Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'I didn't think anyone really cared about me'

Charlotte Court House, Virginia:

I received a Christmas jar, this past Christmas eve. I haven't stopped crying since. My life had been until I lost everything. My family, my husband and my home were gone. I lived in my car for at least 6 months. My job was cut from full time to less than part time. Depression overcame me. What did i have to live for? I decided to remain strong in character and faith. I dragged myself back to church and in turn received many new friends and blessings from them. Still times were tough, hard to make ends meet. I decided that with God's love I would continue to be strong and do the best I could. The Christmas spirit was not in me but I continued to be steadfast in Christ's love. He never turned from me. He never left. He continued to pour out His love, grace and mercy upon me but I was blind.

Christmas Eve morning I woke early. I was going through the "routine" of morning tea and depression when I looked outside. The sun was just coming up and it was then I saw a sitting on the hood of my car ...a gift....a present for me? I didn't think anyone really cared about me. Most were wrapped up in their own lives preparing for their families and their celebrations together. I grabbed my shoes and ran outside. What a blessing ...a jar filled with money. It must be a mistake!!! Inside was a novel about the Christmas Jar. It explained it all.

Tears welled and then streamed down my face. This jar was meant for me !!!! My faith in mankind was truly restored.My God is so good!!! I will keep the jar going to restore others faith. Truly, my life has changed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'Bless you back'

As I've said, I have received more CJ stories than I have time to post. Hope to slowly catch up.

Houston, TX:

Christmas Eve 2009:

Discovered a mason jar filled with coins in the back of my work truck. No note or anything, just www.ChristmasJars.com written on the lid.

To the person who blessed me with this, thank you very much. Everybody knows times are getting tough lately, and my wife and I appreciate your kindness and generosity very much.

Bless you back.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'We lost our home friday night to fire''

Every Christmas Jar story is special, but this one really stands out, doesn't it? To whomever gave this jar, I add my thanks to Dan and Jody's.

Dayton, Ohio

Hello, My name is Dan and my wife is Jody. We lost our home friday night to fire it was so devastating to us because we have five children who lost everything they had, we just had triplets and when we were sitting there watching our house burn to the ground all I could think about is what are we going to do then we started getting calls one right after the other with total strangers wanting to help, while we were staying at a friends house someone left a christmas jar on there back step in the middle of the night along with your book, you cant imagine the warm feelings that this made me feel, its amazing the way the community has took us in and made this so much easier.

thank you

Dan & Jody

Christmas Jars on Fox & Friends

In case you missed it. Lori and Jack did an amazing job!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'God answered both of our prayers'

Merry Christmas! Inspirational stories are coming in faster than we can post them. Eventually all will be available online, but in the meantime, read this standout that came in overnight. It brought tears to my eyes all three times I read it. I bet your experience is the same.

Fairfax, VA

To the beautiful mother with three young boys. I wanted you to know that I prayed to be guided to you. And God answered my prayer. I tucked my kids in bed before I left. I listened for promptings from the Spirit as I pulled away from my house and went to a nearby grocery store. It was Christmas eve and it was late in the evening. The grocery store had closed hours ago. It was cold and dark and the ground was covered in heavy snow. I saw a few people walking home after working all day. But they weren't the ones I was sent to find. I kept driving and found myself at a K-Mart that was about to close. I waited in the parking lot for almost 30 minutes watching for someone. I even thought I had found the right family when I saw a young couple with a child park their car and walk into the store.

I waited for the prompting to give them our jar that we had carefully filled week by week.

But the prompting was to wait, they were not the family I was looking for.
Then you came out of the store with your three boys. You hadn't bought anything. Your boys were quick to get to the car and you pulled away before I could get across the parking lot to talk to you. So I followed your van as you drove away. I would never do that, except that the Spirit prompted me to follow. You drove less than a half mile to the nearest bank. (The same one that I went to earlier in the week to get a few extra bills that went in the jar.) It was very late at this point and I worried that you would panic when you saw me waiting in my van while you visited the ATM. I tried to stand in the light as you came out. I noticed that you only withdrew a single bill from the ATM.

It took a lot of courage for me to speak up and ask if you would accept our gift. I'm not an extroverted type. You looked at me cautiously. I tried to explain how my kids had entrusted me to deliver the jar on Christmas eve. They had all gone to bed and I could not return home before finishing my duty of love.

As I held out the jar, you looked at me again and then reached up and received it. And then you gave me a great big hug. My heart was overjoyed and I cried. And then your beautiful boys climbed out of the van to run over and thank me with pure joy that only a child can share. And I cried again as I made my way back home.

Thank you so much for receiving our gift. I am so grateful to have witnessed the awesome power of God in the lives of both of our families this evening. God answered both of our prayers.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Two back-to-back stories that make you smile

These two stories came in exactly five minutes apart. I hope both the giver and receiver read these and smile as big as I did.

What's the real miracle? That the recipient will never know who her angel is... That's the beauty of the Christmas Jars tradition. It doesn't always have to be anonymous, but it sure it special when it is.

Oregon:

I just had the true & pure pleasure of giving away my 1st ever Christmas jar! I am so excited & cannot start next year's jar too soon! I cannot give details because I know my recipient will be looking for me!!!

I waited for the intended victim (hehe) to leave her business to go to the bank & when she went in, I quickly placed her jar on her business' doorstep...she would have to move it to even get back in! It was simple, in a plastic bag, nothing to give away the precious contents.

I had not heard of this idea until I saw it on Glen Beck a few weeks ago & I immediately knew who was to get one from me. She is such a wonderful lady, she started a business this year, and it has been awfully slow, I know she is struggling just to pay her rent. She has no family nearby, but many of us love her & treasure her friendship. God spoke to me so clearly that He wanted to bless her this way! Thank you for the miracle I have in MY heart today because of this idea!




Oregon:

I arrived at my shop this morning and went to the bank to make a small deposit, when I came back to open the door I found this jar of change on the porch. I went next door to Out West Designs to ask if they had seen anyone? Nancy said no.

When I explained what had happened I started to cry. I am crying now because this is such a wonderful gift and I never in a million years would have expected anyone to do this for me.

I am the one doing this kind of thing.

Whoever you are I thank you with the bottom of my heat for feeling I am worthy of this. You have made my year and now the new year to come in. Again thank you and blessings be with you and yours forever.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'wondering where rent would come from'

You wouldn't believe how many Christmas Jar stories I'm getting this week. Here's another miraculous one.

Orem, Utah:

Story: I heard a knock on my door last night, we have been struggling so much lately, even wondering where rent would come from. Being from Utah I am a mormon, and I was given a promise that if I would pay my tithing that I would be blessed. I can not believe the things that have transpired since that day in my bishop's office when I put my tithing into the envelope. We have been blessed beyond belief, last night as I was wondering how I would get my kids something for Christmas a knock came on my door, I opened it and there was a jar full of coins, and a book Christmas Jars. This is a blessing beyond belief! I will be able to take care of our families needs, and not feel so much pressure as we approach the day of our Savorior's birth. I am so grateful to whom ever left this gift on my door step. I pray that I will be in a position that I can pay it forward someday. This is truly one of the greatest blessings that could have come to my family.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'I am emotionally speechless'

Declo, Idaho:

I AM EMOTIONALLY SPEECHLESS!

WE just had the most "AWESOME'EST" thing done! We heard a small knock at the door. I thought the kids were playing and paid no attention to it. Casey was in his office and got up to check it out. When he opened the door no one was there, but he noticed someone had left a quart size jar on our porch, Casey picked it up and then looked around to see who left it, he noticed someone in a hoodie walking away. Casey said THANK YOU, and the person kept walking! SO Cas came inside and immediately I heard my name called. He was yelling throughout the house, HON look what someone just left us!

It was a jar filled with MONEY that had a note attached that read CHRISTMAS JAR! Oh wow, what a blubbering baby I am right now. I have such a grateful heart, that someone, or some family thought to save their money up until right before Christmas and then to deliver it to us! I am speechless and overcome with emotion. It's so powerful to see that so many people do live and celebrate the true meaning of CHRISTMAS, being a true example of our Saviour, giving and sacrificing all for the sake of someone else benefit! Wow, my heart is FULL!

The ironic part to this story is that we moved a month ago, TODAY I thought I would unpack and organize my husband office. I came across a book given to me a year ago called, "CHRISTMAS JARS". I immediately put it aside and thought to myself this will be great to read to the kids right before Christmas. After we found our own jar, my husband came in and said, the book you pulled out today to read, that's what it's all about. THE CHRISTMAS JARS. I must admit I can't wait for our family to be able to fill a jar next year and to adorn someone with it! Thanks to a wonderful book with a life changing and meaningful concept.

