www.multiplygoodness.com

Last year my daughter Meg really wanted to go somewhere in the world over Christmas and build an orphanage, or a water system, or a schoolhouse.  But it wasn’t a year where we could afford something like that.  Loving that her heart felt that pull and not wanting to ignore her prompting to give in a way that requires sacrifice and love, I asked her what she thought about doing something for someone in need right here.

In our community.

No one was building an orphanage, or a water system, and the schools that were currently being built hadn’t asked for her assistance, but there were places she could give…time she could sacrifice…love she could offer.

So we started trying to think of some of the simple ways we could give right here in our community.  The conversation went something like this…

“I want to take donuts to the fire station.”

“We should put a happy note on someone’s car.”

“Can we give an anonymous gift to someone in need?  Because a boy in my class is in need of a new pair of shoes.”

“Ya, I saw that boy…he really does need a new pair of shoes.”

“Should we seek an errand from the Lord?”

“Give a compliment.”

It wasn’t long before we had 24 days worth of giving our hearts, hand written in ink on a white piece of paper…

…one act of service for every day through December 24.

It was an amazing experience. In fact, we loved this project so much last year we are doing it again!! And we want you to join us.

There are a couple ways you can participate.

First, we are putting the 24 Days of Giving on Instagram. (#24DaysofGiving) Each day we will post a new invitation. It will pop up first thing in the morning. If you want to join that day’s challenge we are going to invite you to “click to commit.” Fun! Once you have double clicked the invitation for that day you have 24 hours to follow through. When you’ve completed your invitation, we’d also love for you to come back to the post on Instagram and share a little bit about your experience.

In order to make the challenge easier to accomplish, in our home we have hung a garland of numbered bags…1 through 24. This week we are filling the bags with the invitation cards (the ones that will pop up on Instagram each morning) and also with the supplies we will need for each of the 24 days.

www.multiplygoodness.com

 

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So that you can prepare along with us, we’ve made the 24 invitations available for you to print at home right now. For a printable link to the 24 Days of Giving invitations click here.

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Each day’s invitation will be simple ––not meant to overwhelm.  We don’t want to add more to an already crowded holiday…but sometimes the most simple of gifts can be the means of lifting a heart, bringing a smile, filling a soul with joy.

In our family, each morning beginning on December 1, we will check Instagram and then open a bag.  Each bag will contain whatever might be needed to accomplish that task for that day.

Each day will be filled with giving.

Perhaps you would like to join us?

Here is what you will need to do:

Follow us on Instagram: @multiplygoodness (Multiply Goodness is our sister blog, and it is another place where we will be hosting 24 days.)

Make a garland with 24 bags.  You might consider using small manilla envelopes hooked on with clothespins, or you could use a line of jute with different sizes and colors of children’s Christmas socks clipped on with clothespins.  Really any type of container will work…you just need 24 of them.

Click here to find a printable link to the 24 invitation cards.

Gather your supplies at the grocery store…and set aside some dollar bills.

Then fill your containers, pockets, envelopes, socks, or whatever you decided to use with everything you will need for each day.  You can put the cards in any order you want…according to your calendar and your needs, or you can put the cards in the order they printed out, which is how they will show up on Instagram.

You have this whole week to prepare.  We will leave this blog post up through Thanksgiving weekend so that the instructions will be easily accessible.

Brother Butler and I and some of our friends will be completing the 24 Days of Giving right along with you. Follow along with us as we begin blogging about 24 Days of Giving on December 1 and continue each day through the whole month of December.

Consider this your invitation!!

And maybe you could pass this post along to anyone you think would want to join us in Multiplying Goodness through the whole month of December.

Let the 24 Days of Giving begin!

www.multiplygoodness.com

 

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They called it Banana Friday.

The third Friday of every month, well every summer month, the months when the weather was warm enough for neighborhood night games.

Banana Friday was different than the other Friday nights:  To play the night games on that Friday you had to bring a piece of fruit.

Two fifteen-year-old boys organized the whole thing.  Two ninth graders.  Joe, and Nate.

And that probably makes you feel a tad bit worried.  Ya, I know you are wondering what they were going to do with all that fruit.  It could be a scary thought.

They gathered it up.  They put it in a huge basket.  And then they dropped it off on the porch of someone in their neighborhood who they thought needed it most.

