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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Christmas Season

~ creative use of round hay bales ~

We're entering the Christmas Season, the period that gives us Advent, Christmas Eve and Christmas followed by the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Epiphany. It's time, now, to make a decision; to have hope, or hype, for this Season; to focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas at all.

You've read about A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp's blog and, hopefully, have visited and have her blog on your side bar. Recently she wrote about Faith Comes By Hearing Military Outreach, a project to get into the hands of our military personnel a Military BibleStick 

~pre-loaded with the entire New Testament ~ rugged enough for tough weather conditions ~ for use in low-light situations ~ sized to fit easily into uniform pockets and an MP3 disc of the entire New Testament along with response cards for service members to have New Testaments and KIDZ Bibles sent to their families.

There are many of my family in the military, the all volunteer military, and the Military BibleStick is something that speaks to my heart. It's something I can do that's not knitting or quilting or crocheting; it's something I can do, now, in this Christmas Season, to say "Thank You" to a service man or woman and their families. We usually give money to the local food pantry but this year, I'm feeding one of our own somewhere halfway around the world; I'm feeding their heart and the hearts of their families. Military chaplains are asking for 12,000 BibleSticks and I'm sending four. It's only four but it could be many more; will you, please, join me and send as many as you're able?

Ann also talks about Buy Nothing Christmas. Most of my Christmas gifts are hand made although I like to think of them as hand crafted. They probably aren't, you know, hand crafted, but they are made with lots of love and prayers for the recipient.  I don't buy a lot of gifts and I will recycle gifts; if someone has given me something I'll never use, I don't feel a bit bad about passing it forward to someone who will love and give "it" a good home. I mean, do we really need to buy a lot of stuff just to celebrate Christ's birthday? To give others gifts in order to, perhaps, avoid giving Christ the gift He most wants...ourselves? Buy Nothing also has a wonderful Bible study for youth, although I think a person of any age could benefit from the soul searing questions.

Uncommon Grace has great ideas for Christmas giving and is a lovely blog to visit. Especially, I enjoyed their Michaelmas celebration; I've often wondered about Michaelmas and knew it had something to do with the archangel Michael; after more research I now think this festive celebration will be added to our calendar.
A New Dream has many ways of obtaining a simple Christmas Season in their thirty page PDF document. This is a wonderful reference, suitable for printing and sharing.

 Christmas Change is "a season of change, a life of return"; surely this change appeals to all of us. Their blog is a cozy visit, full of yet more grand ideas for change, both in ourselves and in the way we celebrate the Christmas Season.

Kiva makes micro loans to folks who, in time, pay the loans and the cycle starts anew. Interest rates are incredibly small, enabling people to repay the loans and most of whom are women.

Salvation Army: Doing the Most Good is a charity both Dave and I hold near and dear to our hearts. Unlike so many other "big charities", the Salvation Army operates on a shoe string, relying on those bell ringers to bring in much of their Christmas funding. Perhaps you didn't know, the Salvation Army Director makes about $35K a year, far, FAR less than the $200K+ made by the Red Cross director; even if things such as housing, vehicle, insurance, etc. are included. The Army re-builds lives in SO many ways: working with elderly, working with children and child care centers, working with drug and alcohol rehabilitation, fighting human trafficking, youth camps and, of course, Christmas Kettles.

Charity Navigator is the, independent, place to review the financial health of more than five thousand charities. Not every charity in the USA is listed but there are plenty to review. For example, Salvation Army isn't listed; nor are many religious organizations because they are exempt under the IRS guidelines from filing Form 990 yet I have no qualms about giving to the Army. I've seen them in action, have known people who were "in" the Army and I believe, truly believe, they are doing God's work. And if they aren't, they have God to answer to, not me.

It seems the need is so great and our ability to help is so small, in comparison, but when we give collectively, God can make something wonderful out of something small. Remember the five loaves and two fishes story? With only five loaves and two fishes Christ blessed and fed more than five thousand people. I'd love to see how He's going to work through all of us. Ah well, we'll find out soon enough, if not this side of the veil, then certainly the other side.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ being so blessed we can help others ~


  1. December blessings to you this fine day! May God bless you.

    This is a very informative post you have here with the different places to visit and get the latest news. Thank you for sharing this. Good to know!

    May your eye heal well.

    Enjoyed this post,

  2. What a wonderful post! J and I have never exchanged gifts. We donate (small donations on our tiny farming budget!)to three worthy orgs. close to our hearts.
    Doing this makes our hearts a little more well fed.
    I hope your eye is healing, Sandra.
    I keep you in my prayers.

    Blessings, Misha

  3. My daughter-in-law runs the salvation homeless shelter here in St. Cloud and I know , even with all the education she had to have she doesn't get paid near as much as some of her conterparts. Christmas is truely a time of giving...merry christmas

  4. I agree with the other comments...what a beautiful post.
    Great idea with the hay bales. Though I do not have a "real" farm, I do have a "computer" one that I tend to. Yeah its a virtual one but I have to plant, harvest, tend to the animals and earn $$ to buy homes, barns, coops, trees etc. I can also rearrange/decorate my farm to my my hay bales will be used to not only "feed" my animals...but as decorations.
    Thanks for all the suggestions for giving to others.

  5. Good suggestions and great lists. We've pared down the Christmas giving around here for you say, there is just too much stuff around. I like to give locally as much as possible but your list is great!

  6. Sandra, I sure do hope your eye gets better soon, knowing you love to do handwork and your farm work, it must be tough to be handicapped in this way. Thanks for the heads up on the military Bible fund raising, I am heading over now to check it out.
    Good night, friend!

  7. Thanks for these great links!

  8. Lots of great links, I already bookmarked a few to go back and read carefully. Thank-you.

    How is your eye?

  9. Sandra,
    Thank you for sharing your heart for the troops by providing God's Word in audio to them through the Military BibleStick. Those Audio Bibles will reach more than just four.
    Thank you & Merry Christmas,
    Jon D. Wilke

  10. Sandra, your posts continue to amaze me with your talent for writing and always with inspiration.

    You are in my prayers for speedy healing with your eye.

    Blessings to you this Christmas season!


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