Fort Myers mom calls Christmas Jar a Christmas miracle

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'We still struggle with the tears'

Perhaps more than any Christmas Jars story I've ever received, this one reminded me of my dad and how we felt 22 years ago this week when he passed on. Much like for this wonderful woman, the Christmas Jar has been a blessing for my family to remember the struggles of others when usually it's much easier to focus on our own heartache.

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Last November I lost the most wonderful and loving husband to cancer. I have been given the awesome task of raising righteously our seven beautiful children, ages 14-2. We miss him horribly, you could not find a more devoted husband and daddy.

We still struggle with the tears, they will surely flow for years to come. But this, the second Christmas season without Duane we needed to try and focus on others and not just our own sorrow.

That is when the Christmas Jar popped into my mind! As much as we still mourn for our father/husband I know others out there too are struggling with their own sorrow, poverty, or loneliness. Thank you for the inspiration, for sharing your talent with the world, for listening to the spirit and writing the Christmas Jars.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'My husband is dying of leukemia'

Simply amazing! This is what the tradition of the Christmas Jar is all about.

Hagerstown, MD

My husband is dying of leukemia and one night I was sitting in the bedroom beside him looking at my deceased mother's photo album when I heard the doorbell. When I answered it, nobody was there but on the doormat was a book with a jar tied to it with a red gingham ribbon. I took it inside and ran to the window to see if I could see anyone outside. I did not. About that time the phone rang and a girl said for me to open my door there was a gift for me and she hung up.

I went back to the bedroom and began reading the Christas Jars book to find out the meaning of this gift. I was shaking and in disbelief that anyone would do such a king and generous act for us.

The next day about noontime, I finally decided to open the jar and count the contents. To my amazement, there was over $500 in the jar! I believe my mother was my angel that night that caused this wonderful act of kindness to come to us. Not knowing how to properly thank an anonyomous giver, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to start my own Christmas jar so that next year I can lift someone's spirits the way mine was this Christmas when things were so difficult. It's something I will never forget.

God's love did come down at Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'I sat in my car and sobbed'

Alvin, Texas

My husband and I have had a very rough year. First, hurricane Ike destroyed our hom. Then, in May, my husband had an emergency quadruple bypass operation. We have two young boys, ages 9 and 4. My husband lost a lot of hours at his second job and we have been struggling. Today, I was at the end of my rope. I am a Christian. I love the Lord and know that He is in control, but today, I was feeling very sorry for myself. I didn't have enough money to pay the water bill, let alone presents for our children for Christmas. I was leaving work (my church is also my employer) and when I got to my car, there was a gift on my front seat. It was a jar with around $130 inside. Attached to the jar was a note that said "may you be blessed this Christmas". I sat in my car and sobbed. I have never felt the presence of Christ more than I did at that moment. I cannot wait until we are back on our feet so that I may touch someone's life the way I was touched today. What a remarkable, miraculous gift.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'terribly injured in a motorcycle accident'

Elko, NV

Story: My husband was terribly injured in a motorcycle accident on November 5th, 2009. Although his back and neck were broken, he miraculously was not paralyzed. He also suffered severe facial lacerations. He was flown by air ambulance to our local hospital, and then to a bigger hospital in another city.

While we have good insurance with his job, the medical costs of meeting deductibles and paying for what wasn't covered, along with cost of time being off work added up quickly.

Family and friends organized a huge benefit, with a dinner, auction, and fundraising rodeo.

We received our Christmas Jar, along with the book, from someone who just stopped by the dinner and gave it to one of the organizers.

It is such a beautiful and inspring gesture to know that someone we didn't even know, who presumably read about our situation in the local paper, took the time to care.

Christmas Jar Story: 'Its hard spiritually as well as financially'

It's impossible to pick favorite Christmas Jar stories, but if I did, this would be a contender!

Las Vegas, Nevada:

I am a pregnant, single mother, with a son who has autism. As many families of the spectrum, we have a broken home. Its hard spiritually as well as financially. We were to have a meager Christmas, as I am pregnant, and saving for the birth of my second child. I opened the front door, to take my son to one of his many appointments, and to my suprise found a giftbag waiting for us. There was a simple note that said "Have a very merry Christmas". in the bag we found a jar filled with change, dollar bills, and a book "Christmas Jars". I took the money as a sign to get my beautiful son the best Christmas he would remember. I thank the angel that made our holiday so the much better!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'we plan to give away a jar ourselves now'

Stephens City, VA

We are a struggling family of 6, myself, Andy and our four children, Cat 8, Teagan 6, Bella 3, and Joshua 1. I was laid of last May, Andy just lost his job last Friday. Last night, Monday Dec. 14th, while I was at work, we received a Christmas Jar. Andy was in the kitchen and there was a knock at the front door. Our oldest daughter Cat didn't wait for Andy to open it, which would normally make us mad, but not this time. Someone driving a white car handed her the book, and a jar full of change. When I came home from work Andy showed it to me and it made me cry. I am halfway done with the book, should finish it today, and we plan to give away a jar ourselves now. Thank you Jason Wright for sharing this miracle with our family, bless you and your family always!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: 'She was the one'

Rochester, New York

What was it about her that made us know? She was the one. Our first recipient of our Christmas Jar. We saw her on the way to search for someone "worthy". She walked int he middle - blond curly locks moving slowly but surely - two little girls on each side - her guardians. Simply dressed - no purs- was her face sad? pensive? tired? One thing I know - it was beautiful and for one moment - uncomplicated. We handed her the book Christmas Jars,the wegman's bag with our jar of money, said "Merry Christmas" and got in our car. One of the little ones responded to our greeting with vocal awe of a child. All 3 gazed into the bag, the woman flipped through the pages of the book, her face flushed, a look of surprise turned to happy as she genuinely smiled, perhaps gratefully. I'd like to think she needed that money. I'd like to know she will use it well. She was the right person. The deep satisfaction and joy we felt tell us so. Her smile was a great gift to us!

Christmas Jar Story: 'You have saved our Christmas'

Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

Story: This year has been a tough one for my husband and I. Being a military family we were forced to move to an unfamiliar place. Finances were running very low and after being relocated to a place without family or friends we had lost a lot of our faith in people and in life. Today we recieved a Christmas Jar on our doorstep and our hearts were filled with such immense joy we could hardly contain them. We had prayed all week for a miracle and God had sent us and angel. To think that a person could be so selfless and kind as to present such a random act of kindness and not even take credit for their generousity. Whoever you are you have saved our Christmas and warmed our hearts. We are eternally grateful and look forward to sharing such an amazing tradition next year ourselves. God bless!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Life, Love and the Pursuit of Indie Bookstores

Friday was the last official book signing for the season along with it came a great little place called Winchester Book Gallery. I don't often get to accompany Jason on these little indie bookstore book signings but this one was close to home so I went along. What a great little place with wonderful people, a warm atmosphere and not to mention the fact that it's located in old downtown Winchester.

Now I don't know about you but these kind of bookstores make my heart go pitter-patter... I love, love, love them... the books... oh the books. I just want to pick up each and every one and read a little excerpt from them... the colors what great happy colors... the chairs the oh so soft and comfortable chairs... I could get lost in here for hours...



I know you want to grab a book off the shelf... go ahead don't be shy... oh wait it's only a picture



Oh and these... calling all babies I just want some babies to read to... anyone?... anyone?... I promise to return them to you when the story is over.



But alas we are not here for me and my solo trips to indie bookstores... although I will say they don't happen very often... instead today we are here for these books



and this author who is signing said books in said indie bookstore that I just happen to be in... oh wait I came with said author




Now these two young girls... I must tell you about these two beautiful girls.

Earlier in the day, said author and myself were in a local Wal-mart in the Winchester area. On our way out of the store the beautiful brunette in the picture walked up to said author and asked "Are you Jason Wright?" I think she was a bit surprised to see us in the local Wal-mart in her town. She asked for a picture which we snapped on her cell phone and then I let her in on a little secret... I said "Hey he's doing a book signing in town tonight." And later that night she showed up to get her book signed and to take a picture with a better camera and she brought along her beautiful sister. Thanks ladies for coming by it was great to meet you both.



