Advent Acts of Kindness

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By Julie Fisk | Twitter: @ruthexperience

“It’s hard to notice the clanging of commercialism when you are searching high and low for the next person to help.”

Nov_JulieIt happened just this past week when I swung by the local mall with my two small children. I was intently focused on getting their shaggy, straggly hair cut before all the relatives arrive for Thanksgiving.

The furthest thing from my mind in that moment was Christmas.

That is, until I stumbled upon the mall’s new temporary resident: Santa.

As I looked for a quick exit, any escape route to avoid the inevitable, the little voices next to me told me I was too late.

Two observant sets of eyes turned to me …“Santa?”

Every December I struggle with how to refocus my family’s attention on Christ, on giving, and on thinking of something or someone other than ourselves, or on what Santa might bring, or the presents on our list.

It’s a battle against stores, commercials and our culture as we enter a crazy, too-early, over-hyped holiday season, intent on talking about spending money and buying gifts and going to parties.

I was able to ignore the holiday insanity when my children were infants. But they are no longer infants, and I can no longer overlook what our culture tells them is Christmas.

If I don’t clearly define Christmas; if I don’t counter our culture’s view of Christmas, my children will learn only of “holiday” trees and that the best presents cost the most money.

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Being the Change

And so, last year, as two friends and I lamented over yet another over-commercialized Christmas and our struggles to teach our children something different, we decided to fight back against the holiday insanity and join forces for our first Advent Acts of Kindness (AAK).

Our inspiration was found in Mark 12:28-31:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

We celebrated Advent (24 days, plus our Christmas Finale) with a daily kind act—most of which included our children’s direct participation—but this could easily be scaled back to a weekly kind act or any number that fits your life and your schedule.

We rotated between community acts (quarters in the laundry mat, cookies for the police department), national acts (Red Cross Mail for Heroes, Toys for Tots), and international acts of kindness (World Vision, International Justice Mission, Heifer International).

As our children helped us deliver gifts, write cards and make projects, we found ourselves talking about Christ, about sacrifice, and about the true meaning of Christmas in our families and amongst ourselves.

And, truthfully, our eyes became less focused on the commercialism of Christmas.

My girlfriends and I found ourselves walking through the days with our eyes and ears and hearts open wide—searching for a need to meet. Searching for our next kind act. It’s hard to notice the clanging of commercialism when you are searching high and low for the next person to help.

What I realized during this inaugural Advent Acts of Kindness, as I watched my daughter’s head bent low over her card written to a child stricken with cancer, was that this time redefining Christmas was just as important for my soul as it was for my children. Culture seeps into me when I’m not looking, not paying attention, distracted by a million other things.

My family will be celebrating our Second Annual Advent Acts of Kindness this Christmas season, and we invite you to join us.

Let’s celebrate Advent in a way that serves Christ and others in a tangible, physical way.

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How it works

This year, we are joining Julie and her friends! Many of our SheLoves editorial team and contributors have already “signed up” for an Advent Act of Kindness that they would love to do in their community. We will be posting it on our Facebook page, starting December 1 through Christmas Day, inviting you to join us and post yours too. (A photo and/or a little description.) Check out our Facebook wall and Twitter hashtag #shelovesadvent to see what we’re doing, find inspiration and share YOUR Advent Act of Kindness.

We’d love to have as many people as possible sharing their acts of kindness on our Facebook wall and on Twitter (#shelovesadvent). Will you join us?

For more ideas, check out these links:

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

28 Acts of Kindness

52 Weeks of Random Acts of Kindness

32 Random Acts of Kindness

To see what Julie and her girlfriends did for their AAK (Advent Acts of Kindness) last year, they summarized the entire adventure (pictures and everything!) here.

And to help you out even more, here is a free printable card to accompany your Advent Acts! Or check it out on Pinterest here.

Any thoughts as to how you’d like to participate this Advent? What’s on your heart to do this year? We’d love to hear!

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About Julie: 

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Julie, a wife an mother of two, is an attorney in Central Minnesota. She is passionate about encouraging women and children through a variety of organizations. Julie loves coffee dates with friends, going on adventures with her kids, hiking next to Lake Superior, and perusing recipe books. Visit her blog at The Ruth Experience.

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