Heaven on Earth NOW

We love people back to life.

Olympic Size Hearts? YES!!!!

We’re glued to the set, watching athletes pursue their dreams at the Winter Olympics. But here in Baltimore, a team has devoted its self to the dreams of others’, too.

Directed by Head Coach Bob Babb, the members of Johns Hopkins’ men’s baseball team have become angels in our outfield. Indeed, they have made volunteering in the community an integral part of their training regimen. The players . . .

  • Loaded and transported furniture and household goods for our House-to-Home program, offering a fresh start to folks emerging from homelessness, domestic abuse, and other desperate straits;
  • Collected nonperishables for our Healthy Food Drives, distributing these nutritious staples to soup kitchens and food pantries;
  • Prepared more than 2,400 servings of homemade pumpkin pie, green bean and corn casseroles for our Healthy Harvest Offering at Thanksgiving (in partnership with Manna Bible Baptist Church);
  • Wrapped and tagged hundreds of gifts for needy children for our Elf Angel project at Christmas, among other projects.

Coach Babb shares, “I think it’s important to create a culture where giving back is part of your everyday life.” He and his wife Gilly lead by example, working alongside the players on each service project. All this work pays dividends for the 8th ranked Division 3 team, says alumnus Andrew Zigmont. “Community service has built a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the team.”

Is there a team, scout troop, or group you know that might benefit from exercising their kindness muscles? We promise your heart will be Olympic size in no time — and we’re eager to arm you with the tools and goods to bring heaven down-to-earth in your neighborhood.

Volunteer . . . and save your own life!

Want to extend your own life? Focus on serving others. Increasingly, studies show that volunteering is good for our bodies as well as our souls. Volunteering regularly, according to a Carnegie Mellon study of 1,000 adults over 50, . . .

  • Cut the risk of high blood pressure by 40 percent
  • Lowered overall mortality risk by 47 percent
  • Bolstered psychological wellbeing and likely lowered depression and anxiety.

Canadian researchers, too, found that in a study of 100 teens, volunteering over a 10-week period led to a drop in cholesterol, body mass index, and inflammation. “The volunteers who reported the greatest increase in energy, altruistic behavior, and mental health were the ones who showed the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health.”

Being engaged in helping others — living for others, as we call it — is also active work. Wear your FitBit to track your steps as you volunteer and see how quickly they add up! And the more you volunteer, the happier you get. The London School of Economics found the odds of being “very happy” rose 7 percent among monthly volunteers and 12 percent among those who volunteered twice a month.

Serving is what we believe we were built to do. Get more closely attuned to the purpose God intends for your life. It can enhance your health, increase your happiness, and extend your life.

Be a Helper…for Houston

Our hearts ache for Houston — and for all the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.  We always look for the helpers, as Mister Rogers so sweetly advised, when catastrophes hit. But today, in addition to your prayers, be a helper yourself!

One of Heaven on Earth NOW’s most heartfelt missions is feeding people. So we ask you to consider a gift to the one of the following providers in the affected areas. With folks from Houston evacuating all over Texas, these food banks will be called upon to stretch their supply to feed more people.

We may not be close enough to save a life, but our dollars can bridge the distance and welcome strangers to our table at their time of need. Check out their websites and then give generously:

Houston Food Bank
832-369-9390

Galveston Food Bank
409-945-4232

Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria) 
361-578-0591

Corpus Christi Food Bank
361-887-6291

Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont) 
409-839-8777

Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr) 
956-682-8101

Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)
979-779-3663

Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)
512-282-2111

San Antonio Food Bank
210-337-3663

For more information on all of these food banks head to feedingtexas.org.

 

A New Home, A New Life

The 325 square foot home was gift enough for the Hernandez family. Kensington Community Church in San Diego partnered with the nonprofit Casas de Luz (Houses of Light) to build the new home for them in a colonia outside Tijuana, Mexico. Volunteers built the home in two days and took turns offering heartfelt blessings for Ana Christina and her four children who will live there. But a house is not just four walls and a roof. Our House-to-Home initiative attends to the little things: toothbrushes, can openers, and other items that transform a new space and bring dignity and joy to families emerging from poverty and/or homelessness.

For this mom, who makes the equivalent of $70 a week working as a housekeeper in Mexico, brand new pillows were a luxury she could not even imagine. She wiped away tears, telling us that the angels involved in this project had changed her life…forever, she said, after a pause. Our volunteers are changed forever, too, being able to furnish a home built by hand by other children of God. We go to sleep at night under the same stars, grateful to have pillows on which to lay our heads.

Water for You, Water for the World

As we prepare for the rebirth that Spring brings, we celebrate the gift of water on our planet– thanks be to God! And today, we are launching our Water for You, Water for the World campaign.

