Monday, November 19

Advent Acts of Kindness

I sighed loudly as I stared at the calendar for November and December.  It is filled to the brim already with busy nights and busier weekends.   

I pondered the parties, outings, and activities, and my mental to-do list began churning:  card sending, cookie baking, tree hunting, present purchasing, the list goes on and on and on.  Of course, I imagine completing each of these activities with cheery Christmas music playing in the background, my two adorable children dressed in Christmas finery, my husband making a fresh batch of hot chocolate and stoking the wood fire, and then reality sinks in….  I will, more than likely, be rushing through each of these tasks, trying to get them done in time, squeezed into an already busy everyday life – possibly while slightly cranky, stressed and with a Grinch-like attitude.  


As I stood there, mired in a strange mix of anticipation and dread for the looming holiday season, I wondered where Jesus fit into the frantic pace laid out on my calendar before me.  Hmmm….  I remember vowing last year that this year would be different – that we would spend more time reflecting, more time giving instead of receiving, more time being intentional about celebrating Christ’s birth instead of being pushed and pulled through the season.….


And so I called a couple of girlfriends. We each sent a Facebook note to our friends.  The response was overwhelming.  And now I’m writing to you.  Would you like to join us on an adventure to do something different, something bigger than ourselves, something that goes against our culture of consumption during the Christmas season?  One of the best ways we can celebrate Christ’s birth is by intentionally thinking of others, every day.  Our inspiration is found in Mark 12:28-31:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

And so, we’ve hijacked the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) concept and are using it to celebrate Advent with our own version:  Advent Acts of Kindness (AAK)!  I admit it; I am still chuckling over the acronym.  I’m sure I’ll be shouting AAK! at some point before this Christmas season is over!  

Advent Acts of Kindness. 

What it is:  We are spending the 24 days of Advent (December 1st through Christmas Eve) doing one nice thing for someone else, every day.  And, we are adding one additional day – the Christmas Act of Kindness – as the Grand Finale to this journey!  We’re hoping you’ll join us for the Grand Finale, it’s going to be fun, and we’re going to bless the socks off some very special people!  Stay tuned…we’ll be talking about the Grand Finale in the weeks to come!  

Please join us, even if you don’t have the time to participate every day and even if it is only for the Grand Finale.  This is not meant as “one more thing” for your Christmas to-do list.  This is not pressure, guilt, or another big project.   Some ideas take planning, some do not.  Do what works best for you as often as you want!  And…, enjoy it.  Revel in the joy of doing something unexpected and nice for someone with no strings attached.  Slow down, savor the moment and enjoy the season of Advent as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  

We would LOVE to make this a community event.  If you’d like, take a picture of your project and post it on our comments below or on our Facebook page.  We want to see and hear what you are doing!  

Free Printable!  My awesome friend, Aimee, designed this free postcard for you to download, print and use however you would like as you are planning your AAK!  


Ideas:  Kendra, Kristin and I have asked our friends, and scoured Pinterest, blogs and the Google universe for ideas to inspire you!  We found our ideas falling into several general categories, so that is how we are going to organize them: Community, Nation, and World. 

Community
Neveah – I learned of this sweet five-year-old from a friend. Neveah is battling cancer.  She loves receiving cards, and she loves being able to hand out toys to other kids at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  If you want her contact info, send us an email at theruthexperience@hotmail.com.  For obvious reasons, we don’t want to publish her info (or her last name) online.  
  
Kids Against Hunger. This organization has locations all around the Minnesota, including Sauk Rapids.  If you and your family have never packed food with KAH, you are missing out on an amazing experience!

United Way of Central MN. For those of you in central MN – our local United Way has tons of super easy volunteer projects for children, adults and families.  You won’t regret giving them a call; they are full of wonderful ideas! 

Your local County Human Services Department.  I have a dear friend who told me that Wright County Human Services knows families and foster kids in need.  A call to your local county agency may put you in touch with a family you could bless – big or small.   

Catholic Charities Share the Spirit.  Adopt a prescreened family for Christmas.  Gifts need to be delivered to Catholic Charities by December 13th, so do this one early!

I’m also linking to several fun blogs with tons of great ideas for neighborhood and community projects:

Light ‘em up! 2012.  A fantastic blog with 100 ideas for blessing someone else! 

Mix Mingle Glow.  This woman did 38 random acts of kindness for her 38th birthday.  She has great ideas that get kids out, active and thinking of others.

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  Who knew there was a foundation for kindness?!  They have great ideas on their website.

TSJ Photography. This family went on a photo blogging adventure capturing their Random Acts of Christmas Kindness – what a great way to make memories!

Katherine Marie’s.  More awesome ideas specifically for Christmas! 

National

Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes. Click the link for detailed instructions on sending cards to our military heroes.  Cards must arrive no later than December 7th – so do this one early!

Angel Tree.  This Christian organization focuses on getting gifts to children whose parent(s) are incarcerated.  The gift arrives in their incarcerated parent’s name.

Toys for Tots. Buy a gift, drop it off at a pick up site. The Marines will take it from there.

World
Post Pals. This is an amazing charity in England in which people send cards/emails/notes to critically ill children, their siblings and their families.  Don’t you think a child would think it is AWESOME to get a letter from “across the pond”? 

World Vision. I can’t think of a better Christmas present than sponsoring a child.

Help One Now.  This is a smaller child sponsorship organization focused on Haiti.  They are currently building schools because the way out of poverty is through education.  Kendra has a sponsorship through this organization and loves it. 

Heifer International Help a family climb out of poverty through the gift of chickens, sheep, goats or a cow.  This is truly the gift that keeps on giving! 

International Justice Mission. Did you know Minnesota is one of the worst states for sex trafficking?  Yep.  Makes me want to puke.  This Christian organization fearlessly goes into the darkest corners of the earth in order to pull women (and men) out of slavery.  Here is their Christmas catalog, you can make a donation on behalf of someone else. 

5 comments :

  1. //www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/
    Samaritan's purse also has a catalog for giving gifts to the needy. And Compassion Intl.

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    1. Yes - both fantastic organizations! Thank you, Brenda!

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  2. I'm in. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get my blog up linking to this project. It's genius!! Thank you for sharing. AND, I'll get back to you about what I do.

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    1. Awesome! Looking forward to seeing what you've decided to do! :)

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