Well as the year wraps up I must say I am so grateful to have my husband back home we have missed him this season as he has traipsed around the countryside. Thanks to all of you who have come to the signings, shared your experiences and reminded us that each day of our lives is made just a little bit better by sharing stories that bring us closer together. May you all be blessed this Christmas season and into the New Year.

Christmas Jar Story: 'I am in awe over the kindness of people'

(Name withheld)

I am in awe over the kindness of people around me. I have 2 young kids and am currently seperated seeking divorce from a man who is not who I thought he was. He is losing his job over what he has done, so I was left wondering what I was going to do for my kids at Christmas. 2 Days ago my son called me at work to tell me someone left a gift outside. I told him to take it in and leave it on the table. When I got home and opened it, I nearly fell to the floor. I just couldn't believe it. A jar filled with more than enough to make sure my kids have a very Merry Christmas. I don't know who did this for us, but I hope you are reading this because my words are all I have to thank you right now. I want you to know that my life now will be spent 'paying it forward', so that others may feel the hope, security and love I have felt from SO MANY during this extremely sad and difficult time in my kids and my life. God Bless you.

Christmas Jar Story: 'We are forever grateful'

(Name withheld)

Our second child was born in June. Two months later, I began having minor complications "leftover" from delivery. As of date, I've had two surgeries and one more scheduled. On top of all of the medical bills, I am paying for school for my Masters degree. Our heater went out and we had a $1000 bill for that. Needless to say, we were taking a serious look at our budget. We wanted to be able to do Christmas for our two boys and a birthday for our oldest born in December. Our coworkers (we both teach at the same school) put together a fast Christmas Jar to help us out this month. The Christmas Jar and Reunion books were both included. I read both books in one week and absolutely loved them. We are so humbled and blessed by our coworkers' thoughtfulnes. Right away, we got a jar of our own and started it so that it will be full by next year. I can't wait to do this tradition with my boys as they get older. We are forever grateful to our wonderful "family" at work and will never forget their generosity.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Even in pain and ruin, this man starts a Christmas Jar with $1.95

(Name withheld)

I just finished watching you on the Glenn Beck show and was greatly blessed by what you do, or more properly, have created. If I may, I would like to share with you my circumstances right now as I sit at this computer.

I lost 3/4 of my 401k and withdrew the remainder before I was totally wiped out.
Major structural collapse of the foundation of my home took the remainder; insurance did not cover it.

I am 68 years old, worked all my life, am a bible believing Christian and a giver.

I live on social security, a small pension and a VA disability.

I blew out my right hip last year and it took months of aftercare to get back on my feet.

This summer while mowing the lawn, the mower smacked into an exposed tree root which was like 6" thick.

I was stiff armed on the steering wheel, this mishap ripped 3 of the 4 muscles from my left shoulder rotator cuff.

I had the surgery, wear a sling and am in pain all the time.

I can handle it, I know that eventually "this too shall pass."

I am unable to meet my bills, filed insolvency, have $1.95 in my change jar and maybe $15.00 in cash to get me from today to the end of the month.

Today is Wednesday, Nov 25th.

I care for my 91 year old mother who is in a nursing home and I am committed to taking her out for Thanksgiving.

Somehow, one way or another, I will do it and I will do it without fanfare or begging.
I have one credit card and it shows about $20.00 remaining credit.

My car has less than a quarter of a tank of gas.

Guess what Jason, I took my $1.95 in change and started a Christmas Jar with it.

God bless you brother.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Short, sweet, moving

(Name withheld)

It isn't a stretch to say I have had a tough year, but let me tell you about something that happened last night. I went to work like every other night. After lunch I had to get something out of my locker. Someone had put an anonymous Christmas present in my locker. It was VERY heavy. I figured it was a joke. Anyway I took it home and my son "convinced" me to open it. I did a little while ago. I am still a little choked up. I just want everyone to know this...I am blessed to have kind, decent, Christian guys to work around, with, and for. They are hilarious, disgusting (lol), smart, good men. I will never forget this, and I will always appreciate it. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Best line ever

(Name withheld)

I read the book earlier this year and decided to give out a jar.

My wife just had a baby two months ago and I was let go from my job of 9 years the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Although we could probably use all the change for formula or diapers, I have decided to put at least $100 in the jar and give it to my daughter's Sunday School Teacher.

Sister M. has struggled all year while working only part time jobs (sometimes three at a time) to make ends meet. I know the amount she will get will not go very far, but I know it will come in handy.

I wish I could see her face when she gets the jar. Her tears would be like diamonds to me.

Christmas Jar Story: A Christmas Jar in a box to a most worthy recipient

(Name withheld)

This year has been very difficult on my children and I. The one I thought was my eternity turned out to be something quite different and for safety and other reasons, he was removed from our home. Things had been bad awhile, but courage finally came. We have struggled on several planes. Things had been particulary difficult recently. Sunday found me sobbing often. When I arrived at church there was a hefty box where I usually sit with my family's name on it. I took it out to my van and went into the service. For the first time in my life I got up and went to the restroom and shut myself in a stall and bawled. My mother's loving arms somehow found me and I made it back into the meeting. When I arrived home my children were bustling to get changed and I took a moment and opened the box.

The writing on the box looked familiar. I found a copy of the book, Christmas Jars tucked inside of tissue paper and with a little struggle exhumed a 20lb jar of coins from the box. So many needs were met all at once. I am so blessed. The years will tell a story that we will never know. Thank you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: A sweet reminder that there is always someone else in greater need

(Name withheld)

My brother showed up at Thanksgiving with two full Christmas Jars. He handed them to me and asked me to find someone to donate them to.

Two years ago his wife lost her job. She is the bread winner and he stays home with their three boys, twin 13 year olds and a 6 year old. She found a part time job that obviously didn't pay nearly what she was making before. For the past two years they have literally scraped by unbeknownst to the rest of the family.

My sister-in-law started a new job three weeks ago. This was something we had all been hoping and praying for. Although the job will financially get them back to being "ok" their debts are astronomical. It will take years to pay them off. There have been surgeries, a house payment, two car payments and of course five mouths to feed. Several days after giving me his two full jars he called me to let me know they were probably going to lose one of their cars because they were so behind on the payment!

But yet.....he had the heart to fill two jars with his boys and donate them to someone else in need! I think his situation deserves a Christmas Jar but his spirit shows there is always someone worse off or more needy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Amazing story proves you don't need to wait until Christmas to give out your Christmas Jar

(Name withheld)

This year, I gave my jar early, I gave it today. I met a wonderful lady at a new job I started in March 2008, we quickly became fast friends. In September of that same year she was fired because "she was too slow in fullfilling her duties." This woman was at the end of the seventh month of her pregnancy, of course she slowed down, they didn't care.

This September I was fired from the same company because "I expected too much from the others when I was the Charge Nurse for the day." Actually I was due for a large bonus to be paid if I was still there on a certain date. They made sure I wasn't.

So needless to say, I wasn't sure I would be able to pass out that jar this year. Well I did today, my friend called me in tears, she was being evicted if she didn't have full rent by Monday. So I crawled a little further down into the center of my saftey net and found a little more, you see, the only thing my friend wanted for Christmas, was a roof over her children's head on Christmas morning. As of today, she can relax a little knowing for at least this month, they will be safe and warm.

Nets are ment to catch those who have fallen, but you know what happens everytime someone hits that net? They bounce back up. I hope that during that trip back up, my friend will get a glimpse of the brighter days to come.

God Bless and Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How do I determine who should get my Christmas Jar?

"How do I determine who should get my Christmas Jar?"

This is the most common question I hear this time of year. Every single day someone comments that they have a jar ready to give, but don't know how to find the right recipient.

My family has given away several jars since first experimenting with the tradition in 2004. Every year has been a little different.

2004: We gave our jar to a young man leaving the country to do volunteer church work.
2005: We mailed our jar to a family suffering the loss of a loved one.
2006: We gave our jar to a father and his young children who'd recently lost their mother.
2007: We gave our jar to a trucker at a truck stop on Christmas Eve.
2008: We gave our jar to a family who days earlier had lost their father.

Each situation was a little different. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, we didn't even know the families who received our jars. We simply asked friends if they knew of others in need.

As I like to say, there is no right way or wrong way to give a jar away. Sometimes the need is financial, sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it's spiritual. This year if you're struggling to find someone worthy, you might try some of these ideas:

-Watch your local paper for stories about house fires or car accidents.

-Read your local obituaries.

-Walk into the pediatric wing of your local hospital.

-Ask your pastor or other church leaders if they know of someone with a special need.

-Ask your boss or supervisor in confidence if they know someone with a special need.

