Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hearts for Syria

As I listened to the First Presidency devotional Sunday evening (found HERE), my heart felt a tug to refocus my Christmas efforts.  I had spent the last several days shopping for my ten beautiful children (thank heavens for online shopping!) and truly loved every second of it.  Gifts are a fun and beautiful part of Christmas, but I started to wonder if I was truly bringing the spirit of Christ into our home and intentionally finding ways to honor Him.  I reflected on some conversations I had had with a few of my kids in the days prior. One was with Sophi and Lexi, who were concerned about their friends left behind in orphanages.  The other was with Xander.  He had watched a video about the Syrian refugees escaping by boat into Greece, and his heart was very concerned for them.  He had asked me if he might go door to door and collect money for the Syrian refugees.  I told him he had such a kind heart and that we would talk about it, but I hadn't followed up.  As I reflected on those conversations, I thought how beautiful it was that my kids were concerned about others who were suffering, and how sad it was that I hadn't taken the time to do something about it.  So after some thought, we planned a family home evening for Monday where we could put their good thoughts into action.  

Sophi wanted to raise money for a little boy who was also born without arms and who is in China waiting for his forever family.  He has been matched, but that family is still collecting funds to complete his adoption.  For this boy, Sophi is making toe-print snowman ornaments to sell for $2.00. We are waiting for the wood pieces to arrive (they should be here tomorrow), but they will resemble the bottom one here:

Lexi and Conner wanted to raise money for children who are blind and are waiting for families to adopt them.  We decided to make little white cane ornaments with a tag that says, "The blind will see," a line from one of our favorite Christmas songs, "Mary, Did You Know?"  I think the canes turned out adorable, and it was so precious to watch our kids make them.    And honestly, I can't think of a more perfect ornament to honor Jesus Christ.

Xander didn't care what we made to raise money for Syrian refugees, so I decided on these paper hearts because they were inexpensive and easy, and it represented that our hearts are with the refugees:

We spent the evening making canes and hearts.  We did a lot of green and red hearts because not only are they Christmas colors, but they are the colors of Syria as well!  All the kids participated and we had so much fun!  The idea was for the kids to go out another day to sell them door-to-door for $1.00 per ornament.  Well, after realizing how easy the hearts were to make and how great the need is for the refugees, I wondered if other kids might like to do the same thing.  I know that many parents are like me-- wanting to give their kids opportunities to focus on putting Christ into Christmas.  

So... we are loving if you would like to participate in what we are calling "Hearts for Syria!"

You can participate in one of these ways!

1.  Have your children make the heart ornaments (tutorial to follow) and sell them.  They can donate the money made to a page I have set up on YouCaring.  Just click HERE.  I chose this site because they do not charge a fee like GoFundMe.    Besides the 2.5% fee for using a credit card, ALL money can go directly to the refugees. Or, if you don't want to use an online venue, you can send us a check and we will get it where it needs to go!

2.  Buy a heart from a child who comes to your door.

3.  Buy a heart online.  Pay for your ornament by making a donation on the YouCaring page.  We are suggesting a $2.00 donation per paper heart (instead of $1.00 if you buy it in person) to cover the mailing costs. Then LEAVE A COMMENT there or at check-out that you would like an ornament sent to you.  In order to make it easy to send, your heart will arrive looking like this: 


Just bend down the strips and put a staple in.

4.  Make your own heart! Have your child make their own heart! Then hang it on your tree and make a donation on the YouCaring page.  We are suggesting a $1.00 donation so that all kids can participate  with their own money (though you can of course donate more!)

5.  SHARE this fundraiser!  Can you imagine how amazing it would be if this little paper heart ornament started to find it's way to LOTS of Christmas trees this year?!!   That when people saw this simple paper heart, they knew it meant that your heart was with the refugees!   I am often reminded of the scripture, "By small and simple things, great things are come to pass."   I know that it's possible that something as simple as a paper heart can bless the lives of so many people who are suffering!!!

PLEASE, if your kids participate, consider sharing your photos on Facebook, instagram, or twitter with the hashtag #heartsforsyria so that we can join in the fun!

Of course, you are welcome to buy or make a paper heart and then donate directly to any charity who supports Syrian refugees.  I just thought it would be extra fun to have all the donations go to the one site (at youcaring) so that we could track how much money is being raised.   There is an explanation on the youcaring  page as to how the money will be distributed to the refugees.  You can trust me that we will treat the money raised as sacred funds, and ALL proceeds will go to the cause as listed.

Now for a tutorial from cute Parker:

Realize the hearts do not have to be complex or difficult.  If you are a professional crafter, you will likely have them looking extra amazing by adding embellishments or hiding the staples or using beautiful paper.  But simple hearts work great too!  In fact, I think my favorite ones are those with just two hearts-- using four strips of paper.   If you are doing the two-hearted version, just have the smaller strips half the length of the long strips.  So if you're doing 12 x 12 paper, use two 12-inch strips and two six-inch strips.  Double sided cardstock looks best, but you can even use plain white computer paper and a stapler and make a great ornament.  I even made one using an old Christmas gift bag (it could easily have made 15 ornaments.)   If you don't have a stapler, you can use glue or tape-- we just found a stapler is the easiest, and I personally don't care about the fact that you see the staple.  Yesterday I had a 15 minute window to make some, and I was able to make 9 ornaments in 15 minutes using 3 sheets of paper.   Here is a picture tutorial of me doing it, complete with my busted thumbnail smothered in superglue:

Take two pieces of paper (we did red and green) and cut into 9 even strips.  Or 8 or 10-- whatever you want.   Cut them at the same time to make it easier. 
Take one piece of another color (we used white),  cut in half, then into 9 even strips (these strips will be exactly half the length as the red and green ones).  So now you will have 9 green strips, 9 red strips and 18 white strips.
take your ribbon or string and fold it in half.  Set it about 3/4 the way up one of the long strips

put the other long strip on top and add a staple.  This will secure your ribbon/tie.

add the short strips on the front and back.  You may put a staple in at this point or just hold it securely.  Fold down the strips to make your heart and put a staple at the bottom.  If you've used thick paper, you may need to put a staple on both sides as Parker did in the video.
I was able to make these 9 hearts start to finish in about 15 minutes Yes, I've had practice-- but this is definitely not a long, messy project.  Are they perfect?  No.  Doesn't matter!  Don't worry about making them perfect!

And finally, if you would like to order one of Sophi's toe-print Santa ornaments or Lexi's and Conner's white cane ornaments,  you can use this Paypal link and if you will, please leave a comment with your order details.  (:

Thanks and Merry Christmas!!!

Random pics

Sisters!  Leslie, Becky and me at Bethany's wedding.  (Bethany is Becky's daughter and the first of our kids to get married.)  As soon as I get some, I will post pictures of the beautiful couple!
We love the deer that frequent our backyard
Best friends (:
Santa Claus!
First formal date!  (:  Oh my goodness-- I just choked up as I was typing that.  My first baby, all grown up!
Graci took this last night as she went to see the lights on Temple Square.  Beautiful!