This huge group of kids, sneaking through the neighborhood with a big basket of fruit.  Quietly approaching the front porch, ringing the doorbell, and running away like the wind leaving their simple offering there on the welcome mat.

And then, after the offering was gifted, the night games began.

It’s crazy, but the kids came out in droves on the third Friday.  Oh sure, they tried to come every Friday…but no one missed Banana Friday.  It was the most well attended night of games of the whole month.

The backyard was crammed to bursting with all of them there…filling up that basket with fruit.

Now Nate and Joe are serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The gift they are offering is different.

But still they approach the front porch, ring the doorbell, and offer fruit.

Now, it’s the fruit of the Spirit.

On Wednesday I attended Bible Study.  It’s one of my most favorite things to do.

We always begin with prayer.

This week one line of that prayer stood out to me, “Let the fruits of the Spirit live loudly in our lives.”

The words left a deep impression on my heart.

It’s because I associate the Spirit with quietness, speaking softly, a whisper.

And yet, this is a week when I am in particular need of that blessing

…for the fruits of the Spirit to live loudly in my life.

Louder than the voice of the world, the voices of doubt, the cacophony of my life.

I need the sweetness of the Spirit to overtake all of that commotion.

I have pondered since then on what my life would look like if the fruits of the Spirit lived loudly within me.

Today I am going to try it.

It’s the third Friday.  Banana Friday.

And I am gathering fruit.

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Christmas is around the corner!

The tree is decorated.  Holiday music fills the speakers.  A chill is in the air.

And day after day I have been working on a project.

Just a little something to help start this season right.  And make sure it ends right, too.

You see, I believe that within Christmas, Christ can be found.

But it requires preparing our hearts and preparing our homes.

And sometimes it requires us to embrace new traditions that will remind us of the real reason for the season.

Traditions that will help us to focus on Him.

That’s why I wrote this book…lots and lots of years ago…to remind me.

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In our family we study one of the figures in the nativity every week for seven weeks leading up to Christmas.  We learn about the part they played in the birth of Jesus Christ.  We focus on the lesson we can learn from their story.  Then we celebrate a tradition that helps us to learn from and remember that lesson.

Mary reminds us to ponder.

Joseph reminds us to perform secrets acts of Christmas kindness.

The shepherds remind us to testify of Jesus Christ.

The wisemen remind us that coming to know Jesus will influence us to journey another way.

The angel reminds us to share the great joy this season brings.

The lamb reminds us to recognize the hand of the Lord in our life, and in that instant, give thanks.

The Christ child reminds us to focus on Jesus all year long.

Every year we use a favorite nativity set to help us count down the weeks until Christmas.

But this year I thought we might do something different.

So I began creating this to hang in my house…

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We could hang the banner up just like this all season long.

But I don’t think we will.

I think we will use it as a nativity advent calendar.

Each week after we study one figure and learn about the part they played in the birth of Jesus Christ,  we will place their banner piece on the banner to remind us of their lesson all week long.

…the Christ Child will be last.  We will place His figure on the banner on Christmas morning.

Oh, I am so excited about this.

 

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And Brother Butler wanted one like this to hang in his house…

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Maybe this year you would like to add something different to your holiday.

If so, you can find the book here.

And you can find the banner here.

Here’s hoping that this Christmas will be one of your fondest!

 

 

 

 

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I met her on an airplane.

Two rows up.  White mask.  Thin tufts of hair poking out from under a baseball cap.

What I noticed about her was the light in her eyes.

It didn’t take long before we both realized we were flying into Phoenix for the same event.  I asked where she was traveling from.  She had just been released from the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah.  She was flying home.

Home.

A place where she hasn’t really been for the last seven months.

Home to two kids and a husband who have been praying for her recovery, for her return.

Home to pick back up the pieces of her life with hope, and with courage, and with faith.

We talked about how hard it had been, these months and months of chemotherapy and radiation.

How hard it had been to leave the eleven-year-old and the nine- year-old.

How hard it had been to move into a new house just in time to find out about your new diagnosis, and up and leave everything behind in hopes of a cure.

Now she was flying back into that life she left behind seven months ago.  To a new home.  To new neighbors.  To her family.

We asked her if she was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  After all that darkness.  So many months of darkness.