-Ask teachers or principals if there are special needs with a particular teacher or family.

-Hand your jar to someone in a parking lot who looks as if the jar could bless their life.

-Give your jar to the director of a homeless shelter, women's shelter or other non-profit organization.

Also, remember that while many people give their jars on Christmas Eve, there is no wrong time to deliver yours. Let the magic of the jar guide you!

Finally, when in doubt, pray for the right recipient. There's no doubt you'll find the perfect person to bless.

(Do you have an idea? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.)

Win an autographed copy of all 7 books

When one contest ends, another begins!

This one is the easiest contest I've ever run:

1. Take a picture of your Christmas Jar.
2. E-mail picture to contests@jasonfwright.com
3. Wait to be randomly selected no later than December 21st.


What's the new Grand Prize?

7 free books! The winner will receive autographed/personalized hardcover copies of:

The James Miracle (currently out-of-print)
Christmas Jars
Christmas Jars Reunion
Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle
The Wednesday Letters
Recovering Charles
The Cross Gardener (rare advance reading copy, paperback)


Easy enough?

Just take a picture of your Christmas Jar (people and pets welcome in the shots!) and e-mail it today. Cell phone pics, low quality pics, all are welcome!

Then sit back and wait to see if yours is randomly selected.

Good luck!

Christmas Jar Story: Paying a Christmas Jar forward

(Name withheld)

I came home from school a few days ago to find a jar of change on the cupboard. My mom told me that someone at church had left it for us. She explained the point of the jar. She loved that we had received it but felt that others could benefit from it too. So today she called my aunt and told her that she wanted to give it (anonymously) to my cousin because he lost his job and didn't even have any money to get christmas presents for his kids. She kept saying "we don't need it. We've been helped out already and now it's time to help someone else." As my mom was talking to her sister she was almost crying over the phone. This jar has truly been an amazing 'experience'.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: The definition of sheer joy

(Name withheld)

I received a Christmas Jar!!! I'd never heard the story but am anxious to read the book as I was also gifted with the book!

For about a year and a half I'd worked in a particular office. As office-mates we share life stories. My story includes financial struggles (separated for years from now former spouse, single-parenting all along, etc.). I was recently blessed with a new position that includes a substantial increase in pay (that I was not searching for but God knew what I needed, as always). I thought I could use my vacation pay for Christmas gifts for my kids but when I discovered that vacation pay is released after the last check with any actual hours worked I knew those funds would come after the holiday.

Well my coworkers know I have a daughter in her Master's Program at The Ohio State University, and two sons, a sophomore at a local community college, and a 12-year old 7th grader. Its the youngest that I was obviously most concerned with providing gifts for on Christmas morning. My two older kids are incredibly supportive and loving and understanding so giving them a "late" Christmas was acceptable for them. My youngest said the words but come Christmas morning, I'm sure he would have been feeling somewhat differently (I remember being 12!).

The day before leaving for my new position my coworkers did a pot-luck and terrific food and I found a Christmas Jar on my desk! Of course, NO one claims it. They say whoever provided it "must have been pretty sneaky" because they didn't see them leave it.

That Christmas Jar has so many coins in it!! Most of which are quarters and there are even many folding monies in there!! And they also gave me a hard-back copy of the book "Christmas Jars." Of course, I cried! I think its one of the best Christmas gifts I or my family has ever received! And I cannot wait to tell my kids all about how God provided for them through others in this wonderful way :)

God is good all the time! And ALL the time, GOD is GOOD!!! :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jason's Cheesy Web Videos - Episode #18

I'm a few days late, but I'm happy to announce the winner in our latest contest.

Many of you sent in postcards from all across the country sharing one thing you were grateful for. Then last night I sat behind across the room with my girls and we threw the entries (postcards) into a bucket. After each round we re-threw only the cards in the bucket until there were only two cards left. And the winner of the latest grand prize is...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Would you keep filling your jar if this happened to you?

One of the most touching Christmas Jar stories I've heard. What a wonderful person to stay so dedicated to their jar in the face of such adversity!

(name withheld)

This past January we started our Christmas jar, and the end of January while on my way to work I was involved in a freak auto accident. I had not worn a seat belt in the 44 years of my life. but that morning I had strong prompting to do so, and I buckled up. 15 minutes later I was struck and totaling my pick up, breaking my knee and femur in multiple places. It laid me up pretty good and I lost my job. But I had good insurance, and we had some money to start with and my parents are in a position to help when our money runs out, at least some. So we have been blessed and continued to put our change in the jar.

There is an individual that struggles but does all that she can to take care of her family and provide for them all. We were able to have a dear friend deliver the Christmas jar for us. We are thankful for that opportunity and pray it will bring as much relief and joy to them, as it has to us.

Christmas Jars Map has been updated!


Amazing that each star represents a jar. All those lives about to be changed this Christmas. A miracle? Could be...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Win a free copy of The Cross Gardener

Contest for e-mail subscribers only. Leave your first name and the entry word. Winner named over the weekend.

E-mail highlights from recent Glenn Beck interview

I've received more e-mail in the last few days than I imagined possible! I'd like to share a few of the highlights:

"I just finished watching you on Glenn Beck........what a wonderful idea. My Father passed away recently and he had a jar of change he always kept in 'case of an emergency.' The jar of change has a greater purpose now.......giving to someone in need. I will start this tradition in my family in honor of my Dad. Thank you."

"My wife and I are both unemployed but we have more than enough to be part of Christmas Jar program. 24: The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: -- Numbers 6"

"Just saw you on Glenn Beck. I hadn't heard of the Christmas Jars story until today. I lost my job November 5th. My son's birthday is December 9th. Although things in my life are not the best, they could be worse. I am starting a Christmas Jar right now. Thanks for the perspective."

"Money may be tight, due to my unemployment, but we will be doing a Christmas jar in our home this year. God Bless you."

10 things I'm thankful for, how about you?

1. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ
2. Scriptures
3. Family
4. Country
5. Men and women of the military
6. Good friends
7. Wonderful readers and supporters
8. Personal and professional mentors
9. Authentic Mexican tacos sold from street vendors
10. Fried Twinkies

Not enough ways to thank Glenn Beck

Glenn has been a friend and supporter of my work for five years now. But yesterday's interview was above and beyond anything we've ever done before. I know not all of you may agree with him all of the time, and that's OK, but when it comes to believing in the magic of the holiday season, his passion is truly infectious.

Thanks, Glenn, for believing in the magic of the jar.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Getting in the Thanksgiving mood

Received moments ago via email.

(Name withheld)

One cold Saturday in December of 2008, my two nieces, Kaitlin and Tess, and I set out on our Christmas Jar mission.

Inspired by the book and with the help of my sister who worked with the St. Vincent DePaul Society, we identified a local needy family. As we were told, the young mother had suffered a stroke leaving her physically dependent. Her husband was left to care for her and their young children. They were enduring some real financial hardship. They lived in a small but tidy home.

On that Saturday morning, the girls waited in the car as I made my way to the strangers' house with our Mason jar and a copy of the book. The plan was to ring the doorbell & leave the jar anonymously in keeping with the scripted theme of the book. Unbeknownst to me, the father heard my boots clomp along on the wooden wheelchair ramp that lead to a side door entrance to the house. Just as I rang the bell, the door swung open and a large, imposing figure looked down at me.

I quickly & awkwardly handed him the jar and said, "Merry Christmas."

He returned a warm, appreciative smile and returned a similar greeting "...and the same to you ma'am...thank you so very much."

It was such a brief and personal exchange, and I was moved to tears, overwhelmed with the joy of the season and the happiness that I received in this simple act of giving. My nieces agreed that this was "very cool" and a new tradition was born.

As important, this family gave me an intangible gift that would be revealed to me in the ensuing weeks. I lost my own job shortly after Christmas. As I mourned my personal loss, I reflected upon the many gifts that I did have in my own life, and the struggles of this family helped me to keep things in perspective.

I hope to carry the spirit of the season with me year after year thru the the gift of many more Christmas Jars.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Changing lives with spare change


A very nice story from the Standard Journal in Rexburg, ID.

Changing lives with spare change
Story and photos by Tony Potter

How a growing holiday tradition is offering hope for needy
families around the world this Christmas

When Jason Wright sat down to discuss “Christmas Jars Reunion,” his latest book quickly became secondary.

What Jason was really excited about, and grateful for, was the movement which had been permeating homes across the country for years now.

In 2005, Wright released “Christmas Jars,” sparking a phenomenon of giving by schools, churches, businesses and many, many people.

