Special Edition: Giving with intention

The last few years our family has changed the look of Christmas in our house.  Today I am sharing my vision of Christmas that was getting blurred the past several years and also show you a few new ways to give this Christmas season that are intentional but also give with a purpose.

Christmas at The Williams House

As my kids were getting a bit older I had an unsettling in my stomach that something just wasn’t right.  My kids were learning about Christmas from the sense that it was all about stuff and I just wasn’t happy with that type of thinking.  I was tired of all the list making, list giving and the anticipation of opening up the gifts that we knew were already coming.  It just seemed odd to me.  The sense of giving really was turning into the act of “give me”.  I was tired of it.  I wasn’t just tired of it though…I was actually a little mad about it.

My husband and I told our families…as nice as we possibly could…that we wanted Christmas to be different.  We hinted at it for a few years but last year we meant it.  We wanted the meaning of what this holiday is all about to stand out rather than the gifts.  The busyness that comes with this season was also overtaking the joy that we should have been experiencing…and that wasn’t fun either.  Making cookies with my kids.  Putting the tree up.  Spending time with family.  By the time all of those things were scheduled in between working and just the normal day-to-day stuff…I was exhausted and Christmas joy was deflated.

You can read more about how our Christmas went last year and the reactions of my kids as we revealed this new strategy for Christmas:  The Williams Family Christmas.  The original title is actually…When Did Americans Get So Stupid…so when you click on it you are actually in the right spot.  😉

Instead of huge lists full of useless toys or items my husband won’t like…what can we do instead?  How about we buy something that actually had a purpose and helped others instead of just buying stuff that we saw on a shelf that was helping profit sharing.  Let’s help the small businesses that are local.  Let’s think about what the kids actually need instead of buying everything that they want.  Socks and underwear are making a comeback in our house this Christmas for one child because it is a need.  Toys will be in the mix too but not toys that are going to sit on a shelf for 6 months after only playing with it for 30 minutes.

Today I am sharing a few of the companies that I like…some with a purpose and others that are just pretty cool people and products.  🙂  These aren’t really for kids but kids could help pick something out for grandmas and grandpas!

Products and Companies that Exists with Purpose 

noondayNoonday:  A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a trunk show that a friend had for a company she is now working for…Noonday.  Have you heard of it?  If not, listen up.  This company not only sells amazing products…but they sell products that are made in the hands of those who live in areas of poverty.  Some of the products are even made from items that were intended to do harm…but now are beautiful pieces of jewelry.  When I say beautiful…(and this is coming from a very minimal jewelry wearer)…it is beautiful.  As I sat and listened to the story of this company and saw the products I really couldn’t NOT buy something.  My daughter fell in love with a notebook that is handmade and secretly it is now in our house waiting for Christmas morning.  I fell in love with about 10 other things but really…I fell in love with the faces and the stories about how these products were made and who made them.  Noonday was also started as a fundraiser to help raise money for an adoption…and it just sortof turned into a business.  Today though, not only is it a business that provides great products and jobs to those in need…but it also supports those who are raising money for adoptions.  Check out the products online and if you have any questions at all…ask my friend Jennifer Jensen.  She’d be glad to help you out.  You can find more info and the list of products available at www.jenniferjensen.noondaycollection.com

Noonday also has a few special things going on:

Their blog…which talks about so many things.  This is one of my favorite articles though:  Noonday in India; Empowering women to discover their potential

Pinterest Contest…where you could win free Noonday items for a year.  Check out the info at this blog post on their site.

narrow roadNarrow Road Coffee.  I may be a bit biased on this one because…well, my husband co-owns this coffee business.  But, I am a fan.  🙂  The reason this company exists though is not just to make really good coffee…but to help missionaries around the world.  25% of each sale goes to missionaries that are serving today and we know that the money is a need for so many.  25% is a big chunk of money in any company but it is the purpose for this company.

Narrow Road Coffee does roast coffee beans to order…meaning; you order coffee and in about 1 week you will have fresh coffee at your door.  Not only can I smell the difference between old and fresh coffee but I can now taste it too and it is a big difference.  Not once has a bag of beans that I bought off a shelf at a store tasted as good as what our fresh beans taste like.  There is no expiration date on many of the bags you see on the shelves…but the longer they sit there the older that coffee gets as the taste fades.

There will be a giveaway coming up soon with Narrow Road Coffee…to make sure that you have a chance to win, go check out their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/narrowroadcoffee  Orders can also be placed through their website at www.narrowroadcoffee.org and if you order soon…they can be delivered in time for Christmas.

A few other products/companies that I like:

norwexNorwex.  One of the groupies here at The Journey, Arwen, was probably one of the friendliest faces that greeted me in various places around town.  Our stories and connections of who we know really is funny…and today she is telling you about a company that she sells and is passionate about.  Arwen’s family has a history of childhood cancer, the same cancer that my sister had when she was little.  With that history, a husband with asthma and chemicals triggering problems with that, babies crawling on the floor…she needed to find a solution to cleaning that didn’t involve toxic chemicals.  Here is her story…”My friend introduced me to how a microfiber cloth with silver threads embedded in it and water could clean REALLY WELL and better than what I’d always believed was the right way. A whole bunch of carpet stains disappeared in front of my eyes and my family no longer went through MANY paper towel rolls every month for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. We were saving time and money, my kids could help clean and I regained a little bit of sanity. What parent doesn’t love the thought of saving time and money and that their kids can help clean without the worry of exposure to unnecessary chemicals?”

If you would like your order in time for Christmas, orders must be completed by December 16. AfterDecember 16, I’ll place an order for you, but it won’t be guaranteed to deliver before Christmas.  To contact me or find out more about Norwex…check out the following info:

  1. Arwen’s e-mail address:  mabgus@aol.com
  2. Arwen’s personal website — www.ArwenGustafson.norwex.biz
  3. Norwex is on facebook and has a lot of great household hints. Norwex’s green blog is a source of interesting tips and information too  — http://www.norwexrace.com/greenblog
Helen Sutter CranioSacral Therapy practitioner works to “free up” restrictions in fascia, one continuous membrane which surrounds the brain, spinal cord, every muscle, every organ, and even bones.  Experiencing a release can improve cerebrospinal fluid movement, blood flow and nerve function.  CranioSacral Therapy is not a luxury…It’s what your body needs to begin the healing process.  Check out my website for a list of some symptoms which can be relieved by CranioSacral Therapy.
www.helensutter.abmp.com  (507)-208-8002

random thoughtsRandom Thoughts Crochet.  A few weeks ago I went to a little craft fair looking for that special something…and I knew that my friend Marlo would be there too and I wanted to support her.  I have seen her work because she wears it all the time…so. cute!  I found what I was looking for and have worn it quite often since that day…it is the cutest hat ever.  😉  She also had fingerless gloves, hats for kids, crochet bracelets, necklaces, ear muffs and boot cuffs!  There were more items too that were just adorable but those were my favorite things.  If you’d like to find out more about what Marlo makes or put in an order, send us a message at smallchangesbigpicture@gmail.com …I would be happy to forward the message.

The real truth though is that you can celebrate this holiday with limitations, help companies that are in business for a purpose, teach our American kids what genuine gratitude is and celebrate together with family members with less stress…all while still focusing on what this day is truly about…a little baby boy.

Merry Christmas…just a tad early.

20130717-222549.jpg– Jessica

Jessica is a mom to three kids, wife to 1 and a fitness instructor at two locations in Rochester, MN.  You can find out more about her story and why The Journey was started at this post:  The Beginning.

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