She responded with a sentence I won’t ever forget.

“Sometimes you have to carry the light with you.”

Yes.

You do.

Because sometimes life requires us to run through the darkness.

Sometimes that’s just the way life is.

It was the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz who reminded us, “Of course, I don’t know, but I think it will get darker before it gets lighter.”

And sometimes that’s true.

But it’s OK.

Because Jesus, He is the light.

And we can carry Him with us wherever we go.

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The guy cleaned an ice rink for a living.

6$ an hour.

He’d been kicked out of college because of bad grades.

I heard his story this weekend at a conference with over 1000 young girls.

How this regular guy showed up at a hockey game in blue jeans and a denim shirt and watched his team lose.  The game was almost over.  The crowd had settled deep into their seats.  It was a lost cause.

But Cameron Hughes, a passionate Senators fan, wasn’t going to stand for that.

So he stood up.

And he started to dance.  He pointed his finger at all of those sitting dejectedly in their seats until their mood began to change.

He hollered at the home fans to throw their heart back into the game.

The arena awoke.

“Everyone was thinking I was the crazy guy at the wedding and wondering, Is that funny or ridiculous?” Hughes remembers. “By the end they … were clapping and cheering and totally into it.”

Crazy thing is, Cameron Hughes woke up that morning, just like he always did.  He threw on some levi’s and headed out to the stadium.  Same one he’d been to before.  To cheer on the same team he always had.

But that event became a game changer in Cameron’s life.

Because that enthusiasm he’d created?  It made its way all the up to the owner’s box.  Before the game was over a team representative came and found Cameron and said they wanted to talk.

They offered him free tickets and jerseys and signed merchandise if he would come to every game and energize the crowd.

The next year they paid him $250 for every game he attended.

Word began to travel.

Pretty soon he was hired by other NHL teams in Canada and the United States.  It wasn’t long before he started attending basketball games.  He had found a niche ––he got paid to create enthusiasm.  To lift spirits.  To cheer people on.

In times of celebration and in times of failure.

No matter the score.

This one man reminded people to cheer.

I am reminded of Paul, And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. (Acts 27:22 KJV)

I urge you to keep up your courage. (Acts 27:22 NIV)

The greek translation explains that the verse suggests casting away loss.

When Cameron Hughes shows up he exhorts people to cheer, to keep up their courage, to cast away the loss.

He knows what he’s doing.

Because when he was 17 his mother lost a two-year battle with breast cancer. “What do you do when you lose the closest person to you in the world?” Cameron says. “You get up. You take what they taught you and you figure it out.”

And he did.  He figured it out.  Sure, he struggled.  But he reached out to people who could help. Day after day he fought to overcome.

In his attempt to find something that would bring cheer, that would allow him to keep courage, to help him through the loss, he ran for senior class president.

And he won.

“My mother’s message was about how to connect with people,” Hughes says. “I care a lot about people. I want everyone to like me, because everyone liked my mom.”

He could have given in to the weight of the burden.  Given up his courage.  Given in to the loss.

But he held on, and he overcame.

He rose above.

Like a phoenix from the ashes he discovered a gift.

The ability to spread joy.

To cheer.

And we each know someone whose life is filled with sadness.
Someone who’s lost courage.
Someone who is experiencing great loss.

Perhaps you know someone who has sunk down into their life?  Who looks at themselves as a lost cause?

I can’t help but wonder…Is anybody cheering for them?

Cameron Hughes wouldn’t stand for that ––he knows what can happen when you stand up and cheer.

So stand up.

In your own arena.

Stand up and cheer.

Cheer for the broken hearted.  The down trodden.  The one who has lost hope.

There is great power that comes from that kind of enthusiasm.  Just ask Cameron.  What started in a hockey rink moved to basketball arenas.  He’s traveled to Major League Baseball teams and the Olympic games.  He’s been to cricket tournaments and the US Open.

To cheer.

Cameron Hughes spends his life exhorting people to cheer.  To keep courage.  To cast away loss.

It’s his profession.

But more importantly, it’s his heart.

And it could be yours.

Where you see sadness, bring cheer.
Where you see discouragement, bring courage.
Where you see loss, bring support.

Stand up.

Help someone throw their heart back into the arena.

Become a game changer.

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If you want to read more about this story, visit here!

 

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