We Wash Feet

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Archive for the category “Holidays”

Serving Others at Breakfast

For weeks the women’s ministry team has been meeting and preparing to host our annual local church ladies for a special Christmas breakfast.  This year we decided to cater it instead of meeting together in a nearby restaurant.   Our women’s ministry director chose the theme, The Best Gift, and then began to work on our program.  I began to recruit the twenty ladies necessary to hostess the tables.

As ladies agreed to hostess a table, they received a complimentary ticket and a letter explaining the details.  This kept everyone on the same page. The letter simply said thank you and listed what their responsibilities and my responsibilities would be.

Round tables with traditional white tablecloths were placed around the room.  Each table hostess brought her dishes, glass and flatware, a centerpiece, and most often a small gift for ladies who sit around her table. Lots of details went into making this morning a successful respite from the busyness of the holidays.

Didn’t the hard work of our hostesses pay off?

DSC_0188For this centerpiece, beautiful prancing reindeer danced around a silver cylinder candle holder and red tulle netting gave it an extra punch of color. These lovely sisters used dishes passed down from their mother with red chargers under each plate to accent the centerpiece.  A Christmas bookmark and chocolates awaited each of their table guests.

DSC_0218This beautiful table decorated by my friend and beautician showed creativity worth noticing – scattered snowflakes, embellished blue ornaments surrounding a cobalt blue pitcher for the centerpiece, blue bandannas for napkins,  and silver makeup bags with beauty samples placed on each plate.

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This table’s snowman stood beside Christmas cones of bright red, green and candy stripes. The beautiful Christmas China was accented by chargers in red, green and gold. This hostess placed a candy filled plush snowman on each chair.

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This experienced hostess must throw amazing dinner parties as her table setting was elegant and sophisticated.  Beautiful fine china circled around a Santa tea pot and a Christmas home with a tiny train of sleighs that moved around the scene.  Napkin rings held paper napkins, a small notebook propped against the stemware and Andes mints sat in the saucer.  Elegance was an understatement.

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Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 

This Hostess and her daughter (kindergarten age) set this table together.  I stood back  watching mother instruct daughter on how and where to place each piece.  It was quite moving for this mother of all boys.  The centerpiece was unique and so very creative.  The antlers were adorned with battery operated Christmas lights.  I wish I had gotten a picture of it lit up but you will have to imagine that.

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One of Our Mother Daughter Duos

This table can only be described as cozy and warm.  I wanted to just pull up to it and start chatting.  Our hostess used two table runners and criss-crossed them. I will definitely use this idea in the future.  This centerpiece stayed tall and thin as to not block conversation between guests.  The top hat flanked one side of the tall vase and a snowman on the other.  The vase, topped with a huge white snowflake and red Christmas balls was wrapped in silver fabric making this tablescape spectacular.  Each guest felt welcomed as she sat before her plate and cup.  Did you notice the packaged cocoa stick snowman peeking over the rim? So adorable.  Every plate held red tipped flatware wrapped in a white napkin and tied with a pretty red and white checkered bow!

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Another one of our Mother Daughter Duos – We are blessed! 

This table used a green runner underneath red taper candles, a small decorated Christmas tree and an adorable snowman.  The snowman dishes held a Christmas jingle bell necklace for each guest.  We have some very creative ladies at our church!

This was just a sampling of the beautifully decorated tables from this morning. Every table was just as unique and special as the ladies who decorated them.  Some of these tables told stories of rich heritage, others were whimsical and festive but all were gifts of time and love for the ladies they would host.  This added such a personal touch to our morning and I am beyond grateful for their assistance.

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The buffet tables were clad with red cloth runners across the middle and laden with individual sized quiches, sausage cream cheese stuffed croissants, yogurt and fruit parfaits, and miniature pancakes with butter and syrup.  Talk about delicious.  I want the recipes!

Throughout the morning, everyone sang Christmas carols, ate their fill, listened to the guest speakers, and gave generously to the missionary family we chose to bless.   We were blessed.  I felt accomplished and ready to put my feet up and relax after a long morning of work.  My heart is full.  I love my sisters.  I love our church.

 

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 Simple Service Together

One goal for 2015: 

Invite like minded friends to connect together and form a group to serve together, work together, common change style. Choose 6-12 projects that will serve our community. These can be in partnership with community services groups that share like values, volunteer opportunities, etc… Or can be new projects that will serve our community.

