27)

    We will financially, emotionally, and materially support adopting and foster families and encourage more people to pursue adoption and foster care.

    We will sponsor children and support economic empowerment programs so that children are not surrendered simply because their families lack the ability to provide.

    We will consider orphan hosting programs and support those who choose to host.

  • We will treat others the way we want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)  We will love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27)

    This sums up all of the above resolutions. We will treat ALL people the way we want to be treated and love ALL of our neighbors.

  • Most important of all: We will love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:36, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)

    This will give us the desire to do all of the above. God will provide the ability.

Yes, our churches do these things already. My proposal is that we do MORE. That we give and serve abundantly. That we create sustainable change and help without hurting. That we create and maintain strong communities in our local churches and areas so that we can leverage our abilities to achieve the most good. I believe that some of the issues in the world today could be significantly improved if Christians would work together and each do as much as they are able to do.

These suggestions aren’t so that The Church will look great in the eyes of the world. They aren’t to be able to toot our own horn or be prideful. They are because this is what Jesus told us to do.

Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Finally: Because I also need to stretch myself and do as much as I can for each of these, I will be starting a new series on Wednesdays focusing on helping in these areas. Check in this Wednesday for more on this and the first post of the series “Giving Back Wednesdays.”

2016 Resolutions for The Church

How will you contribute to achieving these resolutions? Let me know in the comments!