“That’s the amazing thing about the book,” Wright says. “It has become a brand, in a way that I never would have possibly imagined. In the first year or two, when people heard Christmas Jars, you thought of a little cheap paperback. Now when people hear Christmas Jars they think of a jar.”

Wright has received many e-mails and people coming up to him at book signings telling him of their experiences giving or receiving a jar, who have never even heard of the book. “The movement has actually become bigger than the book. In fact, the movement has become much bigger than the book,” Wright says.

According to accounts he has received and heard, Christmas Jars have been sighted in all 50 states, as well as many other countries. It is difficult to track, as the jars are intended to be given anonymously, but Wright has been asked to speak at more and more churches, of many denominations, and schools as well, which are incorporating Christmas Jars into their holiday charity. Barnes and Nobles Booksellers have also been supporters of the Christmas Jar brand.

With Christmas drawing near, Wright says now is a great time to kick off your holiday season with a Christmas Jar. But he is wary of the idea that Christmas Jars may have become too corporate or organized. In fact, the motivation behind writing a sequel, besides giving readers the rest of the story, was to remind people that it’s still about one jar, the one that you give.

“When that family opens the door and sees a jar on their front door step they don’t care about the other ten thousand people that may have gotten jars today. They only care about one,” Wright says. He also hopes people aren’t daunted by the task, or worried the change will be a pittance, not worth giving. “It doesn’t matter how much is in it,” Wright says. “The miracle about a Christmas Jar, especially in these tough times, economically, is that to the right family, or to the right college student, to the right widow, $30 worth of change could go a very long way.”

The idea is to put whatever you’ve got, whatever you can accumulate in change. Wright says that it’s not about writing a big check and sticking it inside, or getting $100 from the ATM. Wright says it’s the most you can do through a daily sacrifice, a dollar here and a quarter there.

“I don’t even care at this point if people read the book,” Wright says. If you just want to put a jar on your counter and fill it up and give it away, that works for me.”
Even this late in the year, you’ll be surprised how quickly a jar can be filled, and how much that jar can help someone who has little or nothing for this holiday season. “Start a jar,” Wright says. “Don’t procrastinate the day of your jar giving. There’s no reason to wait.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas Jar Story: Usher in November with a beautiful Christmas Jar story

(Name withheld)

I had just come out of my second marriage, which only lasted three months, but left me pregnant with my fifth child. I didn't have a job because my husband had insisted that I not work. So here I was, pregnant, no job, no husband and four children to feed and clothe. It's funny, although I was scared, we somehow managed to get by. Before my marriage, I had been working to help build my home through a government program called Self-Help housing.

I moved into my new home in May of 1982 and was so proud of my accomplishment.. I did have food stamps, which didn't go that far with that many mouths to feed. Not many businesses at that time wanted to hire a very pregnant woman, but I finally found a job as a waitress.

My daughter was born on November 2, 1982 which was joyous. I now began receiving $15 a week in child support which helped, but didn't really go very far. Christmas was fast approaching and I didn't know how, but I knew I was going to finally have to tell my young children the truth about Santa Claus. I just didn't have the means to provide Christmas presents; I was just barely making ends meet with the small amount of welfare that I was receiving. I had tried, in vain, to find a job but the local economy didn't offer much. A few days before Christmas, the door bell rang. There stood a lady from my church, Kristen Bell. She had a mason jar full of money. She said that every year she and her children save all of their change and at Christmas time vote on what needy family they want that money to go to. They had chosen ME. I couldn't believe my ears! I had never asked for help and tried not to let anyone know how desperate my situation was...but somehow she knew. Tears streamed down my face as I thanked her.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Win a visit from me to YOUR hometown!

Are you ready for me to visit your hometown? Take you and a friend to dinner? Come by and visit your work, church, school or book club?

Entering is easy:

1. Write on a postcard just ONE thing you're thankful for (family, country, fried Twinkies, etc.) and mail it to:

Jason Wright
PO BOX 669
Woodstock, VA 22664

2. Enter up to TEN times per household with something DIFFERENT written on each stamped postcard. (postcards must be received by Wednesday. November 25th)

3. Watch us online as we pick a random winner on the evening of Thanksgiving, November 26th.




How easy is that?

The winner and I will schedule (at our mutual convenience) a visit to their hometown (continental US only).

I'll also take the winner and a guest out to dinner at the restaurant of their choice and pay a visit to their work, church, school or book club.

Good luck! I'll be watching for your postcards in the mail.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Christmas Jars Book Giveaway

So here I sit in my office trying to ignore the flu-like symptoms I brought home from Seattle. Across the room I see my private stash of Christmas Jars (sans dust jackets) and I get to thinking: What better medicine than giving away a book?!?

I'll send a signed/personalized copy to the first person who correctly guesses how many agents originally refused to take on Christmas Jars.

What's your guess? Winner named on Wednesday night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Unfortunate update about Christmas Jars Movie contest

Bad news: Smarty pants attorneys have suggested I shouldn't run the "Win a Walk-on Role Contest" until we have a location and approximate shooting schedule. So in the meantime, please stay tuned for a supergroovyawesome replacement contest...The wheels are already spinning!

Oh, and if you see an attorney on the street, kick him or her in the shins for me!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Operation 1,001 - Empty Jars to Christmas Jars

(Well, she did it! My dear friend Laurie Paisley, without poking, prodding or help from me, met her goal of placing 1,001 empty Christmas Jars on counters all across the country. With the support of friends and family, Laurie spearheaded the effort to not just find homes for 1,001 jars, but to place at least one in every state! Below is her account of the journey. I know you'll enjoy.)

OPERATION 1,001 - EMPTY JARS TO CHRISTMAS JARS

October 14, 2009

I stand here in my kitchen as I did five months ago, wondering what just happened!! Five months ago I had this incredible feeling to share the Christmas jar tradition with a 1,001 people. Today I mailed jar #1,001!! 

If I’m honest....I never thought I could find 1,001 people to fill an empty jar by Christmas! I don’t know 1,001 people!! I have an amazing family, incredible friends and very patient co-workers at Barnes and Noble. 

They’ve all had to put up with me since I discovered the book, Christmas Jars, by Jason F. Wright, four years ago. I say “put up with” because they have endured thousands of conversations I’ve had with friends and customers and every year they’ve helped me achieve numerous sales goals for the book. Of course I’ve dealt with a lot of jokes, eye rolling and “whatevers” from them too! However, everyone of them has a jar! Each year I promise them I’m going to move on to another book, but somehow it always comes back to “the jar”.  

May 4th, 2009 - Journal Entry
Wow! I just finished reading the advance reader copy of Christmas Jars Reunion. After finishing, I got this ridiculous idea that I could collect and distribute 1,001 empty jars by December. I’ve really tried hard to dismiss the idea but for some reason it continues to linger in the back of my mind. It’s like a very loud voice or an overall incredibly warm feeling. This is something that has never happened to me before. 


I finally sat down at the computer and fired off an email to my family requesting their help in gathering 1,001 jars.  As usual, they are willing to help, however, like me, they have their doubts about the lofty goal. My sister said it best, “Laur, You’re always getting me involved in these crazy ideas of yours, but I’ll help!"

May 5th, 2009 - Journal Entry
This crazy idea is keeping me awake at night!  I’m not sure where to begin. To make myself feel better I went to Walmart and purchased 48 mason jars!! Then off to Office Max to purchase labels that will go on the bottom of each jar - www.christmasjars.com . Now if I can only find someone to give a jar to I’d be on my way!


May 12th, 2009 - Journal Entry
Jars #11-15 found homes today. Jar #15 went to the 10 year old boy next door.  We sat on his steps while I explained the Christmas jar to him.  He asked a lot of questions and we agreed to donate his jar together.  He immediately ran upstairs and brought down his piggy bank and emptied it into the jar and it was 3/4 full!  He was so excited he asked his mom how much money he had in his bank account.  I told him he could only put change in the jar and he responded, “I’ll take the dollars and turn them into change so I can put it in the jar”! What a kid!


May 22nd, 2009 - Journal Entry
I had my first argument with a very good friend over my Christmas jars project.  I got a very nasty email from her. She assumed that because I was tracking the jars by putting a number on the sticker on the bottom of the jar that I was going to get some kind of credit if the person receiving the jar sent a note to Jason.  She gave me a lecture that giving was supposed to be anonymous - to which I responded that the Christmas jars were given that way.  Anyway, 60 jars up....one friend down! Oh, I’m no longer putting numbers on the bottoms of the jars....just tracking them in a little black book!