Water is the first pillar in Love Your Health, Love Your Self — the platform for a full and healthy life that we promote to both our volunteers and our clients. It’s the source of so much transformation, and why on World Water Day 2017 we are introducing Water for You, Water for the World campaign, which includes:

  • Outreach to teach the critically important role of proper hydration. We will be saturating our audience with messages about water as a game-changer for healthy living. We will distribute the Heaven on Earth NOW Water Poster to schools, shelters, senior centers, community centers, places of worship, etc.  YOU can order our poster here.
  • Partnerships with Life Outreach International and other organizations to establish sustainable, clean water sources in Africa and around the world. Why do this NOW? Every 90 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease; diarrhea has become the third leading cause of death among children, a majority of which are water-related. Indeed, water-related diseases affect more than 1.5 billion people every year.
  • Shortly, you will be able to purchase Heaven on Earth NOW water bottles — with one water bottle given away for each bottle sold! Already, more than a thousand bottles have been distributed free-of-charge to people in Liberia through our loving partnership with Geebaumu International, Inc. (See the photo above!)
  • Water bottles will become an integral part of several of our programs — House to Home, Easter Blessing Baskets, among others. We can combat obesity and chronic disease in our communities by encouraging our friends to replace sugary beverages with the satisfying and refreshing taste of water. It’s healthy choice we all must make.

We are especially excited to announce that two water wells we funded in Burundi are now operational. The water infrastructure in this small, central African country was so poor that its citizens have been plagued with cholera and other water-related diseases. Now, clean water is flowing!

We are humbled to consider the difference clean water is making for thousands of our African neighbors. Your gifts make the water wells and water education possible. Thank you ever so much.

 

Is healthy food really more expensive than junk?

Yes, HOWEVER, there’s more to the story. A comprehensive Harvard study found that on average, healthier eating costs $1.50 more per day more than less nutritious choices. Indeed, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts is $550 more per year than a diet reliant on, for example, processed foods, meats, and refined grains. While the added expense is less than most of us would guess, it can be burdensome for families and folks on fixed incomes.

There are ways to beat the $1.50 per day cost very easily. Try these tips:

  • Eliminate sugary drinks from your diet. Choose water and you will save money by skipping soda, sweetened coffee drinks, and sugar-filled beverages. And by hydrating your body properly with 90 to 120 ounces of water a day, you’ll feel better and draw on a host of health benefits. 
  • Avoid fast food restaurants by planning simple, home-cooked meals and buying whole ingredients from supermarkets. For example, cooking and serving a whole chicken, salad, potatoes, and milk costs, on average, $13.78, or a rice and bean casserole runs $9.26. The cost of burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, and sodas for a family exceeds $25.
  • Buy inexpensive protein: bags of legumes and canned tuna (in water). Beans, chickpeas, and lentils work well in soup, salads, and casseroles. Tuna is another lean protein choice and costs $1 a can.
  • Don’t forget frozen vegetables. They’re a great value. They’re picked and frozen at the height of freshness (when they are most nutritionally dense.)

In our country, the infrastructure and the subsidization of mass-produced and processed foods makes it cheaper to eat junk. But the expense associated with chronic diseases associated with fat, sugar, and salt-laden diets are weighing all of us down. Diabetes and prediabetes cost America $322 billion per year. Obesity often leads to job absenteeism and lower productivity, costing the country $4.3 billion annually and employers $506 per obese worker per year.

Drinking water and eating nutritiously are the foundation of good health from which springs exuberant energy. That’s why so many of Heaven on Earth NOW’s programs (Good-for-You Groceries, Farm-to-Belly, First Fruits Farm activites, the Healthy Harvest Offering, and more) are targeted at bringing the bounty of God’s earth to our most vulnerable citizens. We want both the angels who serve our clients and our clients themselves to enjoy the health benefits that arise from eating fruits, vegetables, and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals — and not junk!

Fuel for the Firefighters

Firefighters save countless numbers of people across the world and put their lives at risk each time they respond to a call. And in many communities, up to 56 percent of firefighting personnnel are volunteers. Let’s show them our appreciation by dropping off an easy-to-make container of soup, abatch of cookies, or a delicious casserole. Firefighters and other first responders may have saved your life or the life of someone you love. Take some time this week to demonstrate your thanks!

Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
1 15 ounce can tomatoes (diced and low sodium)
1 15 ounce can extra-thick tomato sauce
2 14 ounce cans low-sodium vegetable soup or chicken broth
1 16 ounce bag thawed frozen or fresh chopped greenbeans
2 cups cabbage shredded
1 cup potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Directions
In large pot, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Heat on medium and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. If using a crock pot, cook on low for at least six hours.
Not a cook? Buy a bag of apples or oranges to drop off at the fire station. Or make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Send us photos of your time at the fire house to angels@heavenonearthnow.net. Or post photos on social media with the hash tag #servetheservant.

Build relationships with those who serve

How do we build relationships with police officers in our local communities? How do we bridge differences and start dialogues? How do we honor the individuals who vow to protect and serve? How do we find common ground when trust is broken? Kindness and tender mercies are a great place to start.