Goals and resolutions often look better on paper. Life becomes so busy and this happens and that happens and before you blink you’re rewriting your resolutions for the next year.  

There is so much we can do to by choosing 6-12 projects that we will complete as a team.  These projects may include working in partnership with community service groups that share like values or may be new projects that help the causes we are passionate about as a group. Sometimes it may involve volunteering for a workday and sometimes it might mean everyone chipping in together to cover a monetary need of someone we know.  To get the ball rolling, my friend Teresa and I met for lunch on Saturday to decide on our first project.

We chose a simple Easter project to bless a few kids and their moms. Our first “Hearts to Serve” project: making Easter baskets for the children who live in our battered women’s shelter and a small personal basket for each of the moms.  We were able to speak with the director at our local Family Resource Agency and get their approval. Then we began collecting our supplies. 

We prepared 6 baskets for the children and 4 baskets for the moms. For the children’s baskets we wanted to include some necessities as well as some Easter candy and stay within a simple budget of $100.00 We talked about the things that should go in the baskets and made our shopping lists.  We would like every bucket to have:

  • chocolate bunny, peeps, and jelly beans
  • stuffed lamb, bunny, or chick
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and shower gel 
  • water bottle
  • band-aids, bug bite itch stick, and sunscreen
  • sidewalk chalk and bubbles
  • Frisbee, jump rope or ball for outside
  • card or dice game
  • stickers, coloring book, crayons
  • bath toys: rubber duckie, squirters, cup
  • small cars or miniature dolls 

   
Didn’t they turn out adorable? 

The director of Family Resource Agency and one of the shelter’s employees met us to pick them up. They delivered them to the moms for us along with a miniature basket for each mom as well. I didn’t get pictures of the mom baskets but they were mini versions of these with pampering products instead of toys!  Sooo cute! This will definitely be a repeat project! 

Confessions of a Pinterest addict

I love Pinterest. I spend a lot of my free time pinning, too much time really. I have multiple accounts, secret boards, boards for our home, boards for hosting events and parties, school activities, future plans and dreams, recipes and yes tens of thousands of pins.

I have two favorite boards. One is a new secret board for current projects and the other is open access for completed projects. The pins I’m seriously working on or want to complete I pin here and once completed are moved over with either a success or fail label and why. Probably crazy but so far it’s working. I’m completing a few more ideas, more timely. This month’s pins include treats to make for Tim’s class, holiday decorations, valentine plans and a card for his teacher. I’ll post the completed pins with results on what else, but the completed board! Here’s a few pictures of the end results from yesterday’s treat making. Thanks Pinterest and your many contributors. You help me be creative or at least seem like I am.

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A Homemade Christmas 

Christmas lists were written. Jeff wanted a box drum. Wow, good box drums are expensive, at least for our budget. That’s the reason we decided to turn to DIY tutorials and my husbands woodworking skills!  

Cajon Box Drum in the Making

We had to order the snare online but the wood, we rounded up from the local home center. Mike worked tirelessly each evening after work. His office has a workshop in the basement that housed this surprise until Christmas Eve.

name plate looks great

Honestly, we were a little nervous that he would think this was cheesy but I’ve never seen him any more excited about a gift and he’s been playing it ever since.

For each of the married couples in our family, I followed a pin from Pinterest and made my version of this framed Christmas box.  


I bought the shadow boxes, jingle bells, and vinyl at Hobby Lobby, borrowed my friend’s Cricut machine and solicited Mike’s graphic design abilities to make the background. The snowflakes have all of our names and some scriptures written in them.  Each box had gold jingle bells that correspond to the number of years married,  with red representing each child. My sister’s husband’s children are the green jingle bells. Of course each gift came with extra bells for many happy years of marriage.

Every year I buy each son a Christmas ornament that represents that year. This year the older two got homemade ornaments. Jeffrey received a highschool tassel “Class of 2015” inside a clear ornament. For Christian, I bought a bright yellow glass ball and drew on a smiley face. I added some “braces” to the front using tiny jewel stickers.

Class of 2015  Tassel in an Ornament

Class of 2015
Tassel in an Ornament


Smiley Face with Braces - Christmas Ornament

Smiley Face with Braces – Christmas Ornament

It was a great Christmas with memories of this year and money saved!  This blesses my family and serves well.