And so it went over the next few months. As more and more people asked for jars and books I started to realize how far reaching this project could be. How much fun would it be to get a jar filled in all 50 states?

Once again, I don’t know people in all 50 states so I again requested the help from friends and family!  The response was amazing and we soon had all 50 states with a jar along with Italy, Ukraine, Thailand, Canada, England, Taiwan, Ireland, Holland, France and China. Most went to American families living in those countries.

This project has more than exceeded my expectations. I have met some amazing people, I have reconnected with many of my high school friends who I haven’t seen or talked to in 27 years, and I have heard so many “thank yous” from so many people.  I can sit back on Christmas Eve and smile knowing that so many people will be receiving a jar! I won’t need any Christmas present this year...mine came early. It came on October 14th when I mailed out jar #1,001!

I’ve learned that you can do anything you set your mind to.  No matter how mind boggling it may seem at the beginning, if you can dream it you can achieve it.  It just takes a little bit of heart, some passion for the cause and a lot of determination!!

Now......I’m not focusing on the 1,001...but "the one"...the one jar I plan to give away this Christmas that will change someone's life!




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First TV piece of the fall

It's exciting to see the movement beginning to find its way back onto TV this fall. Check out this story from my recent visit to Idaho.

How's your jar coming along?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Win a copy of Christmas Jars Reunion on CD

My good friend, Al, is producing a commercial for my two new books and needs your brief opinion.

Call 801-876-0180 and follow the recorded directions. You simply state your first name, city, state and how Christmas Jars has impacted you.

It only takes a few seconds and if he uses your comments you'll receive a copy of Christmas Jars Reunion on CD.

Good luck! And thank you...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wright Words: Life at 37,000 feet

My latest syndicated column. Hope you enjoy!

###

Wright Words: Life at 37,000 feet

There are two questions I field more than any other. The first is predictable: “Can you help me get my book published?”

The easy answer is “Maybe, but I probably won’t. I don’t need any more competition than I already have." I kid, I’d be happy to help. As long as your book is gut wrenching memoir of a karaoke singing llama.

The second question: "Is it hard being away from home so often?” I wish there were an equally satisfying answer.

I’m the definition of a frequent flier. And by ‘flier’ I mean as a passenger on airplanes, not in the cockpit. And by ‘frequent’ I mean I can reenact the Delta safety video verbatim. You’ve seen it; it’s the one that features a redheaded super-model flight attendant with a no-smoking finger-wag that should merit a PG-13 rating.

Traveling can be brutal. The good news is my wife has me trained to pack and live from a carry-on, even on longer trips. The bad news is they still make me check the bags under my eyes at $15 a pop.

Maybe some of you are airport rats, too. You know that traveling as much as we do has ups and downs. For me the downs are easy to name: Kodi, Oakli, Jadi, Kason, Koleson.

Unfortunately it is my beautiful bride of sixteen-years, Kodi, who tucks my four children into bed more often than I do. She's the one who gets the last hug of the day from my two girls who no longer need assistance with jammies or tooth brushing, but still crave a moment or two every night to be reminded how much they are loved.

Kodi is also the one who enjoys the sweet and innocent cheek kisses from my five-year-old son who’s smack in his ‘dad-is-my-hero’ phase. If you’ve ever had a five-year-old boy who behaves as though his biological father might be Evil Knievel, you know just what I mean. My kid once demanded a DNA test.

Then there's my two-year-old. While I'm fussing with the thermostat in a concrete hotel room somewhere, my wife is snuggling next to our youngest as he drifts into sleep. I imagine him gripping one of her fingers with his left hand, his own little security system to ensure she doesn't escape too soon. Only when he's breathing deeply and lost in the land of baby boy dreams will she gently pry her finger from his and shut the door behind her. Those are sacred moments.

How about the pros of living at 37,000 feet? Those are just as easy to enumerate and one of them might be reading this very piece: You. I love meeting readers across the country, and I fully appreciate that being a writer means I need to connect with readers as much as possible. For me there isn’t anything more exciting than walking onto a stage with 800 people waiting to hear you tell a story. Or sitting at a rickety table in a mom & pop bookstore and having a reader tell you their book moved them to do or feel something entirely new. It’s magic.

I once drove with my good friend Mr. Please Kill Me Now Sore Throat over seven hours to a January signing in a North Carolina town so small the entire population showed up. All seventeen of them. They gave me a key to the city and put me on the ballot for mayor. It was certainly a trip I’ll never forget. Not necessarily for the day itself, though it was perfectly charming, but for the genuine thank you note I received from the bookstore owner. I’ve never been thanked with such sincerity. It would have made missing the nighttime routine at the Wright house a bit easier to swallow. If I could have.

Then there was the recent trip with a first time flier in her mid-fifties. She talked from takeoff to touch down to ease her anxiety. I'm embarrassed to admit that I passed most of those three hours trying not to be annoyed: Doesn’t she know I have episodes of ‘24’ to catch up on? Yes, that was a con. But when we landed and she took my hand in both of hers and thanked me for making her flight so comfortable, well - that as a pro.

A few days ago I got my first glance at my fall tour schedule. It was hard not to notice how many nights I'd be spending alone in a hotel with scratchy sheets and $3 bottled water. But it's easy to see that in places like Salt Lake City, Boise, Indianapolis, Sacramento and Portland, I'm going to meet the kindest, most amazing people who've also made a sacrifice to be there that night.

As I shake their grateful hands, stand in their photos and sign their books, I will sometimes picture my wife at home snuggling with my sleepy two-year-old. I'll miss them all, but I'll thank heaven above she's home to do it so well.

Then I'll look back at someone who took precious time from his or her own busy life to share a moment with me and offer thanks for taking time from my family to be there in their hometown.

Yes there pros and cons to living at 37,000 feet. But I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s life. That’s my life.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wright Words: The Cameron Birch Christmas Jar Story

My latest syndicated column. Enjoy!

###

Wright Words: The Cameron Birch Christmas Jar Story

I am often asked, “who received the very first Christmas Jar?” While that’s impossible to know with complete certainty, I have always believed the first jar was received by perhaps the most worthy recipient ever. His name is Cameron Birch, and to commemorate this month’s release of Christmas Jars Reunion, the sequel to Christmas Jars, I thought a gentle reminder of where it began and why it matters four years later would be the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of colored leaves, crisp nights, and mysterious jars of change.

Cameron is a unique young man with a mission as inspiring as any you will ever hear. This is his story.

(As told by his father, Matt Birch, in December of 2005.)

_____


A little more than two years ago I was just a husband and father, enjoying my three amazing sons and beautiful wife. Cameron was four and like his older brothers, Braden and Tyson, had endless energy and personality and couldn't wait for the next big adventure. No one could have predicted the next adventure life had planned for him.

We embarked on that adventure January 9th, 2005 when we took Cameron to the emergency room after an unusually long bout with what we thought was a virus, or another average childhood ailment. Over the course of a month, spanning the Christmas holidays, his appetite left him and he began to lose weight. Every morning brought a severe headache and vomiting. He was actually excited to go to the hospital so the doctors could give him "good medicine to make my headaches go away," he said.

We all felt that way until a serious-looking doctor told us they found the reason Cameron was having headaches. "It's bad, very bad," he quietly whispered to us.

Six hours later we stood watching helplessly as Cameron was wheeled into surgery to have a malignant tumor the size of a golf ball removed from his brain. What was supposed to be nothing more than a quick trip to the hospital turned into a two week stay. It was the first of many more to come.

My wife and I struggled to understand what was happening. It seemed surreal, as if life were simultaneously going in slow motion and at the speed of light. We worried about how to make a four-year-old understand something we hadn't yet grasped. We didn't have to. He never asked any questions like, "Why me?" He never complained. The closest he ever came to complaining was during a particularly difficult day when he said, "Dad, this cancer stuff stinks."

He suffered through six weeks of radiation and months and months of chemotherapy. The radiation was the hardest part for him. He was fed through a tube and continued to throw up 20 to 30 times a day. He couldn't eat, play with his friends, or do many of the things most of us take for granted. What he did do was smile, laugh, and inspire everyone who met him.

One day, during a discussion with his aunt, he declared, "My mission in life is to beat cancer." He fulfilled that mission with everything he had. His little body may have suffered in the battle, but cancer never stood a chance against his faith, smile, laugh, attitude, and spirit. He totally and completely forgot about himself and worried about other cancer patients.