It’s Random Act of Kindness Week this week, Feb. 12 – 18. We’ve used the opportunity to Serve the Servant, but the kindnesses we promote are actually quite intentional. Our experience serving others teaches us that despite our differences, we are all just people. Remarkable chasms in society can be bridged when good-hearted people come together for a common good. Sometimes, the smallest acts of compassion can open up new lines of communication and promote a path to a new understanding. And it starts with each of us, tiny steps towards healing and reconciliation.

We encourage you to extend your selves to police officers this week with a gift of protein. Fuel them for good work. Honor their service to our communities. A homemade gift will give YOU a reason to step across the threshold, introduce yourself, and start a new conversation.

Protein for Police

We cherish the safety that our law enforcement officers uphold. Show them you cherish their service with a thoughtful and easy homemade treat. Not a baker? Protein bars, trail mix, or a can of nuts tied with a ribbon offer a protein snack that’s easy to prepare. Or drop a platter of cut veggies and hummus off at your local station.

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
24 chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine sugar, peanut butter and egg.
Use one-inch scoop or shape into one-inch balls. If dough is too sticky, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (until they just begin to crack).
Unwrap chocolate kisses.
Remove cookie tray from oven and press a chocolate kiss into the center of each warm cookie. Let stand on cookie tray for another two minutes before removing and placing on cooling rack.

Place a few cookies in a decorative bag box and hand out to police officers you see during the day or drop them off at your community’s police station. Don’t forget to take photos and send them to us so we can see how you Served the Servant! Or post them on your Instagram or Facebook pages with the tag #servetheservant.

It’s the thought that counts…truly!

Make Valentine’s Day a day to celebrate the acts of love and care that so often go unseen in the world. When you walk into your office, house of worship, or school, do you notice the pride with which it is cleaned and maintained? When you take a walk in your neighborhood, do you notice how its streets and yards are maintained? Do you know the people who take away your trash? Mindfulness and gratefulness will transform your life. It starts with NOTICING all the hands that contribute to your peace and wellbeing.

In this month of love, go outside yourself and Serve the Servants! Sure, it takes time to make cookies from scratch. That’s the beauty of it: devoting yourself to a selfless act of love for someone who doesn’t expect such thoughtfulness. Here, we have made cookies for custodians.

No worries, gift cards are great, too. We are giving some to the grounds keepers at our kids’ schools. The amount is not important. It’s truly the thought that counts.

Serving the Servant will give you goosebumps. And it will change the world, one grateful interaction at a time.

Cookies for Custodians

Ingredients:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature soft
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
Combine butter, sugar and egg in large mixer bowl and beat at medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour, baking powder, orange juice, and vanilla.
Beat until well mixed.
Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or over night.

When you’re ready to bake cookies, remove dough from oven and leave out on kitchen counter until room temperature (could be a few hours).
When dough is ready, heat oven to 400 degrees
Lightly flour countertop or use parchment paper for rolling out the dough to 1/4 inch.
Cut with your favorite cookie cutters (we like using a variety).
Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven…but until cookies are just beginning to turn brown.
Remove from cookie sheet onto racks and cool completely.

Glaze:
Ingredients:
1 box powdered sugar
6-8 tablespoons of juice from fresh orange or orange juice

Directions:
Mix well with spoon until creamy, smooth and not too thick (add more juice if necessary). Divide and add food coloring if you wish.
Dip cookies or spread glaze on top then add decorations (sprinkles, m&ms, or anything edible) and dry completely before adding pastry bag frosting (see below) for more decorating.
Store in airtight containers with layers of wax paper in refrigerator.
Package as you like in decorative bags or on plate.

Buttercream Frosting (optional for added glitz)
Ingredients:
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature soft
2 teaspoons vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and beat at low spread, scraping sides and bottom often. Divide frosting and add food coloring if you wish. Place frosting in pastry bag emerged in empty glass for ease. The ones we used were #4 for writing, #8, #10, and #21
Dry completely.

Package a few cookies in each decorative bag or on a plate and distribute to the custodians at your school or work and make their day — and your life happier!

Please send photos of your creations to angels@heavenonearthnow.net. Or post them on your Instagram or Facebook pages with the tag #servetheservant.

Serve the Servant . . . joyfully!

It’s the month of love. And Valentine’s week is also Random Acts of Kindess Week (Feb. 12 – 18). There are so many people you encounter everyday who could use your gifts of love and kindness. That’s why we are devoting ourselves to serving the servant. 

Who are the folks that serve you everyday, who carry your mail or protect your safety, who tend to your lawn or empty your garbage can, who clean your school or respond to emergencies across your city? Foster connections with the individuals who serve you, know their names, get to know them, and greet them with a smile.

We’re excited to hear how you Serve the Servant, maybe with pretzel kisses for postal carriers. Or gift cards for groundskeepers. Fill your month with grateful living, noticing all the ways your life is made better by public servants.

Here’s how…

 

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