Flaming Heart Ministries

Transforming lives inside out…!

Buy Little Christmas: Getting the Most Out of Christmas When You’re on a Tight Budget

With the onset of the holiday season, the age-old tradition of Christmas gift-giving is once again upon us. Originally started as a gesture to remind us of the gifts given to Jesus on his day of birth, the annual practice has exploded into a very stressful, not to mention expensive experience for all who observe the yearly gesture. Let’s be honest, we all want to buy our loved ones the best gifts possible. The reality of the situation however, doesn’t always match with our desires. So, if you’re like me and many others, your wallet is the driving force behind your gift giving. But living on a budget doesn’t have to stifle your ability to give wonderful and meaningful gifts to your loved ones.

After some research, I’ve found a series of creative, cost friendly alternatives to traditional gift-giving.

 Stranded Christmas

When your family lives in one state, and you live in another, the possibility of being stuck at home with nothing to do becomes an unwanted reality. Hosting an orphaned party is the perfect way to remedy this while checking off a large number of people on your holiday list. Play games, watch movies, or just sit around and talk. Make it a potluck and it becomes an even more cost-efficient gift!


Giving Tree

A giving tree is a wonderful way to surpass the traditional gift giving custom with a philanthropic twist. Instead of exchanging gifts, research a series of local and nationalangel tree charities, put them on pieces of paper or envelopes and hang them on a Christmas tree. Each one of your coworkers can choose one blindly and donate an amount of their choice to the organization listed!

Memory Lane in a Frame

Got an old group shot from a cruise from a while back? Maybe one of a relative that passed recently? Put it in a frame and give it as a gift. Sharing a photo from a forgotten time in the past is a great way to bond with family members and provide them with a wonderful gift at the same time.

lonely Christmas

Pay It Backwards

A cute and simple way to give, albeit to a total stranger, is the pay it backwards method. Pay the toll of the person behind you at the toll booth, or the change from your cash purchase towards the person standing in line behind you. It’s a great way to make a stranger’s day. Even better, you might start a chain reaction of giving, or at least make one person’s day unexpectedly better.

Act of Random Kindness

ARK 2Like “Pay it Backwards”, but with a little more effort. Simply doing something to help a neighbor, be it collecting their mail while they spend their Christmas out of town or shoveling the driveway of a disabled or elderly person can be a great way to give beyond that traditional holiday gift. Plus, you may make a friend in the process.



Adopt a Soldier

Patriotism meets the holiday season with this idea. Present to SoldierInstead of giving to each other, coworkers or friends could chip in on a care package for a deployed soldier or hospitalized veteran. Each person can buy one object to be put in a joint box and mailed to the soldier just in time for Christmas.


Joint Experience

joint experienceHave guests pitch in money toward a shared experience to make that holiday gathering that much more memorable. Whether it’s a private chef to cook a meal for the group, an at-home canvas painting experience or a local band playing at your event.

These are just some of the amazing cost effective, out of the box ideas I’ve discovered during my research. Like what you see? Give it a try! Have a better idea? Let me know in the comments! I’m always open to creative ways to give.



My Dream…

dream3He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save.  (Psalm 72:13 NASB)

So, it’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged.  You could say, I was working hard at implementing a dream.  I really was…  But, no excuse not to drop a line, right?  I finally am taking time to let you in on my journey and commit to keep you in the loop.

I’m all about change and growth.  For years, I’ve worked to improve my communication, various skills, you name it.  One subject that’s been very dear to my heart has been minimizing the effects of homelessness on family.

17 years ago, I found myself facing homelessness with my two children.  My stint lasted for three months and I was fortunate enough to be able to live with someone until I could regain my footing.  How did this even happen?  For me, it was due to a pretty horrible marriage.  You see, I had relocated from Charlotte, NC and gotten married, but this guy wasn’t who I thought he was at all.  (That’s a story for another day.)

According to the National Coalition of the Homeless, “…approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.”  These situations happen a lot more than you think.  Did you know that some of these same women can even end up in commercial sex trafficking?

Back to my dream…  I’m working on opening up homes that will serve as transitional housing to help bring hope to these families.  These homes would serve as a support mechanism, providing counseling, life skills and education.

The first house we’re working with needs renovation work which I’m raising money to get the repairs completed.  The house needs re-wiring, roofing repairs, and plumbing, etc.  I’m also actively seeking other opportunities to fund this cause through partnerships, grants, etc.

I already realize that this dream can’t come into fruition by itself or relying on any one source.  I believe it takes all of us, working together, to add value by tapping into what we do best.  So, I welcome your help, whether you’re local or in another state.  Homelessness affects us nationally and it’s up to us to do something about it!

Just Do It…

magnifying_glass_small_hr88It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.  -Proverbs 25:2 AMP

Have you noticed that God will place things on your heart that are bigger than you?  You feel overwhelmed because you’re not sure how to accomplish the task.  The tendency is to procrastinate because doing something new is scary.  –But, if you never step forward in it, you’ll never realize how strong you really are.  If you run in the opposite direction, you will truly fail to discover the treasure of possibilities that were destined for your life.

You see, you were designed to overcome obstacles, not play in the safe zone forever.  “Safe zone thinking” leaves us with a boring, unfulfilled life that subsequently causes limited growth.  Safe zone thinking prevents us from discovering and developing new areas of strength.  When we can make steps towards doing the “hard” task, we will make way to grow in a whole new area, creating fresh confidence and bolstering our capacity.

One of my biggest fears was having to speak in front of people.  I was the person that kept to myself.  I was fine in one-on-one settings and even small groups, but speaking in front of a crowd was like climbing Mount Everest.  Too hard… Frightening…  Scary…  I didn’t want the extra attention or spotlight.  How did I overcome my fear?  Bottom line was I had to “just do it”.  But also, I had to assess a few thoughts.

Why does this make me afraid?

What will happen if I confront my fear?

Will this be the end of me or is this an opportunity to be stretched?

Am I willing to let go of my fear?

Since it wasn’t going to kill me, I made steps towards preparation.  I made sure I had my notes in front of me and just went for it.  I also took a public speaking class.  What is it that you can do to help you reach your objective?

It was vital that I overcome my fear and by the grace of God, I did just that.  The more I stood to speak the better I got.  The more I did what I feared, the more confidence was built within me.  It provided new building blocks by which I could grow.  That’s really how we can make steps towards conquering our fears…  Face them and don’t allow excuses to hold us back.

Embrace opportunities for growth.  It’s a part of our experiencing life.  After all, you are powerful!  You were made for this!  You have skills and giftings that are meant to be shared and expressed.  You have dreams that were deposited in you because you have the potential to accomplish it.

Though it would be great if everything could be laid out for us, usually that’s not how it works.  A good portion of our growth and development is searching it out.  –Just doing it!!!  It gives you the opportunity to learn and investigate as you’re sorting through it.  You don’t have to let fear petrify you any longer.  Make the effort to do what God is telling you and know that He’s right there with you.  He will highlight the details for you and send the connections, but you have to be willing to step forward to take the brave steps He shows you.

Start now…

Sometimes our beginnings are less than flawless and we go through life based on the failures we’ve encountered.  We walk in such a way that says, “I’m not good enough” and so on.  Indirectly, we give others permission (by the way we carry ourselves) to treat us as if our voice doesn’t make a difference.  Dear one, you are valued and loved.  You were created with and for a purpose.  You don’t have to settle for the scraps in life.  It’s time to live again.  Allow life to be breathed in you again.  Let the love of God wash over you and reset your life today.  

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