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 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.