Christmas Angels

Sometime in September, while most of us are settling into school routines, our communities finest volunteers begin discussing Christmas gifts for the less fortunate kids in our county. A city the size of Cleveland, population of 42,774 (2013 US Census Bureau) has several programs including The Salvation Army, The Refuge, Faith Memorial Church, The Local Police Department, Christmas Memories, Cleveland Middle School, Toys for Tots,

The Refuge Center’s Christmas Extravaganza, various local churches, and The Children’s Christmas Party will all share in the blessing of giving. Hundreds of kids and or their parents will show up at one of these and receive gifts. Close to a thousand kids will meet up at Kmart and shop with a volunteer to purchase themselves toys, clothes, shoes or whatever they feel they need. The Salvation Army Warehouse will be lined with boxes to fill. As people purchase the wishlist of the children they adopt for the holidays the boxes will begin to overflow.

It’s Christmas time again and for the fifth year in a row I am totally overwhelmed by the way my community has stepped up for those less fortunate living around them. It’s easy to get involved!

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The Salvation Army Angel Tree Warehouse 2014

Cleveland’s Christmas Memories 

Cleveland is blessed with multiple Christmas assistance programs. I’m most familiar with Angel Tree, through The Salvation Army but Christmas Memories, sponsored by Brenda Lawson, is a favorite of kids and volunteers around town.   

Children are identified through our public school system, given an application to fill out, and upon acceptance are awarded a $100.00 shopping spree at our local Kmart. 

I volunteered to work as a shopper for this years shopping finale. I was instructed to arrive at 10:30 and other volunteers assigned me to a young lady. With my calculator at hand, I pushed a cart in and out of the throngs of shoppers as my child filled our buggy with various sundries, toys and clothing. It was so much fun, until we had to join the longest check-out line in the history of shopping! Every register was opened and every line stretched to the back of the store. Ugg four hours later we made it to the register. So in the end I stood an hour in line waiting to be paired up, an hour shopping, and four hours waiting to check out with a hungry child I barely knew. Next time I will have snacks in my bag. 

 

A few things I thought should be addressed with this program. First, because our local Kmart is inside our mall and the sheer number of volunteers and children to shop are so many, the station to meet your child shopper is on the opposite side of the mall. I understand this is logistically neccesary for crowd control purposes, but was alarmed at the fact no one ever ask me for an ID of any sort. I got in line, walked up to the station and they automatically gave me a young girl in 5th grade. Together we walked the full length of the mall, past stores and exits. Since Parents aren’t allowed to shop with their children, this truly concerned me.  They are trusting their child will be safe. Second, the check out time was exhausting. After the child had been through the check out procedure, they could choose dollar items from rolling shelves and carts in close proximity to finish reaching their $100.00 limit. This made checking out twice as long for each child. My shopper’s total came to 98.00 and then she had to stand in front of the dollar section and choose 2 small items. At first glance it seems shameless of Kmart, as if they are trying to milk the very last penny out of this organization. Of course, I’m not privi to whether or not this is kmart’s doing but if not there still has to be a better way to do the check out. Last, we must remember that although this is a gift to these children the majority of these kids wear their new shoes and clothing to school the next day and begin playing with these toys immediately.   Parents are still left with what can they do for their children on Christmas. 

I absolutely love that this program is helping students. Countless students from my elementary school met me with excitement, and hugs. For days one of my special education students greeted me by saying, “Do you like my new shoes? They are shiny.” This single gift alone made a huge impact on this student. Overall this gift to our school kids is a huge blessing and really what’s six hours in the grand scheme of things? It’s worth the time and effort if you pack lots of snacks and wear comfortable shoes. 

Thanksgiving Classroom Treats 

I had the privilege of providing thanksgiving treats for Tim’s first grade classroom. They chose pumpkin pie of all things, but I can definitely accommodate!   

individual pumpkin pies

 
These turned out so nice using a muffin tin, store bought pie crust, and a miniature leaf cookie cutter to decorate the tops. I had whipped cream ready for anyone who wants it.  I also wanted to try my hand at making acorn cookies so, using nutter butter bites, chocolate kisses, chocolate chips and some frosting  I assembled a second treat!  

Acorn Cookies for Fall

The treats were a great success and his class enjoyed them! We will repeat this next year unless Pinterest shows me a different treat to try.

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