He would say, "It hurts my heart" to see other cancer patients because he knew they didn't feel well. When he was first diagnosed, he began praying for the other children with cancer. In every prayer, without fail, he would ask, "Please help all the other kids kill their cancer." He rarely prayed for himself. He was more concerned for the other kids.

His efforts went beyond prayer, too. He acted on his mission to beat cancer. In July of 2005 he asked for help setting up a fundraiser for the "other kids." He set up "Cam's Stand For Kids With Cancer," a stand along the parade route of the largest parade in Utah. He sold drinks, ice cream, and candy, raising hundreds of dollars. He took every penny of it and with his brothers personally made "Build-a-Bears" for each of the brain tumor patients at Primary Children's Hospital. Here was a four-year-old boy with hundreds of dollars and not once did he ask if he could have some of it for himself. The only question he asked was, "When can we go give the kids their bears"?

For 11 months everything was going perfectly with his treatments. There was no sign of cancer anywhere. His health was good and he was even able to get out and enjoy his friends. We were starting to plan a neighborhood party to celebrate the end of his treatments, and were looking forward to our family's trip to Disney World through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. We believed he was one of the lucky few.

We never made it to Disney World. November of 2005 brought another discovery that turned our world upside down, again. During a routine MRI, they discovered the cancer had returned. It had come back with a vengeance and now coated his spine with a layer of cancerous cells and spread up into his brain. In a cruel irony, the original tumor location was still completely cancer free. Options for his treatments were very limited at this point. The doctors thought he would make it until Christmas, but they couldn't guarantee anything.

The day after his re-diagnosis, I was home alone with Cameron. Cameron didn't know his cancer had returned yet. I was curious to know how he would take the news. Throughout the treatments we had always talked to him about how it was possible for the cancer to come back, but never dwelt on that possibility. I asked him, "So buddy what would you do if your cancer came back?" Without hesitation he answered, "That would be OK, we would just start over and do it all again." So we started over.

Shortly before Christmas the new treatments began, and Cameron had another idea that he wouldn't let go of. He wanted to give something else to the kids suffering with cancer. He thought about it and talked about it with us. He wanted very much to buy some toys for the cancer patient's playroom in the hospital. He loved to play with the toys and puzzles when he went in for his treatments. The playroom was one of the only places the children could go to escape the pain and worries associated with the rest of the hospital. He talked to the nurses and social workers to find out which toys were needed the most. He was very excited to go and buy them for the kids.

Unfortunately, the cancer got ahead of Cameron's plans. He often spoke of going to the store to buy the toys but his little body had begun to shut down. He struggled to walk, his appetite was gone, and he was suffering from double vision making it difficult for him to watch his favorite movies or play video games. Cancer was slowly robbing him of all of his favorite things and robbing us of our little boy.

Late one night just before Christmas, a knock at the door changed our family forever. The kids rushed from the family room and threw open the door to find nothing but the cold December night. In place of a visitor, there were two large jars sitting on our porch. Each was labeled in bright letters, "Christmas Jar." Attached to one of them was a copy of the book Christmas Jars and a note. The note explained how the anonymous giver had read this book and how it had changed his life. My oldest two sons each brought a jar inside and excitedly unscrewed the lids. One jar was filled with pennies. The other was filled with other change and some paper money.

I had just read the book and so I retold the story as well as I could. We talked about what it means to give unselfishly to others. We tried to figure out what generous person might have left the jars. Cameron was very excited that someone would do that for him and his family. He understood we got the jars because he had cancer. A light that had been dimmed by illness burned a little brighter in Cameron's eyes that night. This simple act of giving stopped - for just one night - the steady march of a terrible disease.

The next morning, Cameron commenced with the counting. He got down on the floor and counted each penny one by one. When all the money had been carefully counted, the total was more than $300. Then Cameron said something that captured his true spirit, "Why do people want to help me so much?" he asked.

"Well, because people love you and they feel badly that you are sick so they want to help," I replied.

"But dad, I can do this all by myself," he calmly answered.

Cameron decided at that moment to take the money from the Christmas Jars and use it to buy the toys for the hospital's playroom.

Cameron was never well enough to go to the store and buy the toys himself. Three weeks after Christmas he suffered a severe seizure that sent him to the hospital for another stay in the ICU, much of it on life support. After two weeks, we were finally able to take him home where he spent his final ten days on this earth surrounded by family and friends. Even as his body lay in his bed losing its battle to cancer, physically unable to speak, he continued his life's mission of beating cancer.

Everyone who visited Cameron left with a new resolve to live life as the gift that it is. Resolved to never take things for granted. Resolved to face each challenge with a smile. Resolved to always remember, no matter what setbacks come in life to say, "That's OK, we can just start over and do it all again."

A month after his death we were finally able to take the money from the Christmas Jars and buy the toys for the hospital. Right now there are children playing with new toys at the hospital because of the spirit of one little five-year-old boy, and an anonymous giver who understands the true meaning of Christmas and giving.

Recently, I was reminded of this when I spoke with the father of a little girl Cameron befriended while they were undergoing chemotherapy. On a recent trip to the hospital she went to the playroom because she wanted to play with a tool bench Cameron donated.

She was very disappointed when it wasn't there. "Where is the tool bench," she inquired of a nurse. The nurse told her how a little boy who was too sick to leave his room had asked for the tool bench to be brought to his room so he could play with it because it was his favorite toy. I knew that Cameron had a smile on his face as, even in death, he continues to "beat cancer."

This little boy is the reason Cameron did what he did. That is the reason someone gave my family a Christmas Jar. That is the magic of the human spirit and the magic of what one jar can do. My family thinks of Cameron every time we put a coin in this year's Christmas Jar. We can't wait to give it to someone special for Christmas and watch as the miracle spreads even further.

_____


(Cameron passed away six weeks after spreading the spirit of the Christmas Jar by using the funds from his own jar to bless the lives of other children. His family continues to fill and give away jars each year in his honor.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

And the winner is?

The total in the office Christmas Jar is $82.16. Unless my math is wrong, which is very likely, it looks like Glen A. Jones is the winner. Congrats Glen! Drop me a note with your address and I'll get your free copy of Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle in the mail.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Win a free copy of Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle



The new book is in! And thanks to the brilliant work of illustrator Ben Sowards, it's GORGEOUS.

Want to win literally one of the very first copies off the press and shipped?

Here is a picture of the Christmas Jar that sits on a bookshelf in my office. It's not the family jar, it's for me and my occasional office guests to drop our change in.

Guess how much is in the jar in the comments below. Closest to the actual total (yes, I counted!) will win a signed copy of Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle weeks before you can buy it! You can count on one hand the number of people outside my publisher's building that have seen this brand spankin' new book.

HINT: There are no bills. The jar contains only Quarters, Dimes, Nickels and Pennies.

Closest to the actual total by Saturday evening wins the book.

You may change your guess at any point, but you must delete your previous guesses.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Make a Wish

Very good friends of my family know that my nephew, Wil, has just left for his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After a two-month stint at a training center where he'll be learning Spanish, among other things, Wil heads off for areas in El Salvador, San Salvador West and Belize.

My oldest brother Sterling, Wil's father, wrote these words in the final days before Wil's departure last week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Make a Wish
Sterling Wright

“Good point. Hey, look, it’s 11:11. Make a wish!”

I don’t know which of my children introduced the practice of wishing when the clock showed all ones. Like wishing on a star or over a burning birthday cake, the clock wish has been a harmless habit in my household for many years.

At this particular 11:11, my son Wil and I were leaving the parking lot of Lowe’s, the back of the minivan filled with materials we needed to get his room ready for its next occupant. The combination of a beautiful day, a minivan, and Lowe’s turned my mind back to the first time Wil and I were in this parking lot. It was a sunny day in March, 1990. I was an exhausted father who needed to stop for a box of nails. Wil was a quiet newborn taking one of his first rides in the van.

He was so new and quiet and I was so tired that I forgot he was with me. Only when I looked in the mirror after getting back in the van did I remember – with more than a little shock – that I had the baby that morning. He looked at me without judgment or complaint. He was simply waiting for me to tell him what I bought.

When he was six or so, Lowe’s expanded from an over-sized hardware store to the man-malls that we know today. It wasn’t too far from the church so we went window-shopping while my oldest was at Mutual. The store had only been open for a couple of days and it had that new store smell. It took over an hour to visit every aisle. Wil wanted to know what everything was and how it worked.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we have made hundreds of trips to Lowe’s together. Wil still wants to know what things are, how they work, and what they are used for. The big difference is that I can no longer get away with vague or fabricated answers. “It makes water better to drink” doesn’t cut it any more.

