Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Service Advent Ornament #LighttheWorld

This post is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The craft and service project are my own work and ideas. 

It took a really long time for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Normally we're listening to Christmas carols in October, but this year it took the spark of giving to bring the Christmas spirit to our house. It has been a hard year for our family, with lots of medical problems and unanswered questions. Between the trials our little family struggled with this year, and the toxic political climate, every day has felt like a marathon to be run.

More than once before the election I left my computer with tears in my eyes at the way people were treating each other. Hate seemed to spring from every corner, targeted at all sorts of people. I wondered about the world my children were going to inherit and spent months with a knot in my stomach. It was the first time in my life that hate seemed to be overtaking love.

A couple days before the election I sat with my favorite Christmas carol on repeat. Its words spoke to me more that day than they ever have:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail. With peace on earth, good will to men. It was the moment I decided I was done. Done letting the hate prevail. Done sitting on my hands and hoping my children found good in the world. I wanted to teach them to BE the good in the world.

When I was first given the opportunity to become part of the initiative from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Light the World with service this December, I knew it was an answer to a prayer — a way to feel the Christmas spirit and get involved. Light the World challenges everyone to light up the world with service, performing an act of service for the 25 days before Christmas.  Along with the challenge, there is a service calendar and each day emphasizes a different principle Jesus taught while he was on Earth, such as "Jesus ministered to children and so can you," "Jesus healed the sick and so can you," but it was Day 14, "Jesus Taught Us To Clothe the Naked" that really stood out to me. I thought about the children The Utah Refugee Center serves. My children have never had to worry about socks or underwear, but these basic things we take for granted every day are things these children desperately need.

What started as something for my family to do turned into inviting our friends and neighbors to join us. My eyes filled with tears over and over again as people of all faiths came together to make sure these children had a Christmas. The donations took over my living room!

People were given a couple of different options

Option 1 - Stuff a Stocking for a Refugee
Decide on an age and gender (example: 10 year-old girl). Label the stocking with that age and gender and fill with the following new things for each kid.

  • Underwear
  • Socks 
  • Deodorant (if you have chosen to make a stocking for a teen) 
  • A small toy or accessory

Option 2: Buy a Gift
The Refugee Center is looking for gifts for children ages 4-18 years old. Pick from the list below and go shopping for a present you know a child will love. Leave the presents unwrapped to help with matching to each child. Buy either

  • A hooded sweatshirt 
  • A toy ($10-$30 range) 
  • A book

We wanted our little girls to understand how truly blessed they are and we took them shopping to fill stockings for a child their same age. As I watched them pick out things that a child they don't know would love, my mama heart filled with happiness. Even at age two, a child can make a difference in this world. I hope these little ones feel the love of people from all over the country this Christmas morning.

If you would like to help make Christmas happen for these refugee children, you can head to ServeRefugees.Org to find all they need and drop-off locations in Utah. If you are outside of Utah, you can donate on their site through PayPal.

After we finished the service project for the refugees, my older daughter came to me with tears in her eyes and told me that helping the little children made her heart happy. The wonder I have seen in my children as we have served others and the good we have seen in the people who have helped us made us decide we are going to perform some sort of service every day until Christmas.

This little advent was the perfect way to get our little ones excited about our upcoming 25 days of service. Each day that we complete an act of service we will take a gold bead out of the jar and put it inside our ornament. I am hoping next year we can just add on to the beads and one year it will be completely full.

Christmas Service Advent Ornament

You will need:

  • clear glass ornaments
  • 25 small gold beads or bells
  • a small cup or jar
  • black vinyl 
  • a way to cut the vinyl (I use a Cricut so the following instructions are for that)
  • transfer tape
  • the printable at the end of this post

To make these ornaments, select the great big blue, Create a New Project button on the Cricut Explore site. You can either search the Cricut library for a nativity image (there are several) or you can do an image search for a nativity silhouette. Upload your image and select whether the image is a simple image, moderately complex image, or complex image. This silhouette nativity image would be considered a simple image. Simple images are the easiest to trace, so look for an image with high-contrast colors. Insert them into Design Space and move the image around until you have it where you want. 

In a text box on Design Space, type your family's last name (or a saying you want on the ornament), and select a font. Make sure the vinyl will fit easily onto the ornament. Mine is about half an inch high. Once everything looks right, set your machine to vinyl and hit the Go button.

Weed off the excess vinyl by pulling up a corner of the vinyl. Take special care around the dots of I's and other small items. After you weed out your image, place a piece of transfer tape over the top of it. Using the edge of a scraper or credit card, smooth the transfer tape over the design until it pulls up from the backing. Lay the design down on your ornament and use the credit card to smooth it down again.

This service project and our goal to Light the World this Christmas has changed our family's world from a gloomy winter to a bright Christmas. People are good. A small group of people CAN make a big impact on the world, and there will always be people fighting for the good. I hope you will join with us this Christmas season and Light the World with service.

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