There were no questions today, just two men getting the job done. As I got ready to pull out of the parking space, Wil said, “I just realized that this might be the last time we go to Lowe’s together before I leave.”

By the time anyone reads this, my only son will be in the Mission Training Center getting ready to go to El Salvador. Those of you who have sent missionaries into the field know how the date creeps up on you. It is down the last aisle of the store by the drywall and lumber. Then suddenly it’s right in front of you. Then you are driving home from Lowe’s alone.

I turned to grin at him and we shared a realization based on my home improvement track record. I gave it voice. “Son, this might not be the last time you come to Lowe’s with me today."

“Good point. Hey, look, it’s 11:11. Make a wish!”

I wish you were six again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The world is full of amazing people, like this one

You may have seen this email that went out earlier today regarding my Christmas Jars survey.

Shortly after the e-mail was sent, I received this note. What a sweet reminder that the world is full of some amazing people. This is one of them. This person did all of this on their own with no help from me or my publisher. And obviously they're not done yet!



(name withheld)

"After I read the Christmas Jars Reunion advance copy I had a very unusual experience."

"I closed the computer and paced around the kitchen just kind of listening.  Had a
really weird feeling. I ignored it for days even though it was keeping me up at night and waking me up in the middle of the night.  I've never really had that experience where I thought I heard God speaking to me.  So....wasn't really sure what was happening.  I told my mom and she said, Dear, you have to listen when that happens. So I did..."

"I emailed my family and asked them to help me find 1,000 people to fill empty jars. I didn't want the jars back, I just wanted to introduce 1,000 people to the tradition and have them experience what it was like to do a jar.  Of course, it's May and we don't have much time, they thought I was crazy but agreed to help me.  I've had so much going on around here and several times decided I couldn't do it but then some other sign would show up and that voice would get a little louder and I would continue."

"Long story short, as of today, we have given away, 500 empty jars and I have all the names and locations written in a little book. Those jars are located in:

Indiana
Ohio
Arizona
Wisconsin
Illinois
Virginia
Kentucky
Texas
North Carolina
South Carolina
Massachusetts
Georgia
Missouri
Florida
New York
Michigan
California
Washington (state)
Hawaii
New Jersey
Connecticut
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania

Canada
England
Taiwan
Ukraine
Italy

Not done yet!"




Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jason's Cheesy Web Videos - Episode #15

Winners!

In case you missed it on Facebook or Twitter, the winners in the free book contest were Shawn Neagle and Molly Edwards. Congrats!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Win a limited edition advance copy of Christmas Jars Reunion

I've been thinking for weeks how I wanted to give away a copy of CJR. Then like a bolt of lightening, or bad pizza, it hit me! So there are two ways you can win:

1. "Follow" me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jasonfwright and I will randomly pick one "follower" and mail them an ARC.

2. Send a picture of you (family, pet, whatever) posing with, holding up, tossing in the ocean, setting flame to, admiring or ripping up any one of my previous books. Tag me in it (on Facebook) and I'll let my kids pick the most creative picture. Be creative! Winner gets an ARC.

Deadline for both will be Monday, August 10th. Winner announced Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Good luck! You could have an advance copy of the new novel within a week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sneak peek of Christmas Jars Reunion now available

You've begged, you've prodded, you've sent threatening mail. OK, maybe that was just my mother. Nevertheless, I'm pleased to make available a sneak peek of Christmas Jars Reunion.

Click here to read now.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Checking in from the 11th floor

A moment of silence, please: Vacation is officially over.

I dropped the rest of the gang off at the airport for a flight back to Virginia and I checked into a downtown hotel. I do enjoy the quiet and it's certainly conducive to working long hours on a manuscript, but I sure miss the havoc in my mother-law's basement and listening to my loving, kind and patient children "interact".

One daughter opened a handmade greeting card store at the table and forcefully recruited her brother as an employee. The other daughter took special orders for Zoob creations while the baby bounced for hours on an exercise trampoline signing Hannah Montana.

Yes, I miss them all terribly. Maybe I'll order room service? That will make me feel better!

So what's next? I will spend the next several days editing The Cross Gardener. Here's what the process looks like:

1. Submit a first draft to both my agent and editor at Penguin. (DONE)

2. Wait anxiously for feedback. (DONE)

3. Toss and turn. (DONE)

4. Make sure my email and cell phone are working properly when I haven't heard anything right away. (DONE)

5. Toss and turn some more. (DONE)

6. Get first response from agent. (This is typical, her feedback isn't nearly as detailed as an editor's.) (DONE)

7. Receive my editorial letter! It's a little old-school, but it's how many editors still prefer to work. A week after submitting my draft, and with no communication during the meantime, I received an 8-page letter opening with her general "big picture" reaction. Then it goes to what she loved, what she didn't, and chapter-by-chapter feedback. Most of the suggestions are up to me whether or not to implement. Some will take minutes to change, others will take hours. The overall feeling is great. They loved it and want to make it even better. What a coincidence, so do I! (DONE)

8. Editing begins. I have 2-3 weeks to make my changes and submit a new draft. In reality, the finished product will look very similar to what they've already read. Fortunately no major, structural changes were requested. Because I've been on vacation with little or no time to edit, I'm down to less than a week to make my edits. Worry? Who, me?

9. By August 3 I'll submit a new draft which will be read by a wider universe at Penguin. Thus far only my editor and her boss have read it. The next draft will be distributed to quite a few readers, including the head-honcho-publisher.

10. All comments will be filtered by my editor and reported back to me within a few days. Hopefully the second round of changes, if any, are very minor. I'll submit my final draft asap.

And there you have it! The book will go to press for Advance Reading Copies sometime in mid-August and by September 1 their sales team will be pitching the book to the media, book buyers, wholesalers, etc. They'll have six months to get the book properly buzzed and ready for hardcover release, and they'll use every minute of it!

Then what? I'll begin the second manuscript of my two-book deal and submit it by Thanksgiving. Whew! I need a vacation :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wright Words: Second Chances and Recovering Charles

Wright Words: Second Chances and Recovering Charles

One year ago I was locked in a hotel room in my hometown of Woodstock, Virginia writing round-the-clock to finish my most recent novel, Recovering Charles.

The book is set in New Orleans just as Hurricane Katrina hits. It’s about a man whose estranged father, who had been living in New Orleans, goes missing after the storm. Luke hadn’t spoken to his father for nearly two years. He and Charles quit speaking to each other after Charles made one too many bad decisions.

Luke finally decides to make his way to the beaten city and there tries to find his father or, at least, find out what happened to him. Not only does Luke not know where his father is, he doesn’t know for sure what his father has become.

Luke is searching for the man named Charles who always needed money or some other favor, but he might also be looking for the loving father that left him years before. Charles stopped being that father when he gave in to his demons.

Luke gave up on Charles and Charles stopped bothering Luke.

All but the very best of us hold grudges. We righteously banish ex-spouses, estranged family members, friends who betray us, and other unpleasant people to an exile enforced by averted eyes and caller-ID. As long as we tell ourselves that – one day – we will make things right, we can justify our behavior as punishment for what we have suffered.

In the book, the possibility that Charles might be dead shakes Luke’s self-righteousness. Without an “I’m sorry, son” there could be no “I forgive you, Dad.” Luke begins to believe that Charles was looking for a second chance. Luke’s search for his father takes on new urgency as he realizes that he might just want to give him one.

So, who deserves a second chance? Where is the threshold of forgiveness? When one of my kids does something wrong, I’m quick to explain that they can make it right and get a clean slate. Children surely deserve second chances as they learn about consequences.

What about a cheating spouse? An abusive father? A vindictive lawyer? The drunk driver who kills a loved one? Do any of them deserve a second chance?

I know someone on the receiving end of each of those situations. And in each case, they forgave. None of the offenses could be undone but the bitterness and hatred dissolved once the offended decided to offer a second chance.

I also know people who proudly lug around grudges collected over a lifetime. When they let one go, it is often just to make room for another. They are slow to give out second chances because they know it means they have to give up one of their precious grudges.

When I started writing Recovering Charles, I didn’t know exactly how it would end. But Luke led me through the story and dictated its conclusion.

I learned a lot about myself as “what does he do next” began to reflect “what would I do”.

I’m still not sure that Luke and I are all that similar but I do know that I’ve learned to believe in second chances. I plan to give as many as I can.

I sure hope to get a few, too.